What is an emu?
An emu is an indigenous flightless Australian bird. The moment I read this description I thought of a chicken so I googled for images and voila – see the images that are part of this blog. It looks more like an ostrich than a chicken.
Where do they harvest emu oil from?
The emu bird’s back is made of a thick layer of fat (adipose tissue) designed to protect it from the Australian sun as well as cushioning during an attack.
When this fat is extracted it is distilled to remove proteins, bacteria and other particles leaving emu oil as it is commercially sold.
This is an important difference compared to all other oils I have ever used or written about – they are all vegetable oils,on the other hand, emu is derived from an animal.
What does emu oil look like?
The exact colour and consistency of emu oil depends on the bird’s diet.
It’s a white/off-white solid at low temperatures but quickly melts at temperatures above 22°C (72°F) to form a yellow liquid. The viscosity of emu oil at any given temperature varies depending on the diet of the bird it was harvested from.
According to online sources it’s:
- Bacterio-static meaning bacteria will not grow in it (this makes it last longer)
- Non-allergenic – meaning you’re very unlikely to get an allergic reaction to it
- Healing and soothing to sore muscles and joints
- Encourages re-growth of skin cells, and hair follicles.
For those that have thin or thinning hair the last benefit makes emu oil especially attractive. Unfortunately, many of the claimed benefits are empirical not scientific. Emu oil has not been scientifically tested rigorously enough to make the claims therefore its risks and benefits are currently not that well understood.
The biggest proponents of emu oil’s health benefits sell it so it’s hard to tell how genuine their claims are.
Emu oil has been fraudulently promoted as a health supplement when it shouldn’t be due to a lack of data backing up claims of any health benefits. According to the FDA website, “FDA determined that a pure emu oil product marketed to treat or cure a wide range of diseases was an unapproved drug. Its marketer had never submitted to FDA data to support the product's safe and effective use.”
Should you try emu oil on your hair and skin?
Why not? It probably won’t do you any harm so it could be worth a try to see whether your hair benefits from it.
As with any oil, you would have to use it for a few months to notice a difference, if any.
Where can you get emu oil?
There are a variety of online sources selling it but I can’t prove how genuine their emu oil is.
If you’ve ever used emu oil and have an opinion on it, please share!
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