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).
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
Snowden JM, Whitehouse MW. Anti-inflammatory action of emu oil. Inflammopharmacology. 1997;5(2):127–32.
Whitehouse MW, Rainsford KD, Taylor RM, Vernon-Roberts B. Zinc monoglycerolate: a slow-release source of zinc with anti-arthritic activity in rats. Agents Actions. 1990;31:47–58.
Rofe AM, Whitehouse MW, Bourgeois CS, Haynes DR, Vernon-Roberts B. Prevention of adjuvant-induced cachexia in rats by cyclosporine-A. Immunol Cell Biol. 1990;68:63–9.
Haynes DR, Gadd SJ, Whitehouse MW, Mayrhofer G, Vernon-Roberts B. Complete prevention of the clinical expression of adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats by cyclosporine-A and lobenzarit. Inflamm Res. 1996;45:159–65.
About this article
Cite this article
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