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Does RSO Absorb Through Skin? A Comprehensive Analysis

The realm of cannabis use has evolved significantly over the years, with new research and anecdotal evidence highlighting its potential for health and wellness.

One area that has garnered attention is the topical application of cannabis, specifically, Rick Simpson Oil (RSO).

Many individuals are intrigued by the question: does RSO absorb through skin?

In this article, we delve into the science and offer expert insights to help you understand the intricacies of RSO and its absorption through the skin.

Does RSO Absorb Through Skin? – A Quick Answer

The scientific principle and empirical evidence suggest that RSO, containing active cannabinoids like THC and CBD, can absorb through the skin.

However, absorption depends on factors such as cannabinoid concentration, skin condition, and application method.

The topical application of RSO might offer potential health benefits like localized pain relief and skin health improvement.

What is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)?

Before we discuss skin absorption, let’s understand what RSO is. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a cannabis oil product named after Rick Simpson, a Canadian medical marijuana activist who championed its use.

It is a full-spectrum extract, meaning it contains all the compounds found in the cannabis plant, including both THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). This full-spectrum approach is thought to encourage the entourage effect, where the different components work synergistically to enhance the overall effects.

Does RSO Absorb Through Skin?

The Science Behind Skin Absorption

Our skin is the body’s largest organ, and it has a sophisticated structure that can absorb and deliver certain substances into the bloodstream. RSO contains active cannabinoids, compounds known for their potential therapeutic properties. But does RSO absorb through the skin effectively?

The answer lies in the skin’s unique characteristics. Human skin has a protective barrier function that mainly allows only fat-soluble substances to pass through. Luckily, cannabinoids like THC and CBD are lipophilic, or fat-soluble, meaning they can indeed penetrate this barrier. So, in theory, RSO should be able to absorb through the skin.

However, this absorption is dependent on several factors. One is the concentration of cannabinoids in the product. The higher the concentration, the more likely the cannabinoids will be absorbed. The skin’s condition also plays a role. Dry or damaged skin may allow for better absorption than healthy skin. Furthermore, the method of application, such as whether the oil is massaged into the skin, can impact absorption rates.

Evidence Supporting Skin Absorption of RSO

While the idea of RSO absorbing through the skin is supported by scientific principles, it’s essential to look at empirical evidence.

Several studies have shown that cannabinoids can indeed be absorbed transdermally, or through the skin. A study published in the European Journal of Pain revealed that topical application of CBD led to a significant reduction in inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model. This suggests that cannabinoids were absorbed through the skin to exert their effects.

Another study in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics showed that THC could be detected in the bloodstream of rats following the topical application of a THC solution.

Though more human studies are needed, these findings provide promising evidence supporting the idea that RSO can absorb through skin.

The Potential Benefits of RSO Skin Absorption

Understanding how Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) absorbs through the skin is not just an interesting scientific conundrum. It opens the gateway to several potential benefits for health and well-being. Here, we delve deeper into the advantages that the topical application of RSO can bring.

Localized Relief for Pain and Inflammation

One of the primary benefits of the skin absorption of RSO is the potential for localized relief. This advantage can be viewed from two key perspectives:

  • Pain Alleviation: When RSO is applied to the skin, the active cannabinoids can potentially interact with the cannabinoid receptors located in the skin. These receptors are part of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signaling system known to play a role in maintaining homeostasis and regulating various functions including pain. By interacting with these receptors, RSO may help alleviate pain directly at the source.
  • Reducing Inflammation: Alongside pain, RSO may also aid in reducing inflammation. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with conditions like arthritis or skin inflammation. Cannabinoids have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties, and when applied topically, they could help reduce the inflammation and associated discomfort at the targeted area.

Delivery of Cannabinoids Without Psychoactive Effects

The topical use of RSO presents a unique advantage of delivering cannabinoids without the associated psychoactive effects. This is particularly relevant when considering the consumption methods of cannabis products:

  • Avoiding Systemic THC Effects: When cannabis products are ingested or inhaled, THC — one of the primary cannabinoids in RSO — enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain, causing the characteristic ‘high.’ However, when RSO is applied topically, THC is absorbed locally and does not immediately enter the bloodstream, thereby avoiding these psychoactive effects. This makes RSO a potentially suitable option for those who seek the therapeutic benefits of cannabis but prefer to avoid its psychoactive side effects.

Improvement of Skin Health

The potential benefits of RSO absorption through the skin extend beyond pain and inflammation relief. It could also contribute significantly to skin health:

  • Antioxidant Properties: Some research suggests that cannabinoids may possess antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. By applying RSO topically, these antioxidant properties may help protect the skin from environmental stressors like pollution and UV radiation.
  • Anti-inflammatory Benefits: In addition to helping with conditions like arthritis, the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids can also benefit overall skin health. Inflammation is a common response to skin irritations and can lead to various skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, or eczema. By reducing inflammation, RSO may help manage these conditions and support healthier skin.

By considering the potential benefits of RSO skin absorption, it becomes clear why this topic has generated such keen interest. Whether it’s providing localized relief, delivering cannabinoids without psychoactive effects, or improving skin health, the absorption of RSO through the skin could offer a unique pathway for harnessing the therapeutic properties of cannabis.


The question of does RSO absorb through skin invites a compelling discussion steeped in science, research, and potential health benefits. Evidence suggests that yes, the active cannabinoids in RSO can indeed be absorbed through the skin. This could open the doors for innovative uses of cannabis in the wellness sector, from pain management to skin health. However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent of this absorption and its implications for health and well-being.


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