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Transdermal CBD Patch: How They Work and Where to Buy One

There is a vast array of CBD products on the market. The ‘usual suspects’ include CBD oils, edibles, topicals, and e-liquids. CBD topicals are an innovative way of using the cannabinoid. The process involves rubbing cream on the affected part of the body. The thing about CBD creams, salves, and ointments is that they don’t reach the bloodstream.

A transdermal patch is different. You apply it to the skin, and it slowly releases the cannabinoids into the body. They ultimately reach the bloodstream. There are CBD transdermal patches on the market that work for up to 96 hours!

These products utilize a drug delivery system that is over 40 years old. In this article, we take a deep dive into the world of transdermal CBD patches. This includes details on how they work, the types of patch available, and the pros and cons.

What Is a Transdermal CBD Patch?

A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2015 outlined the history of transdermal patches. Humans have used topical therapy for at least 100,000 years, according to the researchers! The study ran through the history of transdermal products.

It noted that scopolamine was the first transdermal patch on the market. Released in 1979, scopolamine was for the treatment of motion sickness. Further patches appeared for conditions such as hypertension and chronic pain.

Perhaps the most famous use of the transdermal patch was for smoking cessation. Brands such as Nicorette have made a fortune by selling patches to smokers.

These patches slowly release nicotine into the body. As it is seemingly the most addictive drug in tobacco cigarettes, providing users with a nicotine hit helped them stop smoking.

The transdermal CBD patch is a relatively new product. It uses the old technology to provide users with a low but long-lasting amount of cannabidiol.

How Does a Transdermal CBD Patch Work?

The patch often resembles a sticking plaster and is infused with a measured amount of CBD. It is combined with permeation enhancers and carriers to improve bioavailability. CBD patches utilize a drug concentration gradient. The patch contains a relatively large amount of CBD. It naturally wants to spread to an area with a low concentration of CBD (the skin).


The gradient, from high to low concentration, pulls the CBD from the patch into the skin. Ideally, consumers will place it on a clean part of the body with a high vein concentration. This should facilitate a greater rate of absorption into the bloodstream.

The patches pass the CBD straight to the skin cells. Because cannabinoids are lipids, just like our cell walls, the CBD diffuses easily through the skin and travels to the blood vessels. In simple terms, the patches deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream via the skin. The CBD reaches the endocannabinoid system (ECS). There, it binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Transdermal delivery is relatively inefficient and slow. Human skin is extremely adept at keeping out toxins, contaminants, and compounds. As a result, some brands include permeation enhancers to help the CBD bypass the skin’s natural protective layers. Fortunately, the terpenes and essential oils found in hemp and cannabis act as natural permeation enhancers.

Two Types of Transdermal CBD Patches

When you search for the best CBD patches, you typically have two options.


These CBD patches consist of five layers that protect the cannabinoid. There is a ‘peel-off’ layer, followed by the ‘matrix’ layer infused with cannabidiol. Then there are separating, adhesive, and protective backing layers. It is the adhesive layer that keeps the matrix layer on your skin. The CBD travels from the patch to the capillaries of your skin and then to your bloodstream.


These patches have the peel-off, adhesive, and protective backing layers. However, the permeable release membrane is crucial to the efficacy of this CBD patch type. Companies can alter the membrane to change the delivery rate of CBD. The result is a slow and steady release. This is in contrast to the matrix patch’s tapered release.

In general, the reservoir CBD patch is the superior option. They offer a more controlled release of cannabinoids.

How to Use Transdermal CBD Patches

In general, CBD patch sellers should provide detailed instructions. Consumers should read them carefully before use. Here is the usual process:

  • Decide where you want to place the CBD patch and clean the skin thoroughly.
  • Remove the protective lining on the patch, and avoid touching the sticky part.
  • Place the sticky side on the skin, and press down on the patch to ensure it is firmly attached.
  • Most patches can handle a little moisture. However, don’t allow the patch to get soaked.
  • Keep the patch on for the allotted time. This varies depending on the brand. For example, PureKana’s CBD Transdermal Patches contain 60mg of the cannabinoid. A single patch lasts for up to 96 hours.
  • Remember, the patch works best on venous parts of the skin. Ideal locations include the back of the neck, shoulders, wrists, and ankles.

What Are the Benefits of Using Transdermal CBD Patches?

There are several reasons why a growing number of people use CBD patches. Let’s check out a few.

Higher Bioavailability

One of the puzzles that CBD product manufacturers must solve is the issue of bioavailability. This relates to the absorption rate of the cannabinoid. Orally consumed CBD has a bioavailability level of between 4% and 20%. This means if you consume 100mg of CBD edibles, a maximum of 20mg will make it to the bloodstream.

The bioavailability of topicals and transdermal CBD patches is significantly higher. A study published in Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy in 2010 looked deeper into this issue. It found that topical and transdermal products had a bioavailability rate of around 45%. Products consumed intranasally had a rate between 34% and 46%.

The reason for the higher absorption rate is because the CBD in patches bypasses the liver and stomach. When you ingest cannabidiol products, they have to pass through both organs. They break down whatever goes into them, thus diluting the CBD.

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Accurate CBD Content

As long as consumers use a reputable brand, they know the patch has a proper pre-measured amount. For example, the PureKana patch has 60mg of CBD, which is released over 96 hours. This is the equivalent of 15mg of CBD per day.

Discretion & Convenience

Users can wear the CBD patch anywhere on the body, away from prying eyes. Once they apply it, there is no need to touch it until all the CBD is delivered. Consumers don’t have to carry around a CBD container or worry about using it in public. If they don’t like the taste of CBD products, patches offer yet another bonus.

What Are the Downsides of Using Transdermal CBD Patches?

No product is perfect, and transdermal CBD patches are no different. Here are a few things you may not like about them:

They Are Expensive in a Relative Sense

On a per mg of CBD per dollar basis, CBD patches are among the costliest products. It is common for a 60mg patch to cost around $18. This is the equivalent of paying $300 for 1,000mg of CBD. Oils and tinctures usually cost in the $100-150 range. Even allowing for greater bioavailability, patches are on the pricey side.

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Slow Acting

CBD patches are great if you don’t mind that it takes hours for them to take effect. However, individuals using CBD for chronic pain may want something that acts faster. A prime example is vaping CBD e-liquid. Patches are also far from ideal if a condition causes the pain level to vary several times a day.

Awkward Sensation for Some

CBD patches are not a good option for those who generally find the sensation of things touching the skin irritating. Such individuals won’t enjoy the process of wearing a patch for four days!

Final Thoughts on Transdermal CBD Patches

If you fancy a slow and steady release of CBD, transdermal patches represent an exciting innovation. Apply one to clean skin, and let it run its course. You can still use other CBD products while you wear the patch. If you do this, please take note of how much CBD you are ingesting each day. For most people, transdermal CBD patches represent a convenient and discreet way to get a controlled amount of cannabidiol.

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