Ancient Chinese used medicated plasters that were slathered on the skin and left till dry, allowing constant and direct contact with the skin. Transdermal patches are based on this basic premise. Adhesive devices that deliver medication or supplements to your bloodstream through the skin are known as Transdermal patches. First approved in 1979 by the FDA for treating motion sickness, Transdermal patches are now available for smoking cessation, birth control, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease amongst many others.
Advancement in medical science has helped develop better and easier methods of medication delivery. While traditional medication delivery methods such as capsules, pills, liquids, and injections are still used, they are also known to cause side effects along with some degree of inefficiency in delivering the medication. Transdermal patches seem to have better efficiency in delivering the medication or supplement. According to Earl Hailey from Patch MD, many people notice stronger and faster results from using vitamin patches than from taking vitamin supplements.
In fact, even the United States military is working towards developing Transdermal patches that can deliver nutrients. These are to be used at times of high-intensity conflicts or places where deriving nutrients from food may not be adequate.
How Does the Delivery Take Place?
Delivering medication through the skin, Transdermal patches are a non-invasive method that is fast gaining popularity across the world. The patch adheres to the skin via an adhesive that is combined with the medication/supplement. The medication/supplement is released in a controlled manner thus providing a steadier level of dosage in the body.
The largest organ in our body is our skin. Comprising of three layers, the skin protects the body and constantly regenerates itself. The outer layer of our skin is known as the epidermis and it is in this layer that you find the stratum corneum; a barrier to foreign substances entering your body.
The dermis is the second layer that lies beneath the epidermis. The skin structure and texture are provided by the connective tissue that is found in the dermis, along with hair follicles and sweat glands.
The third layer is the hypodermis. Containing the blood vessels that reach out into the dermis and epidermis, this layer is made of connective tissue and fat.
Medication/supplements blended with the adhesive on the patches are absorbed by the epidermis, passed on to the dermis and enter the blood vessels in the hypodermis. From here the medication/supplement is transported through the blood circulatory system to various parts of the body.
Depending on their therapeutic requirements, patches can be worn from eight hours to seven days.
Benefits of Transdermal Patches
We have been traditionally taking nutrients by swallowing them either as part of our food, as pills, powders or liquid supplements. All our calculations of nutrient absorption were based on the movement of the nutrient from the digestive system to the bloodstream. A pill or liquid enters the digestive tract and is broken down by the acid in the stomach. This can result in reduced effectiveness or sometimes side effects for the patient. However, not all medications/supplements are consumed orally. Some medications/supplements need to be administered through injections, via the nasal passage, or topically. The reason for such administration is that certain medicines/supplements lose their efficacy when passing through the digestive system. Insulin is a classic example. A protein, insulin breaks down in the stomach and is ineffective by the time it reaches the bloodstream. Hence, insulin has to be taken as an injection.
Medication/supplements on Transdermal patches bypass the digestive system and deliver the medication/supplement directly to the bloodstream. Activated by the user’s body heat, the patch releases medication/supplement that is absorbed by the skin and enters the bloodstream. Unlike traditional medicines/supplements, patches release medication/supplements gradually over some time, rather than in one single dose. Another advantage is that the administration of Transdermal patches is painless, unlike injections. Unlike injections, Transdermal patches can be worn and removed without the aid of a medical practitioner.
Vitamin Patches vs. Pills
Vitamins are an integral part of the body’s requirement to function properly. They help in making our bones stronger, boosting our immune system and improving the functioning of our organs. They also help in metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and in improving our energy levels. While we do derive most of our vitamin requirement from the food that we eat, vitamin supplements are required to take care of any gaps in our nutrition.
Transmitting vitamins topically, vitamin patches are bariatric supplements that are designed to assist people in reaching their personal health goals. Many people find it difficult to swallow pills and the thought of swallowing multiple vitamin supplement pills can be very daunting for them. Vitamin patches, either singly or in multiples, allows the user to receive the supplement without the difficulty of swallowing pills. Since the supplement is absorbed directly into the bloodstream bypassing the digestive tract, the effectiveness is far better than those which are taken orally. One big advantage of vitamin patches is that they do not require sweetening or coloring, and are without any fillers and preservatives. This eliminates the taste, nausea, and belching associated with oral supplements.
Using Vitamin Patches
The administration of vitamin patches is rather simple. Select an area of your skin that is free of dirt and oil; even hair if possible. Peel the covering on the adhesive and apply it to your skin. Depending on the formulation, patches can be worn from six to eight hours and then removed. While the patches are not waterproof, they are water-resistant. One note of caution, unless the patch is marked as children’s formula; do not place the patch on your child. Most vitamin patches have active ingredients that are safe for ages twelve and above. If you feel any unease after wearing the patch or are more sensitive than others, you could remove the patch earlier to ensure that the dosage is less. It is advisable to run a test with a small piece cut off from the patch before you go all the way.