Copaiba Essential Oil
Copaiba essential oil is derived from a South American tree of the Copaifera L. genus (Leguminoseae). The tree produces a yellow sticky resin that is obtained through ‘tapping the tree’.1 The resin from this plant was commonly used in traditional South American medicine due to its anti-inflammatory, gastro-protective and anti-tumour properties.1,7
Though seemingly new to the market, copaiba essential oil and its resin have been popular in Brazilian and European pharmacies for many years. Copaiba essential oil is extracted through a process of steam distillation. The resin is turned into a pale-yellow liquid that has been reported to have a subtle scent similar to cinnamon or honey, with faint notes of cedar.
In recent years, scientific research has since identified key bioactive compounds that support its traditional use. These studies have demonstrated that copaiba essential oil has antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-histamine properties.3,4,5
Copaiba Essential Oil Uses
With its use dating back hundreds of years, copaiba essential oil is now being incorporated into modern activities. Whether it’s through aromatherapy, therapeutic massage or natural skincare, discover how to use copaiba essential oil in your everyday health routine.
Add 2-4 drops of copaiba essential oil into a diffuser filled with water. Breathe in the therapeutic aroma as it spreads throughout the room. For a homemade diffuser, boil 2-3 cups of water until steaming. Transfer to a bowl and add the copaiba essential oil.
For an easy, oil-based perfume add 10 drops of copaiba essential oil, 5 drops of peppermint essential oil and 5 drops of frankincense essential oil to an empty 2-ounce bottle. Fill the remainder of the bottle with a carrier oil such as avocado. Shake to blend the ingredients. Apply a pea-sized amount to the inner writs or lower neck.
For a relaxing soak, add 3-5 drops of copaiba essential oil into warm bath water. To help soothe sore muscles, add 1 cup of Epsom salt.
One of the most common uses for copaiba essential oil is therapeutic massage. Add 4-5 drops of copaiba essential oil to a carrier oil such as coconut, grapeseed or apricot kernel. Gently massage into the affected areas.
Soothing Foot Rub
Applying diluted copaiba essential oil to the soles of your feet or other pressure points may help promote relaxation and tension relief. Mix 4-5 drops of copaiba essential oil with 3 Tbsp. of a base oil like avocado or jojoba.
Apply a small amount of the mixture onto the soles of your feet. Gently massage in a circular motion. Essential oils will typically enter the bloodstream within 20-30 minutes. If you apply them before going to bed, they may provide relief as you sleep.
For a natural skincare routine, add 2-4 drops to 2 Tbsp. of a carrier oil or unscented moisturizer. Copaiba essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties which may help soothe and moisturize skin, reduce redness and aid overall skin tone.3
For acne-prone skin, apply 2-3 drops of copaiba essential oil to 1 Tsp. of carrier oil. Dip a damp cotton ball into the mixture and apply as a spot treatment. Copaiba’s anti-inflammatory properties may help heal and moisturize the affected ares.2 This solution has also been reported to be beneficial for other forms of problem skin such as psoriasis.
With anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, copaiba essential oil may support wound healing and help prevent against further infection. For a natural wound healer, add 2-5 drops of copaiba essential oil to 3 Tbsp. of warm water in a bowl. After cleaning the wound, dip a clean cloth into the solution and lightly apply the mixture to minor wounds or abrasions.
Benefits of Copaiba Essential Oil
Traditionally used as a healing agent in South America, copaiba and its oil have long been considered a beneficial substance. Today, it is widely used throughout Brazil as an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent.3 Due to its popularity, there has been an increase in scientific interest dedicated to understand the properties and health benefits of copaiba essential oil.
