From tinctures to edibles to capsules, oils, vape cartridges, and even flower, cannabidiol (CBD) products come in a dizzying array of forms, each with individual consumption methods. So you'd be forgiven for thinking CBD patches are just another item on the list. But they're unique. Below, we'll explain why CBD patches offer benefits other CBD products can't touch.
Easy, accurate and effective, CBD patches are as simple as it gets, even if the technology behind them is complex. In this guide, we take a close look at different types of CBD patches, how they work and how best to use them. We'll wrap up with a list of three CBD patches worth trying.
What Are CBD Patches?
Transdermal patches may be relatively new in the cannabis realm, but the technology has been around for decades. The concept is very similar to nicotine or birth control patches, with a few innovative twists that ensure the patch can effectively deliver CBD to your bloodstream.
So what exactly are CBD patches? They're patches that contain a measured dose of cannabidiol molecules, typically infused in an isolated solution, gel, or oil. Combined with carriers and permeation enhancers, the patch's high concentration of CBD and your skin's low concentration of CBD helps move the cannabinoids out of the patch and into your body.
How Are CBD Patches Made?
Not all CBD patches are the same, and their differences come down to the way they're made. Currently, you'll find two different types of CBD patches on the market: matrix patches and reservoir patches. It's important to know the difference between matrix and reservoir patches because one is more effective at delivering CBD than the other.
- Matrix patches usually contain five layers: a peel-off layer that protects the CBD, a “matrix” layer infused with CBD, a separating layer, an adhesive layer, and a protective backing layer. The adhesive layer holds the matrix layer to your skin, and the CBD molecules move from the patch into your skin's capillaries and from there, your bloodstream.
- Reservoir patches are different in important ways. They still have a peel-off layer, an adhesive, and a protective backing, but the key element is the CBD reservoir's permeable release membrane. Manufacturers can fine-tune that membrane to control the CBD delivery rate. This helps ensure that the patch releases CBD at a steadier, more controlled pace, rather than the tapered release of a matrix patch.
If you have to pick, you should go with a reservoir patch: they're more effective at releasing CBD at a controlled rate.
How Do CBD Patches Work?
CBD patches pass CBD directly into our skin cells cannabinoids. Because our cells are made of lipids, and cannabinoids are also lipids, CBD readily diffuses through our cells, eventually making the way to our blood vessels. In other words, they deliver cannabinoids into your bloodstream through the skin, which allows the CBD to reach your endocannabinoid system, where it binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce a variety of therapeutic effects.
But transdermal delivery is still somewhat slow and inefficient. Our skin is very good at keeping out contaminants, toxins, and other compounds, so CBD patches need to be able to bypass the skin's natural protective layers. That's why some CBD patches use “permeation enhancers” that give CBD the extra push it needs to enter the bloodstream.
Permeation enhancers can take a variety of forms, from chemical solutions to physical enhancers like microneedles. But there are also natural permeation enhancers that are right at home in a cannabis product, such as terpenes and essential oils.
The Benefits of CBD Patches
CBD patches have the benefit of being an extremely efficient cannabinoid delivery method: about 50% of what is applied to the skin gets into the bloodstream, even without permeation enhancers. When you inhale or ingest CBD, there is less of a guarantee that the molecules will eventually reach the bloodstream. The lungs are relatively good at absorbing CBD (about 50% of what you inhale), but this varies from person-to-person and puff-to-puff. When ingested, a lot of CBD simply passes through the body without being absorbed at all, and the liver breaks it down as well. Ultimately, only about 5% of the CBD you swallow ends up connecting with your endocannabinoid system (ECS) — which is the goal.
CBD patches skirt those limitations by allowing you to deliver cannabinoids directly to your bloodstream and ECS with minimal loss along the way. As a bonus, CBD also activates the skin cells directly (without needing to travel through the blood), which could be very beneficial for people with skin disorders.
Beyond efficiency and efficacy, CBD patches offer one of the most discreet delivery options. With patches, you don't have to carry around a bottle of capsules or tincture while finding time and space to dose them throughout the day. Instead, you just wear the patch under your clothes, in the shower, at the gym, wherever.
