Plant Origin: South America
Method: Steam distilled from balsam
Cultivation: Unsprayed (grown organically but not certified)
The Copaiba is a tall tree that is native to regions of South America, most notably the Amazonian Basin of Brazil. This 100% natural balsam is drawn from the trunks of the copaiba tree in a manner that does not harm the trees, and then it is gently refined. Copaiba contains the highest amounts of beta caryophyllene of any known essential oil. Beta caryophyllene research suggests that it may reduce inflammation and be effective against bacteria. It occurs naturally in cloves, black currant buds, yarrow, grapefruit, allspice and black pepper.
Properties and Uses
Copaiba balsam is generally yellow-brown in color, and it has a soft, pleasant, earthy aroma. Natives have used the balsam for generations to treat wounds, prevent tetanus and infection and to heal psoriasis and other skin conditions.
Copaiba has a strong antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and has germicidal actions. It is used topically as analgesic.
Copaiba is suggested for use for acne, eczema, psoriasis and a myriad of skin conditions, cut and wound care, dandruff and other scalp issues and it is noted to restore shine to hair.
Copaiba has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of health problems associated with anxiety, chronic congestion of the mucous membranes, bronchitis, conditions of irritable bladder, skin diseases and chronic diarrhea. It is effective in reducing inflammation, relieving the treatment of fungal infections and pain conditions.
Copaiba was cytotoxic to B16F10 (mouse) melanoma cells in vitro, and oral administration significantly reduced lung tumors (which has metastasized from injected B16F10 cells) in mice (Lima et al 2003).
Application Suggestions (see Essential Oil Usage for more information and a dilution chart)
Topical: Dilute and apply on area of concernt or as desired. Tested at 8% dilution on 25 volunteers it was neither irritating nor sensitizing (Tisserand).
Inhalation: Directly inhale or diffuse (may be too thick to diffuse as a single oil in a glass nebulizing diffuser).
Internal: The quality of Copaiba is suitable for internal use within safe parameters, if such use is deemed appropriate. We feel that internal use is rarely *needed* and should only be used with respect for how concentrated the oils are. HEO does not advocate internal use of essential oils without appropriate knowledge and understanding of how to administer, for what purpose, how much, which essential oils, safety concerns and so on. In our experience, essential oils are generally more effective used topically with proper dilution or inhaled. Kurt Schnaubelt Ph.D. notes that "French aromatherapy literature contains many references to using oils orally." He goes on to note that "generally 1 drop is always enough when ingesting essential oils." A potential toxicity hazard could occur when untrained people use essential oils orally and ingest too much. Keep in mind that while medical doctors or health care practitioners may prescribe essential oils for internal use, they are trained and experienced in the safe application of essential oils. It is not a matter of using "French aromatherapy" or "British" methods, it's a matter of experience and appropriate application.
Click here for more information about internal usage.
1. I have struggled recently with thrush [fungal issue] in my mouth and irritating sores on my gums and tongue. My tongue has felt raw and burning. My MD prescribed an oral rinse that basically was an expensive dud. I had some Copaiba that I got for my eczema, and thinking that my mouth issues were probably also related to the fungal issues, I decided I was desparate enough to try it. I tipped my head back and let about 3 drops fall into my mouth. I swished it as long as I could and then swallowed it. The relief was immediate, and less than three days later all the sores were gone. This stuff is fantastic! - E.T.
2. I just wanted to update a post I wrote nearly a month ago... I have been applying Frankincense and Copaiba oils to a sebaceous cyst on my back, and within two weeks the size had reduced. It's now less than half the size it was, and when it's gone completely or nearly gone, I hope to post pictures. I took "before" photos and am eager to take some "after" photos! These oils really work!! :) - Joanne
3. We have used Frankincense and Copaiba (3 drops each) with coconut oil in a gelatin capsule for intense pain, and it was pretty effective. - Sally
4. I diluted Copaiba and Frankincense with coconut oil and applied to my baby's gum. This brought a relieving calm. Dilution rate was 1%. - S.J.
Copaiba is non-toxic.
Avoid contact with the eyes and other sensitive areas. Essential oils are both lipophilic and hydrophobic. Lipophilic means they are attracted to fat—like the membranes of your eyes and skin. They are also hydrophobic, meaning they do not like water. Flushing with water will only send the essential oil back to the eye's membranes. Applying a carrier oil will create another fat for the essential oil to be attracted to other than the membranes of the eyes or skin. We’ve not known this to cause permanent injury or long-term discomfort, but if you feel concerned, please call your health care provider.
Tisserand, Robert, Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition 2014, page 259.