Evidence based

Top 5 CBD Transdermal Patches For Sustained Pain-Relief

Like a nicotine patch — but for CBD.

Patches are a great way to get sustained effects of CBD all day long.

Article By
Justin Cooke , last updated on November 19, 2020

Transdermal patches are one of the best ways to maintain consistent doses of CBD for long periods of time. They’re slow to take effect but provide sustained effects for several hours at a time.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about using CBD patches. We cover safety, dosage, and advice on which brands to try out first.

Let’s dig in with the top CBD patches for 2020.

  • Table of Contents

Best CBD Patches For Pain: 2020 Review

1. Social CBD Infused Patches

$10.99 – $49.99
Social CBD

Social CBD Transdermal Patch

4.17 / 5

  • Total CBD:

    20 – 180 mg

  • Potency :

    20 – 60 mg/patch

  • Cost per mg CBD:

    $0.28 – $0.55

  • Extract Type:

    Isolate

  • THC Content:

    <0.3%

Social CBD is one of our favorite CBD brands. We appreciate their focus on innovation and quality. Everything from the packaging and presentation to the strength and quality of the hemp extract itself is top-notch from this brand.

These patches are no different. They come in three separate potencies (20, 60, and 100 mg each). Each pack comes with three sweat-proof patches.

I’d recommend going with the 60 or 100 mg patches as the 20 mg is a little too weak to be used for anything more than mild muscle or skin pain. The 60 and 100 mg patches are strong enough to provide more systemic benefits.

Like everything else Social CBD sells, these patches come with complete third-party testing to prove the quality and purity of the extract.

Enter the code DAILY CBD at checkout for 20% off and free shipping.

2. Mary’s Nutritionals Transdermal Patches

$7.00 – $125.00
Mary’s Nutritionals

Mary’s Nutritionals Transdermal Patches 1 – 3 Patches

4 / 5

  • Total CBD:

    10 – 300 mg

  • Potency:

    10 mg per Patch

  • Cost per mg CBD:

    $0.40 – $0.70

  • Extract Type:

    Full-spectrum

Mary’s Nutritionals makes several high-end CBD products we’ve only recently started to experiment with. One of the first products I tried from this company was the transdermal patches. Despite how low the potency of these patches are (only 10 mg each), they were surprisingly useful for local pain relief.

These patches aren’t strong enough for systemic effects, but stick one of these to a particularly sore muscle group (like shoulders or lower back), and after about an hour, the whole muscle just seems to ease up.

The sister brand for this company — Mary’s Medicinals — makes a similar patch with THC in them as well.

3. Isodiol Rapid Relief Patch

Isodiol makes pharmaceutical grade products and often incorporates other powerful compounds in its formulas to boost the effects of CBD.

These transdermal patches are specifically designed for managing pain and combine ingredients like menthol (1%) and lidocaine (4%) with CBD for stronger pain relief.

These patches aren’t designed to offer sustained systemic effects; rather, they’re meant to support pain or discomfort in specific muscle groups.

The problem I have with this patch is that it doesn’t actually list the CBD content. I know it works, but how much of the painkilling effects are coming from the menthol and lidocaine compared to CBD?

4. The Good Patch

$12 – $120
The Good Patch

The Good Patch 1 – 10 Patches

4 / 5

  • Total CBD:

    15 – 150 mg

  • Potency:

    15 – 20 mg per Patch

  • Cost per mg CBD:

    $0.80

  • Extract Type:

    Full-Spectrum

The Good Patch is a company that specializes in making transdermal CBD patches. Their branding is on-point, and the products they have available can back it up.

You can find patches formulated for all different applications or symptoms from this company, including :

  • Hemp Queen — simple 20 mg full-spectrum hemp extract patches
  • Be Calm — 15 mg hemp extract and menthol
  • Nite Nite — 15 mg hemp extract and melatonin
  • Hangover — 15 mg hemp extract, vitamin B1, super B complex, & green tea extract
  • Period — 15 mg hemp extract, menthol, & black cohosh
  • Hot Flashes — 15 mg hemp extract, black cohosh, & menthol
  • Pain Relief — 15 mg hemp extract, menthol, & capsaicin

The targeted approach to specific problems makes these patches especially interesting. I’m a little confused about why they’re using the exact same formula for the Period and Hot Flashes patches. I also wish the dose of CBD was about double what’s included in the formula.

