Artikel Emu Oil

Aboriginoil Body and Hair Care, The Native Oil of Australia

Australia’s Native Oil A Personal Journey

Having seen a troupe of Aboriginal dancers at my home town of Gold Coast in Australia some years ago I determined that I wanted to master the didgeridoo. So I went and acquired my first didge and tried to derive a sound, any sound, which is a far more difficult challenge than what one would imagine! The still greater challenge once sound bites are emanating from your didge is to learn how to circular breathe. At this point of my journey to master this most primitive of musical instruments my family and friends intimated that I needed a teacher. Yes I acknowledged I needed a teacher but how would I find a teacher of didge in Australia’s version of Malibu Beach? This is when fate stepped in and within two weeks of recognising my need for a teacher I had a knock at my door and there on my doorstep stood the blackest, most magnificent aboriginal I had ever laid my eyes on! Indeed this was no ordinary Aboriginal, who’s assumed name was Jacko, he was a very talented and highly regarded musician and artist. Jacko’s own story is a true epic that held me spellbound for many hours as he recounted how he and all the children of his tribe were taken by the missionaries, when he was about the size of an 11 year old (he does not know his age), 2000km away to be raised by them and how he and two of his friends on that first night ran away in an attempt to return to their families. They traveled by night and slept through the day in the scorching heat of the Australian desert. These 3 young boys took two wet seasons to find their way back to their tribe in Arnhem Land. As a white, anglo saxon who’s tribe inflicted this pain on Jacko and his kin I was, to say the least, deeply ashamed! Still I could not stop marveling at this feat of survival by these children as I could not imagine my own 11 year old surviving a day in such extreme conditions! Jacko held no grudges and was most acceptant of the hand life had dealt him. He had got on with his life and was now actively promoting basic hygiene and health to the various Aboriginal communities spread across Arnhem Land. And yes I was taught how to circular breathe with my didge. The other lesson I had that day was the truly amazing healing properties of emu oil. The night before I had jumped a bonfire we had on the beach only to have one of my feet badly burnt by the coals. I had in fact received third degree burns and it was the general consensus that I needed to go to Hospital for medical attention! My view was that as I was a promoter and practitioner of holistic healing it was my duty to heal myself naturally – practice what I preach so to speak. Therefore I started using our Australian Aloë Vera and this greatly reduced the mind numbing pain I was experiencing! Jacko saw my injuries and shook his head! Almost magically he produced a small jar containing what appeared to be a white ointment and which he liberally slapped directly onto the burn. Instead of collapsing in pain, as I expected, I had immediate soothing relief Jacko handed me the jar and told me it was emu oil from his home and that he had made this oil himself and that I should keep the oil on my foot at all times not requiring any form of wrap or bandage. He advised me that emu oil had been used by his ancestors as a powerful healer I could not believe the difference the oil made to my injury and within ten days my foot was completely healed so much so that you are not able to tell where the burn had been. Unheard of for a 3rd degree burn!! This introduction to this most remarkable bush remedy commenced me on a path of research about emu oil and it has been a path of never ending discovery. A path I would like to share with you:

What is an Emu?

According to Messrs Whitehouse, Turner, Davis and Roberts of the University of Queensland Dept of Medicine and Princess Alexandra Hospital in a report featured in Inflammopharmacology.1998; 6: 1-8 “The Emu (bush chook), Dromaius (novae-hollandiae) is a free roving, large, flightless bird indigenous to Australia, now farmed in Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA. The native Aboriginals and early white settlers in Australia rubbed the liquid fat to facilitate wound healing and to alleviate pain and disability from various musculo-skeletal disorders” The Emu is member of the ratite family as is the ostrich of Africa. An adult bird (15 months old) weighs approximately 45 kg and can carry up to 10kg of fat. The bulk of the fat is found across the bird’s saddle of its back acting as a protectant from the harsh Australian sun. The Emu in nature stores up fat in its body in the summer months to give it a supply of energy for the winter breeding season during which it hardly eats and relies solely on its fat reserves. Adult Emus have amazing recuperative abilities from shock and wounds not normally witnessed in nature

