What is emu oil?
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.
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
- In a 2013 study, emu oil appeared to improve the efficacy or delivery of other proven skin treatments, such as cortisone and clotrimazole.
- A 1999 study showed that emu oil promoted wound healing and improved recovery of damaged skin.
- A 1977 study showed positive anti-inflammatory activity of emu oils in rats, being as effective as orally administered Ibuprofen.
- In another study, emu oil demonstrated anti-inflammatory efficacy and burn healing effects when emu oil was applied topically on wounds in scalded rats.
- This clinical trial compared emu oil with hydrocortisone, and showed that, though both worked, the hydrocortisone was more effective as an anti-inflammatory.
- A 2007 study showed 100% pure emu oil as effective in treatment of burn injuries.
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
Should I buy emu oil?
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.