Emu Oil Review
Emu Oil is a fatty oil extracted from certain subspecies of emu. It’s frequently sold today as a dietary health supplement, where it’s purported to treat a wide range of ailments – including cancer. Find out whether or not emu oil actually works today in our review.
What is Emu Oil?
Emu Oil is an oil that comes from fatty tissues in certain subspecies of emu. Emus are flightless birds native to Australia but found today all over the world.
Emu oil naturally has a color that varies from an off-white creamy color to a thinner, yellower texture. That color varies depending on the emu’s diet.
Depending on the processing method used, emu oil has about 60% to 70% unsaturated fatty acids, including high levels of oleic acid, which is an omega 9 fatty acid associated with health benefits.
Other key components of emu oil include linoleic acid (which makes up about 20% of the oil and is an omega 6 fatty acid) and linolenic acid (which makes up about 1-2% of the oil and is an omega 3 fatty acid).
The diverse omega acid profile of emu oil (omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids) is what emu oil supporters claim gives the oil its unique health benefits.
What Are the Health Benefits of Emu Oil?
Because emus are native to Australia, it makes sense that the Aboriginal people of Australia were the first to harvest and use the oil for health benefits.
Aboriginals have used the oil for centuries. They would collect it by hanging emu skin from a tree or wrapping the skin directly around the targeted area of the body and leaving it in the sun. The heat of the sun would purportedly increase the absorption of emu oil by liquefying its fat content.
Many of the benefits of emu oil have been passed down through Aboriginal culture over time. Not all of the following benefits have been supported by modern scientific studies (as you’ll see below), but are still considered to be emu oil benefits:
Anti-Inflammatory and Wound Healer
Most of the studies on emu oil today concentrate on its effects as an anti-inflammatory agent and wound healing compound. When applied topically to the skin of animals, emu oil has been observed to have anti-inflammatory effects similar to taking ibuprofen orally.
This study published in the 2013 edition of the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences compared the effects of emu oil on a clinical group of 126 participants who suffered from seborrheic dermatitis (SD), a chronic inflammatory skin disease.
The participants was separated into two groups: one group tested the benefits of emu oil versus clotrimazole and the other group tested the benefits of emu oil versus hydrocortisone.
All three treatment methods were observed to effectively treat SD, including emu oil. Researchers concluded that:
“Emu oil is a potentially useful agent that significantly improves itching, erythema and scales associated with SD.”
At the same time, researchers observed that emu oil was less effective than both hydrocortisone and clotrimazole. The two treatments are commonly prescribed to those who suffer from SD.
Emu oil has also exhibited some benefits as a treatment for damaged skin – particularly scar tissue and minor burns. In one clinical study, areas of the skin treated with emu oil were observed to heal faster than areas treated with other agents. The only problem with that study is that it occurred on rats – not humans. The study was published in the 2005 edition of the Chinese journal Di 1 jun yi da xue xue bao (which translates to Academic Journal of the First Medical College of PLA)
Reduced Toxicity in Patients Undergoing Radiation Therapy
One of the most recent studies on emu oil was published in the April 2015 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics. That study aimed to:
“evaluate the feasibility and safety of an oil-based skin agent, Ultra Emu Oil, on skin-related toxicity in patients undergoing radiation therapy to the breast and chest wall.”
42 participants out of 45 completed the study. The effects of radiation therapy were measured after 6-7 weeks of regular emu oil application.
Researchers concluded that the study:
“confirmed the safety of oil-based skin treatments during radiation therapy and suggests a trend for reduced skin toxicity for patients receiving emu oil.”
Researchers cautioned that more research needed to be done to confirm those benefits (it was a pilot study). However, emu oil was observed to reduce the toxicity of patients receiving breast and chest radiation, which could play a critical role in future cancer treatment research.
Traditionally Used to Treat Muscle and Joint Problems
The benefits listed above have been modestly supported by modern scientific studies. Some of the traditional Australian Aboriginal uses for emu oil, however, have not had the same scientific support.
Aboriginals would rub the oil on their bodies to treat muscle and joint problems, for example, including inflamed joints and swollen muscles. They would also use it to topically treat burns, eczema, and other skin conditions. There’s also some evidence that Aboriginals would use it to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
How to Buy Emu Oil
Emu oil products are widely available online and at health food stores and grocery stores around the world. Amazon sells something called Emu Oil Pure Premium Golden which advertises itself as a skin and hair moisturizer. It’s made in New Zealand and is priced at around $50 for a 4 fluid ounce bottle.
Surprisingly, Walmart also carries emu oil in stock. Walmart sells a 60mL bottle of Kalaya Naturals Emu Oil for $19.99. That oil advertises itself as a moisturizer for dry skin and as a treatment for eczema and inflamed skin.
One final popular emu oil product is called Pure Refined Emu Oil. It’s made by a company called Longview Farms and is sold at major supplement retailers in America – including The Vitamin Shoppe. That product is priced at $15 for a 2 fluid ounce container.
Who Should Use Emu Oil?
Every day, the Emu Producers International Cooperative (EPIC) oil refinery in Jewett, Texas produces 5,000 pounds of emu oil. That emu oil is used in cosmetic products, including eye creams, moisturizers, and hair products like the ones listed in the section above.
Although emu oil isn’t backed by a mountain of scientific and clinical evidence (only 25 studies on emu oil are currently listed on PubMed.gov), it has proven effective as an anti-inflammatory agent and as a valuable source of omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. In one study, the anti-inflammatory benefits of emu oil were observed to be on par with an oral dosage of ibuprofen.
More research is needed to definitively prove the benefits of emu oil. But today, emu oil is a popular and 100% natural skin treatment and cooking agent used all across the world.