As new research emerges, more and more people are beginning to try alternative medicines and treatments for a variety of purposes. Two products, in particular, have recently sparked a debate: copaiba essential oils and CBD oils.
This stems from the fact that these two products are reported to have similar potential health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and treating anxiety symptoms. In addition, both contain the compound beta-caryophyllene (BCP), which interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) and is an important factor in the potential health benefits of both CBD and copaiba oils.
Despite these similarities, copaiba and CBD are actually very different. For starters, they’re derived from different sources – CBD from cannabis plants like hemp and marijuana, copaiba oils from the resin of the copaiba tree. They also interact with the ECS in different ways, particularly when it comes to CB2 receptors.
So what makes CBD and copaiba so different, and how do you know which is right for you? This guide will cover the science behind how each product works, its potential uses and benefits, and the reasons you might choose one over the other.
What is Copaiba oil?
Copaiba essential oils are derived from the Copaifera Officinalis tree, better known as the copaiba tree. These trees produce an oil-resin rich in BCP and many other naturally occurring compounds. In turn, the resin is steam-distilled in order to create copaiba essential oils.
Copaiba has long been used in the traditional medicine systems of South and Central American cultures, with its reported benefits including reduced inflammation, better healing of wounds, pain relief, and even aphrodisiac properties.
A renewed focus on traditional medicines, the rising popularity of essential oils, and new research into the workings of the ECS have all contributed to increased interest in copaiba oil’s potential health benefits in recent years.
What is CBD oil?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the two main cannabinoid compounds present in cannabis Sativa plants, the other being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis products, caused by THC molecules binding to CB1 receptors in the brain to create psychotropic effects.
CBD, on the other hand, is not intoxicating, as it only interacts with CB2 receptors. By binding with CB2 receptors, CBD is reported to produce a number of potential health benefits such as reduced anxiety, pain relief, and better sleep.
Because of this, CBD has grown in popularity as a way of enjoying the potential health benefits of cannabis without any psychoactive effects. It’s important to note where your CBD products come from, however – while hemp-derived CBD products only contain trace amounts of THC at most, marijuana-derived CBD products are likely to have a much higher THC content – so they can still get you high.
Unlike copaiba, CBD is extracted either using a solvent or by vacuum distillation. It can come in three forms:
- Full spectrum – all naturally occurring compounds are present, including THC
- Broad spectrum – THC is removed, but other compounds remain
- CBD isolate – essentially pure CBD, with all other compounds removed.
This distinction is important – not only because broad spectrum or isolate CBD products allow users to avoid THC entirely but also because it can affect its potential health benefits. CBD isn’t the only beneficial compound in cannabis, so full- and broad-spectrum enjoy an “entourage effect” of additional benefits from the many other natural compounds they contain such as terpenes.
What makes copaiba different from CBD?
The fundamental difference between CBD and copaiba is that they’re derived from different sources – cannabis plants and copaiba trees, respectively. They also contain different chemical compounds which interact with the body’s ECS in different ways.
Copaiba has a high percentage of BCP
Compared to CBD, copaiba oils have a much higher concentration of BCP. While CBD oil only contains around 35% BCP, copaiba oil contains around 55%. This means that copaiba oil users experience the potential health benefits associated with BCP with much lower doses than CBD oil users.
BCP interacts with the ECS in a similar way to CBD, binding with CB2 receptors for a variety of effects. However, BCP binds much more strongly to these receptors, creating a more pronounced effect.
Copaiba essential oils are generally less expensive than comparable CBD oil products. On top of this, the high BCP content of copaiba oil means you’re likely to need smaller doses to get the effect you want compared to using CBD. As a result, copaiba oil products may last longer than CBD oil products before they need replacing.
Completely THC and cannabis free
For many people, CBD’s association with cannabis can be off-putting – there’s still a lot of stigma towards cannabis use in society, and misconceptions about CBD mean it may still be frowned upon by some. The added worry that THC content in CBD products may get you high can also make CBD less appealing, even if in reality you’re unlikely to experience any intoxication as long as you use hemp-based CBD.
On the other hand, copaiba contains no THC and has no association with cannabis, which can make it a more appealing alternative to those who aren’t keen on cannabis products.
How does Copaiba affect your Endocannabinoid system? Efficacy of Copaiba Vs. CBD
The difference in efficacy between CBD and copaiba largely comes down to their interactions with the ECS, a system that maintains your body’s homeostasis (a state of internal stability). In particular, the ways that CBD and copaiba products interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors lead to different outcomes.
Effect on CB1 and CB2 receptors
CB1 receptors are associated with psychoactivity; therefore, CBD oil products containing THC will interact with these receptors to produce effects like a slowed sense of time, sensory distortion, and a feeling of intense relaxation.
Copaiba oil doesn’t interact with CB1 receptors at all, and therefore doesn’t produce any intoxicating or psychotropic effects. Instead, it mainly works by interacting with CB2 receptors.
CB2 receptors regulate bodily functions like inflammatory responses, oxidation, and the production of certain hormones. CBD and copaiba both interact with these receptors, and it’s this interaction that produces many of their reported health benefits.
CBD binds very weakly to CB2 receptors and only does so after your body has processed it internally. Copaiba, meanwhile, contains high levels of BCP, which binds much more strongly to these receptors. Copaiba oil, therefore, provides a much quicker effect; moreover, BCP has a longer half-life than CBD, which means it takes longer to break down and so offers longer-lasting effects.
