Over the years, research into the cannabis plant has progressed in leaps and bounds. And with the booming CBD industry, new and innovative ways to take this plant-powered supplement are always in development. If you’re looking to target the therapeutic power of this cannabinoid to a specific area of your body, why not try CBD patches?
Here, we delve into the what and why behind this increasingly popular way to get your daily dose of CBD.
What are CBD patches?
Patches are one of the newer ways to take cannabidiol, better known as CBD, the major non-psychoactive cannabinoid in the Cannabis sativa plant. If you’re already familiar with the concept of nicotine patches, CBD patches work in a similar way. When applied to the skin, they provide a slow and steady delivery of CBD in a targeted area throughout the day.
Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s mind-altering molecule, CBD won’t get you high – but it could provide powerful therapeutic relief. In the clinic, CBD has been shown to help manage seizures in rare forms of epilepsy. But in its more commercially-available form, CBD may help to relieve anxiety, chronic pain, and many other inflammatory conditions.
How do they work?
Patches offer a transdermal delivery of CBD – meaning, across the skin. This offers a continuous release of CBD into the bloodstream, targeting receptors in that specific area. CBD then interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signalling network that helps to regulate countless biological processes.
The ECS is responsible for coordinating our mood, appetite, sleep, immune activity, memory, and more. Although it isn’t fully understood how CBD works, it is believed to support the function of the ECS, helping to maintain biological stability in the body.
Specifically, CBD patches are thought to offer direct relief for pain and inflammation in the skin, joints, or muscles. This is because cannabinoids can interact with receptors throughout the ECS that modulate pain. Similarly, CBD can have a strong influence on immune cell activity, resulting in potent anti-inflammatory action.
What are the benefits of CBD patches?
Compared to other transdermal delivery methods – such as creams, lotions, gels, and other topical products – CBD patches may be a better option. They deliver CBD over a long period of time, so they can offer long-lasting effects (approximately 8-12 hours). This also means that don’t need to be reapplied throughout the day, unlike other topicals.
Since patches also deliver CBD directly into the bloodstream, it bypasses the digestive system. As one study suggests, transdermal administration increases the bioavailability of CBD. This is because, when taken orally, much of the CBD is broken down in the stomach before it is properly absorbed. So with a CBD patch, you’re effectively getting more out of the same dose than with capsules or gummies.
They may be a hugely convenient and discreet way to get your daily dose, but are CBD patches as effective as oils, capsules, and the other popular ways to take CBD?
Can CBD patches help with pain?
Although research into the effect of CBD on pain is still in its infancy, there is some existing evidence to suggest that CBD may help to relieve both inflammatory pain and nerve pain. Specifically, many people choose to use CBD to manage symptoms of various conditions characterised by chronic pain, including arthritis, endometriosis, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.
What’s more, as one 2020 study reported, 94% of opioid users say that taking CBD has improved their quality of life, with over half of participants reporting reduced or eliminated opioid use after 8 weeks of taking CBD.
In terms of specific research into CBD patches, the data is even more limited. Although no studies have explicitly tested the effectiveness of CBD patches, there is some promising evidence in favour of the transdermal delivery of CBD in reducing pain and inflammation.
In 2016, one study investigated the effects of CBD gel using an animal model of arthritis. The researchers found that CBD significantly reduced swelling, inflammatory pain, and inflammatory blood markers after four days of application.
Similarly, in 2020, a small-scale study showed that the transdermal application of CBD oil significantly reduced nerve pain in 15 patients. Another 2020 review also concluded that topical CBD may be an effective treatment in reducing pain and inflammation in recovery from a back injury.
Although more hard data is needed, there is an abundance of testimonials claiming that CBD patches can effectively target specific aches and pains.
How to use CBD patches
CBD patches work best when applied to a large, soft area of skin. They should also be applied as close to the target area as possible, but bony areas of the body should be avoided. Common areas for the application of CBD patches include:
- Lower back
- Back of the neck
- Inner bicep
- Lower thigh (behind the knee)
Most commercially-available CBD patches are designed to be waterproof, so they can be worn to swim or in the shower. Just take extra care when washing the area.
Safety and side effects of CBD patches
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that CBD is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile,” but it has shown to cause mild side effects in some people. This could include nausea, appetite changes, and fatigue, but these side effects are typically remedied with the correct dosage.
If you are on other medication, it is important to consider the risk of drug interactions whilst using CBD. Always consult a doctor or medical professional before adding CBD to your treatment plan.
CBD patches also typically contain chemical carriers to enhance the permeability of the skin and help the CBD to be absorbed. Some people may be allergic to these chemicals, so be sure to read the ingredients list carefully before purchasing CBD patches. Similarly, the adhesive used may cause skin irritation for those with sensitive skin.
What to look for in a CBD product
With the increasing popularity of CBD, high-quality products are widely available. When on the hunt for CBD patches from a trustworthy brand, here are a few things to consider.
As with any supplement, it’s important to know exactly what you’re putting in your body. Every CBD brand should display its lab reports from third-party laboratory testing to ensure that its products contain no harmful ingredients.
This also provides a useful indication of the potency of the product. You should be able to see exactly how much CBD it contains and if there are any other useful cannabinoids present in the product, including exactly how much THC the product contains.
Another crucial thing to consider is CBD traceability, which is the ability to trace the CBD back to its origin. If a brand isn’t transparent about where its plants were grown or how its CBD was extracted, it’s time to look elsewhere.
CBD patches are just one of many ways to get your daily dose of this powerful cannabinoid. For more information about how to navigate the world of CBD, take a look at leafie’s latest guide.