With that said, I still recommend these patches for mild to moderate symptoms, especially the Hemp Queen, Pain Relief, and Hangover patches.

I’d stay away from the Be Calm (what actually makes this patch calming?), Nite Nite (you don’t need a slow-release dose of melatonin), and the Period and Hot Flashes (doses of the other ingredients way too low to do anything).

Unfortunately, these patches are a bit overpriced. There are no cost savings if you buy ten patches compared to just one either. At 80 cents per mg, these patches aren’t worth the price. However, the company has sales throughout the year that cut the price virtually in half. I’ve seen these patches sell for as low as 27 cents per mg — which is much more reasonable.

5. Envy CBD Relief Wraps

$39.99
Envy

Envy CBD Wraps 3 Wraps

4 / 5

  • Total CBD:

    150 mg CBD

  • Potency:

    50 mg per Wrap

  • Cost per mg CBD:

    $0.27

  • Extract Type:

    Full-Spectrum

These CBD patches deliver 50 mg of full-spectrum CBD designed for short-duration use. This runs contrary to most CBD patches that are meant to be left on all day long.

Envy calls these patches “wraps” because they’re more of a topical product than a transdermal patch. They’re more similar to a cloth facemask than a transdermal patch, but I’ve decided to include it on the list because of similarities in how this product is used.

Each wrap contains a combination of 50 mg full-spectrum hemp extract, a water-base, glycerine, and herbal extracts of gotu kola, polygonum, and skullcap — all of which offer supportive and healing effects to the skin and connective tissue.

These wraps are designed for topical-level support for the skin, muscles, and ligaments — rather than for systemic effects like some of the other CBD patches covered here.

What is a Transdermal CBD Patch?

Transdermal patches are designed to deliver an active dose of medication or nutrients over the course of several hours. CBD patches are made with hemp extracts, but you can also find patches that deliver pain medications, nicotine, or blood pressure medications.

Patches consist of a cotton or plastic patch with a layer of CBD and a binding agent, with an adhesive layer to allow it to stick to the skin.

Once applied, the active ingredients are absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.

CBD patches are great for managing pain in the muscles and skin. The active ingredients are absorbed into the local tissue within about 30 minutes.

The systemic effects of a CBD patch are much slower. It can take well over an hour before you’ll start to feel the effects of the CBD from a patch. Transdermal absorption is slow, and only a small percentage of the active ingredients are absorbed.

With that said, patches make up for this by allowing slow but steady absorption of CBD for many hours. Some people even leave their patches on for a few days at a time — providing a consistent dose of CBD all day and night.

What Are the Benefits of Transdermal Patches

The main benefit of a transdermal CBD patch is that it can be left on for several hours or days to maintain consistent relief from pain or anxiety. It’s a great way to use CBD while you sleep, on a flight, or in any situation where it may not be possible to use CBD oils or capsules at regular intervals to maintain the concentrations of CBD in the bloodstream.

CBD has a long list of health benefits. Patches are best used for chronic pain, inflammation, or anxiety. They’re great for using CBD while traveling, where you may not be able to take CBD oils with you and want a steady dose of CBD as you travel.

The benefits of a CBD patch include:

  • Delivers a slow but steady dose of CBD throughout the day
  • It’s super simple to use a CBD patch
  • Allows you to experience the painkilling benefits of CBD throughout the night while you sleep
  • Patches are discrete
  • Other ingredients in CBD patches can boost the effects of CBD
  • Patches provide high-doses of CBD to sore or inflamed muscle groups
  • CBD enters the bloodstream directly without first-pass metabolism (more on the importance of this later)

There are also some disadvantages to CBD patches:

  • The effects of a transdermal patch are slow
  • Patches aren’t an efficient way of taking high doses of CBD
  • Patches have a higher cost for every milligram of CBD compared to other product types

Do CBD Patches Actually Work?

CBD patches do work — but there are some caveats.

Patches work best when used in conjunction with other CBD products like a CBD oil or capsule. The initial dose of CBD should be administered with a CBD oil for fast onset of effects. By the time the CBD oil wears off, the effects of the patch should start to take effect.

You can leave CBD patches on for up to 3 days to maintain steady-state CBD concentrations.

Compounds like CBD can be absorbed through the skin, muscle, and into the bloodstream — but it can take a long time.

If you need a quick dose of CBD, patches aren’t the best way to do it.

