Updated: Nov 20, 2018
Written by Cynthia Sim
What is Emu Oil?
An emu is a flightless bird, scientifically named Dromaius novaehallandiae.
The bird is native to Australia, but is now found in many countries, because of a rising popularity of nutritious emu meat and medicinal emu oil. Emu oil is a traditional medicine made from the fat of the ostrich’s smaller cousin, the emu bird. Emu oil is a bright yellow liquid, made up of mostly fat, which is collected from the deposits below the skin of the bird.
Once the fats are collected, they are passed through various filters and processes until pure oil is produced. The different types of emu oil depend on the different levels of filtration and processing. Most emu oils will go through full processing in order to reduce bacteria and contaminants. Some emu oils are refined more than others, in order to create higher contents of fatty acids. Organizations such as the American Emu Association have certification programs that aim to ensure that the emu oil people buy is pure, and that the emus enjoyed the best possible lives. It is relatively sustainable to manufacture. The human body easily metabolizes emu oil, so it requires little refining compared to plant-based oils. It is also more sustainable than petroleum-based oils
Completely pure emu oil will always be fully refined. This is the type of emu oil that is studied for its beneficial effects.
On average, fatty acids make up 98 to 99% of the oil:
Oleic acid (41-46%) is an omega-9 monounsaturated fat that lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, improves insulin sensitivity, and enhances skin permeability, among other benefits.
Linoleic acid (22-23%) is an omega-6 polyunsaturated fat, which improves skin barrier function and reduces dark spots from sun exposure, but may increase the likelihood of obesity and cancer when consumed in large quantities.
Palmitic acid (18-20%) is a saturated fat that is essential for skin health but may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes when consumed.
α-Linoleic acid (0-20%) is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid that reduces dark spots due to sun exposure, prevents obesity, improves skin, and lowers cancer risk, among other benefits.
Stearic acid (0-10%) is a saturated fatty acid that is beneficial to skin hydration and healing. It also increases HDL cholesterol while reducing LDL cholesterol, although to a lesser extent than other saturated fats.Other minor fat components include palmitoleic and linolenic acid.
The remaining 1 to 2% of emu oil is composed of antioxidants, vitamins, and other organic compounds:
Carotenoids are antioxidants that reduce the likelihood of cancer and eye disease.
Flavonoids are antioxidants that reduce inflammation, specifically promoting brain and gut health.
Sesquiterpenes are a type of terpene (organic compounds that are building blocks in most living creatures), which have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and may also possibly treat cancer.
Vitamin A is necessary for maintaining a healthy metabolism, immune system, and hormone production, among other bodily functions.
Vitamin E is necessary for maintaining healthy cell membranes and may treat cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, among other benefits.
Benefits of Emu Oil
The use of emu oil originates from the Australian Aborigine culture. According to their oral history, emu oil has been used for over 40,000 years. The oil has been used to relieve minor aches and pains, help wounds heal quicker, and protect skin from the elements. The Native Australians first introduced emu oil into European culture as a natural sunscreen and moisturizer. European settlers soon adopted the use of emu oil and many other natural remedies that the Native Australians provided.
1. Lowers Cholesterols
Thanks to emu oil’ s high concentration of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, it is likely that moderate consumption of the oil reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol while improving HDL (good) cholesterol. Rats fed an unhealthy “cafeteria” diet with emu oil had lower blood levels of LDL and higher blood levels of HDL compared to those that did not consume the emu oil. The rats that received high doses of emu oil also did not show any evidence of arterial thickening or plaque build-up
2. Reduces Inflammation and Pain
Emu oil is an effective topical anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain reliever) in rats and mice, but science has yet to demonstrate the same effect in humans. When applied topically it reduces acute swelling by up to 71% in rats. A study published in Inflammopharmacology found that when used topically, emu oil’s anti-inflammatory properties were just as effective as oral administration of ibuprofen. This anti-inflammatory effect can last 12 hours. Emu oil is more powerful than fish oil, flaxseed oil, or the mainstream natural anti-inflammatory olive oil in reducing rat models of inflammation. Emu oil may provide a cure, as well as an alternative, to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), since the extended use of drugs such as ibuprofen can cause liver and intestinal damage.
