It is common knowledge that CBD products may be eaten, drunk, inhaled, and applied sublingually (under the tongue). However, that’s not all. CBD products can also be directly applied on the skin – and no, we’re not talking about CBD creams, balms, salves, and other CBD topicals. There’s another category called CBD patches. Understandably, you may begin to think that CBD patches are just another item on the list, but they aren’t. They are, in fact, very unique. And this is why this article has been written to help you navigate the wonder and workings of CBD patches. In essence, it discusses the meaning of CBD patches, types, how they work, and how best to optimize their benefits.

What Are CBD Patches?
These are patches containing a measured dose of cannabidiol molecules, usually infused in an isolated solution, gel, or oil. They are typically combined with carriers and permeation enhancers. As such, the patch’s high concentration of CBD and your skin’s low concentration of CBD helps move the cannabinoids out of the patch and into your body. By implication, you don’t have to remember to keep taking doses or have to deal with peaks and lows. The small patches are also discreet, meaning you can use them anytime and anywhere. Although a CBD transdermal patch may be alien to the CBD realm, the technology has been around for decades now. Like nicotine or birth control patches, a CBD transdermal patch gets the required content delivered into your bloodstream, but with more innovative twists.

How are CBD Patches Made?
CBD patches aren’t generally the same due to the different ways they are made. Currently, you’ll find two different types of CBD patches on the market: matrix patches and reservoir patches. Due to their relative benefits, it is important to know the difference between matrix patches and reservoir patches.

• Matrix patches

These typically contain five layers:
A peel-off layer that protects the CBD
A “matrix” layer infused with CBD
A separating layer
An adhesive layer
A protective backing layer

The adhesive layer holds the matrix layer to your skin. The CBD molecules move from the patch into your skin’s capillaries and then into your bloodstream.

• Reservoir patches
These are different in important ways. The key element here is the CBD reservoir’s permeable release membrane. However, they still have a peel-off layer, an adhesive, and a protective backing. Manufacturers can modify that membrane to control the CBD delivery rate. This gist here is to ensure that the patch releases CBD at a steadier and more controlled pace than the tapered release of a matrix patch. Going by this, reservoir patches may be a better choice as they’re more effective at releasing CBD at a controlled rate.

How do CBD Patches Work?
Our cells are made of lipids – and cannabinoids are also lipids. So, CBD patches pass CBD directly into our skin cells’ cannabinoids. It readily diffuses through our cells, and finally makes way into our blood vessels. Put differently, CBD patches deliver cannabinoids into your bloodstream through the skin, which allows the CBD to reach your endocannabinoid system. It then binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce a variety of therapeutic effects, but won’t make you high.


However, ordinarily, transdermal delivery has been described as somewhat slow and inefficient. This is because the skin routinely keeps out contaminants, toxins, and other compounds. This means that CBD patches need to be able to find a way around the skin’s natural protective layers. For this reason, CBD patches use “permeation enhancers” that give CBD the extra push to get it into the bloodstream. These permeation enhancers can be in the form of chemical solutions and physical enhancers like microneedles, as suggested by Discover CBD. However, natural permeation enhancers like terpenes and essential oils may also be used.

What Benefits Do CBD Patches Offer?
Essentially, CBD patches have the benefit of being an extremely efficient cannabinoid delivery method because about 50% of what is applied to the skin gets into the bloodstream, even without permeation enhancers. A little comparison is appropriate here. When you inhale or ingest CBD, there is less guarantee that the molecules will eventually reach the bloodstream. While the lungs are relatively good at absorbing CBD (about 50% of what you inhale), this varies from person-to-person and puff-to-puff. And when ingested, a lot of CBD passes through the body without being absorbed at all, and the liver breaks it down as well. Ultimately, only about 5% of the CBD you swallow ends up connecting with your endocannabinoid system (ECS).CBD patches easily sidestep these limitations by delivering the cannabinoids directly to your bloodstream and the endocannabinoid system.

What’s more, the loss is minimal! Especially for people with skin disorders, the CBD activates the skin cells directly. It bypasses the need to travel through the blood. It is also one of the most discreet delivery options: you don’t have to carry around a bottle of capsules or tincture or find time and space to douse them. Just wear the patch under your clothes, in the shower, at the gym, wherever and you’re good to go! Unlike the peaking and tapering of other delivery methods, CBD patches offer consistent dosing. They steadily release the cannabinoids into your body over time. Interestingly, manufacturers are formulating patches with different doses and timeframes to fit different clinical and therapeutic needs. If you don’t fancy the taste of CBD oils or other edibles or avoid the effects of smoke or vapor on your lungs and throat, patches are a smart alternative.

In conclusion, optimizing the benefits of CBD patches relies on precisely how you use them. According to Discover CBD, to use a CBD patch, all you need to do is remove the protective film, apply the patch to your skin and wear it for the timeframe listed on the packaging. Your wrists, ankles, upper arms, shoulders, and the back of your neck are ideal locations for applying these transdermal CBD patches.