Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis) is a liquid resin that has powerful healing benefits for the skin. Let’s explore what Copaiba resin is, where it comes from and why it has the power to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and restore the skin’s vibrancy and tone.
Where does it come from?
The Copaiba tree is common to West Africa and Latin America where there are about 35 different species. In Brazil it can be found growing in the Southeast, Midwest and Amazon regions.. These trees can live up to 400 years, reaching a height between 25 and 40 meters with a diameter between 0.4 and 4 meters. Their bark is aromatic and the tree has dense foliage, small flowers and a pod-like fruit. The seeds are black and oval that produce a yellowish oil that is rich in a wide range of lipids.
The resin is extracted directly from the trunk, in a similar way we tap maple trees for their syrup, and it ranges in color from yellow gold to brown, depending on the species.
This oil like-resin has been used for centuries since the arrival of the Portuguese to Brazil during colonial times. The resin has been a treasured medicinal and today is one of the most important Amazonian natural products marketed and exported around the world.
There is also great interest for the wood of certain species for industrial purposes, like building and construction and ship building, due to the wood’s smooth, glossy, durability, and high resistance to insect infestation and low permeability.
In Brazil, the trees are known by several names such as copaíba, copaibeira, pau-de-óleo, copaúva, copaiba rana, copaiba, copal, marimari and bálsamo dos Jesuits, and the oil is called copaíba oil or balm. While in other Latin American countries, the tree is called "palo-de-balm", "aceite", "cabima", among others.
In English the resin is called "copaíba balsam" and essential oil is called "copaíba oil". .
How do we get the resin out of the tree?
The extraction of the resin is done by drilling into the trunk of the copaíba and tapping it in a similar way maple syrup is tapped. The tap is held in place for several days, and once the tap is removed, the hole is pasted up with clay. The resin, which is slightly gooey and slippery, is then left to settle and rest from a few weeks up to 3 years.
Today this extraction process is done with great care to ensure no harm to the tree. Many years ago, however, before concerns of environmental damage were considered, copaíba trunks were cut with an axe, which although allowed for the collection of large amounts of the resin, resulted in excessive deforestation of the species.
The Traditional Healing Properties of Copaiba
The medicinal and aromatherapeutic properties of Copaiba resin have been widely documented. From its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and expectorant properties, to its remarkable capacity to support tissue repair, wound healing, and the relief of muscle aches and pains, joint swelling, respiratory discomfort and anxiety.
Here are a few of the ways we can use Copaiba Resin to improve our health and wellbeing:
- The resin shows antiseptic and antimicrobial potential for a variety of infections.
- It can support our respiratory system by soothing a sore throat and easing breathing.
- It’s been noted as a powerful anti-inflammatory, and pain reliever.
- It promotes the flow of energy by supporting circulation and helping the body release excess fluid.
- Soothing to a wide variety of skin conditions that include calming allergic reactions, skin inflammation, dryness, wound healing, and improved skin immunity.
- Improves appearance and resilience of skin, by smoothing and softening scar tissue and soothing away fine lines and wrinkles. Deeply repairative while supporting our skins’ natural ability to regenerate and heal.
Why does Copaiba work so well?
The answer is the resin’s special composition of chemical compounds. Copaiba resin has a very unique molecular profile that includes diterpenoid acids that are responsible for composing 55 to 60 % of the resin. Other components include those that are more volatile, specifically simple hydrocarbons called sesquiterpenes which compose up to 15-45% of the resin.
These sesquiterpenes are rich in aromatherapeutic compounds like Beta caryophyllene 70 to 80% and humulene 8 to 15%, which are responsible for resin’s powerful anti-inflammatory, antifungal and pain relieving actions.
These sesquiterpenes are also responsible for the aroma of copaíba resin and for its potentially antiviral, antimicrobial and soothing properties.
But it is the unique presentation of the diterpenes in the copaíba resin that are shown to be responsible for most of the resin’s therapeutic properties. Some of these unique diterpenes include copaferific acid and copalic acid. Copalic acid is known as a copaíba marker, as it is a component present in any copaíba oil regardless of soil or tree type.
Since Copaiba resin is not a lipid oil, it does not contain any essential fatty acids. Its therapeutic components are due to its volatile components, much like an essential oil, that include sesquiterpenes and diterpenes as explained above.
How to Use
Copaiba OIl should always be blended down into a lipid-rich oil and never used at 100% unless specifically indicated for acute conditions.
Because of its soothing, anti-inflammatory and protective properties, the resin offers the scalp protection against microbes and environmental damage. Especially nourishing for dry itchy scalps and can promote healthier looking hair.
Our hair is constantly bombarded by extreme climate changes, numerous hair products and heated tools like hair dryers, irons and straighteners. And this damages and weakens our hair causing it to look dull and dry. By adding a few drops of Copaiba resin to your conditioner, or styling gel, Copaiba Resin can rejuvenate the appearance of the hair.Nourishes hair to improve appearance
Due to its unique combination of sesquiterpenes and di-terpenes, Copaiba resin can ofer immediate relief for over-reactive skin and support the skin’s natural ability to rejuvenate and repair. It offers a vibrancy resulting in a more youthful appearance and has been known to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and reduces puffiness and discoloration.
Copaiba Resin can fortify us against the constant assault of pathogens our skin battles daily. It’s been known to tonify weakened skin, balance the natural oils in the skin, promote tissue repair while reducing the appearance of discoloration and fine lines.
Copaiba Resin is a strong anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic and has been known to quickly re-balance, cleanse, brighten and ease away irritation, discomfort and swelling.
You can find both Copaiba Essential Oil and Copaiba Resin sold in the aromatherapy market today. Although the two extracts share many similar molecules and healing properties, their aroma, and viscosity is quite different. The essential oil tends to be lighter in feeling and more quick to evaporate, while the resin feels slightly more gooey, and has a deeper aroma. Whenever you are purchasing Copaiba, make sure to check to see if what you are buying is the essential oil or resin. Here at Glo Haus we only sell the resin, and we feel its benefits for the skin are much more powerful.
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