CBD patches for chronic pain relief in neck, back and knees
There are over 100 different cannabinoids within the cannabis plant, with CBD being the second most abundant. The number of benefits that cannabidiol – as it is also known – can potentially have for users appears to be limitless. While substantial amounts of research are still required to firmly establish the burgeoning stockpile of anecdotal evidence.
The most common benefits that people experience when it comes to consuming this substance can be in pain relief, improving quality of sleep and reducing anxiety. Primitive studies have suggested this aforementioned anecdotal evidence, but far more comprehensive research is still required.
With the recent explosion in popularity of CBD, there has naturally been rapid innovation in terms of delivery formats. The range of forms can be quite overwhelming from many, with oils in tincture format, topical products such as creams and balms all potentially effective options.
This article, however, will focus on transdermal CBD patches. These are essentially a small plaster style patch that delivers the substance at a consistent rate over a 24-hour period. There is no doubt that patches are one of the most efficient delivery formats and are particularly effective in combatting chronic pain.
What is CBD?
It’s one of the most dominant active components that form the molecular make-up of the cannabis plant. Typically, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, as this has far lower tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content.
Unlike the psychoactive component THC, it’s a non-psychoactive substance. This means that it does not produce the feeling of being “high’ – the typical feeling associated with cannabis in popular culture. The World Health Organisation has also gone on record to state that there is “no evidence of public health related problems” from its usage.
With medical interest growing at an increasingly hasty rate, the innovation in products has led to perhaps the most fascinating of delivery methods to date – transdermal patches.
What are these patches?
The concept of patches is a fairly straightforward one. They are simply a transdermal patch that contain CBD within the adhesive. Depending on the amount within that particular patch, this is then steadily delivered into the user’s bloodstream over a 24-hour period.
There are a number of reasons why people prefer patches over other methods. The primary reason for choosing patches would be the increased bioavailability of this particular delivery format. When consuming orally, in capsule or oil form, much of the CBD is broken down by our digestive system before it is able to take effect. When delivering it dermally however, the digestive system is bypassed.
Patches are also a discreet method of consuming it. With a small nicotine patch style plaster on the top of the arm or inside of the wrist, it’s unlikely to draw any unwanted attention from ill informed individuals. Patches are certainly more discreet than dropping oil under the tongue or carrying a tub of capsules around.
Another major reason for the popularity of patches is that they are incredibly convenient to use. Unlike oil or capsules, which have to be taken three or even four times a day, a patch can be placed on the arm in the morning and then forgotten about until the next morning. Furthermore, those who are uncomfortable with the effect that the CBD is having can simply remove the patch. This is not the case with oils or capsules, as once they have been taken, they are in the system until they are broken down and excreted.
How do patches work?
In terms of how patches actually work, the technology itself is incredibly simple. They work in a similar fashion to nicotine patches, which have been commonplace for a number of years now.
Initially, the patch will deliver CBD to the local area around the patch and this will then make its way into the bloodstream. The substance is then circulated throughout the body across a 24-hour period. This is very different to other topical products such as creams and balms, which have to be applied multiple times per day once the effect tapers off. In theory, this should provide a steady rate of relief from symptoms.
Patches typically use some form of permeation enhancer, such as microneedles, to increase the permeability of the skin. This allows more CBD to pass through.
Patches and chronic pain relief
As previously mentioned, research into CBD and pain relief specifically is still in an embryonic phase. That said, the limited number of studies that have been carried out to date are showing promising signs. There has been a particular focus on pain associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis.
There are two key processes through which it can provide effective pain relief.
The first of these occurs in the body’s endocannabinoid system. The substance delivered via a patch will work alongside the endocannabinoid system to block pain receptors from sending pain signals to the brain. This is particularly effective for any pain associated with the nervous system, such as fibromyalgia.
The second of these pain battling processes occurs as a result of the anti-inflammatory effects that CBD possesses. This reduces the level of pain that the individual will feel from certain types of inflammation. This is particularly pertinent in the case of arthritis, which causes painful inflammation that CBD has the ability to alleviate.
Of the limited number of studies that have been conducted around CBD, a substantial percentage have focused on pain relief. One particular study conducted in 2007 by Trovato, Comelli, Costa et al (The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain) found it to be an efficient reliever of chronic pain in mice who were suffering with both neuropathic and inflammatory pain.
Additionally, a meta review of studies carried out by Meng, Johnston, Bradley et al in 2017 (Selective Cannabinoids for Chronic Neuropathic Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis) found that CBD provided effective analgesic benefits to patients suffering with chronic neuropathy.
The main benefit to choosing patches when it comes to pain relief is the fact that it provides a steady dose over a long time period. It is not uncommon that, when using it orally for pain, a user may experience symptoms when their previous dose has worn off. This leads to a painful wait for the next dose to take effect. The advantage of patches is that it provides a consistent dose over a 24-hour period, meaning that there is no drop off where symptoms can ravage the user.
How to use patches
Patches are incredibly easy to use. Just like any other dermal patch, simply apply the patch to a venous area of the body with a large area of skin. This is why the top of the outside of the arm is a viable place. The inside of the wrist is another common area to place the patch.
That said, it can depend on the individual and where their symptoms of pain occur. For example, a user with lower back pain problems may place the patch on their lower back. This is because it initially takes effect in the area local to the patch.
As previously mentioned, another benefit of patches is that they can be removed should the user feel uncomfortable with the effects that are taking place. This said, the side effects associated with CBD are usually both rare and benign.
CBD should not be used by children or pregnant women. Aside from these two categories, the vast majority of people can benefit from regular use. The side effects, as mentioned, are not particularly noteworthy but can include:
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Dry mouth
It is important to always contact a GP or doctor prior to using CBD.
The escalation in popularity of CBD has lead to rampant innovation and an overwhelming plethora of products on offer. This article has tackled the pros and cons of a few different products, but it appears clear that the future lies in dermal patch technology.
As research continues to grow apace in the coming years, there seems little doubt that patches will be at the forefront of the evolution.
In terms of pain relief specifically, the consistent 24-hour delivery format of patches is undoubtedly a huge advantage. This not only allows the user to enjoy a full day of pain relief, but equally importantly, they are also more likely to enjoy an uninterrupted night of sleep. We all know what a massive difference this can make to behaviour the following day.
As always, be vigilant when choosing the right patch. It is important to always seek third party, independent lab reports in order to ensure the absence of harmful substances such as heavy metals or pesticides. Finally, always be sure to ask a GP or doctor before using any CBD product.
The editorial unit
The material contained in this article is of the nature of general comment only and does not give advice on medical or any particular matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of this article’s information without taking appropriate advice from a healthcare professional.