Written by Nawel Neggache
Nutritionist/Research & Development
The emu bird dromaius novaehollandiae is a large flightless bird, similar to the ostrich and native to Australia. For over thousand years, Aborigines, the original inhabitants of Australia, have been using Emu Oils, derived from the adipose tissue of the bird, to help improve the recovery of wounds or damaged skin quicker and relieve muscular disorders. They also used it as a natural and powerful moisturizer for dry and inflamed skin tissue. Based on the long history of its traditional use, Australian researchers conducted studies in 2012 and did find that Emu oil administered orally and topically, may possess significant anti-inflammatory properties. Today many further studies have recognized the potential abilities of Emu Oil in different fields, from muscle and joint pain to skin infections and cardiovascular disorders.
Emu oil has a very interesting and unique fatty acid profile predominantly made up of essential polyunsaturated fats Omega-3 linolenic acid, Omega-6 linoleic acid, monounsaturated Omega-9 oleic acid and palmitic acid.
This synergistic mix of beneficial oils makes up about 70 percent of its composition and may confer its natural anti-inflammatory properties and its special capacity to retain moisture and improve skin reported by numerous studies.
Studies (1) showed that Emu oil exerts anti-inflammatory activity and when used topically, may help decrease swelling and minimize aching and be very effective in reducing muscle and joint pain. In fact, an animal study (2) published in Inflammopharmacology compared the efficacies of the emu oils acting transdermally with that of oral administration of ibuprofen of 40 mg/kg.
Another encouraging study (3) showed that Emu Oil, when administered orally once daily to rats, significantly reduced acute intestinal inflammation associated with NSAID-enteropathy. However although increased Emu oil dose could be very beneficial, more research is needed to explore the right dosage and/or frequency of administration in order to achieve demonstrable clinical benefit.
There is also some evidence that Emu oil may have a positive impact on blood fats including triglycerides and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) also known as “bad cholesterol”. Research show that one of the best ways to help prevent and treat heart disease is to eat a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, and rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. (4)
Emu oil provides naturally monounsaturated Omega-9 and polyunsaturated Omega-3. Although more studies are definitely needed to explore the effect of emu oil consumption on blood lipids and lipoproteins, there is strong evidence that essential Omega-3 or fatty acids Omega-9 contained in Fish or Olive Oil have cholesterol-lowing effects. Dr Axe reported that a study (5) conducted by the Nutrition and Metabolism Research Group in Canada found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation reduced plasma triglycerides after a three-month period without affecting LDL or HDL cholesterol levels.
Emu oil has been used a lot as a natural moisturizer and natural healer for the skin. Its fatty profile is naturally very close to that of the human skin which helps it deeply penetrate into the dermis layers of the skin. Readily absorbed, it can hydrate epidermis but also nourish dermis cells. Emu oil is incredibly nourishing for the skin not only for its powerful fatty acids but it is also naturally rich in collagen and vitamins E and A, all key nutrients that help maintain a healthy skin. Vitamin E and A are vital nutrients to help protect cell membranes from oxidative stress. Both antioxidants vitamins contribute to the maintenance of normal skin and play a role in neutralizing highly reactive molecules called free radicals. Oxidative damage caused by free radicals is considered to contribute to aging and age related chronic disease. Collagen is a substance that provides support to muscle, bones and cartilage and contributes to the health of teeth and gums. This protein is also very important for skin elasticity and firmness. By boosting collagen production, Emu Oil helps strengthen and tone the skin tissue.
By easily breaking through the barrier of the skin and penetrating deep within the surface, it can provide the skin with this natural cocktail of nutrients which makes it regenerative in nature acting as a powerful moisturizer. Studies (6) showed that it can promote wound healing by inhibiting local secondary inflammation (6). For all these factors, Emu oil topical application has been reported (7) to help thicken the skin thus helping reduce aging and itching signs like wrinkles, flakiness from dry and cracked skin, the appearance of scars and burns while reducing swelling and inflammation thus helping smooth rough elbows, heels and alleviate painful knees or ankles.
Caution: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.