Disclaimer: Keep out of reach of children. For use only by adults 21 years of age and older.
Welcome to WeEdu 209! In our last installment of WeEdu we talked about cannabis topicals, the lotions, balms, and soaking agents that relieve pain and inflammation without causing intoxication. Today’s topic is related, but different.
Our current topic is transdermals. Read on to learn how this compact, discreet consumption method can help relieve pain and inflammation while offering users the option of experiencing cannabis’s intoxicating effects.
What Are Transdermals?
Transdermals are cannabis topicals that are absorbed into the bloodstream, meaning they are capable of causing intoxication (unlike many standard cannabis topicals). There are two primary types of cannabis transdermal products: patches and gels.
Transdermal gels can be applied directly to a painful or inflamed area, much like a standard topical lotion or balm. However, once the cannabinoids take effect, they’re capable of providing widespread relief across the body.
Transdermal patches are worn on the body. They have an adhesive side, like a bandage, and they’re applied externally so that the medication inside can be absorbed through the skin. You may be familiar with other types of transdermal patches, as they are commonly used to administer nicotine (for people trying to give up smoking tobacco) as well as certain prescription medications like birth control or pain medication.
Cannabis transdermals work the same way that other transdermal patches and gels work. They deliver concentrated cannabinoids that have been combined with a carrying agent and additives to improve permeation through the skin. Whether you use patches or gels, transdermal products may contain concentrated THC, THC-A, CBD, CBN, or some combination of cannabinoids. They also come in single cannabinoids (for example, all THC) or varying concentrations, such as 3:1 CBD to THC, 1:1 CBD to THC, etc.
How Do Cannabis Transdermals Work?
If you have a specific area that’s bothering you, you may wish to use transdermals on that part of the body. However, some experts advise that cannabis transdermals may be most effective when applied to body parts that have a higher concentration of veins and arteries, including the inner wrist, bicep, inner ankle, back of the neck, or anywhere on the back.
Once applied, all you have to do is leave the patch or gel in place. The process of absorption is fairly rapid. Effects typically begin within 20 minutes for some consumers. Those effects are also long-lasting, with many patients reporting relief for upwards of 8 to 12 hours. However, some products offer even longer effects that may last up to 96 hours! Always read the package carefully to ensure that you’re choosing the right product for your specific needs.
Among transdermal products, studies suggest that CBD and CBN had a substantially higher rate of absorption than THC. However, many different cannabinoids can be utilized in this consumption method, and THC is still highly effective when used in a transdermal patch or gel.
What Should I Expect From Using Transdermals?
The effects of cannabis transdermals come on slowly and steadily. Some experts advise that transdermal effects may be comparable to a slow, prolonged smoking experience, unlike a large dose of edibles, which may have almost psychedelic effects for some users.
Pros And Cons Of Cannabis Transdermals
Because transdermal cannabinoids are absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin, they avoid the lengthy process of being metabolized by the liver. This makes medicating with cannabis transdermals a much more efficient and effective consumption method than eating edibles, which can take an hour or longer to activate. However, transdermals may not be right for everyone. To help make it easier for you as a cannabis consumer, we’ve outlined the basic pros and cons of this consumption method.
Advantages Of Transdermals:
- Broad range of cannabinoids and concentrations available
- Effects come on relatively quickly
- Long-lasting symptom relief
- Avoids respiratory irritation associated with smoking
- Very discreet as a consumption method
- Easy to dial in the right medication level
Disadvantages Of Transdermals:
- No terpenes get through the skin, meaning transdermals cannot be strain specific (nothing but cannabinoids are used)
- May be difficult to apply on hairy regions of the body
- Could lead to allergic reactions for some people
Who Would Benefit From Cannabis Transdermals?
Cannabis transdermals may not be beneficial for cannabis users looking for recreational intoxication. Unlike smoking or vaping, which comes on quickly and fades after a couple hours, transdermal products that cause intoxication may have longer lasting effects than most users want for recreational purposes.
Patients should not expect a euphoric intoxication like smoking provides. However, patients seeking relaxation and chronic pain relief may benefit from cannabis transdermals. In addition to pain relief and relaxation, cannabis users seeking help sleeping at night, managing their appetite, managing seizure disorders, reducing inflammation, or treating other persistent conditions may benefit from cannabis transdermals.
Cannabis transdermals may not be for everyone, but they may be an effective means of administering specific, isolated cannabinoids for anyone who needs long-term symptom relief. Want to learn more about cannabinoids and their potential benefits? Tune into our 300 level WeEdu lessons, where we’ll be discussing the full range of cannabinoids found in cannabis!