What is Full Extract Cannabis Oil?
Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) is a highly concentrated, whole-plant extract. It is sometimes confused with RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) which may appear to be a similar product to the untrained eye but there is an important difference.
FECO is the preferred term used by the cannabis industry to describe this grain alcohol or ethanol-extracted cannabis concentrate. RSO is extracted using isopropyl alcohol which, when ingested, has a risk of converting to acetone in the liver increasing the risk of toxicity.
FECO is considered to be one of the most versatile medical cannabis treatment options because of its high potency. It provides the broadest available spectrums of cannabinoids and terpenes—the components responsible for cannabis’ medicinal properties—which boost each other’s effects by the entourage effect.
Unlike conventional cannabis oil, FECO is a very dark and thick oil that is often packaged in a syringe for accurate dosing. While it can be used topically—direct application to a sore or localized area—it is normally used orally for optimum results.
In this article, we are going to explain how FECO is different from other cannabis products and how it is helping to transform the lives of cancer sufferers. Plus we will include a helpful guide to explain exactly which products you should be looking for.
Understanding the Role of Cannabis in Cancer Treatment
The endocannabinoid system is involved in many physiological and pathological or “disease state” conditions such as inflammation, diabetes, cardiac dysfunction, and cancer. Cannabis produces its therapeutic effects by activating the CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC targets more the central nervous system which is rich in CB1 receptors and CBD targets CB2 receptors which are concentrated mostly in the cells of the immune system.
Endocannabinoids themselves are endogenous (from inside the body) lipid signaling molecules. Lipids are fatty compounds that play an important role in cancer treatment. One of their cellular functions is to mediate the formation and secretion of exosomes which have been discovered to increase the growth rate of lung cancer cells but also inhibit them.
This among other reasons why cannabinoids are often cited for their anti-cancer properties. In addition to cannabinoids, cannabis also contains terpenes and flavonoids that have also been observed to perform actions that actively fight tumors.
Specifically, there has been research to show that whole cannabis extracts are much more effective at impairing the survival and growth of cancer cells than pure THC. This suggests that the combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids is what makes cannabis effective at fighting cancer.
Because FECO is a whole-plant extract, it contains the broadest range of terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. But what does this mean?
Terpenes are naturally produced by plants and their purpose is to mediate antagonistic and beneficial interactions among organisms. Terpenes are also what give different cannabis plants, foods, spices, and beverages like beer their distinct flavors. Most plants use terpenes to ward off predators, pathogens (bacteria), and competitors as a survival tactic. Caryophyllene, Limonene, and Mycrene are the three most dominant terpenes of the cannabis plant.
Unlike most terpenes, Caryophyllene behaves like a cannabinoid because it binds with CB2 receptors. Research into caryophyllene has shown strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties making it a possible therapy for inflammatory bowel disease as well as applications for treating anxiety and depression. Current studies are exploring its potential for reducing gene stress by combating premature aging which can be brought on by chronic disorders like cancer.
Limonene is one of the few terpenes that has been tested in human clinical trials, albeit with doses higher than those found naturally in cannabis. It has been proven effective at inhibiting the growth of breast cancer tumors by mediating a key protein associated with breast cancer. Additional reports have shown that it causes tumor cells to die in laboratory tests exploring models for lung cancer and brain cancer.
One of the most common and often dominant terpenes is Myrcrene. It is known to block the cancer-causing effects of aflatoxins (a family of toxins produced by fungi) by inhibiting the liver enzyme CYP2B1 which enables these toxins to damage our DNA. It is also renowned for its antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits.
The FECO Cancer Protocol
How to Make Full Extract Cannabis Oil
The grain alcohol extraction method can be done at home with relative ease following five steps.
- Decarboxylate your cannabis by heating your THC flower in the oven at 240°F for 40 minutes.
- Place your decarbed cannabis in a sealable glass container like a mason jar and submerge it in 190-200 proof grain alcohol. Leave it for 24 hours to six months.
- Evaporate the alcohol by opening the lid of your jar, covering it with a coffee filter, and leaving it out at room temperature for 3-4 days.
- Collect the thick oil while it’s still warm and store it in a glass reusable syringe with measurements to allow for controlled dosing.
