Copaiba balsam has been compared to CBD for its restorative properties, and many debate if it actually may be better for you. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis sativa plant.
Like CBD, copaiba has been touted for helping with a broad variety of health conditions. It’s been used in traditional folk medicine for conditions like bronchitis, urinary tract infections, constipation, coughs, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. However, is there enough evidence to make these claims?
Here’s a look at how copaiba works and if you should consider it over CBD.
[Read: Do Topical CBD Products Work?]
What Is Copaiba?
Copaiba balsam is a sap-like substance that’s collected from the trunk of trees that belong to the genus Copaifera. The trees grow in tropical areas in South America. Copaifera reticulate is the most abundant species in the Brazilian Amazon. Indigenous people have long processed the copaiba balsam to make copaiba oil, which is used orally, topically and aromatically. Both the copaiba balsam and oil can be found in soaps, cosmetics and perfumes.
Copaiba is used orally in traditional folk medicine for bronchitis, urinary tract infections, constipation, cough, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Topically it is used for conditions like hemorrhoids, wound healing and genital herpes.There is no strong scientific evidence, however, that copaiba works for these conditions.
[READ: 5 Red Flags Your Non-Conventional Medical Provider Is Doing Harm.]
How Does Copaiba Work?
It’s thought that copaiba essential oil is made of a high percentage of beta-caryophyllene. According to chiropractor David K. Hill, a founding executive and chair of scientific operations at d?TERRA International, beta-caryophyllene is “highly regarded for its direct influence within the endocannabinoid system and its direct interaction with CB2 receptors.”
CB2 receptors are key components of the human endocannabinoid system, a biological network that helps regulate physiological and cognitive processes. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and the central nervous system. They can impact mood, memory, development, fertility, pain and appetite.
This interaction between CB2 receptors and beta-caryophyllene is thought to provide a host of promising therapeutic benefits. However, Hill also says that there are numerous compounds within the essential oil that work together to create an even more profound synergistic effect.
d?TERRA, a company that tests, manufactures and distributes high-grade essential oils and related products, is currently working with many research partners to further investigate the properties of copaiba. At this time, more studies are being conducted to understand the pathway and appropriate dosage for copaiba.
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Forms of Copaiba
Copaiba oil can be taken topically, orally or aromatically. Hill says that the safety and efficacy of essential oil application is a constant topic of debate. Topical application tends to be used when you want to directly apply it on an area of concern, such as a wound, hemorrhoids or pain. Some may argue specific points to one method being preferable over another, but the main influencer is personal preference.
Oral copaiba is believed to support critical functions like digestion and liver metabolism, while aromatic use tends to be used for mood or emotional needs due to the connection to the olfactory (smell) system.
Is It Safe?
How much should you use? According to the Natural Medicines Database there is insufficient evidence regarding the standard dosage of copaiba balsam. According to Hill, “to date, the clinical trials involving copaiba ingestion have used as much as 7 drops, 3 times per day (approximately 1 mL/day) with no toxicity risks.”
According to a 2019 study, rats given copaiba balsam at a dose of 2,000 mg/kg did not show signs of toxicity. However, Hill explains that even the smallest dosage of the essential oil has shown benefits. He recommends playing it safe and starting with small doses, such as a drop or two, and you can adjust based on personal experience.
There are some adverse effects of copaiba balsam. According to the Natural Medicines Database, ingesting 5 grams of copaiba balsam orally can cause stomach pains, and large amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhea and a measles-like rash. In addition, when taken orally it can cause shivering, tremors and insomnia. Topically, copaiba balsam can cause redness, itching and a rash.
The use of copaiba balsam is counter indicated during pregnancy and lactation, with the Natural Medicine Database categorizing it as “possibly unsafe” and to avoid using. In addition, at this time it is unknown if copaiba balsam interacts with any medications, herbs or supplements. Always speak with your physician or other qualified health professional before taking.
Copaiba vs. CBD
CBD or cannabidiol is one type of cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds that act on corresponding receptors in the brain. CBD is being studied and used for a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, chronic pain, nausea, seizures, migraines, muscles spasms, insomnia and inflammation. It’s also being studied for cancerous tumor suppression, blood sugar management and to help bones grow. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the other well-known cannabinoid and is responsible for the “high” you get from marijuana. It is not present in CBD.
According to Hill, CBD and copaiba both bind to the CB2 receptor and have shown to have downstream effects in the body. The real difference between the two molecules — CBD and beta-caryophyllene — is that they bind at different spots on the CB2 receptor. At this time, the various ways components bind to the CB2 receptor is being studied further.
CBD has a cascade of metabolic interactions that take place to get the CB2 receptor activated, but copaiba has direct interaction with the CB2 receptor. Both the indirect and direct pathways that CBD and copaiba take can be effective, but Hill believes that the advantage copaiba has over CBD is consistency.
The Bottom Line
CBD and copaiba are still in the infancy of research to determine safety, efficacy and dosage. If you choose to take either, seek professional guidance to ensure your health and safety.