Emu Oil Farming

When the Australian government allowed Emu to be commercially farmed it established guidelines for farming and processing which exceeds those found for any other agricultural operation in the country. After an initial authority to acquire minimal numbers of Emus from the wild to build up a breeding herd for the industry, restrictions were then placed on further use of wild birds. Research quickly established successful breeding technology to allow for exponential increase of numbers. On average each pair of Emus produces 20-30 chicks each year. The Emus used for breeding are given well grassed and shaded fields to allow them to roam and to segregate into breeding pairs. The Emu farms are operated to a quality assurance programme with strict standards on fencing, population areas, shading and animal hygiene. Each farm is first thoroughly soil tested for the absence of chemicals and insecticides which were commonly used by past generations. After incubation of the Emu chicks, they are raised separately to protect them from the natural elements and predators. Artificial heating is available in the first month of their growth. Their diets which are free from chemicals, varies during their growth, but consists of grasses, herbage and grain.

Emu Processing

Emu is processed just like any other commercially bred and raised animal. An important environmental point is that Emu oil is derived from Emus being processed for their meat and not for their oil in other words it is a by-product which would simply be wasted had an application not been developed for it. Processing facilities are controlled by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) who have their own qualified veterinarian at the processing facilities at all times to ensure the processing is carried out in a humane manner and that the plant is operated to HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) standards. Ante and Post mortems are carried out on all Emus during processing. During the processing the Emu fat, which is found mainly on the back of the Emu, separated from the meat by a thin layer of tissue, is removed and immediately frozen to minus 20C for short term storage. The rendering of the Emu fat into oil is a critical operation to ensure that the special natural characteristics of the oil are preserved. The oil rendering plant used by Australian Emu Industries, AEI, (one of the world’s largest producers of Emu products and exclusive suppliers to NNP and the Aboriginoil brand) is the only plant in the world that is operated under strict HACCP guidelines to ensure the final oil product is of a standard suitable for therapeutic and food grade oil. The fat at the rendering plant is inspected to ensure it is free of inert matter. It is then heated at the correct temperature to maintain its beneficial antioxidants and to melt fat into oil. The oil is stored in drums in a temperature controlled environment. Analytical tests are carried out to analyse the fatty acid composition of the oil as well as chemical and bacterial tests to verify quality. With respect to our Aboriginoil at no stage during the refinery process has our oil been subjected to temperatures exceeding 300F. The oil is sterilised by holding it at 300F in the absence of oxygen, light and reactive materials. Typical physical properties at 20C for Aboriginoil is a semi-solid white cream coloured mass. At 60C it is clear, slightly straw tinted liquid with effectively no odour.

What are the active ingredients of EMU oil?

We refer to the graph below and note that Emu oil is a unique, almost 100% triglyceride lipid, which is phospho-lipid deficient and therefore excellent for skin penetration. It contains Omega 3 and 6 with a composition of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) that mirror human skin! Analysis of our Aboriginoil Emu oil reveals the following fatty acid profile:

Major Fatty Acids Average Content in %
C 14:0 myristic 0.4
C 16:0 palmitic 20.0
C 16:1 palmitoleic 4.0
C 18:0 stearic 7.0
C 18:1 oleic 49.0
C 18:2 linoleic 14.0
C 18:3 linolenic 3.0

The oil of Emu is a rich source of natural vitamins, especially A&E as well as minerals, fatty acids, lecithin, natural anti-oxidants and other healing and health promoting ingredients As can be seen from the above fatty acid profile Emu oil contains fatty acids omega 3 & 6. The omega 3’s are in the form of linolenic acid (LNA C18:3 W3) which in the body naturally produces the other important fatty acids which are found in fish oil. In the October 1999 issue of Emu Today & Tomorrow Dr Leigh Hopkins consultant pharmacist and Clinical Professor of Pharmacy notes that one problem the Emu oil industry faces is coming up with explanations as to why the oil helps to alleviate various pathologies! Dr Hopkins states “And those more fundamental mechanisms are really basic nutritional mechanisms – fats that are in Emu oil. And the ratios of fats in Emu oil are critical to the normalization of the healing process. I don’t want to single out a single fat, that’s probably incorrect, it’s more the composition of fats in Emu oil (linoleic, oleic, palmitic, stearic, palmitoleic) or a ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats or some other relationship within all these fats rather than a specific fat in the oil. If it were such that it was a specific fat, there are a lot of ways to get those fats from other oils. But the ratio of those fats are likely to be important to the benefits we see with the oil”

