It’s hard to believe we even need to answer this question anymore. But for the sake of thoroughness—and for those you who have lived in the Bornean rainforest for the past 80 years—we’re going to do it anyway. THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of a group of chemical compounds known as cannabinoids .
Cannabinoids are found exclusively in the cannabis plant ( indica , sativa, and ruderalis ) and are responsible for the myriad of psychedelic and medicinal effects. Common cannabinoids include: THC is most famous (infamous?) for its ability to get you high , but it can also be used to: Kill cancer cells Relieve chronic pain and inflammation Stimulate appetite Reduce/eliminate nausea and vomiting Treat PTSD and other neurological disorders. We’ll talk about whether a THC patch will get you high in a later section. But first, let’s get to know the THC patch a bit better. Put simply, a THC patch is a thin piece of plastic coated with adhesive (like a Band-aid™) and infused with the cannabinoid THC. Because of the way they work, THC patches can offer all-day or all-night relief to those suffering from chronic issues like pain and anxiety . To get this relief, you simply apply the THC patch to a venous part of your body, like your ankle, your arm, or the inside of your wrist.
Your body heat activates the patch and causes it to release a small amount of THC through your skin and into your bloodstream. We’ll get into the specifics of how the THC patch works in just a moment. Now, we’re going to answer the question on everyone’s mind: will a THC patch get you high? A THC patch won’t get you high because your body absorbs the cannabinoid slowly over a number of hours rather than all at once (like it is when you smoke or dab ). This is great news for those who need THC’s medicinal effects without the intense psychoactive high. So as you can probably guess, THC patches are not for those who want to go flying in a Blue Dream . Instead, they’re for those with real medical issues who need the healing effects of THC. For the recreational user who enjoys a bit of couchlock now and again, your best bet is still a strong weed strain and a movie from this list . Leave the patches for those who need them, and try a Thai stick or some moon rock weed instead. We’re going to drop some science, son, but don’t let that scare you off. THC patches provide a unique method of cannabinoid delivery, and it’s essential that you understand how they work. When you apply a THC patch to your skin, you set up a drug concentration gradient. That just means that at one point (in the patch), there’s a lot of the cannabinoid, while at another point (in your skin), there’s not a lot of the cannabinoid. When your skin’s heat activates the patch, the cannabinoid begins to spread out into your skin (this is technically known as “moving down the gradient”). This concept is very much like pouring boiling water into a coffee mug and leaving it sitting on your counter. The hot water contains a lot of heat (212℉ worth), while the atmosphere around it doesn’t. Because of this difference (the gradient), the heat naturally “spreads out” into the air around it. As the drug moves further into your skin, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream and transported to your brain and throughout your body. The nice thing about transdermal delivery is that it bypasses your lungs, liver, and stomach (places where the cannabinoid is filtered or broken down). That means you get 100 percent of the medicinal value of the THC. At first glance, one THC patch may look like every other patch. But let us assure you that there are significant differences. The primary difference lies in how the patch is constructed. In a matrix patch, the THC is infused into the matrix of the patch itself (often in the adhesive). When the adhesive comes in contact with your skin, the THC begins to move from the area of higher concentration into the area of lower concentration (as described in the section above). The dose of THC you get depends on the amount of the cannabinoid held in the matrix and the size of the patch (and the area of skin it covers). Reservoir patches get their name from the fact that the THC is—drum roll, please—contained in a reservoir within the patch.
The reservoir holds the THC in solution (most often with a gel) and releases it through a rate-controlling membrane between the reservoir, the adhesive, and your skin. People have been using reservoir patches successfully for almost 40 years.
In addition, reservoir patches provide tighter control of delivery rates. For these reasons, many feel that reservoir patches are better than matrix patches. THC patches provide a whole host of benefits over other methods of cannabis consumption. Because the THC is absorbed directly into your bloodstream with a THC patch, transdermal delivery can provide whole-body relief instead of just targeted (spot) relief.