CBD has become increasingly popular in the UK over the last few years. You can now buy and use CBD in huge variety of formats, including CBD oil, CBD creams, CBD vapes, and transdermal CBD patches. Out of all the different CBD products listed above, perhaps transdermal CBD patches are the least known ones as not many people are aware of them. People tend to stick with familiar methods, and as such, CBD oils and CBD capsules are generally the preferred delivery format for most CBD users. In this article, we will discuss transdermal CBD patches, also known as merely CBD patches, and will explain the benefits of choosing patches over the aforementioned alternative delivery methods.
What are CBD patches?
CBD patches are dermal patches that can be applied to the skin, much like a nicotine patch. Once applied, CBD permeates directly into the bloodstream via pores in our skin. Transdermal patches have been used to deliver medicines and various substances, such as nicotine, for decades. However, it is only recently that manufacturers have started using transdermal patches for delivering CBD. Transdermal patches are an incredibly efficient delivery method for delivering a substance into the bloodstream. Nicotine transdermal patches have been an integral part of smoking cessation therapy for decades, for example.
In fact, the use of dermal patches within medicine can be traced back yet further. Ancient China were early adopters of medicated plasters that were essentially basic predecessors of the transdermal patches we used today. The Ancient Chinese would often include a variety of herbal drugs and an adhesive made from natural gum rubber, which was then applied to a paper backing.
In terms of modern technology, both nicotine and CBD transdermal patches work similarly. The only major difference between the two lies in the substance that is actively delivered into the bloodstream. In the case of transdermal CBD patches, CBD is slowly released into the bloodstream across a 24-hour period, meaning the effects are both steady and long-lasting.
How do CBD patches work?
Clearly, CBD patches contain cannabidiol or CBD, as it is more commonly known. The CBD molecules are often infused with a specific oil, gel, or solution.
CBD patches also contain carriers and permeation enhancers, that facilitate the diffusion of CBD from the patches through the membrane in our skin and directly into the bloodstream.
Due to the fact our skin contains a low concentration of CBD and the patches have an incredibly high concentration, a drug concentration gradient is established. This means that the CBD molecules naturally try to spread into the surrounding area.
The concept is essentially the same as the diffusion of heat. For example, if you poured a kettle of boiling water into a mug, the heat dissipates into the surrounding area. This is because there is a high concentration of heat within the hot water and not in the surrounding area.
The primary attraction of CBD patches lies in its high bioavailability. Transdermal delivery means that the CBD bypasses areas that traditionally break down cannabinoids, such as the liver, stomach and lungs. Hence, the increased bioavailability renders CBD patches as one of the most underutilised and highly effective CBD delivery methods.
Benefits of CBD Patches
More effective than other delivery methods
As previously mentioned, CBD patches are an incredibly effective delivery method and hold several advantages over other alternatives (including CBD oils, CBD capsules and CBD vapes). While oral methods of consumption are typically the most popular, particularly among first time users, very few people are aware of the lack of bioavailability when it comes to such methods. Our liver, stomach and lungs all serve to break down cannabinoids and remove them from our bodies as waste products.
On the other hand, CBD patches directly deliver CBD into the bloodstream, bypassing the aforementioned organs. CBD patches deliver CBD slowly over a 24 hour period, facilitating a consistent dose, which is considered more effective than taking a single CBD capsule for example. A 2018 study by Bruni, Peppa and Pessione et al (Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment), reviewed a number of clinical studies published in 2018 found that transdermal CBD patches are even more effective than oral delivery methods in the interest of bioavailability. This review looked specifically into the use of CBD transdermal patches for reducing pain and inflammation associated with various ailments such as arthritis, dermatitis, oedema, etc.
Researchers conducting this review investigated how CBD delivered through various methods reaches our bloodstream and found that oral delivery methods, although quite popular, are not as effective as transdermal patches as only a small part of CBD delivered orally reaches the bloodstream once it has passed through the digestive system.
CBD patches can start delivering CBD quicker than many expect. A user can typically feel the effects in under 30 minutes, while some may feel the difference even quicker. By way of diffusion, the lower the CBD content within your body, the quicker the user will feel the effects. CBD patches are also waterproof, so you are able to take a shower or go swimming without worrying about the effect of water on the performance of your patch, or the patch falling off.
Some people, especially those who have been taking high doses of prescribed or OTC medicines for a long time, may take longer to feel the effect as their body has a high concentration of various medications that effectively alter the physiology and blood-chemistry of the body, thus slowing down the release of CBD from the patches into the body.
No major side effects
CBD patches are not known to cause any severe side effects, although some may experience minor side effects, as with any other medication. A minute fraction complain of headaches, tiredness, skin irritation or irregular bowel movements after applying CBD patches. These side effects are often a symptom of taking a higher CBD dose than what your body can regulate.
If you do experience any adverse side effect, you can simply remove the patch and the effects will cease. Furthermore, you could potentially switch to CBD patches with a lower amount of CBD and then work back up to a higher dosage.
No need to take CBD every few hours
One of the most prominent benefits of choosing transdermal CBD patches over alternative delivery methods is the slow-release mechanism that ensures CBD is released slowly and steadily into your bloodstream.
A single transdermal CBD patch can provide you with a consistently steady CBD dose across a 24-hour period and free you from the need to take a CBD capsule, or apply CBD oil every few hours.
With much of the modern world living such chaotic and busy lives, remembering to take a capsule or apply a sublingual tincture is an unwanted additional stress. Hence, many enjoy the simplicity of a CBD patch that they can apply each morning and not have to worry about for the rest of the day.
CBD patches for pain and inflammation
CBD is a well-known pain reliever and has prominent anti-inflammatory properties. These two qualities make CBD patches ideal for treating pain and inflammation associated with several conditions such as arthritis, epidermolysis bullosa, dermatitis, oedema, rheumatic diseases, osteoarthritis, etc.
Many users have alleviated years of chronic pain and inflammation with the help of transdermal CBD patches, often after battling with prescribed painkillers.
There are a number of studies that have been conducted in recent years that investigate the efficacy of CBD in treating inflammation and chronic pain. For example, in 2007 Costa, Trovato, Comelli et al (The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain) found that CBD was an effective reliever of chronic pain in mice with neuropathic and inflammatory pain.
Additionally, a meta review of medical studies by Nagarkatti, Pandey, Rieder et al in 2009 (Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs) found that cannabinoids downregulate cytokine and chemokine production as a mechanism to supress inflammatory responses.
Discreet delivery method
CBD patches are also one of the more discreet methods of delivery, as many people are keen to keep their CBD consumption out of the public eye due to misplaced stigma and misconceptions associated with its use.
Even today, many people are confused about the differences and similarities between THC and CBD, often misattributing much of the stigma that comes with cannabis. Some still believe that CBD gets you high, which is of course inaccurate. The CBD industry as whole certainly has a large task on its hands to educate the public on the benefits and risks associated with CBD.
Until then, for those desiring discretion when it comes to their own CBD consumption, CBD patches are a terrific option.
CBD patches are ideal for a number of reasons. The number of benefits far outweigh the shortlist collated for this article. As we can see from the information above however, CBD patches have an incredibly high bioavailability, are a discreet delivery method and effectively combat a range of ailments. The fact that CBD patches steadily release CBD over a 24-hour period also stand them in good stead.
With any CBD products, it is always crucial to make sure you are buying from a reputable source. Ensure that you always seek to source an independent third party lab report for any product that you buy, confirming the absence of harmful substances such as heavy metals and pesticides.
Elena Deeley did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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