Copaiba tree is an Amazonian wonder. This tree is known in Brazil for its wood and oil. While the wood is used in carpentry, it is the oil that intrigued me. Copaiba oil (or balsam) is a natural oil-resin obtained from the trunks of the copaiba tree.
Ancient folk medicine used this oleoresin to treat wounds, sepsis, liver issues, anxiety, headaches, inflammatory diseases, microbial infections, and innumerable systemic disturbances. What does it do to your body? Why is it significant? What gives it the therapeutic edge? You will find answers to all these questions in this exclusive read. Scroll down to begin the quest!
Table Of Contents
What Is Copaiba Oil? How Does It Affect Your Health?
Copaiba (koh-pey-buh) oil (more like a resin) is extracted from the bark of the South American leguminous copaiba tree (Copaifera officinalis). The native Brazilians used this oleoresin as a medicine back in the 16th century. Copaiba oil continues to be one of the most renewable natural remedies for the Amazonians (1).
The Copaifera species is economically important for the wood and oleoresins. Among Copaifera species that are used in the production of oleoresins, Copaifera reticulata is the most frequent, representing 70% of the output (2). Copaiba oil is exported from Brazil as capsules and loose oil in Germany, the US, France, and different other parts of the world (3), (4).
The oleoresin is a transparent, colored liquid with variable viscosity and a sweet woody smell. It is constituted by a nonvolatile fraction composed of diterpenes and a volatile fraction composed of sesquiterpenes (2). These biochemicals give the oil-resin its characteristic anti-inflammatory and healing effects.
Extensive research and correlative studies have reported antioxidant, antitumor, vulnerary, antimicrobial, anxiolytic, analgesic, larvicidal, and several other benefits of copaiba oil (3), (4). Scroll down and discover how this exotic oil-resin benefits your health.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Copaiba Oil?
1. Antinociceptive, Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory: Relieves Pain And Inflammation
A 2017 rat study reports the effect of administering copaiba oil on the liver of arthritic rats. With small doses, symptoms of inflammation in these rats began to recede. Inflamed rat paws showed improvement, swelling in the lymph nodes and adrenals decreased, and reactive oxygen species and protein carbonyl groups were eliminated (5).
According to other animal studies, a small dose of 1 mg/kg of copaiba oil was potent enough to treat induced abdominal writhings. This oil might interact with pro-inflammatory biochemicals – prostaglandins, cytokines, etc. – and block their respective receptors. This activity can be attributed to the biochemical constituents of copaiba, similar to non-steroidal anti-inﬂammatory or opioid drugs (4).
Copaiba oil is also proposed to block the cyclooxygenase and phospholipase enzymes (4). But, its precise mechanism of action is still unclear.
2. Neuroprotective: Manages Seizures, Migraine, Anxiety
Due to its anti-inflammatory property, copaiba oil might protect your nervous system. A few rat studies demonstrate the dose-dependent anxiolytic activity of this resin. There were no or minimal side effects of using it on rats (6).
Another study showed how copaiba oil could induce neuroprotection in rats with a damaged central nervous system (CNS). The injured rats had comparatively lesser tissue damage on the first day of copaiba oil treatment. Also, there was a 39% reduction of neutrophilic infiltration and a 62% decrease in microglial activation (7).
These cells are immune system cells (poly and mononuclear cells) that worsen inflammation. This property is significant because it was found that overactivated macrophage/microglia contribute to tissue injury following CNS diseases (7). Furthermore, massaging this oil into your head could cure paralysis, pain, and convulsions (2).
3. Vulnerary And Skin Expert: Works On Acne, Blemishes, And Wounds
The essential oil extracted from the copaiba oil-resin is rich in anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antimicrobial diterpenes and sesquiterpenes like thujopsene. Applying pure essential oil of copaiba might treat acne vulgaris, pimples, and breakouts (8).
Copaiba oil can, hence, be used as a base note in several men’s cosmetics – particularly in homemade aftershave essentials, bath products, etc. The antioxidant properties of this oil help in deep cleansing and nourishment of the skin (9).
Topical application of copaiba resin can speed wound healing. It can accelerate wound contraction, increase tensile strength, and aid necessary bone formation. Some rat studies report higher efficiency of systemic copaiba than its topical treatment (10).
4. Hepatoprotective: Restores Liver Damage And Loss Of Function
Rat studies conducted in 2013 explain how copaiba oil treatment affects liver damage. Rats that received this oil-resin for a week showed reduced liver damage and increased bilirubin secretion (11).
The active principles in copaiba oil, like ß-caryophyllene, reduced hepatic gluconeogenesis by 40% in arthritic rats because of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (12).
5. Antiprotozoal: Natural Remedy For Leishmaniasis
Leishmaniasis is a dangerous protozoal disease transmitted by a bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies. The parasite converts from promastigote to amastigote (infecting form) in human cells to infect other tissues. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine and current treatments have several limitations.
Research and traditional medicine point out that copaiba oil could be a safer, shorter, less expensive, and more easily administered treatment for leishmaniasis (13), (14). All thanks to its anti-protozoal properties, mice studies showed a significant reduction in the average lesion size when treated with copaiba oil orally.
