Emu oil has many uses, benefits and also side effects. Jon Johnson has written an article that was reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on the benefits, possible risks and side effects of emu oil. The popularity of emu oil usage has increased recently due to health claims surrounding its uses and benefits. Be sure to understand what it is used for and what your possible health benefits might be. More importantly, learn about the possible risks and side effects of using the oil.
The flightless emu bird is scientifically named Dromaius novaehallandiae and is native to Australia. Because of a rising popularity of nutritious emu meat and medicinal emu oil, it is now found in many countries. The oil is a bright yellow liquid made up of mostly fat, which is collected from the deposits below the skin of the bird. The fats are collected and then passed through various filters and processed until pure oil is produced. This is a product with unique benefits that is widely used. Emu oil comes in different types, based on different levels of filtration and processing. Most of the oils go through full processing in order to reduce bacteria and contaminants, but some are refined in order to create higher contents of fatty acids.
The American Emu Association and some other organizations have certification programs that aim to ensure that the emu oil we buy is pure, and that the emus enjoyed the best possible lives. The completely pure oil will always be fully refined and is the type of emu oil studied for its beneficial effects. The emu is the second largest living bird by height.
The use of emu oil originates from the Australian Aborigine culture and been used for over 40,000 years. Relieving minor aches and pains, helping wounds to heal quicker and protecting skin from the elements are some of the oil’s uses. It was originally introduced into the European culture by the Aborigine as a natural sunscreen and moisturizer. They soon adopted the use of the oil and many other natural remedies that the Aborigines provided. People have since discovered many more benefits.
Using the emu oil as an anti-inflammatory is the most popular benefit. Researchers noted that the anti-inflammatory effect of this oil may be beneficial in treating conditions like ear inflammation, inflammatory bowel syndrome and even to prevent bone loss. Massage therapists use it to help treat people with arthritis. Emu oil is easily absorbed into the skin that will help lock in skin moisture, making the skin less prone to cracking or drying out. During cancer radiation, it is also suggested for dry skin treatment. This absorbable trait can be passed on to other compounds when they are mixed together.
Other uses for the emu oil is to help increase the number of healthy skin cells and conditions like alopecia, rosacea, hypopigmentation, shingles and dermatitis. It can be applied to small wounds, cuts, bruises or burns and to ease the pain of minor wounds and protect the skin from additional damage. Use it as a bug repellant because of the substances called terpenes found in the oil. More uses are reducing cholesterol, ulcers, and for use in breast sensitivity.
Emu oil contains high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and compounds as omega-3, omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids. It also contains vitamin A and additional compounds like carotenoids, flavones, polyphenols, tocopherol and phospholipids.
There are few documented side effects as emu oil is a natural product. Applying directly to the skin as a topical may cause some skin irritation, so use a small patch of skin as a test.
Dr Fredda Branyon