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  Emu Oil - A Closer Look  

Can a flightless bird from Australia solve your hair loss problem?

Sounds a little far fetched? Well it may not be, we did some research into the latest Emu Oil craze and came up with some really compelling reasons to use it.


First a little history about Emus and their oil.

The Emu is a large flightless bird found only in Australia. It's approximately 5 to 6 feet tall and weighs 80 to 100 lbs. and is the second largest bird in the world after the ostrich. It has a long neck and long legs and can run very fast and also swim. Emus are bred for their meat, which is a low fat alternative to beef. One of the by-products is Emu Oil. The oil is derived from the fat on the Emu that exists on their backs between the leather and meat. This fat is much like lard and is taken for rendering and further finishing stages when the emus are processed. Once its been processed it is refined to remove any trace of smell and organic substances. The refined Emu Oil can vary in color from a creamy white to a yellow color.

The native aboriginal people of Australia used Emu Oil for thousands of years to gain relief from minor aches and pains, to help heal wounds quicker, and protect their skin from harsh elements of the wind and sun. They hung emu leathers out in the hot sun and the oil was collected as it dripped out. There are even reports of Captain Cook using Emu Oil and it has also been used as cooking oil, as burning oil in lamps and for softening and protecting leather.

The medicinal use of Emu Oil was among many natural remedies adopted by settlers from the original inhabitants of Australia, in the treatment of bruised tissue, burns and dry skin problems. As early as 1860, a London academic publication described how the Aboriginal people and early Australian settlers used Emu Oil to heal wounds, reduce pain and relieve various muscular disorders.

Through recent research funded by Emu farmers, Emu oil has reemerged into the spotlight as more people seek natural cures for many of today's ailments. Unfortunately this has also caused some unethical sellers to make all kinds of unproven claims about Emu Oil including touting it as a cure for cancer and AIDS. In the FDA Consumer magazine November-December 1999 issue, they warn of Emu Oil being promoted as a cure all for many different types of ailments. This unfortunately has given some people the misconception that Emu Oil is a snake oil.

However there are ethical sellers of Emu Oil who don't make unfounded claims and who are interested in funding scientific studies to prove the various benefits ascribed to Emu Oil. Neil Williams, President of The American Emu Association gave the following reply in response to the FDA article on Emu Oil.

"As president of the American Emu Association, representing more than 1,000 Emu producers, I know that the company making these claims is not a member of the American Emu Association and your example is certainly not representative of our industry. In fact, our producers take every precaution against making claims about any emu product. We see the claims you used--of curing a wide range of unrelated diseases--as irresponsible, and the personal testimonial about Alzheimer's disease is abhorrent to us."


Participate in our user discussion and give your feedback and opinions!

Answer our user poll which asks:

Q: Are you going to start using Emu Oil?


So while some people have made false claims about Emu oil and its properties there are other responsible scientists who have done legitimate research on Emu Oil. Some of their finding have attributed the following benefits to Emu Oil; its an anti-inflammatory; promotes wound healing; enhances penetration of other compounds through the skin. In addition to this many people have claimed it has helped them with hair growth, dandruff, eczema, scar reduction and improving the overall quality of the skin.

So how and why does Emu Oil work?

According to scientific analysis of Emu oil, it is made up of 70% unsaturated fats, with approximately 50% Oleic Acid, up to 20% Linoleic acid ( Omega 6) and up to 2% of Linolenic ( Omega 3). All of these are deemed as Essential Fatty Acids with each having its own beneficial properties for the skin and body. Oleic acid and linolenic acid are both known to have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, studies have shown that the fatty acid composition of Emu Oil contains a unique ratio of C-16 saturated and C-18 unsaturated components. This gives it a unique ability to penetrate deep into the skin, reaching tissues faster than most other topically applied products.

According to Revivogen co-founder Dr Alan Shargani:

"We know from Liao studies that C18 fatty acids are the most potent inhibitors of 5 alpha reductase, with Gamma Linoleic Acid being the most potent and Oleic being the least potent as far as inhibition. Since only 0.01% of Oleic acid in Emu Oil will be in the free form the DHT inhibition is not even a factor here and very unlikely to be responsible for the claimed positive effects."

On the other hand Oleic acid, GLA and ALA have very potent anti-inflammatory properties that are also documented in other studies involving Emu Oil, Borage oil, and Flax seed oil, which are also reach in these fatty acids. Therefore if the claims of positive effects for Androgenetic Alopecia are true then they are most likely due to the anti-inflammatory properties of these fatty acids and not 5 alpha-reductase inhibitory properties

Dr Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, conducted a study involving Emu Oil, and the results were so outstanding that they quickly became a topic of conversation in many medical and other journals.