Emu oil improved the healing of second- and third-degree burns in 125 children. However, researchers measured the rate of healing subjectively and did not provide an adequate description of their methodology or results The effectiveness of emu oil on inflammation in humans is yet to be determined.
3. Fights Infections and Boost Immune Systems
The essential fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins within emu oil help prevent or treat infections when it’s applied topically. It also has bacteriostatic properties, giving it the ability to stop bacteria from reproducing. Research shows that the linolenic acid found in emu oil has the power to treat antibiotic-resistant infections, such as H. pylori, an infection that’s responsible for various gastric diseases, including gastritis, peptic ulcers and gastric malignancy. Because emu oil reduces irritation and inflammation, it can also be used to relieve cough and flu symptoms naturally. It also contains vitamin A and essential fatty acids, which are responsible for several immune system functions.
4. Good for Gastrointestinal Systems
Emu oil has successfully improved intestine and colon health in a number of animal models.
For example, consumption of emu oil reduced the severity of colon inflammation and tissue damage in rats by stimulating the intestinal repair process. Though emu oil also increased gland death in the distal colon, overall intestinal and colon health improved. The combination of emu oil and glycyrrhizin (a component of licorice root) was particularly effective in reducing ulcers caused by colitis in mice, likely by increasing antioxidants and suppressing TNF-α and PPRA-γ. The beneficial actions of emu oil may go beyond its anti-inflammatory properties.
Emu oil improved the symptoms of colon cancer in mice, not only reducing inflammation but also suppressing weight loss and growth of small tumors. However, the growth of medium tumors was slightly increased in mice treated with emu oil.
5. Improves Skin Hydration
Emu oil is often marketed as a moisturizing cream, and the science backs up that conclusion in a number of different studies. Subjectively, it feels nice. A double-blind pilot study of 11 participants found that emu oil was subjectively more moisturizing and penetrating than a popular mineral oil cosmetic base. It also effectively retains moisture and therefore soothes particularly sensitive skin. Skin cells bathed in .01% emu oil reduced their production of melanin, indicating that emu oil could help reduce freckles and skin staining. While emu oil effectively retains skin moisture, claims of it reversing wrinkles, stopping sun damage, and tightening skin after weight loss remain uninvestigated.
6. Promotes Healthy Hair and Nails
Daily application of 0.1 mL of emu oil increased skin cell production, hair follicle growth, and skin coloring (melanogenesis) in mice by increasing the level of 3 H-thymidine, a marker of DNA synthesis. Topical application of pure emu oil on burned mice improved wound healing (by increasing fibrogenesis and collagen synthesis in the skin), leading to more active hair follicles that better covered the burned area compared to controls. Another study may have found supporting evidence, but the mechanism is unclear. As mentioned above, a commercial hair-growth product was 5% more effective in stimulating hair growth in mice when mixed with emu oil. However, it was unclear if the effect was due to increased skin permeability, or if emu oil itself was stimulating hair growth.
7. Insect Repellant
In an experiment done for a patent proposal, a volunteer placed two hands, one treated with emu oil and the other untreated, in a container full of mosquitos. The bugs landed on and bit the treated hand significantly less than the untreated hand. This effect was seen using mixtures of as little as 1% emu oil and lasted for over 30 minutes.
8. Reduce Breast Sensitivity
Topical application of emu oil can relieve painful, dry and cracked nipples that are experienced by mothers when they begin breastfeeding. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that applying emu oil to the areola is effective in soothing damage caused by breast-feeding. In the study, 70 at-term breastfeeding mothers used emu oil-based cream on the areola, and the treatment was effective in improving hydration of the area while it did not affect skin pH, temperature or elasticity. Before feeding her baby, a woman should wipe her nipple and breast with a warm cloth to remove any residual oil. This is because emu oil has not been proven safe for infants and children to ingest. It is also possible to be allergic to emu oil.
Over all, Emu Oil is a relatively new discovery and is on its way to becoming one of the best medicinal alternatives. If you would like to give Emu oil a try, check out our current promotions today and enjoy free delivery!