Showing posts with label Emu oil health risks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emu oil health risks. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Emu Oil: Is it Snake Oil or the Real Thing?

Emu oil is touted by many alternative health proponents as a virtual cure-all for external ailments. Of course, “snake oil” salesmen made bucu bucks in bygone days too, making extravagant claims. Now, however, we’ve got solid scientific research regarding the truth behind the emu oil claims. And the truth is … some of the claims are legitimate! … and many are not.

What is emu oil?


Let’s face it, would you buy a product labeled “emu fat”? Not likely. “Emu oil” sounds much more exotic but, in short, that’s all emu oil is – a rendering of the fat from the large flightless bird native to Australia, known as the emu.

When you buy emu oil on the market, it’s usually sold in a bottle, and marketed as a skin-penetrating ointment. Most of these products contain around 5 percent pure emu oil plus a few other ingredients,  which may include MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane), menthol, aloe vera, olive oil, or other oils.
Emu oil is also sold in a more pure form for taking by mouth, usually marketed as a cough syrup, as a way to improve your healthy cholesterol levels, or to promote weight loss.

What are the emu oil health benefits?


The health benefits of emu oil, according to its proponents, include treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, infections, eczema, prostate problems, Alzheimer’s, ulcers, cancer, gout, heart trouble, eliminating stretch marks, fingernail and toenail ailments, hair and skin dryness, windburn, burns from radiation therapy, hardening of the arteries, diabetes, gangrene, sunburn, rashes, hemorrhoids, poison ivy, insect bites, joint aches, muscle strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, shin splints, ear aches, shingles, bedsores, hemorrhoids, diabetic nerve pain, and more.


Other sellers claim that emu oil works as an antibiotic, pain reliever, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.  One seller even claimed that emu oil cures “sciatic nerve pain due to 'crushed vertebrae’.” The FDA recently cracked down on that one.

But is this bird fat all that phat? If all these claims were true, the high cost of emu oil might make it a bargain.  Which of these myriad claims hold up when examined by scientific methods? Let’s take a look.

Scientific research on emu oil benefits


Based on lab testing, the bulk of emu oil’s purported benefits cannot be substantiated. What the research shows fairly consistently however is that emu oil can be effective in the treatment of certain kinds of pain, burns, or inflammation. Example studies:
Trying to evaluate the emu oil health benefit claims on your own? Make sure the source provides links to the actual study results.  Many sites proclaiming proven results don’t do this, instead using language that claims that emu oil “is becoming widely used” … “has been praised for” … “has been heralded” … “has been proven to be” … “has been proven through many medical and research studies” – and all without links to verify, and not even providing details on who/when/where the “proof” is being proven. 

Emu oil health risks


For what it’s worth, applying emu oil externally seems quite harmless.  There are presently has no known negative side effects of emu oil, other than some patients experiencing a rash.

Should I buy emu oil?


If you’re thinking about buying emu oil, be prepared to shell out some bucks.  All products with emu oil listed as an ingredient will cost more than just about any other skin moisturizing products. One of the more pure emu oil products on the market (about 99 percent) sells for $12 for 2 ounces, another sells for $14, same amount, and yet another sells it’s 2 ounces for a whopping $18. 
Compare that 2 ounces to the smallest juice glass in your kitchen, which is probably 6 ounces, and you can see that your 12–to-18 dollars’ worth of emu oil won’t cover a whole lot of skin. But at least, thanks to the emu oil research, you’ll know that the emu oil you buy may have some anti-inflammatory properties.


Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer