The Emu


The Emu produces a layer of fat that surrounds its body much like a saddle blanket. It averages about two inches or so thick on the back and its composition is impacted by diet. You literally are what you eat and the anti-inflammatory and healing properties can be enhanced or degraded by diet. All fats of animals and plant seeds occur naturally as triglycerides that consist of three free swinging fatty acid molecules hooked to a glycerol backbone. The natural "physical state of emu fat does not subscribe totally to the normal definition of 'animal fat' and it shares much in common with some of the seed oils such as cottonseed, palm oil and soybean oil". At room temperature, the natural oil is a semi-solid that will separate into three parts.

Emu Oil Benefits

Laboratory experiments and analysis of emu oil in Australia and in the US have confirmed that emu oil has the ability to reduce inflammation of the joints. Emu oil naturally contains a high level of linoleic acid, (a substance known to ease muscle ache and joint pain) and oleic acid, which provides a local anti-inflammatory effect.

Emu Oil Properties benefits

Emu oil has been documented to exhibit the following properties and benefits and/or has been used for the following purposes:

  • anti-inflammatory activity
  • moisturising
  • cholesterol reduction
  • bacteriostatic
  • penetration enhancer
  • significant epidermal proliferative activity
  • non-comedogenic
  • significant wound healing agent
  • significantly reduces recent keloid scarring
  • appears to promote faster healing of burns with less pain and scarring
  • anti-arthritic activity
  • excellent emulsifier
  • excellent for hair and face care

Research Studies

A number of studies have been conducted and are currently being conducted throughout the world on many facets of the emu oil, including its composition, benefits, applications in different industries and the resulting properties of compounds formulated with the oil. The following reviews information on some of the current research and completed studies that have been conducted on emu oil.

Clinical Usage and Property Evaluation

Clinical appraisal of this natural and long used product in Australia report that emu oil has been frequently tested by government and private laboratories, indicating no steroids, hormones or even bacteria when suitably treated. Discussions with the Aborigines in Wiluna and elsewhere, says the report, have determined that the methods of treatment used by natives for the treatment of muscle and joint pain included hanging an emu skin on a tree to collect the oil, and wrapping sufferers in a freshly killed skin. The heat of the sun was used to liquefy the emu fat and enhance its absorption qualities.

From clinical experience with emu oil, it became obvious that its two major actions were its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to penetrate the skin. It also appears to provide some solar protection.

The penetrating effect appears to be related to its non-phosphorous composition. 

"Our skin is phospho-lipid deficient. In other words, there is no phosphorous in our skin. If you put anything on your skin that has phosphorous in it, your skin is 'programmed' to keep it from penetrating. Anytime you put anything on your skin that is phospholipid deficient, or has no phosphorous, it penetrates right through."

Researchers who have analysed the oil found that there is a compound in oil that they believe is the key to its effectiveness. This compound molecule is believed to be collagen. Collagen is found in chickens and turkeys in a very diluted form. However, the test results on the emu oil show this molecule to be present in an extremely concentrated form.

Emu oil has also proven to be a good emulsifier. Most creams, analgesics, lotions, and hair shampoos on the market today are all water-based products. Creams do not leave an oily film on the skin and that non-oily feel is what people want. However, a cream does not penetrate the skin barrier. An ointment will penetrate the skin, but leaves a greasy feeling. Emu oil provides the best of both products since it has the penetrating effects of an ointment and the fading effects of a cream.


Results of usage in three areas are summarised as follows:


  • Emu oil is sterile and hence there is no concern with using it on any open area of the skin.
  • Eczema - Emu oil and creams made of emu oil reduce irritation and inflammation of the skin.
  • Keloids (fibrous tissue) - significantly reduce recent keloid scarring.
  • Burns - appears to promote faster healing with less pain and scarring.
  • Donor sites in skin grafting - reduced pain and less scarring.


  • Joint Pain - reduced pain, swelling, and stiffness most evident where the joint is close to the skin surface, such as hands, feet, knees and elbows.
  • Bruising and muscle pain - significant benefit to recent bruising and muscle pain where injury is relatively superficial. Significant reduction in sports related muscle strain with post-exercise oil massage.

Recent Wounds:

  • Epithelialized Wounds - reduced scar tissue formation, soothing of wounds after surgery by anti-inflammatory action.
  • Research is now taking place for the use of emu oil in reducing burning on the skin through radiation treatment.

Excerpts from: Emu Oil, Re-examining a Natural Remedy with Today's Technology. Compiled by Sherrie Schatz/Sheree Lewis 1996. Emu Today & Tomorrow LLC.