In a 2011 study, researchers identified diterpenoids as one of the main active ingredients in copaiba essential oil. These diterpenoids are responsible for the prevention of the growth of an extensive list of bacteria. When applied to isolated cultures of Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli, copaiba essential oil was observed to significantly reduce bacteria growth for all three cultures.6
Over the past few decades, several studies have evaluated copaiba resin and copaiba essential oil for its anti-inflammatory properties. In animal models, copaiba essential oil has been shown to reduce carrageenan-induced paw edema, a common method to test anti-inflammatory properties.1,6
While it’s been suggested that the bioactive compounds may influence serotonin and histamine channels, further clinical testing is required.6 While in vitro and in vivo animal studies have been conducted, further research is required to fully understand the anti-inflammatory effects on humans.
Promotes Wound Healing
In recent years, studies have found that various compounds found in copaiba essential oil act as a biological defence against pathogens and help reduce skin damage caused by external forces.3 In one clinical study, copaiba essential oil was noted to help heal skin damage caused by insect bites, but did not repel the insects themselves.6 These discoveries help confirm traditional, aboriginal use of the resin and its oil.
In a 2012 study, researchers evaluated copaiba essential oil as a remedy for mild to moderate acne. Volunteers received either a placebo gel or a 1% copaiba essential oil preparation and applied the gel twice daily for 21 days.2
At the end of the study, a significant decrease in areas affected with acne was observed in volunteers using the 1% copaiba essential oil preparation.3 Due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, the solution helped reduce pimples and soothe redness and inflammation.2,4
Copaiba essential oil may also provide natural relief for symptoms of cases of psoriasis. In a study published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics, researchers investigated its antipsoriatic properties. In in vitro testing, copaiba essential oil helped reduce the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which regulate inflammatory response. A small clinical trial was then conducted with three patients suffering from psoriasis. Patients applied a copaiba solution to affected areas, or orally ingested the oil. Results indicate significant improvements to skin thickness and ‘scaly’ texture, common symptoms of the condition.6
Side Effects of Copaiba Essential Oil
Copaiba essential oil is generally regarded as safe for inhalation and diluted, topical use. Do not ingest copaiba essential oil unless under the direct supervision of a health care provider.
Always read and follow the label directions. Consult with a doctor prior to using on children, pregnant or breast feeding women.
Where to Buy Copaiba Essential Oil
Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Veiga Junior, V. F., Rosas E. C., Carvalho, M. V. Henriques M. G. M. O., & Pinto, A. C. (2007) Chemical composition and anti-inflammatory activity of copaiba oils from Copaifera cearensis Huber ex Ducke, Copaifera reticulata Ducke and Copaifera multijuga Hayne—A comparative study. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 112(2), 248-254. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2007.03.005
- Da Silva, A. G., Puziol, PDF., Leitao, R. , et al. (2016). Application of the essential oil from Copaiba (Copaifera langsdorffi Desf.) for Acne Vulgaris: a double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial. Alternative Medicine Review. 17(1) 69-75. Retrieved March 10, 2017 from http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/17/1/69.pdf
- Islam, MT. et al. (2016) Therapeutic potential of essential oils focusing on diterpenes. Phytother Res 30 (9) 1420-1444. Retrieved March 10, 2017 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/27307034/
- Amilia Destryana, R., Gary Young, D., Woolley, C.L. Tzou-Chi Huang, Hung-Yi Wu, Wen-Ling Shih (2014). Antioxidant and anti-inflammation activities on Ocotea, Copaiba and Blue Cypress Essential oils in vitro and in vivo. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 91(9), 1531-1542. doi:1007/s11746-014-2504-4
- Gelmini, F., Beretta, G., Anselmi, C., Centini, M., Magni, P., Ruscica, M., … Maffei Facino, R. (2013). GC–MS profiling of the phytochemical constituents of the oleoresin from Copaifera langsdorffii Desf. and a preliminary in vivo evaluation of its antipsoriatic effect. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 440(2), 170-178. doi:1016/j.ijpharm.2012.08.021
- Leandro, L. M., De Sousa Vargas, F., Barbosa, P. C., Neves, J. K., Da Silva, J. A., & Da Veiga-Junior, V. F. (2012). Chemistry and Biological Activities of Terpenoids from Copaiba (Copaifera spp.) Oleoresins. Molecules, 17(12), 3866-3889. doi:10.3390/molecules17043866