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In this podcast, Dr. David Hill explores the differences and similarities between CBD and Copaiba oils. There is a wealth of information available in the scientific literature regarding the classes of cannabinoid compounds and the receptors involved in the endocannabinoid system

Episode 19: CBD vs. Copaiba

This episode Dr. David Hill, Founding Executive of doTERRA, looks at CBD and Copaiba and will answer questions like: What is CBD oil? and What is the difference between CBD and Copaiba? He’ll also explain why you would choose Copaiba over CBD.


Hi, everyone. Dr. Hill. I’m excited to spend a little bit of time with you today and I’m going to talk with you about one of my new most favorite subjects. And of course, that’s Copaiba essential oil. But today I want to do a comparison between Copaiba and CBD.

Now, I know and I recognize that there’s a lot of discussion that happens about this all of the time and many of you either have participated or you’ve heard individuals talking about it. So, can we take just a few minutes and talk about what we know and maybe help you understand some of the differences. Now there are some things that are resolute in this discussion and I feel like we need to be appreciative of that.

What We Know

We know for example that the endocannabinoid system is a resolute system. We know all there is to know about CB1 and CB2, we know where the interact in the body. We know that there’s the greater preponderance of CB2 in the periphery, for example and that CB 1 receptors are more centralized and that they have very specific functions. The whole endocannabinoid system for example is very influential all throughout the body because of this wide distribution and the variation that exists between those different types of receptors.

CB2 Receptors

CB2 receptors, which is where most of discussion seems to be focused and centralized, really deals a lot with the body’s immune capability, how the body is able to monitor and control inflammatory responses appropriately. Even lots of discussion and information showing and defining how the endocannabinoid system is very influential in helping to control different levels and forms of discomfort that we might experience. All of this factors together to mean that that system must hold some real value for us. And so of course there’s a lot of enthusiasm that seems to be present.


Now some of that is much less defined. Some of it is not as concrete as what we just described. And primarily that difference lies between what we know about endocannabinoids and what we know about cannabinoids that exist outside of our body’s own framework. Now we know that the body is self-sustaining in a lot of ways and so we probably don’t need to spend a lot of time talking about the cannabinoids that our body produces on its own. But instead let’s talk about those that we find in an outside source and specifically talking about CBD and talking about Copaiba essential oil.

Now when we talk about those it really becomes a question of how do we best influence this system within the body? We know that it’s meaningful. We know that it’s powerful and we know that its influence is needed. So how do we best create that influence? Right now, there’s a lot of discussion about CBD and its influence within that system. But I have continually spoken to and will I think forever more be in this camp between the two that I think Copaiba is a much better solution. And I’ll tell you some of the reasons why. Influence of a receptor or influence into a system is always a process of how it’s best influenced or what it is that happens within that system.

What is CBD?

There’s some distinct differences between CBD and between Copaiba essential oil that I keep referring to it as CBD and Copaiba essential oil because in fact Copaiba is an essential oil where CBD is not an essential oil. It is a botanical; it’s an isolated molecule. It does come from a hemp plant or it does come from marijuana in all of its different forms. It’s a botanical that’s housed within that plant, but it’s not an essential oil. One of the things that we know in a most basic sense is that essential oils behave very differently in the body. This is no exception. People sometimes refer to it as CBD oil because that molecule as it’s isolated is isolated and then combined with some type of a carrier oil so mistakenly referred to it as an essential oil. But know that this is isolated chemistry that’s combined with or put in some other type of a product. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. So we have to look at all of the characteristics that exist with CBD.

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Indirect Receptor Stimulation

One of the things that exists with CBD which makes it a little bit different and not exactly like what we would experience with Copaiba is essential oil is it’s actually an indirect activity. We know that to stimulate the endocannabinoid system we have to stimulate those individual receptors and indirect activity means that it doesn’t just go directly to that receptor.

Instead it goes through a whole process of activity that eventually may stimulate that receptor. Now a receptor is an all or nothing principle, either it’s stimulated or it isn’t, but how readily that stimulation takes place, or that activity takes place, within the body I think is an important consideration.

That becomes an issue of several factors including the amount that’s present. One of the things that’s unique about this as an isolated compound is that we generally don’t see it in very high amounts. Very minimal amounts in terms of the dosage and that may not be substantial enough to create the benefits that we look for consistently. And so it’s this shortened activation or a cascade of activation that has to take place, and then we have some question about dosage.

What are the Longterm Effects of CBD?

And then the other thing that really occurs within, there’s a lot of study that’s been done, but it’s not study that’s necessarily focused exclusively on CBD and its interaction with the body, and we really don’t know long term effects and benefits associated with that.

Is CBD Legal?

