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. kristy Avatar

    Thank you for trying to help us! Wow mean moms on here, watch out. I recently returned to work as a nurse, my hands are burning, extremely dry, and I have small cuts. I am assuming eczema vs contact dermatitis. I am hoping this may help me, but the link is for capsules, do you poke them and apply the oil or is there a oil you would recommend. Thanks again for all your help! You are amazing!

  2. Elizabeth Pickering Avatar
    Elizabeth Pickering

    I have been desperately unhappy with my diverticulitis disease, nothing seems to help and I’m always searching the internet for something new/different to help me and I came across a paper written by a professor saying Emu oil helps the colon! I did wonder at first if my conscious could let me use this oil but after thinking about it, I am not a vegetarian. I enjoy my chicken and sometimes a steak and plenty of fish so after weighing it all up I decided to try it. So far it has helped my bowels well, I’m regular and not pooing myself which is very distressing. I massage the oil round my tummy and have begun capsules,it’s the best thing I have found. Thank you Kate for bringing awareness and how Emu oil can help people, wish there was more people like you who can take all the controversy surrounding this oil as I’ve seen by some people, who have never had a serious illness, criticise the use of Emu oil without realising the benefits for health.

  3. Elizabeth Avatar

    I have serious diverticulitis disease (bowel disease) and I’ve been researching ways to help my condition and I came across an article that states Emu oil can help the colon and massaging on the tummy area can help too. I was reluctant to try this as it’s an animal product but I was so desperate to make me feel better I decided to it it and it has helped. Sorry folks but my health and peace of mind and peace of mind to my family is a priority. I eat chickens from a chicken farm as I am not vegetarian and I have no qualms about using this medication to help me. I also found it helps my eczema so I am happy

  4. Adelaide E DuBois Avatar
    Adelaide E DuBois

    I was once a hardcore vegan, and a member of a radical animal rights group. I now run a permaculture homestead, comprised of people, many animals, pasture, forest, and gardens. We strive for the good of the entire system, from pasture, to animal, to people. Having been on both sides of this arguement, I would say that we must understand all sides if we truly care for the well being of animals. No good is ever done by being hateful about what one strongly believes in. If you truly want to influence the world, it must be done in peace and a desire to understand. Hurling hateful mean comments at this good woman who’s blog this is will never accomplish your aims. I would encourage those of you who feel strongly about animal rights to emulate a peaceful vegetarian, such as Ghandi.

  5. Antonia Potter Avatar
    Antonia Potter

    I have no objections to emu oil amd appreciate this blog.

    However, one suggestion in the blog is to mix emu oil with eucalyptus oil. Not many people are aware that eucalyptus trees are going extinct due to overuse. This means the koala bear is going to go extinct. I love koala bears! I’m no holier-than-thou person, but I would just like to ask everybody to consider the adorable koala bear in your purchasing decisions and to consider not using anything with eucalyptus in it.

    Thank you so much! And God bless!

    1. Linda Schick Avatar
      Linda Schick

      My husband and I have used emu oil for several years. We massage it into our arthritic area, be it knee, back, shoulders, hands, even feet. We follow it by massaging a high grade CBD creme. We ran across people selling emu oil over 45 years ago and just picked it up again a few years ago. When we were first introduced to it we were told emu oil will penetrate deeper through the skin layers. I do believe that to be true since we have been using it to help relieve bone and joint pain. Thank you for this informative blog!

  6. Kara Avatar

    My daughter has had problems with itchy skin and eczema since she was a baby. She’d literally dig at her skin at night. I used emu oil on her and after the first application she was much better!! I am 46 years old and have been using it on my face. My skin looks so much better and have been getting compliments on it!

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