Copaiba, Miller, one or more S. American species. An oleoresin.

Habitat. Brazil (Venezuela, Colombia), Amazon valley, banks of the Orinoco River.

Syn. Copaib., Balsam of Copaiba, Copaiva, Balsam Capivi; Fr. Copahu, Oleo-resine (Baume) de Copahu; Ger. Balsamum Copaivae, Copaivabalsam.

Co-pai'ba. L., Sp., and Port, fr. Brazil. cupauba -- i.e., native name of the tree and its product.


Handsome tree, 4.5-18 M. (215-60 degrees) high, much branched, bark brown, rather smooth; leaves alternate, paripinnate; leaflets opposite, 3-5 pairs, 2.5-5 Cm. (1-2') long, ovate, entire, glabrous, coriaceous, pellucid-punctate; flowers small, white; sepals 5; apetalous; stamens 10; pod small, 2.5 Cm. (1') long, orange-brown, dehiscent into 2 valves, 1-seeded. OLEORESIN (copaiba), pale yellow, brownish-yellow, viscid liquid, without fluorescence or with only slightly greenish fluorescence; odor peculiar, aromatic; taste persistent, bitter, acrid; soluble in chloroform, ether, carbon disulphide, fixed or volatile oils, petroleum benzin (1), any addition producing a flocculent precipitate, partly soluble in alcohol, more completely in dehydrated alcohol, insoluble in water; sp. gr. 0.940-0.995. Tests: 1. Heat 2 Gm. on water-bath -- no odor of oil of turpentine, and residual resin should be hard, brittle, and weigh 36 p.c. of original copaiba taken (abs. of oil of turpentine, paraffin, fatty oils). 2. Float 3-4 drops of oil of copaiba on a mixture nitric acid 1 drop + glacial acetic acid 3 cc.) -- no reddish zone; shake, no reddish or purple liquid (abs. of gurjun balsam). 3. Shake 5 cc. + 15 cc, alcohol, boil 1 minute, cool -- no oil separates after standing 1 hour (abs. of paraffin oils). 4. Not over 5 p.c. insoluble in dehydrated alcohol. Dose, mx-60 (.6-4 cc.).



Those of allied species, that partially deprived of oil, oil of turpetine, volatile oils, rosin, rosin oil, paraffin, paraffin oils, fatty oils (linseed, castor, etc.), Venice turpentine, African copaiba, gurjun balsam, alcohol -- often evinced through different odors on slowly heating. OIL: Gurjun balsam oil, increasing specific gravity, African copaiba oil -- insoluble in equal volume of alcohol.


Much was written concerning copaiba during 1625-1638, but Marcgrav and Piso first described its collection, also the tree, 1648; Jacquin studied the genus, 1760, as did Desfontaines some years later, while Hayne, 1827, Bentham, 1870, Baillon, 1877, sparated by the varying foliage 11 species in Brazil alone, all having similar flowers, fruit, and valuable, hard, strong, tough, durable wood. However, most of copaiba comes from 7 species: Brazil -- C. Langsdorf'fii, C. Confertiflo'ra, C. Coria'cea, C. Oblongifo'lia; N. W. Orinoco Valley -- C. Officina'lis; Amazonian region -- C. Guianen'sis, C. Multiju'ga. It is a pathogenic product, possibly an antiseptic protective, occurring in schizogenic ducts (cavities differing greatly in size), from which it is obtained by making large auger holes or boxes, square or wedge-shape, into the center of the tree, near the base, whence it usually flows at once, demanding alertness to avoid loss, often giving 12 pounds (5.5 Kg.) in 3 hours; if none should appear the aperture is closed with clay or wax and reopened in 2 weeks, when, as a rule, the discharge is abundant. The flow at first is thin, clear, colorless, but soon becomes thicker and yellowish, as it does also with age. A tree may yield 10-12 gallons (38-45 L.), in 2-3 annual flows, and when abandoned, the ducts, some the length of the stem, occasionally fill and, acting as high liquid columns, furnish sufficient pressure to burst the trunk with a cannon-like report. It is exported in casks, demijohns, cans, jugs, the value depending upon the amount of contained volatile oil. There are several varieties: 1, Para, most limpid, palest; contains volatile oil 60-90 p.c.; 2, Maranham, denser, consistence of olive oil, odor slightly different; contains volatile oil 40-60 (rarely 80 p.c.; 3, Rio Janeiro, resembles closely the Maranham -- these three (Brazilian) form clear mixtures with one-third to one-half their weight of ammonia water, but milky if more alkali or fixed oil present; 4, Surinam (C. Guianensis), rather thin, light yellow, soluble in ether, chloroform, alcohol (4-5 parts, turbid with equal portion), violet with bromine (1) + chloroform (20); contains volatile oil 70-80 p.c.; 5, Maracaibo, the thickest, turbid, dark yellow; solidifies with magnesium oxide, not clear with ammonia water; contains volatile oil 20-40 p.c., and owing to large amount of resin is well adapted for Massa Copaibae, N.F., as it combines with magnesium oxide forming resin soap, which gradually becomes dry and hard; Para and other varieties may be used but sufficient volatile oil must be evaporated to render residue viscid upon cooling. Copaiba is exported not only from the above ports, but also from Angostura, Cayenne, W. Indies, Trinidad, C. America, etc.