Therapeutic and Cosmetic Properties of Emu Oil

The Australian Aboriginal people ascribed the following healing and protective powers to emu oil:

  • A burn treatment and liniment;
  • A skin protectant and sun screen;
  • A remedy for skin ailments;
  • An arthritis treatment and liniment;
  • A skin moisturiser;
  • An epithelialiser of wounds; reduces scar tissue and soothes swollen wounds.

Modern day research has validated these claims which we shall consider within the context of the various applications of Emu Oil.

Cosmetics – Skin Care, Anti-Ageing

A major US company has started using Emu oil in its range of cosmetics. According to this group the cosmetic industry has for decades created facial products with harmful, destructive qualities. They relate that products such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s), harsh abrasive cleansers, clarifiers and astringents, all cast off or strip away and dry out layers of skin. This group observes that “ Emu oil doesn’t tear down the skin, strip away the essential oils, or peel the epidermis. Also it has the ability to feed nutrition to the skin because it’s a soft tissue rebuilder. And as an excellent carrier, it can convey other product ingredients below the skin, so that they heal not only externally but internally as well. Their extensive product testing also revealed that not one person had had an allergic reaction, redness, irritation or blotches using Emu oil! One of the major drawbacks of using any oil in skin care or cosmetic applications is it’s common tendency to clog up pores and subsequently cause acne. Comedogencity (pore-clogging) testing of Emu oil was conducted by the Dermatology Dept, Occupational Dermatology Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical School in 1993. The results of that test were that “the oil is considered to indicate a substance that is unlikely to produce a comeodegenic response during human use and is therefore considered to be a negative result” Amazingly, despite the fact that it is an oil, Emu oil was demonstrated to be a non-pore clogging substance. The moisturizing and cosmetic properties of Emu oil were tested by Dr Alexander Zemtsov assistant professor in the Departments of Dermatology and Bio-Chemistry at Texas Tech University’s Health Science Centre. Dr Zemtsov found the most fascinating property of Emu oil was that it was highly penetrating – “What I mean by penetrating is that it goes through the skin barrier and directly onto the skin, which is very important both for cosmetic and pharmaceutical interests, because it can go through the skin barrier and carry active ingredients into the skin”. He further explained that he found Emu oil to also be a good emulsifier. He defined the emulsifying effect as blendability. In 1995 a patent under “Therapeutic Uses of Emu Oil” was awarded under US patent number 5,472,713 One of the most exciting findings elaborated on within the patent reveal that “stretch marks, such as those acquired during pregnancy, can be prevented by application of Emu oil. Additionally, application of Emu oil diminishes or completely erases existing stretch marks”. On the topic of ageing skin and Emu oil, Dr Michael Holick and James Kinney in Drug and Cosmetic Industry magazine in January 1996 asserted that “the ideal topical moisturiser that would help aging skin should have the ability to help reverse skin dryness and scaling by enhancing the ability of the skin’s upper layers to hold onto water. If the product could also penetrate into the epidermis and stimulate epidermal growth to rejuvenate it’s rete ridges and could enhance the thickness of the dermis, this product would be ideally suited to help the ravages of skin ageing.”. It was suggested that the oil’s unique ratio of C-16 and C-18 unsaturated components might explain the oil’s ability to moisturise and diffuse into the skin. Additionally “the stereochemistry of the C-18 oleic moiety is thought to play a dominant role in this rapid transformation of rough, dry skin to a smooth and healthy appearance”. Many exciting observations were noted throughout the preclinical study. One such observation noted that with Emu oil, the performance of sunscreen protectants was enhanced and it is believed that the oil locks down UVA/UVB absorbents more firmly to the skin and therefore increases the longevity of the sun protection properties. For masseurs an important point to note about Aboriginoil is that fact that it is non-castnergenic (ie an organi oil) allowing the oil to be thoroughly rubbed in to the inner layers of the skin.

