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Three Reasons why CBD Transdermal Patches may be better for your daily dose

What are CBD patches and how do they work? What’s better, transdermal balms or Transdermal CBD patches? How do I use a CBD patch?
April 24, 2024
Industry News

What are CBD patches (and how do they work)?

The CBD Health and Wellness industry is packed full of questionable products. For example, how effective can CBD-infused sportswear and CBD pillow mists be? Probably not very. But as well as many novelty offerings, this space is full of CBD wellness solutions that are innovative and do work well. CBD patches, which have made their way onto the scene in a big way over the past couple of years, are one of them.

Do CBD patches work?

Transdermal patches (patches which allow a medicine or substance, like our Swiss CBD oil, to pass through the layers of the skin and into the body and bloodstream) are nothing new. In our mind, this is a good thing - they’re tried, tested and (when made right) proven to work.

Nicotine patches are perhaps one of the best-known examples, used worldwide as a smoking cessation aid. Studies have shown that through transdermal administration via a patch, ‘significant levels’ of nicotine were found in participants' saliva between 30 and 90 minutes after application.

Transdermal patches are also commonly used to administer hormone medications (such as HRT and testosterone), painkillers (including opioids) and even travel sickness drugs. Research into the safety and efficacy of transdermal patches has been ongoing for a century. Still, as one very recent example of evidence (published in January 2023), a 5% lidocaine transdermal patch significantly reduced the pain intensity in neuropathic cancer patients already receiving opioid treatment.

So, what about CBD patches? Compared to other pharmaceutical drugs that have been used in patches for some time, CBD patches are new, so there’s less research available. But there is some!

Preclinical studies have shown the transdermal application of low-dose CBD (only 6.2mg per day) reduced knee-joint swelling in arthritic mice. Better yet, CBD patches appeared to provide better absorption than oral administration. On top of having potentially superior effects to oral administration of CBD, transdermal patches have been shown to prolong the effects of many pharmacological drugs while avoiding fluctuations of drug levels. While we still need research specifically looking at this same effect with CBD, chances are the results will be similar.

How do CBD patches work?

CBD patches are not topical (like a moisturiser, for example) but transdermal. This means that rather than staying on the skin's surface, the ‘permeation enhancers’ included in the ingredients or construction of the patch will allow the CBD to travel through the multiple layers of the skin, through muscles and joints, and into the bloodstream.

By going straight through the skin, instead of via digestion or sublingual absorption, the cannabinoid bypasses ‘first pass metabolism’ - a process where the concentration of a drug is significantly reduced before circulating in the body.

This means three things:
• CBD patches are likely to deliver higher bioavailability than other methods of CBD administration
• CBD patches get to work faster than edible CBD products, which have to go through the digestive process
Transdermal administration allows a steady infusion of a drug to be delivered over a prolonged period of time.

What’s better, transdermal balms or transdermal CBD patches?

Joint and muscle balms and gels are also very popular CBD wellness products, and these can (should!) be formulated to be transdermal by including permeation enhancers. There are around 350 of these, which can come in the form of synthetic chemicals or terpenes (aromatic compounds).

However, there are benefits to CBD patches that don’t come with oils and balms. First of all, they’re incredibly convenient - there’s no ‘sinking in’ time where your skin feels sticky or moist, there’s no smell (great for those sensitive to fragrance), and the product can’t be wiped off easily on clothes. CBD patches also usually release the CBD over a prolonged period of 12 - 36 hours, depending on the patch and CBD concentration. This is great news for people who require a steady release of cannabinoids into their system over time. It is also the perfect solution for anyone who needs to remember to take their CBD regularly, delivering the best results. Finally, they’re also very discreet and perfect for on-the-go CBD use.

The only downside to patches is that they take longer to kick in than other methods. While other methods only take a couple of minutes (and vapes are instantaneous), CBD patches are likely to take at least an hour and will hit peak levels around the 12-24 hour mark. If you’re using patches regularly, this won’t be an issue, as you’ll just keep those levels up by reapplying a new patch every day or two. But if you’re after a quick effect, you should pair patches with an oil, vape or CBD drinks - all of which have speedy onsets.

How do I use a CBD patch?

Using a CBD patch couldn’t be easier! You stick it on and go. For best results, try sticking the patch to an area where you can see a vein - the crook of your arm or wrist, for example. But you can also attach directly onto a point that’s bothering you for local application.

Be sure to apply CBD patches to clean, dry, ideally hairless skin, free from moisturisers. Most CBD patches are waterproof, so you can continue to bathe and shower as usual during use.

Have you got questions about CBD patches, or are you interested in developing your own? Get in touch.   If you need additional help with Brand architecture or Brand strategy scoping, let us know as well.....

Some Brand Points to consider

• Packaging innovations can lend differentiation and appeal to convenience-minded consumers. Recent launches include CBD patch-format menstrual cramp products
• Tap into media attention on mental health/wellness, which looks at the consumers' need states (See our piece in Jan here)
• Mental health and wellness is receiving a lot of media attention in some regions, driving New Product Development (NPD) growth opportunities for natural and holistic solutions that promote the ability to help consumers sleep and de-stress, (see our piece here for ideas)
• A non-ingested format can drive NPD, and this avoids Novel foods
• Topical remedies, such as transdermal patches and muscle rubs, can appeal to those seeking more natural pain relief products and add botanical/herbal claims from the hemp plant