Copaiba Oil Benefits Explained: Types, Uses, and Health Advantages

Copaiba essential oil is derived from the resin of trees in the Copaifera genus
Copaiba oil or oleoresin is derived from the Copaiba tree (Copaifera genus)


The Copaiba tree (Copaifera genus) is used to produce some highly effective natural medicines, including an oleoresin and an essential oil. Copaiba oleoresin has been traditionally used by indigenous South American tribes to help with various health issues such as infection, sore throat, and respiratory issues. These medicinal trees are found primarily in South and Central America, particularly in countries like Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru. They thrive in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical forests within these regions, where tribes such as the Nukini know how to extract the oils without harming the long-term health of the trees. Many of the indigenous tribes from these regions have historically harnessed Copaiba oil for its numerous health advantages, a tradition now supported by modern research. This article explores the extraction methods, traditional uses, and extensive health benefits of Copaiba oil. The benefits of copaiba oil include its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and pain-relieving properties.

What's in a Name? Copaiba Oil or Essential Oil?

The Nukini using sustainable extraction methods to collecion their Copaiba oil from the forest
The Nukini tap collecting Copaiba oleoresin after tapping the tree.

The oily substance obtained from the Copaifera tree when it is tapped is typically referred to as ‘oleoresin.’ This oleoresin is a mixture of essential oils and resin, which we will refer to simply as copaiba oil. The term ‘resin’ is often used to describe the thicker, more viscous part of this substance, while the essential oil is the volatile, aromatic component that can be distilled from the oleoresin.

Traditionally, this extracted oleoresin, or copaiba oil, is simply filtered and bottled, ready for use. However, commercial producers generally prefer to age and harden the oleoresin into a balsam. This balsam is then processed later to extract the copaiba essential oil, sometimes referred to as copaiba balsam essential oil.

Copaiba oil and essential oil are both versatile additions to any apothecary due to their skincare, hair care, and mood-boosting benefits. Including copaiba oil in your natural medicine collection can enhance your overall health and well-being.

Comparing Traditional Copaiba Oil and Copaiba Essential Oil

Traditional Copaiba Oil

The tree is tapped by drilling into its trunk, and the resin is directly collected from the tree and filtered.


  • Purity: The oil obtained through direct tapping is generally purer because it involves minimal processing.
  • Composition: Copaiba oil resin often contains higher levels of beta-caryophyllene, a sesquiterpene known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. This high beta-caryophyllene content contributes to its potential benefits for inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Traditional Copaiba oil has also been shown to help lower blood pressure.
  • Color and Scent: This oil tends to be lighter in color and has a milder scent compared to balsam-derived oil.
Copaiba resin oozing from the tree
Copaiba oleoresin slowly dries out and forms Copaiba balsam.

Copaiba Balsam Essential Oil

The oleoresin is collected and allowed to age, forming a balsam. The balsam is then processed to extract the essential oil.


  • Processing: This method involves additional steps to separate the essential oil from the balsam, which can alter its chemical composition slightly. Copaiba balsam essential oil can be diluted with carrier oils like almond oil for safe topical use.
  • Composition: While it still contains beneficial compounds like beta-caryophyllene, it may have a broader range of sesquiterpenes due to the aging process.
  • Color and Scent: The oil from the balsam is typically darker and has a richer, more intense aroma.
  • Comparison: Unlike most essential oils, Copaiba Balsam essential oil is known for its unique aging process, which enhances its chemical complexity and aromatic profile.

Key Differences:

  • Purity and Composition: Oil from direct tapping is typically purer and has a higher concentration of specific active compounds, particularly beta-caryophyllene.
  • Aroma and Color: Directly tapped oil is clearer with a subtler scent, while balsam-derived oil is darker and more aromatic.
  • Processing: Direct tapping involves less processing, preserving more of the natural constituents intact.
Copaiba tree in seed
Copaiba tree (Copaifera genus), close up of the leaves and seed.

What Are the Uses of the Traditional Method Copaiba Oil?

Let us examine the traditional oil, tapped straight from the tree; not the balsam essential oil.

Copaiba oil is renowned for its medicinal uses. It is known for its anti inflammatory benefits, helping to alleviate sore muscles and joints, reduce pain, ease muscle tension, and actively reduce inflammation related to conditions such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, injury, autoimmune disease, and respiratory problems. Additionally, Copaiba oil has been shown to help lower blood pressure and support cardiovascular health, a benefit recognized by indigenous South American tribes.

Medicinal Uses:

  • Anti-Inflammatory: Copaiba oil is widely recognized for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, making it effective in reducing inflammation and swelling in various conditions.
  • Antiseptic: Due to its antiseptic properties, copaiba oil is used to prevent infections in minor wounds and cuts
  • Fungal Infections: It has antifungal properties that help treat skin conditions like athlete’s foot and ringworm
  • Analgesic Properties: Applied topically, it provides pain relief for skin issues, joint pain, and muscle aches.
  • Digestive Ailments: Traditionally, copaiba oil has been used to treat digestive issues such as stomach ulcers and diarrhea
  • Respiratory Ailments: It is used in managing respiratory conditions like bronchitis and other lung infections due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects
  • Dental Health: Supports oral care and treats gingivitis and oral ulcers due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

In summary, the benefits of copaiba essential oil include its health and beauty benefits, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and its potential use for wound healing, pain relief, and aromatherapy.

