We know that certain essential oils can lift our mood and make us happier, but there’s one particular essential oil practically made for our benefit: Copaiba Oil!
How is this possible, you might ask?
Well, today we’re going to go over everything you need to know about copaiba essential oil so that you can use it confidently.
We’ll go over its history, general information about the oil, we’ll explore how it’s used, and to wrap it all up we’ll address some important precautions about using this magnificent essential oil.
Keep reading to learn all about this unique oil and all its wonderful benefits!
What is Copaiba Essential Oil?
Copaiba essential oil hails from Brazil and is made from the resin of copaiba trees . You may have heard copaiba essential oil referred to as “copaiba balsam”, but this isn’t 100% accurate.
When we mention copaiba oil specifically, we’re referring to the byproduct of copaiba resin.
This is an important distinction to make when making decisions about this medicinal plant since the “Essential Oil” and the “Balsam” aren’t one and the same. Let’s dive in to learn all about this unique tree.
Copaiba Through the Ages: A Detailed History
Copaiba has been around for hundreds of years and put to use as a medical plant as soon as its healing properties were discovered. One of the first recordings of copaiba resin in European medicine comes around 1625 when it was brought back from the New World (aka South America) by Jesuit settlers who called it “Jesuit Resin” .
From Deep Within the Amazon Rainforest…
In fact, this plant was used in Amazonian Rainforests far before the Jesuit missionaries arrived. Indigenous American Indians applied the oil resin of copaiba to the navels of newborns and warriors after battle – generally using it as an anti-inflammatory and healing agent .
These indigenous people began using the copaiba tree because they noticed that wounded animals would rub themselves against the bark of copaiba trees when they were injured, an incredible observation of animal intuition.
All the Way to North America…
Fast forwarding a few hundred years, copaiba oil was used in the United States as a disinfectant, diuretic, laxative, and stimulant as well as being used in cosmetics and soaps from 1820 up until 1910.
Today, copaiba is still used as a form of tribal medicine in northwest Amazonia, treating everything from skin sores to gonorrhea. It also has uses in Brazilian herbal medicine, where it is employed as a strong antiseptic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory agent, and is even used for cancer treatment .
In Brazil, you can find copaiba gel capsules, antiseptic gargles, and many other over-the-counter ways to reap the benefits of copaiba.
Copaiba resin (and thereby essential oil) has a rich and long history in South America and beyond. Even today, it continues to be a fantastic treatment for a multitude of ailments.
Where Does Copaiba Come From?
We now know that copaiba oil comes from copaiba trees, distilled from the resin of the bark. We also just read about the copaiba tree coming from South America, but what we haven’t mentioned quite yet is that it also grows in North America and Subtropical Africa.
Species of Copaiba
In fact, there are 35 species of the genus Copaifera, spread out across Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Guyana, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. These tropical regions have the best conditions for the copaiba tree to grow, so naturally, this is where it is most plentifully found.
There are three primary species that are used interchangeably in traditional medicine. C. Langsdorffii that is found in a region of Brazil called Cerrados, is a tropical savanna perfect for the growth of this tree. C.reticulata is a copaiba variety found in the Amazon region, an area rich in flora and fauna.
It is thought that indigenous peoples typically used this varietal. The final varietal most commonly used in traditional medicine is C.officinalis, which occurs widely throughout South America.
How is Copaiba Oil Made?
Copaiba essential oil is technically an oleoresin, which is a mixture of resin and oil that comes from a plant, in this case, the copaiba tree. This oleoresin is extremely concentrated and requires distillation to separate it into the resin and the essential oil that we are learning about .
Gathered Just Like Maple Syrup…
This oleoresin accumulates in different parts of the plant and can be accessed in a variety of ways. In the case of the copaiba tree, oleoresin is found in cavities within the tree trunk.
To get this oleoresin out, the tree is tapped much like the way in which maple syrup is accessed from trees! Holes are tapped or drilled into the wood of the tree trunk and the oleoresin drips out and is collected.
One copaiba tree can produce around ten gallons of oleoresin per year, which actually makes it a sustainable forest resource. To reap the benefits of a copaiba tree, it is not necessary to chop it down or destroy any big patches of forest! We love oils that promote environmental sustainability as well as offer so many benefits.
Copaiba Resin: Clear, Thin, and Colorless in its Natural Form
The oleoresin that comes out of the tree is initially clear, thin, and colorless. It gets thicker and darker when exposed to air. In general, resins can vary in color based on where in the world they are from.
If copaiba is sold as a resin it is usually a thick and clear liquid, but it can also be pale yellow or light brown. Copaiba from Venezuela is thicker and darker in color .