While this process may be relatively easy, it is time-consuming and more difficult to control the exact quantities of THC and CBD that result from the extraction process. The best quality FECO products are produced using subzero ethanol extraction.
Different molecules have either a polar or non-polar structure. That is they are either different at each end of the molecules (non-polar) or they have a positive and negative (polar) structure. The components of a cannabis plant—cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids—vary in whether they are polar or not. Ethanol is able to extract all of them which is why we use the term “full-extract” in full-extract cannabis oil or FECO.
The ethanol is cooled to around -40˚C before extraction and kept above -30˚C during the process. The advantage of this is that fewer filtration steps are required after extraction. In the evaporation process, the THC/CBD solution is subjected to vacuum and heat which evaporates the solvent leaving behind the crude cannabis oil at an average cannabinoid potency of 60-70%. A third step of distillation subjects the oil to a deeper vacuum and more heat so that the cannabinoids themselves are refined resulting in a distillate potency of 85-95%.
FECO Cancer Protocol Dosage Guidelines
While there is a difference in the extraction methods used for Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) but we do believe in the dosage protocol for achieving optimum results with Full Extract Cannabis Oil. The Rick Simpson protocol involves steadily increasing the dosage of FECO over a period of 90 days so that patients consume a total of 60 grams in this period.
The reason for this steady increase over time is because of the potency of FECO. After the build-up phase of the first 30 days, patients will be consuming one gram per day when using a standard THC FECO. People with particularly high sensitivity to THC may be advised to first try treatment with a CBD dominant or 1:1 THC/CBD FECO.
FECO packaging is designed to enable patients to very accurately measure their dosage. Some people may prefer to eyeball the dosage and a grain of rice is normally used as a suitable measure.
- Days 1-7: 10mg per day (⅓ grain of rice)
- Days 8-11: 20mg per day (⅔ grain of rice)
- Days 12-15: 40mg per day (1 ⅓ grain of rice)
- Days 16-19: 80mg per day (2 ⅔ grain of rice)
- Days 20-23: 160mg per day (5 ⅓ grains of rice)
- Days 24-27: 320mg per day (10 ⅔ grains of rice)
- Days 28-31: 600mg per day (20 grains of rice)
- Days 32-90: 1000mg per day (33 ⅓ grains of rice)
Please note that as with all cannabis products, the dosage will vary on a case-by-case basis. Contact a dosing specialist from King Harvest Wellness to find out exactly what dosage will work best for you.
FECO Administration and Best Practices
As a medical-grade cannabis oil extract, FECO is best administered in one of two ways – sublingually or as a suppository.
The term sublingual means to apply under the tongue. This is an area that is capillary rich so the oil can be absorbed efficiently and immediately distributed through the bloodstream. While it is safe to ingest FECO, the beneficial effects will be delayed through digestion.
- Suppository: A suppository is a small capsule that is inserted into the rectum. They are a similarly fast delivery method for the oil to absorb into the bloodstream. Suppositories also offer high absorption rates where around 70% of the compounds are absorbed and utilized.
Patients who use suppositories tend to not feel high but they still receive all of the benefits of the cannabinoids and terpenes through the entourage effect. It is equally possible to smoke FECO but users often report it being an intense and unpleasant experience.
Each patient will respond to the delivery methods in different ways so it is important to find a method that works best for you. If you have any questions on which method could be best for you, book a consultation with our FECO specialists today.
Supporting Evidence from Research Studies
There is currently no clinical research into FECO products specifically to affirm their efficacy in cancer treatment. Many studies have explored the anti-cancerous benefits of cannabinoids and specific terpenes like Caryophyllene, Limonene, and Mycrene mentioned previously.
Much of the literature from many of the biggest cancer organizations globally is sticking to the narrative of traditional cancer treatment. For any oncology patient, the aggressiveness of traditional pharmaceuticals is overwhelming. Medicinal cannabis is often prescribed for oncology patients to cope with the side effects, particularly malnutrition, nausea, and pain relief. The overwhelming anecdotal evidence from patients for the benefits of cannabis is stoking the acceleration of research in this area.
