Emu Oil: It Has Certain Benefits But Doesn't Live Up to the Hype

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Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits of emu oil.

If you're a fan of Oprah or enjoy reading beauty blogs, chances are you have heard of emu oil.  It has been touted as a treatment for rosacea, thinning hair, arthritis, wrinkles, scars and as an overall moisturizer.

As is often the case, though, the hype has been coming out a lot faster than actual scientific research and the early research is showing that emu oil often has not been living up to the claims made by those who sell it.

What is Emu Oil?  Emu oil comes from the fatty tissues of Australia's native bird.  Aborigines have been using it for thousands of years, originally as a treatment for wounds simply by wrapping the emu's fat supplies around damaged skin and allowing the oils to get absorbed into it.

Truthfully, emu oil does offer some benefits for the skin:  It contains both oleic and linoleic acid; It makes a superb moisturizer as it does get absorbed very thoroughly into the skin; It also has both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which may be why the Aborigines used it on wounds. In this regard, emu oil can offer some relief to sufferers of rosacea.  Those who have used this as a stand-alone product over several months have reported that their rosacea tends to burn less and seems less dry and flaky.  Others have also noted that they seem to have a slight reduction of inflammation in their skin. 

I have spent months using emu oil as a moisturizer.  Again, in this regard, it does seem to do quite well.  I have used it on dry, flaking and chapped lips and had seen almost immediate improvement.  With regular use, it also appears that my lips appear a bit fuller.  At the same time, this can be said for almost anything which keeps lips moist over time and I have had better luck in that regard with other over-the-counter lip moisturizers.  I sometimes get slight scaling under the eyes which emu oil helps to alleviate.  Apart from that, I have found little use for it as a treatment for arthritis, wrinkles or any of the other things emu oil has been said to help or cure. 

Independent, scientific studies have not found that it can back up the claims for treating wrinkles or for the overall improvement of skin quality or texture.  Some emu oil advertisements have claimed that it can clear up fine lines and wrinkles immediately after use as it plumps the lines.  Having a few very fine lines which are noticeable only in direct sunlight, I have found absolutely no improvement on those fine lines even after months of use.  Sadly, this again seems to be a case of hype versus reality.

Overall, there are some benefits to emu oil which I feel should not be overlooked.  I use it as a moisturizer for severely dry skin and would consider using it on a minor cut or irritation, or even as a massage oil.  As emu oil is added to other cosmetics, it is certainly possible that having it in addition to other ingredients may have some definite cosmetic value.  As a standalone product, though, it seems best to go with the research rather than the claims of the advertisers, especially as the cost can run higher than many other, more thoroughly researched products.  On-line, emu oil often runs $15-$20.

If you appreciated this article, you may also wish to read:  Camellia Oil:  A Multi-purpose Oil with Many Health and Beauty Benefits and Baby Oil and Mineral Oil, the Dangers Every Parent Should Know.

Thank you.

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