Once the resin is removed from a tree, the process of turning it into an essential oil begins. Copaiba essential oil is refined from the oleoresin through the process of steam distillation.
After steam distillation is complete, we have our final product!
Copaiba Oil’s Uses and Benefits
Copaiba oil has had wide usage in traditional medicine for centuries and continues to be in use to this day!
Copaiba Has Been Used For Generations…
In modern Brazil, we can find copaiba oil in use by indigenous tribes topically as a healing agent, anticoagulant, psoriasis treatment, and even for treating gonorrhea.
Healers across the Amazon Rainforest use the resin for not only pain but also insect bites and inflammation.
Outside of the Amazon, copaiba is used in herbal medicine as an antiseptic but also helps bronchitis and sinusitis by helping thin down mucus. It is also used for skin problems in mainstream Brazil but also internally to assist with issues in the urinary tract, even treating conditions like kidney infections.
An Oil of Many Forms
Copaiba is also commonly available in gel capsules that are taken for everything from internal inflammation to cancer. It is used at home as a gargle for tonsillitis and sore throats or mixed with honey as a way to soothe a scratchy throat.
The good news is there are several practical ways you can use either copaiba essential oil or resin in your daily life. Keep reading below for all of the juicy details!
What is Copaiba Essential Oil Used For?
Modern research has shown us that copaiba has a wide array of abilities. Without a doubt, copaiba oil is a worthy member of our essential oil toolkit.
I mentioned earlier that copaiba is a strong natural anti-inflammatory agent, but I’m mentioning it again because it is just that effective!
Considering that inflammation is the root of many diseases, utilizing copaiba as a natural anti-inflammatory is a great way to prevent disease by reducing inflammation .
In one study with mice, key indicators of inflammation were completely stopped or greatly reduced on the injection of copaiba. While not typically injected when used by humans, this study gave us scientific evidence of the anti-inflammatory power of this amazing essential oil.
Amazingly, copaiba has also proven to be a neuroprotective agent (helping protect nerve cells against damage) as well. In a 2012 study, copaiba oil resin was studied as having anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits following intense inflammation reactions in the brain and spinal cord. To sum up the study, just one injection of copaiba resin reduced nerve cell damage by about 39% .
Physical Effects Studies
Copaiba oil can also help reduce liver damage. A 2013 study revealed that copaiba oil may be able to reduce liver damage that was caused by over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen. The way in which copaiba oil assisted, in this case, was primarily preventative and was not shown to help much after the painkillers were already taken. In fact, copaiba consumed after the painkiller might have caused more harm than good by lowering a liver enzyme level .
Oral Health Studies
Not only that, but copaiba also has a place in oral and dental health care. A study in 2015 tested a copaiba oil resin-based root canal sealer and found that it is not cytotoxic. This means that it is not toxic to living cells and would be a favorable option for root canals. This is likely because copaiba oil resin is biologically compatible with use in the mouth, has healing properties by nature, and of course, is an anti-inflammatory agent .
Copaiba and “Oil Pulling”
If you’re not familiar with the term “oil pulling”, this is essentially swishing around oil in your mouth. Well, there was actually a study published that supports the use of copaiba oil in oil pulling!
As it turns out copaiba oil can actually stop bacteria from reproducing in the mouth, specifically nasty ones like Streptococcus mutans. This particular bacteria is known to cause tooth decay and cavities . So, next time you oil pull, consider integrating a few drops of copaiba essential oil to fight off that mouth bacteria and prevent cavities for good!
Copaiba for Pain Relief
And then we have natural pain relief benefits that come from copaiba essential oil! Scientific research studies have shown that these oils exhibit ‘antinociceptive’ properties. Antinociceptive is a big word that basically means copaiba can help block the detection of pain in the nerves. This development means that copaiba can possibly be used orally to help relieve some ongoing pain  like arthritis. Case reports on copaiba and arthritic pain add further support for copaiba as a treatment for arthritis-related pain, but there is limited research on this particular topic .
Copaiba for Acne Relief
Even acne sufferers can reap the benefits of copaiba oil! A recent study showed very promising results when acne sufferers used copaiba oil topically (applied to the skin); there was a significant reduction in acne . Consider adding a few drops of copaiba essential oil to witch hazel and spreading it over your face with a cotton pad to reap the skin-enhancing benefits of this essential oil.
Copaiba for Relaxation
Last but not least, copaiba has been known to be nice for relaxing after a long or stressful day with its sweet, woody scent. It can help soothe and wind down before bed.
Here’s How You Use Copaiba
Copaiba oil can be used topically, internally, or diffused. It’s an essential oil with many applications and thereby many methods of use!
