Neuronal signaling and Copaiba

Article at a glance

Using advanced proteomic technology, doTERRA scientists, along with other research partners, have investigated the influence of doTERRA Copaiba essential oil on signaling pathways related to the nervous system. Although more research is needed, the initial results were encouraging as they shed more light on the use and impact of this essential oil.

Proteomics and doTERRA

Proteomics is the future of essential oil research. With modern proteomic techniques, researchers are able to discover how compounds induce changes in the proteins they interact with. This allows us to better understand how essential oils function. Together with its research partners, doTERRA is leading the charge in mapping the activity of essential oils at the biochemical level by starting with everyone’s favorite endocannabinoid system activator: Copaiba essential oil.


Proteomics is a form of in vitro research. In vitro methods are often used in scientific research because they are simple and convenient, raise fewer ethical concerns, and allow for more detailed analyses than on a whole organism. One of the most common cell lines (a series of cells developed from a single cell with an identical genetic composition) used in in vitro research is SH-SY5Y. This cell line is especially beneficial for experimental neurological research.

The study

In a recently published proteomic study, doTERRA scientists and research partners evaluated the biological activity of Copaiba essential oil on signaling pathways in an SH-SY5Y cell line. In this study, they used nanofluidic protein post-translational modification (PTM) profiling technologies. The same research team had previously used PTM profiling technologies to assess the purity of essential oils and related isolates.

The results

The study provided robust evidence that Copaiba essential oil has a positive impact on several pathways in the cells of the central nervous system. Positive regulation was particularly robust in the pI3k/Akt/mTOR, MAPK and JAK/STAT pathways, which affect nervous system cell metabolism, proliferation and immunity. Also, the effects of Copaiba on neuronal signaling pathway activity was mediated by cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), providing further validation for the belief that Copaiba is a potent activator of the endocannabinoid system and may have a spectrum of benefits yet to be discovered. Moreover, the researchers saw the greatest effects on signaling pathways within 30 minutes of exposure to Copaiba. This is important pharmacokinetic information that can be used to develop future usage guidelines. While these findings are encouraging, they are experimental and more research will be needed to validate them.

The future

While on the surface these data may not mean much to the everyday user of essential oils, they are part of the foundation that will shape the future of oil research and help us develop new and more effective use models for these gifts of the earth. This research team has several other proteomic studies in the works, which will expand our understanding of the pharmacodynamics of Copaiba and other essential oils.


doTERRA Science blog articles are based on various scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary, experimental studies and further research is needed to better understand the findings. Essential oils may have drug interactions, patient contraindications or side effects that cannot be evaluated using experimental research results alone. If you are interested in using essential oils for any health problem, consult your health care provider first.