Emu Oil: Benefits & Uses for Skin and Body

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Emu Oil- Promising Benefits for Skin and Body
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Emu Oil: Benefits & Uses for Skin and Body

Hundreds of years ago, native Australian aboriginals figured out that oil from emu birds could help with wound healing as well as aches and pains. Today, emu oil is widely used for skin conditions like eczema and burns. Modern research may support this native remedy.

Unsure about supplementing with a bird oil? Read on:

What Is Emu Oil?

As the name suggests, this oil is extracted from the back fat of the Australian Emu bird (Dromaius novaehallandiae), a flightless bird native to Australia (similar to the ostrich). This back fat is then rendered and filtered like lard, producing a clear bright yellow oil with several healing properties.

All the Good Fats…

Emu oil contains all three types of omega fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9), which makes it an excellent fatty acid supplement. About 50% of its fat content is from monounsaturated omega-9 fat called oleic acid. This fat is also present in olive oil.

It also contains various natural healing compounds like antioxidants, carotenoids, flavones, polyphenols, and phospholipids.

Just as grass-fed beef has more nutritious fatty acids than grain-fed beef, the nutritional content of this oil varies based on what the emus eat. Today, some emu birds are farmed for oil and meat rather than wild caught. Because emu oil is readily absorbed into the skin, it is very important to get your emu oil from a reputable source.

Benefits of Emu Oil

Recent research and human clinical trials support the benefits of emu oil for overall health and for specific conditions. It is important to note that in most cases, the studies showed that it was effective, but not as effective as conventional medication for several conditions.

However, this natural oil doesn’t come with the same side effects as these medications. In many cases, it can be a great natural option to help manage symptoms either on its own or together with other treatments.

Emu Oil Benefits for the Skin

Topical use is well supported in research. Scientific studies and anecdotal reports both show emu oil’s potential to:

Fight Inflammation (Eczema, Dermatitis, and Psoriasis)

If you have ever applied this oil to your skin, you probably noticed that it is very light and absorbs very quickly. The fat content of emu oil allows it to pass easily through the outermost layer of the skin (called the stratum corneum). This is likely the reason people often use it for chronic inflammatory problems like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.

In patients with seborrheic dermatitis, emu oil may relieve itchiness, redness, and scaling.

Address the Internal Too!

Skin problems are often a sign that something is wrong inside, like food sensitivities, gut dysbiosis, or nutrient deficiencies. Conventional medications like steroids simply suppress the immune system. The symptoms are suppressed, but the root causes remain.

Emu oil can provide great relief, but it is still important to address the root cause to clear the skin.

Heal Wounds and Avoid Scarring

Many people find this oil very effective to support wound healing and reduce scarring. A 2015 study found that it promotes skin regeneration and reduces inflammation. Testing on animal wounds showed inconclusive results, and we still don’t have any human studies that confirm the effects of emu oil on a wound.

One 2016 study tested the effects of emu oil on the healing rate of burn wounds in mice. They found mice that receive this oil heal more slowly but have much less scarring compared to the control group. Another Chinese study tested emu oil on burn wounds of rats and found that emu oil is superior to betadine and liquid paraffin treatments.

Protect Nipples During Breastfeeding

A small clinical trial using emu oil on new breastfeeding mothers found that it is somewhat effective at relieving the pain from breastfeeding and keeping the nipple skin nourished. While this oil is helpful, the authors of this study erred on the side of caution and expressed concerns that more testing would be required to ensure that emu oil is safe for new mothers and babies before it is widely used for this purpose.

Stimulate Skin and Hair Growth

Emu oil can stimulate the regeneration of skin cells and hair growth in patients with health conditions that cause hair loss, including alopecia and chemotherapy. This use is the most widely documented with anecdotal evidence, though again, more research is needed.

Emu Oil Benefits for (Inside) the Body

Because emu oil contains many healing substances and can readily be absorbed, its health benefits are beyond skin-deep. Scientists have observed several anti-inflammatory benefits such as its ability to:

Relieve Arthritis

Applying this oil mixed with eucalyptus on the skin significantly reduces arthritis swelling in rats, especially compared with other oils like lard, fish oil, olive oil, and evening primrose oil. Therefore, emu oil may help with arthritis and joint pain in humans.

Reduce Gut Inflammation

Several studies show that emu oil is very healing to the gut, especially in cases of diseases like colitis and Crohn’s disease. Some specific benefits include:

  • Soothing gut ulcers and inflammation that are side effects of chemotherapy (tested on mice).
  • Reducing damage and inflammation in a rat model of ulcerative colitis when combined with licorice. Another study also found that emu oil alone can help with ulcerative colitis.
  • Protecting the gut from more ulceration when combined aloe vera in a Crohn’s disease model in rats.

Given that many of these chronic digestive health problems have a lot in common, it is likely that eating this oil might help with other diseases of inflamed gut as well. However, additional studies, especially in humans, are necessary to confirm this.

Balance Cholesterol

Olive oil is often recommended to help balance cholesterol levels. It is said to increase good cholesterol levels. This native oil contains many of the same beneficial fats and may have the same effect. A 2004 study found that hamsters fed emu oil had significantly better cholesterol and triglycerides compared to hamsters fed with olive oil.

A Note on Emu Oil for Sensitive Skin

The skin can absorb and make use of natural oils. For sensitive skin, animal fats are generally better tolerated than plant-sourced fats. This may be because animal fats contain fatty acids that are more similar to the fatty acids that are present in our skin. Emu oil is one of the most anti-inflammatory oils that the skin recognizes and readily absorbs.

Those who have eczema or very dry, itchy skin, may benefit from this natural oil. For additional moisturizing, it helps to mix it with tallow balm or a body butter. It is possible, however, to mix emu oil with other ingredients or even tallow for the best of both worlds.

Bottom Line (& What I’ve Tried)

This is certainly one of the more unusual remedies I’ve tried over the years. It isn’t mainstream, but I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it so I figured I’d share my experience. To be honest, I was reluctant to try this remedy for a long time … but I’ve known about it for over a decade.

In fact, in high school, a kid in my class used to talk about emu oil and how he used it in various ways. Back then, I just thought it was a little unusual (nice grown up way of saying what I really thought). To my surprise, years later I stumbled on open research supporting the benefits of this bird oil.

When one of my favorite companies started carrying a high quality emu oil, I decided to give it a try. It certainly isn’t the most effective or versatile remedy I’ve tried over the years, but I did notice that it is one of the few oils I can use externally without breaking out. I’ve been experimenting with it in lotions and other topical recipes and prefer to use it this way.

Have you ever tried emu oil? What did you use it for? Please share in the comments below!

Emu oil is quickly becoming known for its healing properties for gut health and skin conditions. Learn about the proven benefits of emu oil.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


116 responses to “Emu Oil: Benefits & Uses for Skin and Body”

  1. Melanie Avatar

    Dee, I agree completely! I wonder if emu oil helps with snarkiness? I am not vegetarian and do not feel one bit guilty about using animal products. Let the snark begin, you know you can’t help it. Clicking out of the site is so much harder than realizing we are all different and have different thoughts and opinions.

  2. Fiona Avatar

    Sandra, in order to take your comment seriously, you need to get hold of your anger issues. I’m sure there are helpful people in your city that can help you with your problem.

  3. Reni Avatar

    I’m wondering how much Emu oil I should put in a 2 oz. tin of body butter. I use 1/2 cup shea butter, 1/4 coconut oil, one teaspoon of vitamin E oil and now would like to add the Emu. Would you say more or less than a teaspoon of the oil would work?

    1. Carole Avatar

      Looking forward to what Katie suggests. My recommendation is to use at least a teaspoon of emu oil for the 3/4 cup of shea/coconut oil combo you are using as the emu oil is able to penetrate into the cells of the skin better than plant oils (due to it’s similar composition to human skin oil) so the more you can add the better the effects will be for the other ingredients.
      Be sure to use a high quality emu oil for the best results as I have found that they are not all equal. I am partial to Emu Joy. Look for a brand with AEA certification and from a US farm.

  4. Tesha Avatar

    First of all I’d like to thank Katie for all of her well researched information and would like to offer words of encouragement to keep up the great work even at the risk of controversy from the judgemental fanatics out there.

