Mood patches are said to help with stress, period pain, focus and energy. The Duchess of Sussex isn't the only fan of these healing stickers

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When Meghan Markle was spotted wearing a $4 anti-stress patch on the inside of her left wrist at the weekend, the internet went crazy; Google searches for ‘anti-stress patches’ increased by over 90 per cent. The Duchess of Sussex certainly wasn't hiding the small blue disc from photographers, as she took a stroll near her home in Montecito, California. She had helpfully rolled up her coat sleeve on one hand, thereby exposing it, as she swept back a lock of hair.  

Her stick-on anti-stress patch the size of a ten-pence coin is made by US brand Nucalm. It describes itself as a "biosignal processing disc" and promises "clinical-strength" results, although without elaborating on what these might be. It is sold in packs of 20 ($80, for your pains) and for the very stressed (and very rich) packs of 100 for $400. 

The patch supposedly emits frequencies to reduce adrenalin levels thereby lowering stress levels and is intended to be worn for a few hours and then discarded. It can’t be used near a laptop or phone or the electrostimulation will be compromised, says the brand. It goes so far as to describe it as a "battery for the body". We haven't tried it but suggest that a few hours away from your phone or laptop would be a stress remedy in itself.

What are stress patches good for?

Mood patches have been used in the healing world for years.  Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness site Goop sang the praises of Body Vibes, which look like temporary tattoos and promise to target energy imbalances.

Applied to your wrists, chest, temples or forehand, or even between your toes (great for headaches apparently) aromatherapy or healing patches steadily release herbs and essential oils, that can help with anything from nausea to sleep to easing anxiety and exam stress, to increasing focus and clarity. It's not only the essential oils that help, though. "You apply the patches directly to the areas of concern or even to acupuncture points, so you’re able to invigorate at a deeper physiological level exactly where it's needed," explains acupuncture and fertility expert Ross J Barr, who has his own line of patches and has counted – yes – Meghan Markle as a client. "When patches are applied directly to an acupuncture point you can piggyback on to the benefits of that point," he continues.

Our tester, who has been seeing Ross for acupuncture for eight years told us that her whole family are fans of mood patches. "My 17-year-old son was sitting an A-level exam, plus his heart had been broken by his girlfriend of two years just before his assessments began, and he was bowled over by Ross J Barr's Calm Patches. 'They really work; he told me. 'The first ten to 15 minutes is the best. They made me feel really chilled out.' He stuck them behind his ears for the exam and sailed through it."

If you're a slave to your aromatherapy diffuser at home or love to lie in a bath of essential oils, you'll appreciate these patches – they're a portable take on your home mister and way more convenient than having to apply your essential oils several times a day via a rollerball. The stickers last longer than misting and make for a great travel partner if you're out and about.

How quickly do anti-stress patches work?

Fast! "Essential oils give a response in less than four seconds, so you generally get an instant effect from mood patches," says Farida Irani, founder of Subtle Energies. They offer a variety of mood patches, with rave reviews, especially from those going through chemotherapy and experiencing nausea.

If you're using a patch for sleep, it's recommended to apply it an hour before bedtime.

How long do mood patches last?

Mood patches have a slow-release effect and last for three to four hours, but you rarely need to replace them with another. "The patch would have had the desired impact over that time, but you can apply another if needed," says Farida.

If you rub the patch during the day it can reinvigorate the herbs too, adds Ross.

Here are the best mood patches to try now:

Mood patches for sleep: Kloris Sleep Support Patches, £36 for 30 patches

These clear, waterproof square stickers from specialist CBD brand Kloris release  5mg of CBD as well as proven sleep-inducing herbs such as passiflora, hops, and valerian over eight hours as you doze.  A patch could be a good alternative to ingestible sleep remedies that feature these herbs, as the taste can be challenging (valerian especially can taste like old socks). You can use them alongside oral CBD sleep drops (don't exceed the maximum total dose of 70mg per day). They don't release an odour as such and our editor Victoria found them effective enough that she bought them again.

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Mood patches for kids: Zen Patch Mood Calming Stickers, £13 for 24 patches 

Infused with essential oils of mandarin, cedarwood, lavender and vetiver these cute stickers are designed for when big emotions get a bit too much for little people. The scent triggers the receptors in the brain responsible for behaviour and emotions and helps calm them down. The soft fabric is comfy enough to be worn on sensitive skin as well as sticky enough to be put on clothes too.  

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Mood patch for headaches: Ross J Barr Calm Patches, £15 for 10 patches

These two pence sized brown patches have a felty feel and are designed to alleviate stress, headaches and tension, plus ease anger and frustration. I wore mine behind my ear and as instructed, massaged it for a little while to release the herbs, which include calming chuan-xiong, soothing safflower and asarum, which is used in Chinese medicine to treat aches and pains. They don't smell like the scents I normally associate with calming such as lavender, they have more of a herby fragrance. They can be worn for 12 hours and while I didn't have a headache or feel especially stressed when I tried this, I can see how this unique scent could feel clearing. These are the patches Ross recommends placing between your toes because this area is widely used by acupuncturists to treat headaches. "Using the patches there stimulates the functions of that point," he tells us.

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Mood patch for focus: Subtle Energies Aura Protection Inhalation Patch, £50 for 10 patches

Subtle Energies' patches are a little less discreet than others we tried, but the aromatherapy scent is much more powerful. Comprising of a spongy yellow dot on plastic backing, I wore mine on my wrist and waves of fragrance came off it for hours after I applied. Essential oils saffron, rhu khus and tulasi were chosen to help increase focus and clarity. I wore it in a particularly busy afternoon at work and definitely found myself less distracted than usual, but they're also suggested to wear during meditation to keep your head in the game. Subtle Energies suggest wearing this on the lapel of your jacket if you prefer not to attach it to your skin, but I wore mine on my wrist.

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Mood patch for period pain: Ross J Barr Healing Patches, £15 for 5 patches

We've tried period patches  before and have always been impressed and these are no different. They use safflower, cinnamon and clover (and thus have a slightly festive smell) to recedes aches and pains as well as muscle soreness. Apply them to your stomach for period pain, or on any other sore muscle to work away stiffness.

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Mood patch for sleep: Subtle Energies Blissful Sleep Inhalation Patches, £55 for 10 patches

This dreamy floral-scented sticker should be applied an hour before bed to get you into relaxation mode to soothe the senses and aid restful sleep.

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