While there are many oils and ointments available to treat a variety of health conditions, one many people probably haven’t heard about is emu oil.
In simple terms, emu oil is a natural anti-inflammatory that is beneficial for health because it is high in menatetrenone (MK-4) – a potent form of vitamin K2 and vitamin D3. This provides relief to a range of inflammatory-based conditions including arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, muscle aches and joint stiffness and can be consumed or applied to the body externally.
Speaking to Starts at 60, brand manager for emu oil brand Emu Spirit Misa Ton explained that in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, emu oil can also assist those living with skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, cuts, blisters, burns and rashes. Because it is also rich in omega 3, 6, 9, as well as Vitamin A, E, K and D, it can also boost general well-being and help keep hair glossy, make skin radiant and make nails healthier.
Omega 9 (also known as oleic acid) is found in emu oil and helps transport bioactive compounds into the skin that allows the oil to absorb quickly when applied to the body’s surface. Omega 6 (linoleic acid) helps boost skin health when applied to the body as can reduce the appearance of skin conditions such as sun spots or ageing, while omega 3 (linolenic acid) is known to reduce inflammation, boost brain health and assist with growth and development.
There’s been scientific studies both in Australia and around the globe to back up the health benefits. For example, research published by Victoria University found that osteoarthritis sufferers who consistently ingested or topically applied emu oil may be effective in reducing pain only after three weeks. Another study, led by researcher Thom Leahey of the Arthritis Clinic in Ardmore, found that emu oil may substantially reduce the pain caused by arthritis. In a two week, double blind, placebo controlled study of arthritis patients, seven of 12 reported significant reduction of pain, swelling and morning stiffness compared to one of eight mineral oil (placebo) users.
“The best way to describe emu oil is it is a natural anti-inflammatory action,” Ton said. “Inflammation has been found to be an underlying cause in conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, eczema and psoriasis. Therefore, emu oil may help to provide relief in inflammatory-based conditions to relieve arthritis pain and eczema.”
The oil can also assist when it comes to boosting the immune system. It contains vitamin A, which helps fight common conditions such as colds, coughs and flus, while it can also assist those experiencing an allergy flare up. For example, placing it around the nose can sooth pain and congestion caused from frequent nose blowing, while applying it to the chest, throat or sinuses can provide relief for those with respiratory allergies. Many people also opt for emu oil as an alternative for fish oil, due to its high levels of essential fatty acids and vitamins.
There are also cosmetic and therapeutic benefits of using the oil, mainly because it contains fat lipids similar to those found in the top layers of the skin. The oil is easily absorbed into the skin and penetrates deep within the skin’s surface. It is also bacteriostatic, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria.
“It has a low chance of causing skin irritation and it won’t clog your pores,” Ton explained. “Therefore, it has been used extensively in treating burn wounds and discomfort caused by skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.”
As it name probably suggests, emu oil is 100 per cent emu oil extracted from emus. It typically has a shelf life of three years and while there are no known reactions with other medications, it is always advised to talk with a GP or health professional before using.
“As a part of our rigid quality control process and strict requirement of the TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration], we must conduct a thorough analysis of every batch of oil we produced,” Ton said. “A typical analysis shows that our emu oil is rich in Omega 3,6,9 and Vitamin A, E, K and D.”
Emu oil can typically be found at chemists, pharmacies and health stores.