    Next, I’d like to mention as a First Nations person that was raised with traditional ethics and values in this modern world, we recognize that we are but one of many beings that share this beautiful Earth. We are reliant on the gifts that is provided by all of earth’s creatures, whether they be plants or animals for sustenance and medicines which is why we give thanks everyday that they are still here. Without their sacrifice of life, we wouldn’t exist.
    Emu like the deer, bear, maple trees, jewel weed, nuts and berries have their gifts. Their oil is a gift with all sorts of medicinal values (of which treating acne is one) and for this I am thankful.

    Thank you, Katie, for sharing this information.

    I’m wondering if emu oil is like bear oil and if there are any suggested recipes for them with herbs and essential oils.

    1. Karen Avatar

      Thanks, Tesha. Lovely sentiment, & that’s exactly how I feel toward the gifts of sustenance both plant & animal give us.

  5. Marty McKaskle Avatar
    Marty McKaskle

    I use an excellent Emu Oil that’s local. I live in Louisiana and the farmer that raises these birds is a friend. I’ve known him all my life (we live in a very small town), we go to the same church! His product is fantastic. I love Emu Oil!!

    1. LuAnn Avatar

      Marty, do you mind sharing the brand that you use? I’m looking for some to help with the pain from some neck and back issues, as well as arthritis. Thanks!

      1. Carole Avatar

        LuAnn, If Marty’s emu oil supplier doesn’t ship nationally, take a look at Emu Joy brand. It also comes from a small family run farm. The Banish My Pain salve might be a good option for you.

        1. LuAnn Avatar

          Thank you Carole, I will check it out!
          If I have questions about it’s uses, is there a specific person I can contact?
          And thank you for your thorough research Katie, please know that the vast majority of your readers really appreciate it!!

  6. Tanya S Avatar

    I came across Emu oil for the first time ever this past weekend at a farmers market. The lady selling the oil shared many pros to how the meat is non-acidic which is a plus for diabetics and for ppl who struggle with gout onset by red meat. While tallikg with her I was introduced to the Emu oil and now I’m incredibly curious on different ways that I can use this oil since I bought a small bottle. I’ve tried to find some recipes on how to incorporate this into blends, remedies, etc however I do not see too many posted. I do see lists posted on how it’s so helpful in healing due to its omega 3 content. Im currently using it as a face moisturizer and on my daughters cheeks since they’ve been pink and scaly since our Florida trip this summer and I’m considering mixing this with peppermint oil for relief for my husband’s back pain. Any other recipes that anyone can share?

  7. Olga Avatar

    Totally agree. In fact, it was after Noah’s flood that God gave permission to eat meat. So, if he allows it, nobody has to call it a sin.

  8. Olga Avatar

    You are going to an extreme. It is quite unpolite to talk this way, especially because she did a research that many of us appreciate. She is a human being. If you care so much about animals, which is very nice (I love animals), you need to treat people with more delicacy. I felt more offended reading your comments than reading the article.

  9. Tracey D Kendall Avatar
    Tracey D Kendall


  10. Mandi Avatar

    I use emu oil after I shave sensitive areas to avoid razor bumps. I also have psoriasis in my scalp and this is the only thing that really works in it.

  11. Fiona Avatar

    As long as the whole emu is used and the bird is humanely killed, I don’t have too much problem with using emu oil.
    Another poster mentioned that she was concerned that the bird was given respect and I think that’s a lovely comment.
    We are so involved in our own needs and supposed rights that we as humans think we can treat other living creatures with contempt and cruelty.
    (I am really biting my tongue on the stupid reasons people use this, though; you spend too long in the sun, it’s your own fault ….and don’t get me started on sore nipples!)

  12. Deborah Avatar

    When I had a breast reduction almost 20 years ago, my surgeon told me to get emu oil. I was instructed to put the emu oil on the skin once the surface healed and I was amazed at how incredible this was. The emu oil was so effective you can not tell that I had the surgery. It eliminated the scaring. I was very concerned having the surgery because of the scarring and having to have your nipples removed and sewn back on that would be some serious scars. I have had many mammograms where I had to tell the technician to note that I had a breast reduction so the internal scarring would be documented. The technicians have always been very surprised because I don’t have the usual scars.

    Over the years I have used emu oil for sunburns. The minute you realize you have a sunburn it is amazing. You put a liberal amount and let it soak into the skin. This takes away the sting as well as stops the pealing. To me it has been a miracle oil.

  13. Joan Avatar

    Thanks for featuring the s product. I bought the same brand at Autism One today and am interested to see Joe it my benefit me. It was also recommended for my sonwho is dealing with depression. Thanks!

