Transdermal Application of Medical and Therapeutic Cannabinoids

With cannabis and its active components—known as cannabinoids or endocannabinoids—becoming more widely recognized as viable treatment supplements for a variety of conditions, it can be overwhelming for new consumers to discern what route of administration is best suited for their needs. Traditionally, the consumption of cannabinoids has been associated with smoking or vaping the flowers of the cannabis plant. However, for newcomers to this alternative and supplemental form of medication, smoking or vaping may not be desirable options.

Understanding the versatility of these natural, healing compounds empowers each individual to understand their options when it comes to administering their cannabinoid wellness products. This post will explore the transdermal method of consuming cannabis for medicinal or therapeutic purposes, and discuss the efficacy of the different routes of administration.

Cannabinoid Chemistry: Why Topicals and Transdermals Are Effective

The active cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are predominantly lipid (fat) soluble. Often, THC/CBD blends are isolated in oil extracts. These extracts may be used to prepare food and beverage items which will be infused with a predetermined dose of cannabinoids. Additionally, these lipid rendered cannabinoids may easily be utilized to create topical lotions, salves, oils and concentrates. These topical wellness products bypass the bilayer of skin cells and ultimately allow the entry of the active compounds into the body’s ECS (endocannabinoid system). The benefits of transdermal and topical cannabis are identical to those obtained from other modes of administration.

The transdermal method of absorbing cannabinoids is a popular option amongst non-smokers, as well as those suffering from the effects of respiratory complications. Lightly-dosed transdermal patches are recommended for those prone to nausea (resultant either from a primary condition, or in response to treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer), as high doses may exacerbate this symptom. Transdermal, therapeutic cannabinoid patches like Evolve Formulas’ are available in dispensaries. The effects of transdermal patches are gently onset and last longer than other topicals, making it an ideal choice for patients seeking relief from chronic pain.

The bioavailability of cannabinoids in the body when absorbed by transdermal or topical means, is just as significant as vaping the flowers of the plant or ingesting lipid-isolated cannabinoids. The duration of the therapeutic effects correlate directly to the dose and the efficacy of the application to the skin (oils and salves must be allowed to absorb for 20 minutes before wetting or disturbing the skin). In general, however—based on bioavailability as opposed to dosing comparisons—the duration of the transdermal method lasts longer than smoking/vaping but not as long as consuming edibles infused with lipid extracted cannabinoids.

Transdermal and Topical CBD and THC

Transdermal and topical application of therapeutic cannabinoids has been shown to be an equally effective approach to supplementing the treatment of complex conditions and musculoskeletal pain. Transdermal and topical CBD (cannabidiol), as well as CBD/THC proportioned blends, are popular choices for those suffering from body pain or neuromuscular disorder and injury. Cannabinoids are isolated in an appropriate solvent (usually an oil or, in some instances, glycerin which also behaves like a lipid). The extracted, effective ingredients may then be combined with a natural emulsifier like beeswax to create a salve or lotion which may be applied directly to the skin.

A more surefire method for delivery of therapeutic cannabinoid extract comes in the form of transdermal patches which adhere directly to the affected area. Transdermal administration is ideal for those who do not wish to smoke or vaporize the plant material directly (many patients with respiratory issues still require the therapeutic effects of the plant), or those who are sensitive to the doses used in edibles and consumables. While many people are familiar with topical application of NSAID creams, these are not suitable for people taking certain blood-thinning medications. Transdermal cannabinoid patches provide targeted pain relief and generalized well-being to individuals taking blood thinning medications without the incidence of any harsh or dangerous side effects. Certainly, the versatility of transdermal cannabinoids and the non-reactivity with other medications make these alternatives highly desirable and a welcome supplement to therapeutic treatment plans.

How patients choose to administer their cannabinoid supplements can depend on social, cultural and conditional factors. While some people rely on the pain-relieving properties of cannabinoids, others may use it to inspire appetite and regulate digestion. Luckily, the natural therapeutic properties of cannabinoids are well-preserved, due to the versatility of lipid-isolated extracts. Evolve Formulas specializes in providing transdermal cannabinoid wellness supplements for medical and therapeutic use.

Kate Wells