When it comes to essential oils, you’ve likely heard of lavender, lemon, peppermint, and especially eucalyptus oil. But, there is a tropical essential oil you may be less familiar with. Let me introduce you to copaiba essential oil—pronounced “ko-pah-ee-bah.” Although less common than others, copaiba essential oil is a very powerful oil from South America that has been used for hundreds of years to treat many serious health conditions.
One main reason for this is that copaiba oil is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory essential oils in the world. Several research studies acknowledge the effects of copaiba and its natural compounds for relieving pain, healing wounds, improving skin conditions, protecting the nervous system, and fighting cancer and tumors.
There is definitely a lot to know about copaiba essential oil, and you’ve come to the right place. This article tells the story of copaiba oil and its many health benefits, and how to best utilize it within your life.
Copaiba Essential Oil: Interesting Facts and History
Copaiba essential oil is derived from the resin or sap of the tree genus called Copaifera officinalis, which includes Copaifera reticulata and Copaifera langsdorffii. It is extracted from South American rainforests, specifically in Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil. The tree resin is harvested in the same way rubber and maple syrup is tapped. It is later gently steam distilled to become the essential oil. The resin has a yellow to brown color; however, after it is distilled, the essential oil is clear white. Copaiba has a subtle aroma that is similar to balsam, honey, and cinnamon, along with a hint of wood like a very diluted cedar. The taste can also be described as slightly bitter.
What’s interesting is that copaiba is the only essential oil tapped from a tree in this way. One copaiba tree able to produce around 40 liters of a sticky liquid resin called oleoresin each year. As a result, copaiba essential oil is quite sustainable because it can be harvested without causing harm to the tree or the forest.
South American natives, including the Mayans, have been documented as using copaiba resin since the sixteenth century. It was also first recorded in European medicine journals in 1625. But, its use likely goes back further than that. Amazonian healers known as curanderos would use copaiba resin for wound healing, anti-inflammatory benefits, and pain relief. Brazilian healers would also use copaiba resin for bronchitis, tonsil infections, sore throats, and many other inflammatory disorders. Other uses back then would include treating urinary tract and bladder infections like cystitis, and even gonorrhea.
Properties and Composition of Copaiba Essential Oil
What makes copaiba essential oil so powerful? The most prevalent compound in copaiba oil is the cannabinoid beta-caryophyllene. In fact, copaiba essential oil contains 55% beta-caryophyllene. By comparison, other essential oils like clove oil and helichrysum oil contain between 6 percent and 12% beta-caryophyllene.
Interestingly, beta-caryophyllene is also the primary chemical in marijuana that gives patients relief from pain, inflammation, and other health conditions. However, copaiba oil is credited for reducing stress without the psychoactive side effects—in other words, it won’t get you “high.” Beta-caryophyllene has been extensively studied for its many effects, including its reported ability to modulate the body’s response to irritation, relieve pain, and treat cancer.
The other two main compounds in copaiba oil include copaene and humulene. Humulene is known for its disinfectant abilities in wound healing, whereas copaene is prominent for its antioxidant, anti-cancer, and antimicroorganism properties. Other beneficial chemical compounds in copaiba oil include alpha-bergamotene, beta-bisabolene, alpha-copaene, and daniellic acid.
Health Benefits of Copaiba Essential Oil
As a whole, copaiba oil is touted for the following properties:
- wound healing
- blood pressure-lowering
- nervous system calming
However, all the above properties are only found in a high-quality, 100% pure therapeutic grade copaiba essential oil from a reputable company.
The powerful combination of chemical compounds in copaiba oil is what makes it so versatile for treating a number of health problems. For instance, simply applying a few drops of copaiba oil to the lower abdomen before bed could help prevent incontinence and other bladder issues. Copaiba oil may also be a safe alternative for relieving stress and anxiety. The following are five potential health benefits of copaiba essential oil you should also keep in mind:
1. Benefits Skin Health
Your skin may thank you for using copaiba essential oil. It is said to be amazing for the skin, helping to rejuvenate any beauty routine. It could help tone and moisturize tired and sagging skin. Copaiba oil may also boost the skin’s collagen production to increase the elasticity and firmness of the skin. When used long-term, copaiba essential oil could help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars.
2. Treats Skin Conditions
The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of copaiba essential oil are also quite effective for common skin conditions, including eczema, acne, and psoriasis, according to a study published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics in 2013. Researchers found that copaiba oleoresin reduced the pro-inflammatory cytokines that are linked to chronic psoriasis. Another 2012 study published in the Alternative Medicine Review found that a treatment with 1 percent copaiba essential oil solution significantly decreased areas of the skin affected with acne.