"We found that there was about a 20% increase in the proliferative activity, or the growth activity of the skin in the animals... " said Dr. Holick. "And when we looked at the hair follicles, and the thickness of the skin, it showed that the hair follicles were much more robust, and that the skin thickness was remarkably increased, suggesting... the stimulation of skin growth and hair growth in these animals. Also, we discovered in the same test that over 80% of hair follicles that had been asleep were woken up, and began growing hair."

Dr Hollick applied for and was awarded two patents for Emu Oil under the title "Use of Emu Oil for stimulating skin and hair growth." In the US Patents 5,958,384 & 5,744,128 the following description is given:

"The present invention is directed to the discovery that topical or parenteral administration of Emu Oil to a mammal stimulates the proliferation of skin. Emu oil can be used to treat skin wrinkles and rejuvenate aged and photo-damaged skin. It has also been discovered that Emu Oil can be topically applied to stimulate melanogenesis in the skin and to stimulate hair growth. Thus, Emu Oil is useful to treat pigmentation disorders such as hypopigmentation, stimulating melanogenesis to enhance skin tanning, and treating disorders relating to disturbances in hair cycling such as Alopecia, male pattern baldness, female baldness, and chemotherapy-induced Alopecia."

It is believed that Dr Hollick will soon begins studies on human test subjects for hair regrowth using Emu Oil based substances.

There are already people who have begun experimenting with Emu Oil. Here are some unsolicited testimonials taken from Internet discussion forums.

"I jumped on the Emu Oil bandwagon late last December. Although it's too early to draw any conclusions yet, I have made a few observations I thought I'd share. The most striking is that I see virtually no dandruff anymore. Since my dramatic thinning in 1999, whenever I run my hands through my hair little white flakes would precipitate down like an October snow flurry--even after I started shampooing with Nizoral 1%."

"Well if people are reporting regrowth with the use of both Emu Oil and minox then dont give all the credit to minox because im using Emu Oil alone and growing hair..."

"I've been on Pickart's (expensive) Emu for 3 1/2 months and have had as much new vellus growth -especially near my temples and crown as when I began Propecia and Xandrox. The temple area regrowth is from hair loss over 12 years old. I have no idea how or why it works and it is theoretically possible I would have experienced this "spurt" without Emu. However, I've been a fast responder to all of the various treatments and it seems unlikely. In addition, I can report that beginning DAY One on Pickart's Emu, the "green flaking" and itching from the propylene glycol in Xandrox (and folligen) decreased about 90%. This may be due to the tocopherol's included in Pickart's Emu and not the Emu itself."

So its clear that even though Emu Oil has not yet been tested for hair growth, it does have some very beneficial properties for hair loss sufferers and is a worthwhile addition to any hair growth routine. Emu Oil, because of its anti-inflammatory properties, may be the ideal Rogaine chaser that can be applied afterwards to minimize the scalp itchiness that some people experience. There is also evidence that Emu Oil enhances the penetration of drugs through the skin and the anti-inflammatory properties are extremely valuable in themselves. If you are applying Emu Oil we suggest applying it at night because it is oily and should be washed out in the morning.

So what kinds of Emu Oil should you get and how much does it cost?

Emu Oil is obtained from the fat of the Emu and is an all-natural substance. When processed, the fat is taken through a series of steps to refine, sterilize and deodorize it. Not all Emu Oil on the market is "refined" so consumers should beware. Some forms of Emu Oil are simply "rendered"; this means the oil has only been filtered, and may contain contaminants. Always ask for "refined" or "pure" Emu Oil.

Emu Oil is fairly inexpensive and the cost varies from site to site and store to store, but typically the cost of Emu Oil is:

1 oz (29ml) Pure Emu Oil $4.95 - $8.95
2 oz (59ml) Pure Emu Oil $8.95 - $15.95
4 oz (118ml) Pure Emu Oil $18.95 - $21.95


So after much research we feel that Emu Oil is a cheap and useful hair loss treatment, either used on its own or in combination with other products like Rogaine. In addition its proven scientific benefits make it a safe and valuable addition to any hair loss treatment program.

  Emu Oil Analysis
  Emu Patent 5,744,128
  Emu Patent 5,958,384
  Study on cosmetic properties of emu oil
  Study on wound healing by emu oil lotion
  FDA Consumer Magazine (PDF)
  OTHER RESOURCES (opens in new window)
  American Emu Association - ( Sells several types of Emu Oil)
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