Finally, there are zero risks of intoxication with copaiba. CBD, on the other hand, may have high THC content if it’s derived from marijuana or if it has been cross-contaminated by other products with high THC content, so it may still get you high.
Benefits of copaiba
Because of its high BCP content and other beneficial natural compounds, copaiba has a number of potential health benefits. It’s worth bearing in mind that few clinical trials have taken place and that most studies have focused on the copaiba oil-resin that essential oils are derived from rather than essential oils themselves.
However, studies have so far been promising in showing a link between copaiba and a variety of potential health benefits.
Because BCP binds to CB2 receptors which regulate the body’s inflammatory response, copaiba is reported to have potential anti-inflammatory effects. A 2014 study showed that copaiba oil resin helped reduce inflammation molecules in mice with multiple sclerosis, while a 2017 study saw a decrease in immune responses related to inflammation when copaiba was used on rats with tongue injuries.
Prevents and repairs liver damage
Copaiba oil may also have the ability to stimulate cell repair and growth, particularly in the liver. A preclinical study using rats found that copaiba oil helped to reduce hepatic damage associated with paracetamol use; however, the results also showed increased amounts of bilirubin, which is associated with liver damage, meaning further research is needed before a definitive conclusion can be reached on the relationship between copaiba oil and the liver.
Research has shown that BCP can help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression due to its interaction with CB2 receptors. CB2 receptors are involved in the regulation of cortisol, a stress hormone responsible for fight-and-flight responses which can build up over time and contribute to anxiety disorders. Since BCP binds to these receptors, it can reduce cortisol buildup, meaning copaiba oil may be effective as a treatment for the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other stress disorders.
Reduces skin blemishes and acne
When applied topically, copaiba oil may be effective in reducing the appearance of acne, blemishes, and other skin conditions. A clinical trial from 2012 found that there was a “highly significant decrease” in acne on areas of the body treated with copaiba oil.
Regulates immune system and oral health
A 2014 study found that copaiba oil may be effective in regulating immune responses; further research is required, but this suggests copaiba oil may be helpful in treating autoimmune diseases by reducing excessive immune responses.
Copaiba has also demonstrated antimicrobial effects which could help to improve oral health – a study from 2016 tested copaiba oil resin on various species of Streptococcus bacteria present in teeth and found that it was effective against every species tested.
Control and prevent seizures
Anecdotal evidence has suggested that copaiba oil may be helpful in reducing or preventing seizures due to anti-convulsant properties. This is a common use of essential oils – a 2019 review found that a number of oils including lavender, lemongrass, dill, and clove displayed anticonvulsant properties useful for treating epilepsy. However, research into copaiba’s potential as an anticonvulsant is currently extremely limited.
How can you consume copaiba oil?
There are a number of different ways to consume copaiba oil, each with its own benefits. The main three methods are topical application, aromatic diffusion, and sublingual ingestion.
Copaiba oil can be applied topically in order to target its effects to specific areas of your body – for example, it can be applied to areas where you suffer bad acne or chronic pain. Be aware that copaiba oil is highly concentrated, though, so it’s important to dilute it when applying topically.
It’s generally suggested to mix 3-5 drops of copaiba oil with 1oz of carrier oil such as almond or grapeseed oil before applying topically. Applying concentrated copaiba oil without diluting it first may lead to unwanted side effects such as nausea or vomiting.
As with other essential oils, copaiba oil can be used as part of aromatherapy by diffusing it into the air. Simply add a few drops to a water diffuser and it will be diffused into the air, allowing you to absorb it as you breathe.
Be mindful of the room’s other occupants, however – copaiba oil may have adverse effects on people who are pregnant or who have underlying conditions, and may also be harmful to pets.
To take copaiba oil quickly and easily, you can ingest it sublingually. This involves putting 1-2 drops of therapeutic-grade copaiba oil under your tongue and holding it there for up to a minute to allow it to be absorbed through the sublingual veins.
Make sure your oil is suitable for sublingual application before doing this – if it isn’t labeled as safe for sublingual application, you may suffer unwanted side effects.
Research into copaiba oil’s potential health benefits so far has been promising, suggesting it may be able to reduce inflammation, treat the symptoms of anxiety and depression, reduce acne, and more. However, this research is still in its infancy, so it’s hard to say for definite just how effective copaiba oil is for these purposes.
In terms of comparing copaiba oil with CBD, it appears to hold many similar benefits without the risk of unwanted intoxication from THC. There’s also significantly less stigma surrounding copaiba since it isn’t associated with cannabis, unlike CBD oil.
Both of these products are under-researched, however, so which is best may largely be a case of personal preference – it may help to try out both in order to decide which works best for you.
Dr. Rob Streisfeld is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and trained Gourmet Natural Foods Chef. “Doc Rob” as widely known, provides an informed and innovative perspective with a focus on education, community, and health-driven lifestyle products.
A consultant & spokesperson for leading brands in the Natural Products Industry for nearly two decades, he’s traveled and lectured extensively, utilizing his creative & enthusiastic style to effectively communicate on a variety of health/ nutrition topics, including Cannabis and CBD. Doc Rob hosts a podcast, “Concierge for Better Living” on CannabisRadio.com, and launched the book series, The Cannabis Conundrum.