Cannabis transdermal patches are a new and unique way to experience the benefits of medical marijuana. You may be familiar with transdermal patches that administer other medications like birth control, pharmaceuticals for pain or nicotine. Cannabis transdermal patches work much the same way, with cannabinoids time-released directly into the bloodstream to provide long-lasting relief without the side effects associated with smoking, vaping or eating cannabis.
Cannabis transdermal patches store active cannabinoids inside a reservoir that has an impermeable backing on one side and an adhesive that sticks to the skin on the other side. When adhered to the skin over a veiny area, cannabinoids are transferred from the patch through all layers of the skin and absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
Our skin has a protective permeability barrier, which prevents us from absorbing microbes like bacteria, fungi, viruses and other substances. To get past this barrier, marijuana transdermal patches use carrier molecules, which attach to the cannabinoids and carry them over the skin barrier and into the bloodstream.
Transdermal patches have a higher bioavailability than that of any other method of marijuana consumption, because they bypass the digestive and respiratory systems. When you ingest or inhale cannabis, a percentage of the cannabinoids is digested or metabolized by the liver before entering your bloodstream. With a transdermal patch, you absorb 100% of the available cannabinoids, giving a 10 mg dose of cannabis though a patch a medicinal value closer to an 80 mg dose from other consumption methods.
The measured dose of cannabinoids in a transdermal patch is slow-released to provide consistent and continual dosage for all-day or all-night relief. You’ll feel the effects of a patch within roughly 20 minutes of applying it, and they’ll generally last between eight to 12 hours.
The effects from a marijuana transdermal patch come on quicker than the effects of edibles do, though their onset is a bit slower than that of smoking. Meanwhile, transdermal cannabis’s effects last longer than both of these modes of administration. With a gradual entry and exit, the overall experience with a transdermal patch is more even and consistent than experienced with other ways of consuming cannabis.
Transdermal patches contain cannabis isolates that have been extracted from the plant and purified, with no other active molecules present. Patches are generally available in a variety of formulations with different isolated cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). Doses can range from 10–50 mg, and there are indica and sativa options for both nighttime and daytime use.
Among the cannabis transdermal patches available, you’ll find a variety of ratios of CBD to THC. These two cannabinoids offer benefits on their own even as they work well together. While THC is known for its analgesic, anti-emetic and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD offers anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic and anti-seizure benefits. THC is known as the molecule that causes you to feel high, while CBD balances out the psychoactivity of THC and eases the paranoia or anxiety that can come with consuming THC.
To find the ratio that’s right for you, consider how much psychoactivity you can handle and what conditions you want to relieve. A pure CBD patch has none of the psychoactive effects of THC, and provides mood uplifting and anti-inflammatory benefits. Balanced 1:1 ratios of CBD to THC offer a wide range of therapeutic benefits for sleep, pain and muscle spasms. Ratios with more THC will result in greater psychoactive effects while transdermal patches with more CBD will have a more calming influence with less psychoactivity.
While both patches and topicals—such as lotions, creams, balms, salves and ointments—are administered via the skin, the effects are different. With marijuana topicals, cannabinoids are absorbed into the top layers of the skin, but aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream. This means they have little to no psychoactive effects and are best used for localized relief on a specific body part.
On the other hand, transdermal patches deliver cannabis past all of the epidermal layers to reach the bloodstream. This means transdermal patches can produce psychoactive effects. This also makes transdermal patches a better option when you need steady and long-lasting relief.
Cannabis transdermal patches are easy to use and the most effective way of consuming medical marijuana. They’re perfect for folks who wish to medicate with cannabinoids but who aren’t interested in smoking or eating their medicine. Plus, if you try a transdermal patch and discover it’s not for you, simply remove the patch and the effects will go away in just a few minutes. Do you consume cannabis via a transdermal patch? If so, let us know why in the comments section below.
Photo credit: Makhmutova Dina