And unlike inhaling or ingesting, where effects peak rapidly and taper off, CBD patches offer consistent dosing, steadily releasing cannabinoids into your body over time. And manufacturers can formulate patches with different doses and timeframes to fit a variety of clinical and therapeutic needs.
In short, CBD patches could be more effective than other delivery methods. They last longer, are very efficient, and take much of the guesswork out of dosing. Plus, if you've ever been turned off by the taste of CBD oils or other edibles, or want to avoid the effects of smoke or vapor on your lungs and throat, patches are an attractive alternative.
How Do You Use CBD Patches?
The way CBD patches are made and how they work may sound complicated, but using them couldn't be easier — ease-of-use is one of the major advantages of CBD patches.
To use a CBD patch, all you need to do is remove the protective film, apply the patch to your skin and wear it for the timeframe listed on the packaging. Timeframes refer to how long the patch is actively releasing CBD into your skin, and they can range from 6-12 hours and up to 96 hours.
There are, however, a few tricks to help get the most out of your CBD patch. Most patches work best on venous parts of your body where blood vessels and capillaries are close to the surface, underneath a thin layer of skin. Your wrists, ankles, upper arms, shoulders and the back of your neck are ideal locations.
In some cases, CBD patches work best when applied directly to the area you're treating for pain and inflammation. Wherever you put it, make sure to thoroughly wash and dry your skin right before applying the patch. It's important to remove any dirt and oils that can come between you and your CBD.
The great thing about CBD patches is that you can simply apply more if you require a higher dose, or take them off if you need to stop the flow of CBD into your body.
3 CBD Patches Worth Checking Out
Pure Ratios — 96 Hour Transdermal CBD Patch (40 milligrams CBD)
There is no stronger, longer-lasting CBD patch worth your time than Pure Ratios. Their transdermal reservoir patches are infused with hemp oil containing 40 milligrams of CBD. Fast-acting and constant, Pure Ratios offers long-term relief with a patch that lasts up to 96 hours.
Pure Ratios uses natural permeation enhancers in the form of several essential oils: virgin avocado oil, EVOO, sweet almond oil and shea olein in a formula that's all-natural, hypoallergenic and additive-free. Completely waterproof, Pure Ratios' transdermal CBD patches are set-and-forget. Just apply the patch and wear it for up to 4 days for a steady dose of CBD.
Availability: United States
Price: $18.00 per patch — Find it and other Pure Ratios products on Weedmaps
Mary's Medicinals — Transdermal CBD Patch (10 milligrams CBD)
While some patches target pain and inflammation-related symptoms, Mary's Medicinals transdermal CBD patches are formulated to help reduce stress and anxiety. They are enriched with terpenes, specifically limonene, b-pinene, and b-caryophyllene. Limonene and b-caryophyllene are terpenes found in cannabis strains that reduce anxiety.
Mary's Medicinals say their transdermal CBD patches provide relief for up to 12 hours. For consumers who do not live near a licensed cannabis dispensary or retail store, there's a similar product offered under Mary's Nutritionals line. Mary's Nutritionals CBD patches are formulated with full-spectrum CBD oil and eucalyptus.
Availability: United States
Price: $10.00 per patch — Find it and other Mary's Medicinals products on Weedmaps
MÜV — 72-Hour Transdermal CBD Patch (20 milligrams CBD)
Müv's extended-release transdermal patch is all about precision dosing and maximum cannabinoid permeability. Using the company's proprietary “Evolve Encapsulated Technology,” this patch delivers a steady, controlled dose of 0.24mg CBD per hour.
High-quality and consistent, Müv offers transdermal patches in a variety of formulations, including a potent 50 milligrams CBD patch with a 12-hour timeframe. Müv CBD patches are a great choice for a mix of applications, from time-released CBD micro-dosing to fast-acting pain relief and spot treatment.
Availability: Arizona and Florida
Price: $15.00 per patch — Find it and other Müv products on Weedmaps
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