RESIN of COPAÍBA
(Copaifera spp., Leguminosae - Caesalpinoideae)
FATTY ACID COMPOSITION AND PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA
The chemical composition of the oil-resin of copaíba is thought to have approximately 72 sesquiterpenes (hydrocarbons) and 28 diterpenes (carboxylic acids), and the oil is composed by 50% of each of these terpenes. Diterpenes are attributed in the majority for therapeutic applications, a scientifically proven fact. Sesquiterpenes are partially responsible for the aroma of the oil-resin and also have antiulcer, antiviral, and anti-rhinovirus properties. Researchers have found that the oil-resin of copaiba has anti-inflammatory action. This potential was shown to be two times higher than that found in the diclofenac sodium, one of the most widely used anti-inflammatory drugs in the market.
One of the main problems with selling copaíba oil-resin is that it is adulterated, usually with vegetable oil. One of the conventional methods used to test for this is to determine the acidity; less than 80 mg KOH/g of oil-resin indicates contamination. The lower the acidity value of the oil-resin means that there is a larger amount of vegetable oil mixed in. In turn the ester value of the oil-resin of copaíba can help determine the type of contaminant. If the ester value exceeds 23 mg KOH/g of oil-resin, it indicates that the contaminant is a compound comprised of fatty substances, such as vegetable oil or something of animal origin, and if it is less it indicates that the contaminant is not a fatty substance, for example mineral oil. Small workshops are used to teach communities how to use the volumetric test. The solutions used for these tests are prepared in laboratories and last up to a year. These simple tests, which do not require a complete laboratory analysis, can help associations and cooperatives avoid accepting and selling oil-resin that is contaminated.
In traditional medicine there are many uses for the oil-resin of copaíba, indicating a wide range of pharmacological properties. It is used to treat respiratory and urinary tract infections due to its healing and anti-inflammatory abilities. It is known as a natural antibiotic that is highly effective against gram-positive bacteria. In the industrial-cosmetic industry, it is used as a component of fragrance in perfumes and in cosmetics, such as soaps and creams, because of its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and emollient properties.
There are several species of copaíba but, medically and cosmetically, all are used in the same way. Species of copaíba are adapted to grow in a wide range of environments, occur on both terra firme and in flooded areas, can reach 25 to 40 meters in height, and can live up to 400 years. The extraction process of the oil-resin of copaíba is still rudimentary. A hole is drilled into the wood with an auger, 60 or 70 cm from the ground, until to the center of the trunk. Immediately after the hole is drilled, a tube is installed below the hole to collect the oil-resin into a container that is placed on the ground. The oil-resin is collected during 7 to 10 days and at the end of the harvest the hole is sealed with clay to prevent infestation by fungi or termites.
It is recommended to collect the oil-resin from tress older than 10 years and with a diameter reaching at least 40 cm, harvesting two to three times a year. This process is considered a sustainable extraction method. On average 0,5 to 2,0 liters of oil-resin can be collected from an adult tree every harvesting time.
Seed germination is rapid; however, the trees grow slowly (up to 50 cm per year.
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http://odontologika.uol.com.br/copaiba.htm (acessado 11/11/2009)
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