Updated: Feb 12, 2018
Copaiba may be one of the most important essential oils to include in your daily regimen due to its synergistic benefits on the endocannabinoid system.
Much debate has occurred in recent years regarding the use of various cannabinoids for medicinal purposes. Although cannabinoids have been used for centuries for various health issues, it is only recently that extensive research has been done to determine their true therapeutic value. Copaiba essential oil has now entered into the analysis, and rightly so. To fully understand the importance of Copaiba essential oil, we first need to understand what cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system are.
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, which are internal neurotransmitters that bind to specific cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are present in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. Simply put, the ECS is one of the most important physiological systems involved in human health.
Endocannabinoids, and the receptors that they communicate with, can be found throughout the body. The brain, vital organs, immune cells, and connective tissue contain endocannabinoid receptors, which maintain the stability of the body’s internal processes while dealing with variations in the environment.
The ECS is involved in regulating a variety of physiological and cognitive processes including appetite, pain, mood, immune response, inflammation, and memory. It is a vital link between the brain and body, coordinating communication by different cell types.
Interestingly, it is also involved in mediating exercise-induced euphoria, motor activity, and motivation. The concentration of certain endocannabinoids has been found to rise during physical activity. Since endocannabinoids can effectively penetrate the blood–brain barrier, it has been suggested that these endocannabinoids contribute to the development of exercise-induced euphoria, often referred to as a “runner's high”.
Two primary endocannabinoid receptors have been identified: CB1, first cloned in 1990; and CB2, cloned in 1993. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain and nervous system. CB2 receptors are found primarily on white blood cells within the immune system.
Research has shown that CB1 activation influences memory processing and pain regulation, but it also induces psychoactive effects which are undesirable for many people. CB2 receptors support healthy nervous system function, proper immune function, and have soothing and relaxing properties on the body primarily through their ability to regulate inflammation. The benefit of CB2 activation is that it does not have the same psychoactive side effects as CB1.
During strenuous exercise, stress, and other related stimuli, the body produces endocannabinoids which trigger the activation of the ECS when they are detected by cannabinoid receptors. These receptors not only detect the presence of endocannabinoids, but they are also affected by molecules from outside sources that chemically resemble endocannabinoids. The term cannabinoid refers to any compound that triggers the ECS by activating the cannabinoid receptors, whether produced by the body or coming from an outside source.
THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. The effects of THC result from its binding activity to CB1, mainly in the central nervous system, and CB2, mainly in cells of the immune system. THC resembles another cannabinoid naturally produced in our brains, anandamide, which regulates our mood, sleep, memory, and appetite. THC is considered a highly potent drug with powerful psychoactive properties and can also be found in hemp and CBD oils.
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is also a naturally occurring component of the cannabis and hemp plants. CBD oil made from hemp has a low concentration of cannabidiol, around 2-4%. If produced from cannabis, CBD oil has a higher concentration, around 5-30%. CBD also interacts directly with CB1 and CB2 receptors, but the interaction is very weak. CBD actually affects the ECS in a different way than most cannabinoids. According to researchers, CBD slows down the activity of the enzyme FAAH, which breaks down the neurotransmitter anandamide. The result is higher levels of anandamide in the body, which also interacts with CB1 and CB2. Higher levels of anandamide can result in increased feelings of euphoria, due to increased activation of CB1 receptors. While CBD can also result in soothing of the tissues due to increased activation of CB2, it has very similar pharmacological effects as THC, although to a lesser magnitude.
BCP, or beta- caryophyllene, provides soothing of the tissues without triggering unwanted psychoactive responses. BCP is a compound found in Copaiba essential oil, and hundreds of other plant species, that is known for its ability to interact with CB2 receptors but not CB1 receptors. This allows the benefits of THC and CBD to be attained without negative effects that can be disruptive or dangerous. Copaiba contains the highest BCP level of any oil, 50-55% according to third party chemical analysis. In addition to the ability to interact with CB2, BCP has powerful antioxidant properties and supports numerous body systems when taken internally.
Benefits of Synergy
While Copaiba gets a lot of attention because of its strong levels of BCP, the real benefit of Copaiba essential oil is the synergistic effect of the oil’s other naturally occurring components. Individually, the other chemical components of Copaiba have a rich and valued therapeutic history.
Copaene contains powerful antioxidant properties that protect us against environmental threats, or free radicals. Bergamotene supports and promotes proper immune system functioning. Humulene helps the body provide an effective and healthy inflammatory response. But the benefits of Copaiba essential oil are actually greater than the benefits of the individual components. Because of the synergistic properties of the individual chemical constituents, researchers have found that Copaiba provides additional internal benefits ranging from cardiovascular system support to proper functioning of the respiratory system. When examined individually, there is little definitive scientific evidence to suggest that these benefits are due to the isolated activity of BCP or the other compounds found in Copaiba.
One potential explanation for the synergistic benefits observed with Copaiba may be that certain chemical compounds increase the ability of a molecule to pass through the cell membrane and enter a cell. If one constituent in an essential oil can help increase membrane permeability, another constituent can enter the cell more easily and exert a stronger effect on enzymes and other intracellular proteins. When it comes to Copaiba, certain constituents have been proven to synergize using this exact method. BCP is known to provide easy passage through the cell membrane for other constituents such as humulene.
Synergy is a real and scientifically validated phenomenon and means that the incredible benefits of Copaiba won’t be found by isolating specific chemicals to derive the same benefit. The true value of Copaiba is not just in the high levels of BCP. Rather, it’s in the other compounds and how they work with BCP to add to the overall health benefits. In the case of Copaiba, the sum is truly greater than the parts.
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