If you do plan on ingesting copaiba, make sure that it is one hundred percent therapeutic grade and certified USDA Organic. Since copaiba oil is so concentrated, you only need one to two drops in water, tea, or a smoothie.
*Always speak to a physician before ingesting any essential oils.
In a diffuser, this oil combines well with cedarwood, rose, lemon, orange, clary sage, jasmine, vanilla, and ylang-ylang.
How to Use Copaiba Oil for Pain
To use copaiba essential oil for internal pain, you have the option of finding copaiba oil soft gels or adding a few drops of high-grade oil to a drink.
You can also make a copaiba pill yourself with a capsule, some olive oil, and a drop of copaiba essential oil. For external pain, you can combine copaiba with your favorite carrier oil or lotion and apply it to the affected area.
Copaiba vs. CBD
Comparisons are frequently drawn between copaiba and cannabinol (hereafter referred to as CBD) because they both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
However, there are some major differences in the usage and effectiveness of CBD versus copaiba essential oil. We’ll dig into these comparisons below.
A Thorough Comparison
The item of greatest importance when comparing copaiba to CBD is that copaiba is not as well researched. Evidence supporting copaiba’s effects is sparse and the product of uncontrolled clinical observations in humans.
Although there are some studies that look promising like the ones shared above, there is not enough evidence grounded in research to define with certainty copaiba’s effects .
The safety of copaiba is also questionable compared with CBD. Even when individuals are tested with high doses of cannabinol, side effects are rare and mild.
Copaiba is only recommended to be consumed in very low doses because of side effects associated with overconsumption.
Differences & Similarities
One obvious difference between copaiba and CBD is the origin of the oil. Copaiba comes from sap in a tree, while CBD comes directly from the cannabis plant. Because of this, we know that CBD contains several different terpenes that help the body, whereas copaiba is only confirmed to have one.
The strong anti-inflammatory effects of copaiba are where it gets its comparisons to CBD, but CBD is still proven to be a broader spectrum treatment at this juncture .
One similarity that brings CBD and copaiba together is their interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Your body has cannabinoid receptors on the skin, which is why in the intro we mentioned that copaiba can literally make your skin happy! Copaiba contains the molecule beta-caryophyllene, which causes the skin to produce beta-endorphin, one of the happiness hormones!
This being said, it is true that both CBD and copaiba contain cannabinoids, but CBD contains a wider variety. Beta-caryophyllene is the amazing cannabinoid that copaiba has to offer and has a very powerful anti-inflammatory benefit, but CBD is still considered the better-researched and broader spectrum option .
Copaiba Essential Oil Side Effects
One of the reasons that copaiba is only recommended in small doses is that if over consumed it can cause side effects the mimic food poisoning, reportedly triggering gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, and nausea.
Another potential damaging side effect of using copaiba is liver damage. In one study, copaiba has been seen to cause indications of liver damage after consumption .
There is still more research to be done, but it is important to be aware of these potential side effects.
Safest to Use Topically…
For this reason, it is the safest to use copaiba oil topically. However, always be sure to use a carrier oil like jojoba oil for an added kick of anti-inflammatory properties and to provide the appropriate amount of dilution.
Coconut oil is another potential carrier oil option, as many enjoy the tropical scent and antibacterial properties of this oil.
Always remember that copaiba is still a potent and concentrated essential oil and should be used with a carrier oil, just like any other concentrated essential oil.
Although copaiba is considered completely safe for use on the skin, it is always good practice to not apply an essential oil directly to the skin without using a carrier oil.
Copaiba Oil Toxicity
As mentioned above, copaiba oil should only be ingested in small amounts to avoid food-poisoning-like symptoms.
Always Consult a Physician Before Use
If you have never used this oil before, consult with your physician first (always!)
Then, if you have the green light, be sure to only start with a very small amount so you know how this oil will affect you. Be aware that only one or two drops will suffice to receive the full benefits of copaiba.
Copaiba essential oil is also available in a softgel form so you don’t need to be concerned or confused about the dosage. These softgels are pre-measured and are usually combined with olive oil.
Additionally, copaiba has a strong taste and can be difficult to consume as a drop under the tongue or mixed with a drink. The major benefit of softgels is that they’re easy to swallow. If you do wish to ingest copaiba, this is a great option.
All in all, copaiba oil has a strong array of unique benefits both externally and internally.
Whether you choose to diffuse copaiba and enjoy the relaxing woody and sweet scent, ingest copaiba to take care of your aches and pains, or apply it topically in conjunction with a carrier oil, copaiba has a place in your life!
Give copaiba a try in your essential oil toolkit and see how it works for you!