Copaiba, B.P. Copaiba.

Related entry: Oil of Copaiba


Copaiba is an oleoresin obtained from the trunk of Copaifera Lansdorfii, Desf. (N.O. Leguminosae), and other species of Copaifera, Linn., large trees indigenous to Brazil and the north of South America. It is also official in the U.S.P. The oleoresin is secreted in schizogenous ducts, which subsequently form large lysigenous cavities in the trees, it is collected by boring into the base of the trunk, and allowing the oleoresin to drain out. It is exported from Para, Maranham, Maracaibo, Savanilla, etc., which towns give their names to the commercial varieties of the drug. The several commercial varieties of copaiba vary considerably in appearance and composition, Para copaiba being a thin, transparent, yellowish liquid, whilst Maracaibo copaiba is viscid, brownish-yellow, and slightly fluorescent. All the varieties have a characteristic aromatic odour, and an acrid, rather bitter taste. Specific gravity, 0.916 to 0.993 (about 0.950 to 0.995 at 25°). The chief adulterants of copaiba are castor and other fixed oils, volatile oils, and gurjun balsam, so called. Fixed oils render the resin left after the removal of the volatile oil tough and difficult to powder. Volatile oils, such as turpentine, may be detected by the characters of the volatile oil distilled from the drug. Gurjun "balsam," or wood oil, an oleoresin obtained from Dipterocarpus turbinatus, Gaertn. (N.O. Dipterocarpeae), and other species, resembles copaiba in odour and taste, but is generally much darker in colour, and fluorescent. The official description of copaiba permits the use of varieties very rich in volatile oil, such as the Para balsam, but the thicker balsams, such as Maracaibo, containing about 40 to 50 per cent. of volatile oil, are generally preferred. Sophistication often takes the form of admixing a cheaper, thin balsam with a more valuable thick one, and this is difficult to detect. The official range of optical rotation for the oil (-28° to -34°) refers to a 200-millimetre instead of a 100-millimetre tube, and is too narrow, -7° to -35° for a 100-millimetre tube being more correct. African copaiba oil is dextrorotatory, and its presence would therefore diminish the laevorotation of genuine oil or convert it into a dextrorotation. Gurjun balsam oil is more strongly laevorotatory, and hence its presence would increase the figure to -50° or -60°. The acid number varies usually in thick balsams from 77 to 83, and the ester number does not exceed 10. One gramme of copaiba shaken with 10 mils of solution of ammonia and set aside for twenty-four hours will become turbid, but should not gelatinise (limit of resin).

Soluble in alcohol (1 in 1), glacial acetic acid (1 in 2), benzin (1 in 4), miscible in all proportions with absolute alcohol, ether, carbon bisulphide, fixed oils, or volatile oils.

Constituents.—Copaiba consists of varying proportions of volatile oil and resin, but to comply with the B.P. requirements not less than 40 per cent. of volatile oil must be present. The resin obtained by heating the balsam in a shallow dish until the oil has been completely dissipated is a hard, brittle mass, which consists chiefly of amorphous resin acids, accompanied by small quantities of crystalline resin-acids and indifferent resenes, the nature of these constituents varying in the different varieties of balsam.

Action and Uses.—The action of copaiba is carminative, but it is mainly used for its effects during excretion by the bronchioles, skin, and kidneys. Copaiba is eliminated in the urine, and gives the test for albumin with nitric acid. It is especially used in chronic inflammation of the genito-urinary tract both for its mildly stimulant action upon the inflamed mucous membranes and its antiseptic properties. In chronic bronchitis, especially where there is much expectoration, it acts well. It may produce a red rash, and its continued use tends to cause disorder of the digestive functions. On account of its disagreeable taste copaiba is commonly administered in gelatin capsules, which contain from 3 to 18 decimils (0.3 to 1.8 milliliters) (5 to 30 minims) in each. Pills may be prepared from the thicker varieties of copaiba by the addition of 6 per cent. of magnesia, giving the mass time to set before rolling out. This form of administration is not recommended owing to the insolubility of the pills. Emulsions of copaiba (see Mistura Copaibae) may be prepared with solution of potash, which saponifies the resin, or with mucilage of gum acacia. Miscible solutions are prepared from copaiba, alone, or combined with sandal wood oil, cubebs, and buchu. Oil of copaiba is given capsules or emulsified with powdered gum acacia and dispensed a mixture. Resin of copaiba, obtained by distilling off the volatile oil from the oleoresin, may also be emulsified in the same way as the oil, but is generally dispensed in capsules, 6 decigrams (10 grains), in each. The resin is used as a diuretic, and should be distinguished from the oleoresin.

Dose.—2 to 4 mils (30 to 60 minims).


Liquor Copaibae, B.P.C.—SOLUTION OF COPAIBA. Syn.—Soluble Copaiba. 1 in 2.
Used as a diuretic, and antiseptic to the genito-urinary tract. Dose.—4 to 8 mils (1 to 2 fluid drachms).
Liquor Copaibae et Buchu et Cubebae, B.P.C.—SOLUTION OF COPAIBA, BUCHU, AND CUBEBS.
Solution of copaiba, 80; liquid extract of buchu, 10; liquid extract of cubebs, 10. Diaphoretic, diuretic, and antiseptic. Used in gonorrhoea and gleet. Dose.—4 to 8 mils (1 to 2 fluid drachms).
Liquor Copaibae et Buchu et Cubebae cum Oleo Santali, B.P.C.—SOLUTION OF COPAIBA, BUCHU, AND CUBEBS, WITH SANDAL WOOD OIL.
Solution of copaiba, buchu, and cubebs, 80; oil of sandal wood, 10; oil of cassia, 0.5; alcohol, to 100. Antiseptic and diuretic, and, as all the active ingredients are excreted by the kidneys, it is of especial use in sub-acute and chronic gonorrhoea and gleet. Dose.—4 to 8 mils (1 to 2 fluid drachms).
Liquor Copaibae et Olei Santali, B.P.C.—SOLUTION OF COPAIBA AND SANDAL WOOD OIL.
Solution of copaiba, 80; oil of sandal wood, 10; oil of cassia, 0.5; alcohol, to 100. Combines the disinfectant action of oil of sandal wood with the diuretic action of copaiba. Dose.—4 to 8 mils (1 to 2 fluid drachms).
Mistura Copaibae B.P.C.—COPAIBA MIXTURE.
Each fluid ounce contains 15 minims of copaiba and 30 minims of mucilage of gum acacia. Employed as a diuretic and antiseptic in cystitis and gonorrhoea. Dose.—15 to 30 mils (½ to 1 fluid ounce).

The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.