Existing research into the effect of cannabinoids on tumor growth and development is encouraging. Studies have shown that it inhibits the rapid growth of breast and prostate cancer cells. Also that some terpenes and flavonoids exhibit cytotoxicity against a variety of cancers. While these studies have only been conducted on animals,n the results are encouraging and paving the way for clinical trials which are reportedly underway in Israel.
Common Cancer Types Treated with FECO
FECO is used by patients to treat many different cancer types. Arguably the most well-documented story of cancer treatment with cannabis oil was Rick Simpson – a Canadian engineer who was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, in 2003. Inspired by a 1975 study that was the first to shine a light on the anti-tumor properties of cannabis in mouse lab testing, he created RSO and cured himself of cancer.
There is, unfortunately, no clinical evidence to scientifically prove that cannabis oil treatment can cure patients of cancer mainly due to doctors being wary of prescribing it, continued speculation, and legislation hurdles.
That said, online testimonials that have been independently verified by new media sources and medical records show that cannabis oil has been successful in treating several different cancers.
A British mother healed her grade 3 breast cancer with Full Extract Cannabis Oil treatment in March 2017. A Hollywood stuntman who was diagnosed with grade 4 colon cancer used cannabis oil to cure himself after experiencing pain beyond anything he had known before caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatment. A 63-year-old grandfather in the UK cured his liver cancer in 2014, two years after being diagnosed, using only cannabis oil.
Testimonials from other patients have described their use of FECO to treat:
- Brain cancer (glioblastoma)
- Lung cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Liver cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Anal cancer
- B-cell Lymphoma
- Skin cancer
For patients suffering from skin cancer, FECO is not the only treatment option. Whole-molecule cannabis salves can also be used to help treat irritation and manage pain.
Combining FECO with Conventional Cancer Treatments
If you are on a prescribed course of pharmaceuticals for cancer treatment, it is important to identify any potential interactions to be aware of side effects. Some common drugs You can find a comprehensive list of drug interactions here but we would advise consulting with your doctor before commencing a course of FECO treatment.
Precautions and Safety Measures
As we touched on earlier, FECO is a highly potent product. This potency enhances the beneficial effects in the body through the entourage effect and the dosage protocol is higher than even frequent cannabis consumers will be accustomed to. For patients with high sensitivity to THC, this may lead to undesired effects and a very intense high.
Side effects of FECO can include:
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite
Alternative products like CBD dominant or 1:1 THC/CBD FECO are available for patients with particularly high sensitivity. An alternative route is to consider suppository dosing where patients can experience the full benefits of FECO without the high.
We would recommend for any cancer patient who is considering FECO as a course of treatment always consult with medical professionals before commencing. While professional advice is likely to recommend against the use of cannabis oil—clinicians are still not convinced by the existing evidence-based data—it is important that patients with other underlying physical or psychological conditions are educated on evidence-supported potential risks.
The Future of FECO and Medical Cannabis in Oncology
We can say with confidence that the wave of current research into the viability of cannabis as an anticarcinogenic and tumor-growth inhibitor is paving the way for cannabis to be used to fight cancer in years to come. Without getting lost in waves of speculation and looking only at published research, there is growing evidence that is influencing a change in the status quo.
One example is this study looking into the new potential breakthrough for ovarian cancer. It states that “there is significant value in the development of these compounds as anti-cancer therapies in clinical practice as they do not produce the typical toxic side effects that exist with conventional therapies and recent clinical trials have shown their great tolerability by patients at high doses.
Cannabis is currently prescribed to many oncology patients as a way to manage immediate and long-lasting side effects of chemotherapy and radiography. These include chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, and chemotherapy-induced alopecia. Cannabis use as an integrative medicine continues to evolve.
There has also been a study into the use of cannabidiol alongside conventional brain cancer treatments which resulted in findings that the two patients involved were more likely to respond to the treatment and have a longer life expectancy.
The significant barrier to progress in cannabis research remains legislation. Now, much of the research into the use of cannabis as an anti-cancer treatment is centered around Europe and Israel where multiple tumor cell lines have been inhibited in vitro.
Combining these studies with testimonials from cancer patients using cannabis for symptom relief and the consequential anecdotal evidence, there is growing interest in this field of research. But in addition to further research, we also want and need to see more open-mindedness from oncologists.
It is safe to say that the future is looking bright for FECO and cannabis’ role in cancer treatment.