Best known for its sweet aroma and often used as a lacquer or varnish, the many copaiba essential oil uses make it a must-have. It’s renowned for healing, which has made it a great natural solution for pain relief, infection, and even skin care. You may be surprised to learn how far-reaching its health benefits can take you!
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Copaiba Essential Oil Properties
Copaiba essential oil is steam distilled from the gum resin that is tapped from Brazil’s copaiba tree. This tree grows upwards to 100 feet and produces yellow flowers and a reddish fruit. Interestingly, a single tree may offer up to twelve gallons of oil each season! Burned in ceremonies for physical and spiritual healing, the resin is used in a variety of ways and can be found in virtually every market in South America.
Like frankincense, there are a variety of species including Copaifera officinalis, Copaifera langsdorffii, and Copaifera reticulata. There are subtle differences in the chemical makeup of each and the research discusses most of them.
Which one do you use?
Practically-speaking, your favorite supplier will only sell one or two species and this will largely determine which one(s) you purchase. Personally, I have found the differences between species is minimal and I use them interchangeably. Ideally, like I do with frankincense, mix all the species you can find together to create a synergistic blend!
One of the reasons copaiba has received a resurgence of popularity in the essential oil world is because of its ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system.
Discovered in the 1990s when researchers were studying tetrahydrocannabinol (THC – a known cannabinoid), the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is crucial for our survival as it plays a critical role in maintaining homeostasis of the human body:pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune and reproductive function. (source)
For the ECS to work properly, it requires cannabinoids, compounds made by the body and in nature (i.e. cannabis), which bind with and trigger cannabinoid receptors that, in turn, produce a variety of physiological responses such as pain relief, insomnia relief, increased appetite, reduced stress, euphoria and the feeling of being “high.”
The two receptors of interest to us include:
- CB1 receptors – found in the central nervous system (i.e. brain and spinal cord). Can trigger the sensation of being “high.”
- CB2 receptors – found in the peripheral nervous system, immune cells, muscles, skin, and vital organs. When triggered, will not get you “high.”
THC is the famous cannabinoid in cannabis that gets people high and it can bind with both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
What does this have anything to do with aromatherapy?
Well, because of beta-caryophyllene, the first known “dietary cannabinoid” that has been approved by the FDA as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) to be used in food for its flavor. (source)
It so also happens to be the primary sesquiterpene in black pepper, cloves, hops, rosemary, copaiba, and cannabis, which binds with CB2 receptors.
Meaning, when you use copaiba, black pepper or any essential oil that contain beta-caryophyllene, you activate the ECS without any psychotrophic effects (i.e. you won’t get “high”). Kinda of like having your gluten-free, naturally-sweetened cake and eating it, too, huh?
So, to confirm, will using copaiba get you high like cannabis can? Of course not!
Can it help you in ways that CBD can? Yep!
7 Copaiba Essential Oil Benefits
This essential oil appears pale yellow in color and has a slightly bitter taste. The resin that makes the oil is extracted from has been used as a native folk remedy dating back to the 16th century. Although they seem almost limitless, I have found that these 7 copaiba essential oil uses top the charts.
1. Anti-Inflammatory & Pain Relief Help
A go-to natural pain solution for hundreds of years, the fact that copaiba oil heals has drawn a lot of attention to it in the American essential oil community. Copaiba essential oil uses in Brazil include both an anti-inflammatory and an anti-septic. In fact, Amazonian traditional medical practitioners often prescribed the oil for its anti-inflammatory properties. One study published in The Journal of Ethnopharmacology revealed that the main compound found in this oil was beta-caryophyllene. (1) Beta-caryophyllene is an anti-inflammatory agent that also has analgesic, or pain killing properties. (2)
Another study looked at the influence of copaiba essential oil uses on rats in the repair of abdominal defects that were corrected mesh. Researchers found that those treated with copaiba oil showed an improvement in the inflammatory response. (3) While another study found that copaiba oils have a peripheral and central antinociceptive effect, meaning that the oil blocks the detection of painful or injurious stimulus (4) These studies suggest that the oil is not only useful as an anti-inflammatory, but can also be used as a natural pain reliever.
