The ‘oil’ obtained from emu fat can be a very effective inhibitor of chronic inflammation in rats when applied dermally (with a skin penetration enhancer). Assays for this activity using the adjuvant-induced arthritis model have shown:
Considerable variability in potency of some commercial oil samples;
Little or no correlation of activity with colour or linolenic acid (18:3) content of the oil;
Relative stability of some active oils (to heat, ageing at room temperature);
The bulk of the anti-inflammatory activity was present in a low triglyceride fraction; and
Potential arthritis-suppressant/immunoregulant activity of these active fractions.
These studies point to the need for more rigid quality control before considering such a (now proven) traditional medicine as a complementary therapy.
Repeated applications of selected oils did not induce any of the more prominent side-effects associated with NSAIDs (e.g. platelet inhibition, gastrotoxicity) or certain anti-arthritic drugs (proteinuria, leukopenia).
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Snowden JM, Whitehouse MW. Anti-inflammatory action of emu oil. Inflammopharmacology. 1997;5(2):127–32.
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Whitehouse, M.W., Turner, A.G., Davis, C.K.C. et al. Emu oil(s): A source of non-toxic transdermal anti-inflammatory agents in aboriginal medicine. Inflammopharmacol 6, 1–8 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10787-998-0001-9
- emu oil
- Aboriginal medicine