Wow, where to start on copaiba? I guess the main shocker for me was that copaiba oil has been the subject of three double-blind placebo clinical trials with humans. These types of clinical trials just aren’t conducted often on natural products or plants. They’re expensive, and whoever funds them and/or conducts them can rarely recoup the money spent on this kind of trial since anyone can sell the product they’ve studied once their results are reported. Because of that, these copaiba trials are quite small in the number of patients studied. Make sure you read about these new human clinical trials in my book or in the database if you are looking for herbal remedies for psoriasis, facial acne, or dental problems like cavities and gingivitis/periodontal disease.
A great deal of the new research published on copaiba oil in the last 10 years are reconfirming the properties and actions of this rainforest oily resin that we’ve known about for many years through traditional uses and previously published research. Quite a few studies on copaiba oil’s wound healing, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial (very effective for Gram-positive bacteria), antiparasitic, and anti-cancerous actions have been researched and reported. You know you’re on to something when you start to see the drug companies actually adding a natural plant or a plant’s naturally occurring plant chemical to their chemo-drug protocols to increase the effectiveness of their chemo drugs in addition to reducing the toxic side effects and publishing studies on them. Don’t miss the information about β-caryophyllene (copaiba oil is over 50% β-caryophyllene) in combination with paclitaxel or copaiba oil in combination with doxorubicin drugs in the updated 2nd edition of my book.
Some of the new uses validated for copaiba oil recently are for endometriosis, Alzheimer’s, acne and anxiety. More information on these studies and potential uses can be found in my book and in the database. They are quite interesting.
Additionally, in one of the newly published studies on copaiba oil’s wound healing actions, they reported that copaiba oil significantly stimulated the production of collagen in skin cells when applied topically. Hallelujah! My wrinkles are going to love that! I wouldn’t be surprised to see copaiba oil start showing up as an ingredient in some of those expensive anti-aging facial creams in the near future. When I was formulating products for Raintree I created two skin care products and copaiba was an ingredient in both. They were called Rainforest Revive and Rainforest Body Butter. Back then, I was mainly using copaiba in the products as a natural antiseptic/antibacterial and antioxidant ingredient to avoid using the standard harsh chemical disinfectants and preservatives.
I’ve personally used copaiba oil in my trips through the Amazon for wound healing and skin infections of all kinds. Many times when you need a quick remedy for a cut, blister, skin ulcer or boil, or skin parasite, it's easier to find a copaiba tree in the rainforest than it is a sangre de grado tree (my other mainstay wound healer and tropical topical infection remedy). Sangre de grado will seal the wound quicker than copaiba will, but they both speed healing and protect against infections. I think copaiba’s antiseptic and anti-infection actions are a bit stronger than sangre de grado’s, especially now, after reading some of the new antimicrobial research published on copaiba.
While copaiba’s anti-fungal actions have been deemed “moderate” by researchers studying it, my personal experience with it has been quite good. When one of my granddaughters turned 5 years old, she got a kitten and ringworm all in the same day. I put a dab of straight undiluted copaiba oil on it and it dried up in less than 4 hours and was gone completely two days later. Ringworm is a type of skin fungi copaiba has tested “moderately” active against. I’ve also personally used it effectively for athlete foot and jock itch (for my son), nail fungus for other family and friends, and some kind of mysterious “jungle rot skin fungus” I came home with from an extended stay in the Amazon years ago.
In addition to Rainforest Revive and Rainforest Body Butter, when I was formulating products for Raintree I used copaiba oil in the following products:
- Amazon N-Tense Topical for copaiba's anti-cancerous actions
- Amazon A-F Topical for copaiba's anti-fungal actions
- Amazon A-V Topical for copaiba's antimicrobial actions
So, here’s the scoop on choosing a copaiba oil product. . . and there are lots available under many different labels these days. If the copaiba oil you’re buying says it’s harvested in the Amazon area, what you will be most likely be buying is a combination of oils which have been harvested from Copaifera officinalis, Copaifera reticulata and Copaifera langsdorffii. There are no copaiba plantations with just one species of tree neatly lined up and ready to tap out there in the jungle. All three of these copaiba tree species are found all around the rainforest (sometimes living right next to one another!) and they look very similar to one another. Local harvesters do not distinguish between the different species, they just go into the rainforest to tap “copaiba trees” for it’s oil and it all goes in the same bucket. The trees all look the same to them.
These three species (as well as two other Copaifera trees found in drier regions outside the Amazon) are used interchangeably in South American and tribal herbal medicine systems. The plant chemistry of these different species are very similar but slightly different. While they have all the same plant chemicals, some species have larger amounts of sesquiterpene chemicals than others and some have greater amounts of diterpenes and terpenic acid chemicals (with less sesquiterpenes) than others. This drives the drug company researchers crazy, since they have to quantify these active compounds in each sample they get since each sample is slightly different. You also might note, when I write about the research on copaiba in my book or database, I reference research conducted and published on all three species plus the two others for this reason.
The other thing that might be confusing in choosing a product is that there are now two types of “Copaiba Oil” being marketed and sold today. The first is just straight, filtered natural copaiba oil/resin that’s been around since Raintree first launched it in 1998. The second is much newer and is a distilled essential oil extracted from copaiba oil/resin. Copaiba essential oils are largely composed of sesquiterpenoids, particularly β-caryophyllene. However, the resin is also composed of diterpene acids, and other chemicals which are responsible for many of the observed biological activities that don’t get extracted into the essential oil. Don't buy the essential oil product if you are looking for the benefits outlined in my book or database that are attributed to the diterpenes. All of the research I wrote about has been conducted on the whole natural oily resin with the exception of the one human study on acne which used the essential oil. My personal opinion is that extracting out the essential oil in the resin leaves behind too many beneficial and active chemicals and personally, I’ll stick with the natural oil as nature made it.
Like I said, there are lots of products to choose from. Look for a product that is a light golden color and about as thick as real maple syrup. The older the resin, the thicker and darker it gets as it oxidizes (and loses potency). Today, when I need copaiba oil, I personally buy this one. Follow the below links to find many other copaiba products now available:
Copaiba oil at amazon.com
Copaiba oil at MyHerbs.net
Copaiba oil on eBay
Copaiba at VitaCost
You can also see videos posted on YouTube about copaiba here.
And now, I’m off to slap some copaiba oil on my wrinkles . . . Enjoy reading!