Copaiba oil from various species has demonstrated morphological changes in the cells’ mitochondrial ultrastructure. This treatment also led to the rupture of the plasma membrane (of human cells). This brought about a loss of amastigote forms of Leishmania amazonensis. The diterpenes in the oleoresin might play a critical role in this activity. However, the precise mechanism is being studied further (13).
You must have observed that these benefits are all attributed to the active components of copaiba oil. Don’t you want to know what they are? Keep scrolling!
Biochemical Composition Of Copaiba Oil
Across various species of copaiba, you can find a few abundant active biochemicals. δ-elemene, ⍺-cubebene, ⍺-copaene, caryophyllene, aromadendrene, curcumene, humulene, muurolene, bisabolene, cadinene, methyl eperuate, methyl copalate, methyl kovalate, methyl athecate, and methyl 3-acetoxy-copalate were commonly identified (4).
Copalic, clorechinic, hardwickiic, kaurenoic and kolavenic acids are the major diterpenes in C.reticulata, C.cearensis, and other species (15).
Let’s move on to the next obvious question.
How To Use Copaiba Oil? What Is The Recommended Mode Of Administration?
The topical application of copaiba oil is, by far, the safest mode of administration. You can mix 1-2 drops of pure copaiba oil (buy here) with 2-4 drops of carrier oil and apply to the affected area. Adding it to an essential oil diffuser is another way of tapping the goodness of copaiba’s woody, relaxing scent. oil diffuser is another way of tapping the goodness of copaiba’s woody, relaxing scent.
Although it is not backed by substantial evidence, ingestion of copaiba oil in small doses is prevalent. You can try copaiba softgels (buy here) for immediate anxiolytic effects.
Since it is an essential oil, it is not covered under the US FDA food safety policy. Hence, take the supplement only under medical guidance.
It is possible that copaiba oil-resin may elicit undesirable reactions in your body, thus take caution when using. Read on to learn more.
Can Taking Copaiba Oil Have Side Effects?
There is limited research and literature shedding light on this dimension. The fact that it has been used in traditional medicine renders copaiba oil likely safe for human use.
Based on the no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) principle using rat study data, it was deduced that copaiba oil is safe for pregnant women. This rat study also pointed out that copaiba oil is not teratogenic. It doesn’t induce any damage to the embryo or infant in doses less than 2, 000 mg/kg/day (16).
However, the highest doses of about 1000 and 1250 mg/kg b.w/day were toxic to the mothers. Pregnant women reduced food consumption and weight gain at this dose point. But, this effect could vary from species-to-species (16).
The genotoxicity of this resin is less studied. One of its major constituents, β-caryophyllene, showed no cytotoxic or genotoxic effects in human cell cultures. Moreover, it proved to be protective against ethyl methanesulfonate-induced DNA damage in these cells (17).
What’s The Verdict?
Copaiba oil-resin is nature’s solution to anxiety, inflammation, protozoal diseases, and skin issues. The native Brazilians can vouch for it! When used in limited and dose-adjusted amounts, copaiba essential oil may provide good results with minimal adverse effects.
We suggest you see a physician to frame a suitable dosage and mode of administration of this oil-resin.
If you have any queries about copaiba oil, feel free to post them in the comments section below. You can also send your feedback, relevant comments, and suggestions here.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Are Copaiba Oil and CBD oil the same? If no, how are they different?
No, they are not the same. CBD oil or Cannabidiol oil is obtained from Cannabis sativa or marijuana, whereas copaiba oil is from the Amazonian copaiba tree trunk.
Neither of them possesses psychoactive compounds but have anxiolytic activity. But, CBD oil might be contaminated with the psychoactive principle, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This happens if extraction is not done the right way. Pure copaiba oil doesn’t possess any such contaminants.
- “Copaiba: Silver Bullet or Snake Oil?” News Desk, Florida Atlantic University.
- “Copaifera of the Neotropics: A Review of the Phytochemistry…” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Copaiba oil-resin (Copaifera reticulata Ducke) modulates the…” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Antinociceptive activity of Amazonian Copaiba oils” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Academia.
- “Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Actions of Copaiba…” Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Acute effect of Copaifera reticulata Ducke copaiba…” The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Copaiba Oil-Resin Treatment Is Neuroprotective and…” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Application of the essential oil from copaiba…” Alternative Medicine Review: A Journal of Clinical Therapeutic, US National Library of Medicine.
- “5 Essential Oils For Men” American College of Healthcare Sciences.
- “The influence of topic and systemic administration of…” Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Effect of copaiba oil in hepatic damage induced by…” Acta cirúrgica brasileira, US National Library of Medicine.
- “[beta]-Caryophyllene, the major constituent of copaiba oil, reduces…” Universidad Del Sagrado Corazon.
- “Antileishmanial activity of diterpene acids in copaiba oil” Memórias Do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Leishmania amazonensis: effects of oral treatment with…” Experimental Parasitology, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Chemical composition and anti-inflammatory activity of…” Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
- “Developmental toxicity of copaiba tree (Copaifera reticulata…” Food and Chemical Toxicology, Elsevier, Academia.
- “Genotoxicity assessment of Copaiba oil and its fractions…” Genetics and Molecular Biology, US National Library of Medicine.
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