Insect Repellent:

Natural Repellent: The strong scent of copaiba oil acts as a natural insect repellent, protecting against mosquito bites and other insect pests.

Pain Relief:

Topical Use in Massages: Applied topically, copaiba oil is used in massages to alleviate muscle and joint pain, benefiting from its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. The anti-inflammatory benefits of Copaiba oil help reduce pain, ease muscle tension, and actively reduce inflammation related to various conditions such as arthritis and injury. Some women find great relief from menstrual cramps by rubbing the oil on their stomachs. Usually, an essential oil would require dilution in carrier oils like coconut oil before application; however, the traditional oil can be used directly.

Spiritual Uses:

Calming and Grounding Effects: In various cultures, copaiba oil is used in spiritual rituals to induce calming and grounding effects, helping with meditation and relaxation.

Cosmetic Uses:

Fixative in Soaps, Perfumes, and Fragrances: The balsam and its essential oil are used as fixatives in cosmetic products, including soaps, perfumes, and fragrances, due to their ability to stabilize other aromatic compounds and provide a pleasant scent. Additionally, jojoba oil and almond oil are often used as carrier oils to dilute Copaiba essential oil in these products for safe topical use.

How can I use pure Copaiba oil?

You may use Copaiba oil for its aromatic qualities as well as its therapeutic benefits. It can be inhaled directly or diffused for its woody, sweet, earthy scent, which is both calming and uplifting. For direct health benefits, Copaiba oil can be applied topically to the skin or ingested in very small amounts. If you choose to blend, it works well with citrus, floral, spice, woodsy, and minty oils.

Here are some of the many potential ways to use Copaiba oil:

  • Copaiba oil can be applied topically for various health benefits including inflammation reduction, pain relief, and wound healing. It also works effectively to alleviate discomfort associated with arthritis, injuries, hemorrhoids, and skin conditions. For topical applications, it is unnecessary to dilute Copaiba oil in a carrier oil.
  • Add a few drops to a bath for a soothing soak that eases body aches and tension
  • Apply diluted oil directly to the skin to protect against infections and aid healing of wounds
  • Add to facial cleansers, creams or toners to improve skin complexion, reduce acne, tighten pores and boost collagen
  • Diffuse or inhale through steam to open up airways, fight respiratory infections, and ease anxiety
  • Use the oil on the nails to treat fungal infections
  • Add one drop internally to water, juice, or tea to reduce inflammation and soothe urinary tract issues
Pure Copaiba Oil from the Nukini Tribe, Brazil
Pure Copaiba oil from the Nukini.

Given its versatility and numerous benefits, Copaiba oil is a valuable addition to any apothecary.

Can Copaiba Oil be Used for Pets?

Yes, Copaiba oil can be used for pets, but it should be done with caution and under the guidance of a veterinarian or a professional well-versed in animal aromatherapy. Some animals, particularly cats, can be highly sensitive to essential oils due to differences in their metabolism.

In dogs, Copaiba oil has been used to support joint health, reduce inflammation, and alleviate discomfort related to normal aging or physical activity. The oil may also support a healthy immune system and respiratory function. Always ensure the oil is properly diluted before use, and apply it to an area where your pet can't easily lick it off.

However, it's important to remember that not all essential oils are safe for pets, and the safe use depends on the type of oil, the dose, and the species of animal. If you're considering using Copaiba oil for your pet, it's best to consult with a veterinarian or a certified animal aromatherapist. They can provide guidance on the most effective and safe usage based on your pet's species, size, age, and overall health status.

Is Copaiba Oil and Essential Oil Safe to Use? Health Benefits

When pure therapeutic grade Copaiba oil is used, it’s generally safe for aromatic, topical, and internal applications. For topical use of the essential oil, always dilute it with a carrier oil like avocado, jojoba, almond, or grapeseed to prevent potential skin irritation. Unlike Copaiba oil, essential oils are more concentrated and therefore require more caution for safe use. A common dilution guideline is three to five drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil or lotion. Before applying, perform a skin patch test to ensure no adverse reactions. Once properly prepared, massage the blend into the skin for best results.

For both oils, avoid direct contact with eyes and mucous membranes. Those with sensitive skin should approach any new medicine with caution. Do not use any type of Copaiba oil if pregnant or nursing.

Potential side effects when using copaiba oil internally may include stomach upset, diarrhea, headache, or sleep problems if too much is consumed. Interactions with medications like lithium and warfarin are also possible.

Always consult your doctor before using copaiba oil if you have any ongoing medical conditions or take any medications. It is crucial to purchase copaiba oil from a reputable source to ensure purity and safety.

Store your oils in a dark, cool place away from children and pets to avoid their misuse.


Both Copaiba oil and the essential oil are extremely versatile and offer an abundance of health benefits, from reducing inflammation and pain to protecting the skin, lungs, immune system, liver, and mind. This sacred oil has been treasured in South America for thousands of years and continues to be a highly valued natural healing remedy today. With its rich history, safety when used properly, and a laundry list of evidence-based therapeutic uses, copaiba is an essential oil definitely worth having in your collection.