Wellness

What to Know About the Effects of CBD Patches

CBD patches do a lot more than your average topical.

Did you know you could just stick on a CBD patch and then forget about it? Many companies sell transdermal patches infused with CBD, which is one of the most unusual ways of benefiting from the calming compound.

How Do Transdermal Patches Work?

If you're not familiar with transdermal patches, here's a quick explainer: Transdermal patches are sticker-like adhesives that contain some sort of active ingredient. They release that ingredient into the body in a controlled way over the course of a few hours or days.

Medications like hormonal contraceptives and certain painkillers are often available as transdermal patches, and there are the ubiquitous nicotine patches used by those trying to quit a cigarette habit.

Because of the proximity and occlusion of the patch, the active ingredients are able to penetrate through the skin into the bloodstream without having to get broken down in the stomach. This includes CBD.

Transdermal CBD Patches

We reached out to Griffin Ward, the Head of Education at Curaleaf, to help us learn more about how transdermal CBD patches work, specifically.

"CBD transdermal patches provide a slow, steady stream of CBD over a period of time," he explains. "They can be placed anywhere on the body and CBD will spread throughout the user's system."

The result? All-day, no-fuss relief that can last for up to 24 hours, according to Ward. "While I was skeptical prior to trying them, I can't count the number of times these patches have helped me."

He strongly suggests that if you choose to try a CBD patch, make sure to choose an area of skin that's not particularly hairy, like the inner, upper arm or along the side of the torso. If that's not an option, give it a shave, or the removal process will be unpleasant.


Woman in workout clothes with 2 CBD patches on her back Source: Shannon June Fitness


How Do CBD Patches Compare to Other CBD Products?

The main difference between CBD patches and other formats is the duration of the effects.

"When smoking, vaping, or eating CBD, the effects typically last for only 4-8 hours," says Ward. "Alternately, a patch will release a constant flow of CBD over a much longer duration."

Then there's the question of how patches compare to topicals. CBD topicals, like rubs, roll-ons, and creams provide relief to a targeted area of application, and they don't penetrate into the bloodstream. CBD patches, as Ward explains, provide systemic relief. They are specifically designed to guarantee an intense level of absorption that will spread throughout the body.

The effect of a CBD patch is most similar to taking a few drops of CBD tincture sublingually throughout the day. The benefit is that you just stick it on and forget about it, and it's also more pleasant if you don't like the flavor of the tinctures or oils you've tried.

What to Know When Shopping for Transdermal CBD Patches

"Systemic relief is the most important part of a CBD patch," Ward cautions. "There are some brands currently selling patches that are just glorified topicals –– they haven't been formulated to allow absorption into the bloodstream, and instead the active ingredients are constrained to the applied area."

While simple topical patches can be helpful (like when using CBD to spot treat acne), they're not a match for a true CBD patch, like the ones made by brands like Select or PureKana.

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