2. Protect the Liver
Not only does copaiba act as a pain killer itself, but it can also help reduce liver tissue damage that is caused by acetaminophens like Tylenol. One study measured the effect of copaiba oil in liver damage that was induced by acetaminophen in rats. In the study, researchers administered copaiba oil to the rats for 7 days. The study found that the oil reduced liver damage caused by paracetamol, or acetaminophen. (5)
It is important to note, that if you are interested in copaiba essential oil uses for pain relief or to protect your liver due to routine acetaminophen use, it is vital that you follow safety guidelines. Taking too much of the oil can actually cause harm. In fact, in the rat study, large oral doses were shown to increase bilirubin, which is a sign of liver disease. Be sure to limit to 1-2 drops each dose and spread doses out to every 4 hours. The safest way to consume is in a gel capsule filled with olive oil, or you can dilute with some coconut oil and sweetened it up with a little honey. Like any essential oil that you take orally, it is vital that you consult with your physician and never take more than the recommended dose.
3. Protecting the Brain
In addition to the oil itself, copaiba oil-resin has also been shown to work as a natural healing solution. Oleoresins are naturally occurring mixtures of oil and resin that are extracted from plants like the copaiba tree. These mixtures have been used in traditional healing and Brazilian folk medicine for years. However, recent studies have also shown that oleoresin treatment works as a neuroprotective (protects the brain).
A research study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at how copaiba oil-resin (COR) could possibly be used as an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective after neural disorders. The study used adult rats to investigate the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects of COR after acute damage to the motor cortex. The results of the study suggested that “COR treatment induces neuroprotection by modulating inflammatory response following an acute damage to the central nervous system.” (6)
Many essential oils can be used to reduce the appearance of appearance of acne or help clear up other skin irritations. Copaiba oil is no exception. It’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties make it an ideal natural solution for those who suffer from acne. When extracted from the oil resin, copaiba essential oil can be used to effectively treat surface acne.
Acne Fighting in Double-Blind Trials
Researchers conducted a double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial aimed at testing the effects of copaiba essential oil on volunteers with acne.
After distilling the essential oil through steam distillation and purifying it through freezing to remove remnant water, researchers then incorporated the essential oil into a gel to use for testing. The gel was applied to the areas affected by acne. The results showed that there was a highly significant decrease in the surface affected with acne in the areas that were treated with 1.0% copaiba essential oil preparation. (7)
5. Autoimmune Conditions
The research on the use of copaiba oil for autoimmune conditions is still very new and experimental. However, it is interesting to note that research is being done to see how this essential oil might provide a natural treatment option for those who suffer from autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.
In a recent study, researchers investigated how copaiba oil effected the immune system response in cultured cells from mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). EAE is an autoimmune disease found in rodents that is used to study multiple sclerosis. The results of this study suggest that copaiba oil acts on the mechanism of development of EAE by modulating the immune response. (8)
Again, this research is still very experimental, and more studies will need to be conducted to determine how the oil might impact immune system response in humans with autoimmune conditions. However, it is promising to see these results, which suggest the oil might also help those suffering from diseases like multiple sclerosis.
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6. Oral Health Care
Copaiba essential oil uses have also shown to be effective in oral health care. Though most essential oils can often be used safely on the skin when mixed with a carrier oil, many of these oils are not safe for use orally. However, copaiba oil is safe if used properly. A study that aimed to evaluate the cytotoxic effect of a Copaiba oil-based root canal sealer determined that the oil is not cytotoxic, meaning it is safe and useful as a root canal sealer. (9)
Furthermore, another study showed that copaiba oil was a bacteriostatic agent when used against Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria commonly found in the human mouth that is a significant contributor to tooth decay. (10) This means that it was able to stop bacteria from reproducing, suggesting that copaiba oil may be useful in preventing cavities. Consider adding a drop to your oil pulling mixture to improve the health of your mouth.
We have already looked at how copaiba essential oil uses can be used to treat different kinds of infections such as skin issues like acne and oral health problems like tooth decay. However, there is even more research out there regarding other types of infection that suggests copaiba oil may also be helpful in acting as a natural healing agent.
One such study looked at copaiba essential oil uses as a prophylactic or preventative approach for those with fecal peritonitis leading to severe sepsis. This study tested rats and measured their survival rates, comparing animals who were injected with copaiba before being infected with those who were infected afterwards. Interestingly, those animals that were treated with copaiba before getting sick, survived considerably than those who were treated afterwards. (11) Of course, more research needs to be conducted to make a hard conclusion, but this suggests that people prone to infection – for example, pre-surgery, pre-chemo and etc – could benefit from safe, internal use of copaiba oil.