Copaiba essential oil is distilled from the balsam (aka: oleo-resin) of an evergreen tree in the Fabaceae (legume) family. Several species of Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis, Copaifera reticulata, C. langsdorffii) are found in South America and considered inter-changeable regarding their medicinal properties. However, trees of the Brazilian rainforest are most often tapped for their healing oleo-resin.
Copaiba essential oil is a gentle, balsamic, un-sung hero of aromatic medicine. Its powers are many and a sustainable choice when looking for qualities a resin-bearing tree often provides. A single tree may annually provide 40 liters of oleoresin.
Copaiba is often, misleadingly, called Copal. According to Merriam-Webster, Copal is “a recent or fossil resin from various tropical trees.” This spans the globe from “Copal” in the Philippines, Africa, to several genuses across South America. Take effort to know and use a plant’s Latin binomial and steer clear of its common names to avoid confusion and potential safety risks.
Copaiba essential oil has an affinity to: the skin (anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antimicrobial, dry skin conditions, mature skin, wound healing), the musculoskeletal system (swollen joints, arthritis, muscular aches and pains), the respiratory system (bronchitis, asthma support, sinus congestion), digestive system (oral care) and nervous system (quiets and centers the mind).
Chemistry Highlights: Copaiba essential oil is rich sesquiterpenes (e.g., α- and -β-caryophyllene and α-copaene) and supported by sesquiterpene alcohols. This representation of heavier carbons lends to Copaiba’s gentle nature and affinity for the skin. -β- and α-caryophyllene are shown to ease inflammation, aches and pains.
Is Copaiba essential oil safe?
Copaiba is generally recognized as safe.
Blending with Copaiba essential oil.
Copaiba invites you to a world of the soft and subtle; many essential oils may over-power its aroma. Due to this and the dominance of sesquiterpenes it is often used as a fixative or modifier/blender in perfumes, soaps and other personal care goods.
Its aroma lures you from the slightly resinous, pine-sappy-green top notes down to a damp, spicy-camphoraceously creamy vanilla note. There is light-heartedness to the essential oil. I find it is not as “serious” as its resinous cousins: myrrh, benzoin, frankincense, elemi or opoponax. Its aroma is light-hearted, a bit playful and often makes me unwittingly smile.
Copaiba essential oil blends well with: Lavender, Black pepper, Frankincense, Angelica root or seed, Clove bud, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lemongrass, Ylang ylang, Cypress, Eucalyptus radiata, Green myrtle.
Creating Wellness Products with Copaiba
Aches and Pains Salve
Keep a few jars of salve around your house to help address everyday cuts, scrapes, bruises and aches.
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1/4 ounce of beeswax
- 5% dilution or 50 drops.
- 18 drops Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis)
- 10 drops Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
- 5 drops German chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- 7 drops Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
- 10 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Copaiba and Respiratory Support: Cleansing & Clarifying Inhaler
Use this blend to help clear your mind and nasal passages during cold and flu season, or anytime you want to be in-touch with the trees.
What you need:
- 1 inhaler blank
- 1 Certified Organic Cotton Pad (either square or circle pads, cut down to size for tube)
- A glass or ceramic bowl
- Tweezers to place cotton pad into bowl and move pad around then to place pad into tube
- 9 drops Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis)
- 5 drops Frankincense (Boswellia sacra or B. carterii)
- 6 drops White Pine (Pinus strobus) or another conifer oil of your choice
- 3 drops Eucalyptus radiata (Eucalyptus radiata)
- 7 drops Green Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
How to make: click here to learn how to make an aromatic inhaler.
Copaiba and Oral Care: Refreshing & Antiseptic Mouth Wash
Making your own mouthwash can be very rewarding, economical and fun. Incorporating the gentle effectiveness of hydrosols, the antibacterial and pH neutralizing properties of xylitol and the overall anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, analgesic and antimicrobial properties of the following essential oils may take your refreshed breath away!
What you need:
- 1 sterilized 8 ounce glass bottle with fitting cap
- A funnel
- 35 drops Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis)
- 25 drops Myrrh (Commiphora molmol)
- 15 drops Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- 10 drops Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
- 10 drops Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
- 6 Tbsp Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) hydrosol
- 6 Tbsp German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) hydrosol
- 4 Tbsp Cistus (Cistus ladaniferus) hydrosol
- 1 Tbsp Xylitol crystals or powder (note: keep xylitol away from dogs)
How to make: Add essential oils to the bottle. Secure the cap on the bottle and shake well to combine the essential oils. Remove the lid, placing the funnel in the bottle. Add the hydrosols and xylitol. Secure the cap on the bottle and shake vigorously to suspend the xylitol into solution. Label the bottle and store it in your bathroom. Shake vigorously each time before using to disperse the essential oils. Use daily.
Written by: Amy Anthony
(Aromatic Studies Instructor)
Amy Anthony B.A, is a certified Aromatherapist with a private practice in Manhattan, NY. Her focus is on customized aromatherapy and education: she consults with clients and teaches workshops at the NYIOA and around the NY metro area. Amy also enjoys formulating and devising delivery methods that encourage the safe, practical use of aromatherapy—like fizzing bath balls, shower bars and sleep mists.
Amy has been a gardener since the age of 5 and has continually found ways to connect with plants since moving to NYC in 1999. Her knowledge of plants brings a holistic, plant-based approach to her teaching and practice of aromatherapy. Amy is also a certified master composter, has volunteered at Saint George’s Common Table since 2012 and will train to be a doula with The Doula Program to Accompany and Comfort in the fall of 2016. More can be found about her aromatherapy practice at http://nycaroma.com.