3. Heals Wounds and Bites
The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects of copaiba essential oil may be effective for scrapes, minor wounds, bites, and burns. It purportedly soothes the pain, decreases swelling, and prevents the spread of dangerous infection. A 2016 study found that copaiba demonstrated its antibacterial activity against known drug-resistant bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. The researchers noted that even low copaiba concentrations effectively inhibited the growth of the bacterium. As a result, copaiba has promise in formulations for healing wounds and scars.
4. May Fight Cancer
The anti-inflammatory effect of beta-caryophyllene in copaiba oil could potentially help decrease the spread of cancer. Copaiba may also have anti-proliferative effects that allow it to prevent the spread of malignant cancer cells into surrounding tissue. A study published in the Dental Research Journal in 2015 found that copaiba killed MCF-7 breast cancer cells better than a highly used chemotherapy drug for breast cancer called doxorubicin. Another study found that beta-caryophyllene has the potential to inhibit solid tumor growth and the spread of lymph nodes in mice with melanoma.
5. Naturally Relieves Pain
For centuries, South Americans have used copaiba for pain relief. An animal study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology in 2014 found that beta-caryophyllene significantly reduced pain, and therefore may be included in the treatment of chronic, debilitating painful conditions, such as arthritis, gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia.
How to Use Copaiba Essential Oil
Another interesting fact about copaiba essential oil is that it is a magnifier, which means that copaiba oil enhances the effects of other essential oils. In particular, it pairs well ylang-ylang, vanilla, citrus oils, sandalwood, jasmine, rose, and frankincense.
How can you harness copaiba essential oil health benefits? You can use a few drops in diffuser, dilute copaiba oil with carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil for topical use, or ingest a low dose of two drops in an empty vegetable capsule rather than swallowing it directly. It is important to note that ingesting essential oils can be harmful at high doses.
The following are a few other copaiba essential oil uses you should consider:
- Drip a few copaiba oil drops into the palms of your hands. Breathing it in deeply will absorb it into your bloodstream quickly and possibly benefit the lungs and sinuses.
- Have a good soak in a bath with a few drops of copaiba essential oil. The oil will absorb into the skin, and also from inhaling the bath water steam.
- Applying a few drops of copaiba oil to the soles of your feet is apparently especially good for a restful sleep.
The following are some easy-to-follow copaiba essential oil recipes you can try:
1. Muscle Relaxant Bath Blend
- 1 drop of copaiba essential oil
- 1 drop of frankincense essential oil
- 1 drop of peppermint essential oil
- 1 tbsp of jojoba oil
- 1/2 cup of Epsom salts
Directions: Combine all ingredients together in a two-ounce bottle, transfer to a sterilized 5ml dark-glass bottle, and seal with a dropper or cap. Add a few drops to bath water for optimal relaxation and muscle pain relief.
2. Bronchitis and Congestion Steam Blend
- 15 drops of copaiba essential oil
- 10 drops of lemon essential oil
- 35 drops of tea tree oil
- 40 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
Directions: Combine all ingredients together in a two-ounce bottle, transfer to a sterilized 5ml dark-glass bottle, and seal with a dropper or cap. Place your head over a bowl of steamy water, and cover your head with a towel to keep the steam inside. With your eyes closed, have someone add two drops of the essential oil mixture to the bowl. Inhale through the nose, and breathe deeply for five minutes, or until the oils evaporate and you achieve relief.
3. Natural Acne Blend
- 4 drops of copaiba essential oil
- 4 drops of frankincense essential oil
- 3 drops of lavender essential oil
- 1 drop of carrot seed oil
- 2 ounces of witch hazel
Directions: Combine all ingredients together in a two-ounce bottle, transfer to a sterilized 15ml dark-glass bottle, and seal with a dropper or cap. Apply two drops to a cotton ball, and apply directly to your affected area on the skin.
Copaiba Oil Precautions
Copaiba essential oil is often among the essential oils introduced in starter packages when you begin your journey with essential oils. It is not a surprise, considering the aforementioned copaiba essential oil benefits and uses. That being said, the compounds of copaiba oil should not be ingested in high concentrations. Possible side effects would include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, tremors, rash, and sleeplessness.
As mentioned, make sure you obtain copaiba essential oil from a reputable company. This is because many South American oils have been adulterated, which makes them cheaper. Purchase copaiba oil derived from copaiba oleoresin, and without potentially toxic chemicals.
Essential oils like copaiba should not be applied anywhere near the ears or eyes. Since copaiba can sometimes irritate the skin of sensitive individuals, a skin patch test can help determine whether you react to the oil. It is best to dilute copaiba oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil. For the best treatment, it is a good idea to work with a health practitioner familiar with essential oils.
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