Copaiba Langsdorffii.


Volatile oil, Resin, bitter principle, copaivic acid, CHO (oxycopaivic acid, CHO, from Para, metacopaivic acid, CHO, from Maracaibo -- all three acids crystalline).  Has no benzoic or cinnamic acid, hence the name balsam is misapplied.

Oleum Copaibae. Oil of Copaiba, CH (Br. -- U.S.P. 1850-1900). -- This volatile oil is distilled from copaiba with water or steam, and upon it most of the medicinal properties of the oleoresin depend.  It is a pale yellowish liquid, oxidizing by exposure, characteristic odor of copaiba, aromatic, bitter, pungent taste; consists chiefly of caryophyllene, CH; sp. gr. 0.900, increasing with age; soluble in 2 volumes alcohol; that from Maracaibo dark blue with hydrochloric acid gas.  Should be kept cool, dark, in well-stoppered amber-colored bottles.  Dose, mv-15 (.3-1 cc.), in emulsion, capsule, or on sugar.

Resina Copaibae. Resin of Copaiba. -- (Acidum Copaibicum).  The residue left after distilling off the volatile oil from copaiba.  It is brownish-yellow, brittle, slight odor and taste of copaiba, to which the resin returns when mixed with the volatile oil of copaiba; soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, benzene, volatile oils; contains copaivic or metacopaivic acid, mixed with neutral resin.  Dose, gr. 5-15 (.3-1 Gm.).


1. Massa Copaibae, Solidified Copaiba, N.F., 94 p.c. + magnesium oxide 6 p.c., water q.s. to dampen, heat.  Dose, gr. 15-30 (1-2 Gm.).  2. Mistura Copaibae, Lafayette Mixture, N.F., 12.5 p.c.  3. Mistura Copaibae et Opii, Chapman's Mixture, N.F., 25 p.c. + tinct. opii 3.2, sp. aeth. nitrit. 25, +.  Dose, 3j-2 (4-8 cc.).

Unoff. Preps.: Capsules. Emulsion. Electuary. Pills. Suppositories.


Similar to turpentine; diuretic, stimulant, expectorant, laxative, nauseant, disinfectant; acts mainly on the mucous membranes (genito-urinary), by which, and also skin, it is eliminated; increases quantity as well as solids of the urine, and imparts odor to urine, sweat, milk, breath; sometimes erupts the skin -- roseola, urticaria, etc.


Gonorrhea, cystitis, bronchitis, dysentery, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, psoriasis, dropsy, leprosy; volatile oil is not so valuable for gonorrhea, gleet, etc., as the oleoresin, but better for throat affections.  Externally--chilblains, sore nipples, anal fissures, often added to varnishes and vice versa.  Long usage may cause indigestion and renal irritation.

Poisoning, Incompatibles, Synergists: Same as for turpentine.

Allied Products: 1. Copaiba Mar'tii, C. Cordifo'lia, C. Jus'sieui, C. Jac'quini, C. Nit'ida -- all furnish oleoresin, usually poor in the amount of volatile oil.

2. Hardwick'ia pinna'ta. -- E. India.  Tree yields dark brown oleoresin, containing volatile oil 20-40 p.c., resin, no copaivic acid.

3. Dipterocar'pus ala'tus. -- India.  Tree yields gurjun balsam or wood oil -- an oleoresin resembling copaiba, containing gurjunic (metacopaivic) acid.

4. Copal, Gum Copal. -- A fossil resin of Zanzibar or exuding from many leguminous plants of Africa, S. America, W. Indies.  Occurs in yellowish-brown masses, wrinkled surface, conchoidal fracture, glossy, odorless, tasteless; when melted becomes soluble in alcohol, ether, and oil of turpentine.  Same medicinal properties as copaiba, only weaker; used mainly in preparing varnishes.