CBD products are evolving, now, there are even CBD patches.
With so much innovation and product development, many brands are experimenting with new methods of delivery. CBD patches are one of the new-wave options to pique the interest of curious patients.
There are already several patents filed for CBD transdermal patches in the U.S. In fact, most of the big-CBD brands have launched a line of transdermal products. But, with so much hype, not everyone is convinced about the benefits of a transdermal CBD product.
The good news for patients curious about the potential of CBD patches is the growing body of research exploring transdermal cannabinoid applications. Many CBD brands, patients, and physicians are banking on this early work. Combined with new patch-technologies, CBD patches may be even more medicinally valuable than other methods of delivery.
The Rise of Transdermal CBD Patches
For millennia humans have applied herbal remedies to the skin for therapeutic benefit. Put simply, transdermal patches are the evolution of ancient topical ointments, creams, and compresses. In modern medicine, Dave Wurster developed and introduced the first commercially available adhesive patch in the early 1960s.
Since then, the pharmaceutical industry adopted this method of delivery for many different medicines, including motion sickness, nicotine addiction, chest pain, chronic pain (fentanyl), and many, many more. While CBD patches are a new idea for cannabis, they are actually just the next evolution of transdermal medicine.
How Do CBD Patches Work?
As per some estimates, there are more than one billion transdermal patches manufactured annually. The transition into cannabinoid patches is likely to be swift.
According to a 2018 summary published in Molecules, there are several transdermal cannabinoid products already undergoing preclinical and clinical study. Currently, there are topical cannabinoid gels in preclinical trials for the treatment of arthritis, epilepsy, osteoarthritis, fragile-X syndrome, edema, and more. There is also a CBD cream already in clinical practice for reducing pain and blistering associated with epidermolysis bullosa.
Why are CBD and other cannabinoids ideally suited for transdermal application? Transdermal methods of delivery work exceptionally well with lipophilic compounds. Lipophilicity describes molecules that have an affinity to fats and oils, as opposed to water. Naturally, cannabinoids dissolve into oily compounds, making them perfect candidates for transdermal patches.
The most basic transdermal patches deliver lipophilic compounds (like CBD), in low doses over several days. So-called “second generation” patches increase the bioavailability of the compounds with chemical enhancers, non-cavitational ultrasound, and mild electrical currents. While there may be a future with second (or even third) generation CBD patches using advanced technologies for better bioavailability, at the time of writing, all CBD patches on the market fell within the most basic category.
What Are the Benefits of Transdermal Patches?
Most products in the CBD industry are edible — think tinctures, oils, edibles, oral sprays, and capsules. Since digestion destroys much of the therapeutic value, transdermal patches are an advantageous alternative to ingested methods of delivery.
Furthermore, CBD patches deliver a consistent, accurate, and regulated dose. According to a 2009 study published in Nature Biotechnology patches make dosing easy, even if self-administered. The researchers involved said CBD patches “can provide release for long periods of time (up to one week). They also improve patient compliance, and the systems are generally inexpensive.” Essentially, CBD patches eliminate many of the issues encountered through oral or inhaled products.
Beyond the ease of use of a CBD patch in comparison to other products, there are, of course, the therapeutic benefits. As with most cannabinoid medicines, the research on CBD patches remains in the preliminary or preclinical phases. The good news? There is some (limited) research into topical and transdermal applications of CBD worth examining.
Helpful for Arthritis and Inflammation
As far back as 2003, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem published, “Cannabidiol—transdermal delivery and anti-inflammatory effect in a murine model,” in The Journal of Controlled Release. Their study — using specially bred laboratory mice — determined transdermally applied CBD was long-lasting, and reduced inflammation and edema.
A more recent study, this time published in 2016, also determined topical CBD was suitable for reducing inflammation. In, “Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain‐related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis,” researchers detail how “transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture scores as a rating of spontaneous pain, immune cell infiltration and thickening of the synovial membrane in a dose‐dependent manner.” Furthermore, the CBD dose did not alter the laboratory animal’s normal behavior.
Beyond inflammation and arthritis, scientists are beginning to try other medical uses for topical CBD. These include a transdermal gel for the treatment of epilepsy, which was well-tolerated with fewer adverse side effects than with oral products. The team of researchers presented these results to the American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting in 2016. In 2013, the Journal of Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior published a paper exploring CBD for the treatment of alcohol-related health issues. Their study concluded, “Transdermal cannabidiol prevents alcohol-induced neurodegeneration.” Better yet, it had better compliance than other methods of delivery.
The handful of studies investigating topical CBD indicate the future of CBD patches will likely include a wide variety of medical applications.
3 CBD Patches Worth Checking Out
Since the world of CBD patches is still going through the early phases of study, patients will want to stick with well-established and trusted CBD brands.
There may be cheaper, lesser-known, CBD patches hitting the market, but until the science conclusively supports the potential of these products, it’s best to find brands that already deliver value through other CBD products. If they have high-quality CBD oils, tinctures, and capsules, they will likely have high-quality CBD patches.
A few brands worth checking out:
1. Mary’s Medicinals Transdermal CBD Patches
Available at licensed dispensaries in legalized states, Mary’s Medicinals transdermal patches come in several formulations including CBD, CBD: THC, THCa, and CBN. The company recommends applying to a veinous area of the skin (inner thigh or the top of the foot), and the website states the benefits can last for upwards of twelve hours.
2. Papa & Barkley CBD Patches
Formulated with several other beneficial ingredients, including menthol, camphor, methyl salicylate, and mineral oil, Papa & Barkley suggests using their CBD patches for inflammation related to arthritic pain. Each patch contains thirty mg of cannabinoids, and the patches come in a variety of options, from CBD-rich to THC-rich. The onset of benefits should happen within sixty minutes, and the benefits can last upwards of twelve hours.
3. Synergy Skin Worx Transdermal Cannabis Patches
Synergy Skin Worx has developed a time-release product that can extend the release of the cannabinoids for up to thirty-six hours. Each patch, containing either CBD or THC formulas, contains over sixty milligrams of cannabinoids. Plus, their patches can be safely cut into smaller sizes to control dosing better. The product is water and sweat resistant.
What Does the Future of Cannabidiol Patches Look Like?
In the past decade, the transdermal patch industry is responsible for massive breakthroughs in new products with better bioavailability. As CBD companies combine these new medical breakthroughs with cannabinoids, patients will surely benefit. Although there isn’t much research specifically into the effectiveness of CBD patches, the early studies of transdermal CBD are all extremely positive.
It’s helpful to remember that up until a few years ago, CBD patches didn’t exist. Research takes time, and it will be a few years before researchers have a better grasp of the possible applications and therapeutic benefits of these revolutionary new CBD products.