However, once the CBD starts to saturate the local skin tissue and enter the bloodstream, it provides consistent doses of CBD without fluctuating. Animal studies have shown that it can take about 24 hours to reach steady-state levels of CBD in the bloodstream [1]. The steady-state was maintained for up to 72 hours from a single patch.

How to Use Transdermal Patches

Transdermal patches are pretty straightforward to use.

Open the package and peel the covering off the adhesive layer.

If you’re using the patch to manage muscle pain, apply it as close to the affected muscle as possible.

If you’re looking to use transdermal patches for systemic effects (such as chronic pain, inflammation, or anxiety), you’ll want to apply the patch somewhere on your abdomen. I’ve found the best spot is on the lower back above your hip. This spot allows for efficient absorption and remains out of the way, so the patch doesn’t bother you under your clothes.

Of course, you can add the patch anywhere you want:

  • Lower back
  • Chest or stomach
  • Arms or legs
  • Thigh muscles
  • Glutes

Once you apply the patch, try not to remove it or touch it too much. Leave it on for at least 12 hours to get the most out of it. You can leave these patches on for up to 3 days. Beyond three days, there’s little reason to keep the patch on at all since most of the CBD will have been absorbed by then.

Patches that don’t allow the skin beneath to breathe can also start to cause problems after the third day — so you’ll want to remove it by then.

What is First Pass Metabolism?

One of the major advantages of a CBD patch is that it allows you to bypass the first-pass metabolism.

Whenever we ingest a supplement or medication, it travels into the small intestines. Here, it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. Anything we absorb through the digestive tract enters the bloodstream directly before the liver. This means all these compounds and nutrients are immediately filtered through the liver as soon as we absorb them.

For supplements like CBD, this means a lot of the active ingredients are going to be metabolized by the liver before they ever have a chance to exert their effects on the body. The liver will do its best to deactivate the CBD on this first-pass — effectively reducing the effectiveness of the CBD you ingest.

The liver won’t be able to metabolize everything on the first pass. So whatever hasn’t metabolized right away then enters the systemic circulation. From here, it’s distributed all over the body to exert its effects.

Any form of CBD that doesn’t go through the digestive tract first has the benefit of skipping this first-pass metabolism. CBD patches, sublingual absorption, or inhaled CBD products all skip this process.

What To Avoid When Shopping For CBD Patches

CBD patches aren’t that popular yet, but interest appears to be growing. The unique benefits of patches have many people who rely on consistent doses of CBD interested. More and more companies are starting to offer these products every year.

Like any CBD product, there are a lot of really great options available, as well as a lot of really poor products.

The main problem I’ve found with the CBD patches market is that companies are taking advantage of the lack of understanding people tend to have about these products and using this to mark up the price. The biggest issue to watch out for with patches is overpriced products. At their best, you can get CBD patches for about 10 cents per milligram of CBD. At worst, you can pay as much as a dollar per milligram.

The average cost for a CBD patch is around 30 to 50 cents per mg.

Here are four tips to look out for when shopping for CBD patches to get the best value for your money.

1. Lack of Third-Party Testing

Third-party testing is the best way for a CBD company to prove the potency and safety of their products. It’s a voluntary step company can take to have their products verified by a trusted source.

Third-party labs will test a sample of CBD products to measure the cannabinoid and terpene content and check for contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, or other toxic substances.

The results are then sent back to the manufacturer. A reputable brand will publish these results live on its website for all to see. The only companies that don’t publish these results either don’t make an effort to get this testing done, or they’ve received failing scores in one or more categories.

This testing is important because it’s the only way to make sure you’re not getting ripped off or ordering products with harmful contaminants. Heavy metals can irritate the skin, cause damage to nerve cells, and ultimately lead to worse pain symptoms. Likewise, using products that claim to have a certain dose of CBD but contain much less is going to be a disappointment when it comes time to use it.

The bottom line is that if you don’t see third-party test results for the patches you’re looking to buy — I suggest you move along to another brand that does.

2. Missing Information on Dose

The dose of CBD in a patch is very important, yet I’ve noticed a lot of patches don’t list any dose whatsoever.

This is a no-no when shopping for CBD products of any kind. You need to know how much CBD is in each patch so you can ensure it’s going to be enough for what you aim to use it for.