The other issue is that, at least to some degree, there is some regulatory challenge that exists. While many states have said that you can have this, the federal government to date still has not.

Copaiba Essential Oil

And so, all of those things combined together for me personally, really begins to cause some question. Now, when we compare that to what we see with Copaiba essential oil it really becomes very, very different. This is an essential oil. And one of the things we know about essential oils is that we have a complete plant chemistry. In doTERRA that’s the whole cycle, that’s the whole process that exists around CPTG® and all the things that we do with that.

Direct Receptor Stimulation

We have direct receptor activity. So our interaction with the receptor is not dependent on some other thing that’s happening within the body. It can happen very quickly, and we have direct response. Direct interaction with that receptor.

One of the things that’s really been interesting to me as we look at some of the science is very small amounts of Copaiba essential oil can actually be very effective. As little as five milligrams, which is really less than one drop, of Copaiba essential oil can have very dramatic effects. And so I like that we have not only consistent interaction, but we have small amounts of dosing that’s required to create that interaction.

Does Copaiba work?

And there are more than a thousand published studies that are talking directly about Copaiba and its influence within human physiology and some of the activity that way.

So it’s not necessarily that CBD oil in and of itself or all by itself somehow is just mismatched and we shouldn’t give it any consideration. I don’t think any of us are saying that. I think it’s more of a wait and see model. Let’s see what we find out in the long term. Let’s see how it is influential.

But what we know right now is even if CBD didn’t have any of those obstacles by comparison Copaiba essential oil is different. It is an essential oil. Here we have four species of Copaiba blended together the chemistry and the construct of that is completely different including that’s primarily sesquiterpene. And one of the great values of sesquiterpenes, and of course you know I’m going to talk about chemistry; I have to do that. One of the great things about sesquiterpenes is that we have the potential for many downstream effects and benefits. In other words secondary metabolites and even tertiary metabolites longer lasting effects and benefits.

And don’t forget we get this direct activity in response with the system itself with very small amounts. So, this means that it’s perfect for using with a model of consistency.

Purity and Potency

Now I always when I think about Copaiba versus CBD, or frankly any other thing that right now kind of fits into that category, there’s four ways that I always think about it. One is purity. Nothing is more important with an essential oil, or frankly any product, than is purity.

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One of the major differences that we see between Copaiba essential oil the way that doTERRA is supplying it is beyond just the chemistry and beyond the potency, which is the second P, it’s the potency and the purity of CBD is in question all of the time. We’re not really sure of the benefits of that and we don’t really know where the dosage levels are and where the efficacy comes from.

Impurity comes into question because our discovery has led us to believe that because it exists in such small amounts most of the product that we see in the marketplace in order to have enough present to be deemed as a value is really being derived more synthetically, and we don’t have to have this debate about the difference between something natural in the body and something more synthetic in the body.


So purity potency. The other thing that I think is remarkable is price. Copaiba in and of itself is extremely cost effective, especially using it the way that we want to use it with this, which is with consistency. If the endocannabinoid system is as important as we all believe that it is, regardless of what position we take within that process—whether we’re a fan of one versus the other, what we’re really looking for is consistency.

And that means that we have to have some opportunity for a daily use or some opportunity for consistent exposure. The cost difference between the two is substantial and what little we know now currently about dosage with CBD suggests that the cost for that would be in excess of well over one hundred dollars per day. That doesn’t make any sense. It’s not sustainable. And so what we really get is inconsistent product delivery with very small amounts, and we don’t get the efficacy.

So why not choose something that the price makes it equitable and makes it usable on a daily basis so that we have constant support into that system?


Then the last thing and I get excited about this one is pathway. We’ve been involved in this for a while now and we’re making this wonderful discovery where for the first time the first time in history we have this ability to look at the essential oil, and in this case Copaiba, in its full context, all of the chemistry, everything combined, not an isolated molecule. Everything in context, one with another and we can see pathway. We know where it’s going to; we know the influence that it’s having within the body.

All Factors Considered

And so when I look at those four factors, all of which are critical in my mind, price, which gives us the ability for consistency of use; potency and purity which gives us confidence within its use and gives us the assurance that we’re going to receive the maximum benefit; and then pathway in the understanding that comes from not just having the confidence in the Copaiba essential oil, but in knowing exactly what it’s going to do for us. To me it seems like something that we should all gravitate to regardless of what we think otherwise.

Copaiba is an essential oil that I believe is at the crux and at the core of what we need to do on a daily basis to help us maintain our health, to support and sustain the body, and all of the things that it must do and especially in the environments we now live in that are so challenging. So a quick invitation to you, learn about Copaiba about essential oil. Learn how to use it, learn how to incorporate it. It is one of my very favorite essential oils.