  14. michelle Avatar

    Some of these comments are outrageous! That aside… my daughter’s hands get dry, bumpy, red, and swollen every winter because she is extremely sensitive to the cold. We have tried eliminating gluten and dairy without any luck. We tried so many oils and various natural treatments without much improvement. We read about emu oil this winter when she had a huge flare up that kept her home from school. Within 3 hours of applying it, the inflammation and redness decreased. By the following morning her hands look pretty much back to normal! I am beyond thankful! Any time we see signs of dry/red hands– the emu oil goes on and it always works! 🙂 I’ve read it’s great for eye wrinkles, but haven’t tried!

  15. Amy Avatar

    I first got some emu oil at the advice of the health food store lady when I was trying to find a better lotion for my best friend to use during radiation therapy. (FYI: Only a few are allowed, because many of the lotions interact with the radiation).

    BFF used it faithfully, and found that the burning side-effect of radiation didn’t show up until the last couple of treatments.

    Meanwhile, I’d had a skin cancer frozen off of my chest, and thought I’d better start taking care of my own skin. I found that emu oil helped me recover from sun exposure more quickly and just felt good and right when I used it – like it was meant to be. (I am a Northern European mutt by ancestry, my ancestors were dependent on animal products).

    I find that I need only a very tiny bit to cover a lot of surface area, so don’t blanch at the price – it lasts a long time.

  16. H-j Anderson Avatar
    H-j Anderson

    I’ve been using Enya Emu Oil Cream in the pump container for sometime now & have used it many years prior, in a squat container. I’ve found it to be extremely useful. My hands get so dry during the day, especially in cold weather, washing dishes & the laundry & the Emu Oil Cream is wonderful to get into my dry skin & make it so smooth & soft again. At the moment I am using it for vaginal dryness, as nothing else was helping. I am in my mid 60’s & am obviously low in estrogen & as I still enjoy being intimate with my partner, I’ve found that I often have a problem with pain & stinging, during & after. I have nothing but good things to say about Emu Oil Cream & I think everybody should get back onto anything natural, rather than going onto drugs & steroids to fix any problems. You are only creating more problems, if not at that time, then further down the track. I am into anything natural, even homeopathic drops, instead of taking drugs. They are not only better for my health, but there are no side-effects & they work a whole lot better & quicker than drugs, especially the painkiller drops. I cannot swallow tablets, let alone capsules & have always had trouble with trying to get rid of pain (extremely bad back from 2 slipped discs in same spot & horrific neck pain from whiplash on top of previous neck problem). The painkiller drops work so well & quickly & no upset stomach, or other problems that are associated with over the counter, or prescription so-called painkillers. I also got rid of asthma I’d had for years, via our Hilde Hemmes book & then a few months later, got rid of hayfever that I had had since I was 12 & was by this time in my 40’s. I cannot say enough about the wonder of natural remedies – it just takes a bit of investigating, searching & getting advice from experts & your health will be a whole lot better.

  17. Bea Avatar

    Dry eye may be due to gluten which may cause inflammation/swelling. Iodine may help. Gluten may hurt the thyroid also. Best wishes 🙂

  18. Mir Avatar

    Hi Katie, do you consider this safe to use on infants? I’d like to try it on my 12-week old who has some dry patches (I’m breastfeeding and off of dairy, sugar, yeast, caffeine, chocolate, oranges, refined grains…not sure what it could be from – she’s very congested too!)

    1. Sheila Avatar

      I have been using emu oil from Montana Emu Ranch for a couple years now, internally and externally, and have been using it on my 1 week old infant since she was 2 days old for her dry flakey skin. She loves to be massaged with it! Also, she unfortunately got a light sunburn on her cheeks yesterday, which I applied the oil to. It’s great for burns, and is the only oil I use on myself and kids (3 and 5) for any skin issue so far. Hope this helps.

  19. Bren Avatar

    To me, it smells somewhat like an oil that’s almost rancid – not quite rancid but on its way. However, the scent quickly goes away and there’s no after smell.

  20. Neelum Avatar

    HI ,

    Thank you for this post, I wanted to ask how is the oil extracted from the Emu – My concerns are cruelty and dis-honouring the animal, affecting it in anyway

    Warm wishes

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