Epithelialised Wounds

Emu oil has demonstrated scar reduction and anti-inflammatory action the benefit of which being that it speeds up the healing process from surgery and burns by reducing inflammation, preventing scarring and soothing pain. Another feature is that it is sterile and hence can be used on an open area on the skin, beneficial for reducing irritation in eczema, the scarring of keloids and has advantages for skin grafting Indeed Dr Hopkins notes about the use of Emu oil on deep wounds that “It’s very impressive when you see after a certain amount of time that you can have an essentially completely healed system – everything has been replaced, the muscle, the tendon, the nerves, the blood vessels, the skin – repaired and grown back. The very impressive ability of the oil is that it seems to encourage those systems to work in concert as they’re designed to do”.

Anti-inflammatory – Arthritis

Professor Peter Ghosh, Director of Research at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital has been conducting tests on Emu oil. He notes that “ Laboratory experiments have confirmed that Emu oil does have the ability to reduce inflammation of the joints. On that basis it is predicted that it will reduce the swelling and pain associated with arthritis” Professor Ghosh said the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in the oil were responsible for its anti-inflammatory effect. And unlike other drugs used in the treatment of arthritis, there are no known side effects. In a paper titled “Emu Oil(s): A Source of Non-Toxic Transdermal Anti-Inflammatory Agents in Aboriginal Medicine” Australian researchers M.W Whitehouse, A.G Turner, CKC Davis and MS Roberts , tabled a comparison between Emu oil and other oils that claim to have therapeutic value for inflammatory disorders as follows:

Type of Oil Arthritis Score
Aboriginoil 93
Emu Oil (Another Brand) 69
Rhea Oil 26
Lard Oil (Pig) 18
Fish Oil 15
Olive Oil 8
Flaxseed Oil 31
Evening Primrose Oil 31

Please note that Aboriginoil was tested at a date later than the other listed oils but at the same laboratory under identical conditions and protocols. The authors of the paper observed that “These results indicate that Emu fat is a relatively unique source for transdermal anti-inflammatory activity. Oils rich in – or -linolenates, eg flax/linseed, evening primrose, showed some modest activity. In world patent 92/08470 the inventors expressed their belief that the anti-inflammatory activity observed from the oil is due in part to the natural diet of the Emu, which consists of seeds, berries, grasses, plants present within the Australian Bush which would be expected to contain a large variety of carotenoids, vitamins, terpenes, sapogens, flavones and other naturally occurring bioactive compounds.

Ingesting Emu Oil

Research clearly demonstrated that the content of -linolenic acid (18:3) in the total triglyceride fraction varies notably from almost zero (many farmed birds) up to 20% (some feral birds), also reflecting significant influences of the basal diet on oil composition. Indeed some Emu farmers in Australia were reportedly feeding the birds nothing more than white bread which was generating Emu oil with absolutely no therapeutic benefit whatsoever. Australian Emu Industries therefore embarked on a breeding and feeding programme some 5 years ago to both capture the genetic stock of those wild birds producing the highest levels of anti-inflammatories as well as replicating the diet of the wild birds as previously mentioned. The birds are not intensively farmed and cooped up in small enclosures but rather are allowed to run free on broad acreages. The oil generated from these birds is what AEI encapsulates in their 1000mg capsules of pure Emu oil and has the highest levels of anti-inflammatories ever tested! Indeed another recent US patent 5,472,713 reveals that “Emu oil is therapeutically used in methods for lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and low density lipoproteins and increasing high. As part recognition and appreciation of the fact that the Australian Aborigines have proven the efficacy of Emu oil for a variety of medicinal applications over thousands of years and partly since we want to assist the health of Aborigines in remote communities, NNP is establishing a trust to be administered in Australia whereby a young Aboriginal will be trained in Natural and Alternative medicine. We undertake that 5p from the sale of each Aboriginoil product will be our contribution to this trust and making this dream a reality. Mike Lehman – June 2000