Derived from the fatty connective tissues found in the emu bird, emu oil is harvested for dietary supplements, therapeutic use and cosmetic products. Containing healthy fatty acids, the natural oil has historically been used to treat a variety of ailments and conditions by those who are indigenous to Australia. Because of demand, the Australian bird is commercially farmed in the present day and emu-related products including oil, leather and meat are shipped to various places around the world.
Although modern research and animal studies have shown some positive correlations between taking emu oil and experiencing health benefits, the long-term risks of consuming emu oil are largely unknown. If you’re interested about what the animal-based oil can do for you, consider consulting a medical professional to discuss your particular circumstances.
The Associated Benefits of Consuming or Applying Emu Oil
Providing Access to Essential Fatty Acids
Emu oil mostly consists of unsaturated fatty acids including omega-9 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are classified as essential fats and they play an important role in the proper functioning of the body. From maintaining brain and nerve function to building healthy cells, these fatty acids are necessary for sustaining life. Because we need access to these fats but the body itself can’t produce them, our diets need to provide such resources.
Offering Wound-Healing and Anti-Inflammatory Capabilities
In animal studies on rodents, the topical treatment of emu oil has been shown to help wounds heal and inflammation decrease. Although not much human research exists, traditional medicine approaches of Australian natives have anecdotally suggested emu oil’s effectiveness in treating cuts, sores and bruises as well as joint and muscle pain including arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and shin splints. Massage therapists sometimes even use emu oil as part of their treatments.
Although this method has yet to be scientifically proven as a proper treatment, emu oil has actually been used as a burn treatment after radiation therapy in some cases. In order to help heal the skin and provide needed moisture as a follow-up to a cancer treatment plan, emu oil has anecdotally provided some help.
Treating Other Symptoms and Preventing Disease
Emu oil contains various antioxidants and other components that may be able to help provide relief from a variety of everyday ailments. The fatty oil has been used as a cough syrup and to treat fevers and flu symptoms including headaches and intestinal discomfort.
As a dietary supplement, emu oil may be able to help improve your cholesterol levels by lowering your bad cholesterol and increasing your good cholesterol. The liquid is also thought to help with circulation and with decreasing your risks of cardiovascular disease in general. The liquid has also been touted as having helpful weight loss properties, but there is little to no research to back up such a claim in humans.
Providing Cosmetic Effects for Skin, Nails and Hair
Emu oil can be found in various beauty and skin care products, but you can also create your own moisturizers, body scrubs and hair tonics using emu oil as a base. Emu oil can be applied to the body to reduce redness, minimize the appearance of wrinkles, protect against sun damage, treat chapped lips, soften cuticles, improve dandruff and to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis stretch marks and scarring.
The Hazards of Using Emu Oil
Emu Oil May Provide Medical Benefits, But Not Necessarily
Because emu oil is not actually a regulated medicine, various untrustworthy companies offer products that claim all sorts of disease-fighting, health-promoting capabilities that have no scientific support. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published an article to help consumers detect health fraud and used emu oil as one product example that often gets misrepresented.
Emu oil is sold as a dietary supplement, which by nature, comes with a distinction as not having been evaluated by the FDA and not having been manufactured with the intent to treat, prevent or heal any medical conditions. When the marketing departments of companies egregiously cross the line in their wording to sell their supplements, the companies often come under fire by the FDA for wrongfully directing consumers.
Additionally, since the FDA doesn’t actually evaluate the safety or effectiveness of dietary supplements, the quality of emu oil products can vary greatly from brand to brand and product to product. The composition of and concentrations found in each product can be unique, which means you never quite know what you’re getting. For the best results, only purchase refined products from companies that you trust and that have clear manufacturing practices that reaffirm their credibility as delivering safe and valuable offerings.
Emu Oil May Be Unsafe for Children and for Women Who Are Pregnant or Nursing
Because long-term effects of taking emu oil are not known, you may want to avoid recommending the animal-based oil for kids. Similarly, since the risks of taking emu oil are mostly a mystery, those who are pregnant or nursing may be best off if they don’t experiment with emu oil during those stages of life. It’s possible for emu oil to negatively affect the health of fetuses, nursing infants and moms alike.
Emu Oil Products May be the Result of Cruel Practices
Because of a sudden increase in demand for emu oil, commercially farming emu has become more and more profitable. When you pick up an emu-based product from the store or order an item online, it’s hard to know what conditions these birds were actually raised in. Obviously, strict animal activists are totally against the use of emu oil, but there are plenty of individuals that are willing to eat emu meat and use emu oil as long as some reasonable practices have been employed during the farming process. Unfortunately, confirmations of such practices are scarce.
Although there are emu associations designed to establish quality control measures, the farm-to-finish nature of most emu oil sales means that there’s a lack of accountability when it comes to the actual treatment of the animals. Also, if the demand for emu oil exceeds the demand for emu meat, there may be serious waste involved during harvesting. If you have reservations about how this animal-derived product came to be, the use of emu oil may easily not be something you’re comfortable with.