Health & Wellness

The Next Hot Thing: What is Copaiba Essential Oil?

The South American resin is gaining popularity as a natural remedy

By Kristina Parren

A well-known tree in South America has spawned a global craze. Copaiba essential oil, a product that has long been produced and used in Latin America, is now being used in medicine and cosmetics in North America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Copaiba has permeated the skin care market, aromatherapy products, pharmaceuticals, and more. As the industry grows and more consumers flock to Copaiba products, it’s important to understand the essential oil’s origins, benefits and administration.

Where Does Copaiba Essential Oil Come From?

Though it’s marketed as an essential oil, the substance derived from the Copaiba tree is actually a resin, or more specifically, an oleoresin. The Copaiba tree is a flowering tree found in tropical areas of Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and other South American countries. The clear Copaiba oleoresin is harvested by drilling or tapping into the tree’s trunk, which luckily does not damage the tree, meaning it is environmentally sustainable.

Copaiba “oil” may seem like a new discovery, but indigenous peoples in the Amazon have used the resin for hundreds of years to heal wounds, kill parasites, and reduce inflammation. In Brazil and Peru, the product is commonly used at home to relieve sore throats.

Does Copaiba Oil Really Work?

So, does Copaiba oil really help a sore throat? Is it really an effective antiseptic? In fact, research shows that Copaiba oil has antibacterial properties. One 2016 study reported that Copaiba oil gels demonstrated antibacterial activity against several strains of Streptococcus sp on dental film.

In addition to being an antiseptic, what other potential benefits does Copaiba oil have for your health?

Skin Care

As previously mentioned, Copaiba oil has made its way into many cosmetic and skin care products across the globe. The oil contains large amounts of a terpene called beta-caryophyllene, which reacts to cannabinoid receptors in your skin, leading to beta-endorphin production. These endorphins make your skin, well, happier.

It’s natural, then, that the essential oil is widely used for acne treatment and chronic skin conditions. A 2012 double-blind, placebo-controlled study on human volunteers used Copaiba essential oil to treat acne vulgaris. Along with other substances, the applied essential oil contained 1% Copaiba resin, which compared to the placebo, showed a significant decrease in the surface affected by acne.

Furthermore, Copaiba oleoresin is commonly used to treat wounds on the skin. One Brazilian study found that the oleoresin improved wound healing in wounds created on rabbit ears. This makes Copaiba oil a potential treatment for sores and other lesions.

Inflammation

The presence of the terpene beta-caryophyllene also lends itself to anti-inflammatory properties. Studies are currently looking at the effects of Copaiba oil on arthritis. One such study in 2017 found that anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions in arthritic rats, though some of the effect was counteracted by harmful changes in liver cell metabolism.

However, a 2005 study on edema (swelling caused by accumulation of fluid) and granulomas (a collection of cells formed during inflammation) in rats found that a dose of 1,802mg inhibited edema by 18% and granuloma by 42%. This is good news for the topical application of Copaiba essential oil.

Currently, Copaiba essential oils are applied topically for joint pain, muscle soreness, and even IBS as an alternative to NSAIDs and COXIBs, because Copaiba oil has few side effects.

Copaiba Side Effects

One of the main benefits of Copaiba essential oil is its lack of side effects and low likelihood for allergic reactions.

Yet ingesting large amounts of Copaiba oil can lead to digestive symptoms similar to food poisoning, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. When using Copaiba topically, you should dilute the oil before application to avoid redness and itching. Finally, be cognizant of children and pets in the room when using it for aromatherapy.

In general, you should consult your doctor before using any essential oil, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.

Where to Find It and How to Dose It

Copaiba can be found in a multitude of products, from food and beverages for flavoring to soaps and lotions. Major retailers, such as Walmart, currently sell the essential oil, and you can also find the oil online or in specialty vitamin shops.

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