Copaiba Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Contraindications

Copaiba oil has been used in traditional medicine due to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Do you want to know more about its benefits? If so, keep reading!
Copaiba Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Contraindications
Franciele Rohor de Souza

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist Franciele Rohor de Souza.

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 21 October, 2022

Do you want to know more about copaiba oil? Copaiba is a tree that’s native to the Amazon basin and can reach 65 feet in height. It belongs to the Copaifera officinalis species, popular for naturally producing an oil or resin that’s extracted after drilling a hole in the trunk, inserting a pipe, and letting the contents flow.

Since ancient times, this resin’s been used for medicinal purposes, since the inhabitants of the places where the tree grows attribute several properties to it. It’s believed to help relieve pain, prevent infections, and improve the healing process.

What is copaiba oil?

Copaiba oil is obtained from the resin of the trees that share the same name. Since these trees produce this oil naturally, the process consists of making an incision in the trunk, filtering the contents, and treating it until the sweet-smelling, we obtain a woody oil.

According to historical data, the first to take advantage of the benefits of this balsam were the tribes living throughout the Amazon basin. This includes countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. Due to its usefulness in the treatment of various ailments, it arrived in Europe in the 17th century.

Today, this oil is present among the ingredient lists of numerous personal care and skin care products. Similarly, both the resin and the oil are present in natural pharmaceutical preparations such as diuretics and cough remedies.

Important components

The main components of copaiba oil are as follows:

  • Copaene or α-Copaene
  • Cadinene or δ-Cadinene
  • Γ-Cadinene
  • Cedrol
A woman holding a bottle of Copaiba oil.
Copaiba oil has been used since ancient times for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.

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Main uses and benefits of copaiba oil

Folk medicine has also used this oil as an aphrodisiac. Below, we’ll analyze in detail what its benefits are according to science.

1. It has anti-inflammatory activity

Chronic inflammation is the cause of several diseases. Fortunately, copaiba oil has exhibited relevant anti-inflammatory effects.

In a study done in rodents with multiple sclerosis (MS), this ingredient helped decrease the production of molecules linked to inflammation. In addition, it was useful in inhibiting the activity of free radicals associated with oxidative stress.

Similarly, a study in rats with a tongue lesion showed that resin oil helped reduce the number of immune cells that cause inflammation.

Finally, a study in rodents with colitis found that this product can decrease inflammation, despite not affecting the damage to the colon. For now, more studies are necessary to corroborate these effects in humans.

2. It has antimicrobial activity

Research in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding found that, even at low concentrations, copaiba oil can inhibit bacterial growth. The study looked at the effects of the oil on the bacteria golden staphylococcus, which causes skin infections and wounds.

Meanwhile, a study in The Open Dentistry Journal found that a gel of this oil was able to combat all species of streptococcus bacteria present on teeth. However, more studies are still necessary to certify these properties.

3. It has an analgesic effect

A study in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice showed that a massage with copaiba oil combined with Deep Blue may be more effective in reducing arthritis pain than one with coconut oil. It may also increase finger strength and dexterity.

4. It can help fight leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is an infection caused by the Leishmania parasite that’s transmitted through the bite of an infected phlebotomine sandfly. In general, when the infection is cutaneous, lesions and ulcers usually appear.

However, research in rodents with cutaneous leishmaniasis found that oral and topical treatment with copaiba oil helped to reduce skin lesions. Experts believe this is because it can attack the cell membranes of the Leishmania parasite.

5. Cobaiba oil contributes to the improvement of acne-prone skin

Due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, this oil seems to be an ally against acne. In a study published in the journal Alternative Medicine Review, participants showed a significant improvement in acne areas treated with a 1% copaiba essential oil preparation.

On the other hand, anecdotal data suggest that it also helps to lighten the skin. To do this, simply add a drop of the essential oil to face cream or toner.

6. It helps to take care of liver health

According to a study that appeared in Acta Cirúrgica Brasileira, copaiba oil can reduce liver damage caused by commonly used painkillers such as acetaminophen. The researchers found that these effects occur whenever the individuals use this oil preventively; that is, before administering the analgesic.

If you administer the oil after the drug, its effects are not as favorable. On the contrary, bilirubin levels in the liver increase. Further studies are necessary to corroborate these effects.

7. Copaiba oil works as a painkiller

One of the traditional uses of this natural product has to do with stress relief. In particular, soothing properties are attributed to it, especially when applied through massage. It’s ideal for relaxing after a tedious day or before going to bed.

A person giving another person a back massage.
Applied through massage, this oil could help reduce muscle tension.

Risks and precautions of copaiba oil

Experts consider copaiba oil to be safe as long as it’s used in low doses. A study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that ingesting large amounts can cause digestive problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

At the same time, you shouldn’t ingest the oil directly and be careful before applying it to the skin. Essential oils, in general, come in very concentrated forms, so it’s necessary to dilute them.

It’s also advisable to test for possible reactions. To do this, apply a little diluted oil and allow it to act for at least 24 hours. If there’s no reaction, you can consider it safe.

However, if using this oil in aromatherapy sessions, you need to avoid doing so near children, pets, or pregnant women, as some essential oils can affect them.

Finally, experts believe that lithium may interact unfavorably with copaiba. Therefore, consultation with a specialist is crucial for those who are taking or have taken lithium or any other medication containing lithium.

How can I use copaiba oil?

The use of copaiba oil as a food additive is common, adding it in small quantities to food and beverages to change their aroma. In turn, it’s often useful as a topical treatment to reduce inflammation, pain, and scars.

In the latter cases, you should mix it with a carrier oil, such as avocado, almond, or coconut oil. Just add 3 to 5 drops of copaiba essential oil to each ounce of carrier oil. You can apply it as a compress, massage, cream, or lotion.

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Copaiba oil: A natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever

Copaiba, whose scientific name is Copaifera officinalis, is a tree species that’s native to the Amazon basin that produces a resin or balsam that we can extract by making an incision in the trunk.

Through the processing of this resin, we obtain copaiba oil. Anecdotal data and some investigations state that it has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial activity. However, more research is necessary to prove its effects.

For now, you should only use it on an ad hoc basis as an ally to soothe certain minor symptoms. It doesn’t replace medical treatments and you should use it with caution, especially in special cases such as pregnancy, lactation, or any pre-existing disease.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.