The most likely reason why a company doesn’t list the dose of CBD per patch is that they either don’t know (lack of testing and consistency in production), or the dose is too low.

If there’s no specific dose of CBD per patch, move along to a brand that provides this information.

3. Cost & Value Assessment

The cost of CBD patches can vary a lot. It’s reasonable for a company to add a bit of markup on this product type to account for the extra steps involved with the production. There’s also going to be a bit of markup for novelty.

But there are some companies that take this to the extreme and are charging way too much for their patches.

The best metric for assessing the value of a CBD product is “cost per mg CBD.” This metric displays the cost for every milligram of the active ingredient — CBD. It allows you to compare the relative cost of CBD patches made by different manufacturers with different doses or package sizes. 

A reasonable price to pay for CBD patches is somewhere between 30 and 50 cents per milligram of CBD.

The more patches you buy at a time, or the stronger the patch, the better the deal ends up being.

Some companies like Social CBD offer additional discounts if you sign up for subscription services to receive new patches automatically each month. These discounts range from 5% to 15% off the cost of the product. This is a good deal to take advantage of if you plan on using CBD patches long-term.

4. Low-Potency

CBD patches should contain at least 50 mg of CBD if your goal is to leverage the systemic effects (the effects on the whole body, rather than just the skin or muscles).

Anything lower than this isn’t going to offer enough of a dose of CBD to have any real benefit beyond the skin and muscles the patch is applied to. The higher the dose of the patch, the better (in most cases).

The slow absorption of CBD from these products means you’re not likely to absorb too much CBD at a time. Higher doses tend to work longer rather than delivering a higher dose of CBD at a time.

You can also choose to use two patches at a time if you want to reach higher doses of CBD at a time. But keep the dose of each patch in mind when doing this.

Do CBD Patches Have Any Side-Effects?

CBD has a high incidence of safety. While there is some potential for side-effects of CBD, they’re almost always mild in nature and occur very rarely in the doses offered by CBD patches.

It’s more likely you’ll have a reaction to other elements in a transdermal patch than the CBD itself. The adhesive or various excipients in the patch can cause irritation or redness in sensitive individuals.

If you notice a rash forming around the patch, remove it immediately.

As for CBD itself, the main side-effects to watch out for include:

  • Drowsiness and grogginess
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Key Takeaways: The Best CBD Transdermal Patches

Transdermal patches are a good way of delivering sustained doses of a medication or supplement throughout the day. The active ingredients — in this case, CBD — are slowly absorbed through the skin. It can take a while for the effects to begin, but once it starts to take effect, the patch will maintain consistent doses lasting up to 72 hours.

The best CBD patches contain at least 50 mg of CBD, a non-irritating base, and waterproof adhesive material.

You can also find weaker CBD patches that work just fine for pain or inflammation in the connective tissue, skin, and muscles — but this dose is too small for the more systemic effects.

My favorite CBD patch is the 100 mg CBD patch from Social CBD. I like to leave this patch on for a full 24 hours and replace it once a day. After the first day, this will maintain consistent levels of CBD in the bloodstream long-term. This is the best option for people managing chronic or persistent pain.

Best CBD Transdermal Patches: Roundup

Number Product Total CBD Potency Cost per mg CBD Link

1

Social CBD Transdermal Patch

20 – 300 mg

20 – 100 mg/patch

$0.28 – $0.55

2

Mary’s Nutritionals Transdermal Patches

10 – 300 mg

10 mg per Patch

$0.40 – $0.70

3

Isodiol Rapid Relief Patch

Not Listed

Unknown

Unknown

4

The Good Patch

15 – 150 mg

15 – 20 mg per Patch

$0.80

5

Envy CBD Wraps

150 mg CBD

50 mg per Wrap

$0.27

Sources Cited in This Article

  1. Lodzki, M., Godin, B., Rakou, L., Mechoulam, R., Gallily, R., & Touitou, E. (2003). Cannabidiol—transdermal delivery and anti-inflammatory effect in a murine model. Journal of controlled release, 93(3), 377-387.
  2. Ilbasmis–Tamer, S., & Degim, I. T. (2012). A feasible way to use carbon nanotubes to deliver drug molecules: transdermal application. Expert opinion on drug delivery, 9(8), 991-999.
  3. Prausnitz, M. R., & Langer, R. (2008). Transdermal drug delivery. Nature biotechnology, 26(11), 1261-1268.

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