Thanks for spending a little bit of time with me. I hope to see you all very soon.

A Chemist’s Perspective: Cannabinoids, Cannabis, and Caryophyllene

It has come to my attention that there has been a lot of confusion recently surrounding the properties of cannabinoid compounds found in certain oils. Individuals with ties to the CBD oil industry would have you believe that beta-caryophyllene, a compound found in Copaiba oil and Black Pepper oil, is not a cannabinoid. The same individuals would also have you believe that cannabidiol (CBD) oil never contains the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or any of its isomers. This is not surprising, because both of these claims promote the CBD oil industry. Unfortunately, this misinformation has been perpetuated to the point that many people are convinced that it is accurate, despite strong evidence to the contrary.

I’ve prepared this article in hopes that I can set the facts straight. Having worked as a medicinal chemist for 15 years, I’ve learned a great deal about the chemical properties of all kinds of essential oils. I’ve even conducted my own chemical analyses of hemp, CBD, and cannabis oil in my lab at doTERRA. In this article, I will discuss the chemical properties of cannabinoid compounds found in the various cannabis oils and compare them with beta-caryophyllene. Beta-caryophyllene is the main compound found in Copaiba, doTERRA’s alternative to cannabis.

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Beta-Caryophyllene is a Cannabinoid

There is a wealth of information available in the scientific literature regarding the classes of cannabinoid compounds and the receptors involved in the endocannabinoid system. For several years now, beta-caryophyllene has been known to be a cannabinoid. But don’t just take my word for it. Back in 2008, a study by J. Gertsch et al. rolled off the press with the unambiguous headline, “Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid.” 1 The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, a prestigious scientific journal. Since then, at least a dozen more papers have been published on the subject, reemphasizing the fact that beta-caryophyllene is a cannabinoid. 2-13

By definition, a cannabinoid is any ligand, molecule, or class of molecules that acts on either or both of the currently identified cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. Interestingly, these two receptors produce significantly different physiological responses when activated. CB1 activation, caused by THC and other similar cannabinoids, results in a psychoactive drug high. On the other hand, CB2 activation by beta-caryophyllene (BCP) has produced results showing some promising benefits. These include supporting a healthy inflammatory response, soothing discomfort, and positively affecting mood without the psychoactive side effects associated with other cannabinoids. 2-4,10 It is true that the positive benefits associated with BCP have also been observed using other cannabinoids, such as THC, cannabidiol, and cannabinol, but using these compounds can also come with unwanted psychological effects, especially in the case of THC.

Types of Cannabinoids

There are three distinct classes of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids are found in certain pharmaceutical products designed to help with glaucoma, appetite stimulation, antiemetics, and other disease-linked targets. Endocannabinoids, on the other hand, are produced naturally by the body. These molecules are mainly composed of amines and amides. Endocannabinoids are pharmacologically similar to some phytocannabinoids, but vary greatly in their chemical structure. This gives different endocannabinoids the ability to produce different neurological responses, even when administered in similar doses. The primary function of endocannabinoids is to modulate normal physiological functions.

The last class of cannabinoids is known as the phytocannabinoids. These are molecules that are produced by plants such as Cannabis and Copaifera. The Cannabis species produces the commonly known molecules THC and CBD, while the Copaifera plant family produces only BCP. Although BCP differs significantly from other cannabinoids in its structure, it nonetheless reacts selectively with the CB2 receptor, thus defining it as a cannabinoid. 2 However, it is chemically distinct from other cannabinoids, which is why it cannot cause a positive result on a drug test. BCP is classified as a sesquiterpene based on its chemical structure and makeup. Research on BCP is ongoing and will continue to add to our understanding of its potential value.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil can contain the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

To be legally marketable, CBD oil is not supposed to contain any discernable amount of THC. 14 However, our own internal investigation involving analytical testing and evaluation has found that various CBD oils on the market do contain significant levels of THC and therefore could very likely trigger a psychoactive response and/or positive drug test. Our evaluation has also shown that commonly purchased brands of CBD oil can vary greatly in their claimed CBD content. In fact, in some samples we were not able to identify the presence of any CBD at all. In contrast, my analyses have shown that doTERRA oils are 100% free of THC, and oil compositions are consistent between batches.


In summary, this article is not intended to be a complete picture of the benefits of beta-caryophyllene nor an outline of the properties of the endocannabinoid system. Rather, it is a statement of scientifically-accepted facts aimed to clear up the misleading information on the molecules in question. My hopes are that reading this article will help individuals in their personal research on cannabinoids and, most importantly, their decisions about which oils to use in their daily life.

Dr. Cody Beaumont, PhD
Director, Analytical Services & Quality Control

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