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What is Emu Oil?
Emu oil comes from an emu! Emus are large, flightless Australian birds. They have been an invaluable resource for the Aboriginal people of Australia for thousands of years, providing soft feathers for clothing, jade green eggs for food, leather, jewelry, and of course oil. Taken from the fat of the bird, emu oil has many healing benefits being anti-bacterial, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory. Because of its properties the prospect of using pure emu oil for arthritis relief is being explored. Is this natural oil a viable treatment for swollen, painful joints? Is it safe, and how can it be used?
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How Does it Work?
Emu oil has been a traditional remedy for the indigenous people of Australia for healing wounds, burns, insect bites, and to reduce the swelling and pain from arthritis. Its primary benefit for this condition is its natural anti-inflammatory properties and high content of essential fatty acids. According to research done in China, when applied topically it does stop inflammation of the skin. A study done at the University of Massachusetts showed the same promising results.
Although emu oil is known to penetrate the skin easily, these studies only verified the benefits of reducing skin inflammation, not of reducing joint inflammation. There has been a study using emu oil on rats, topically and with injections. The results were positive for both injections and topical application, but as far as declaring emu oil as a natural remedy for arthritis, more research is needed.
So, does pure emu oil work for treating arthritis? According to animal studies, yes, although it seems that this substance is more effective for acute inflammation than for the chronic pain and swelling of a condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.
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Is Emu Oil Safe?
There are no known side effects of pure emu oil and it has been used in untraditional settings without reported problems. It is used as a massage oil, an ingredient in cosmetic products, and as a supplement for pain relief. While there are claims that this product is a treatment for myriad conditions from carpal tunnel syndrome to psoriasis, it is important to have realistic expectations and to use a natural product with insufficient testing responsibly.
Should you use pure emu oil for arthritis relief? There is no harm in applying this natural oil to the skin and seeing for yourself if it reduces your pain and inflammation. Be sure to find a high-quality product from a trusted source and talk to your doctor about all of your treatment plans. As far as supplementing with emu oil for the beneficial essential fatty acids, talk to a health care professional first or consider other more widely accepted sources of these fatty acids (which help to reduce inflammation) such as evening primrose oil, flax seed oil, or hemp seed oil.
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Emu Facts <http://www.emufacts.com/index.shtm>
Ludlam, Kerry. "Emu Oil a Natural Way to Reduce Pain." (Arthritis Today) <http://www.arthritis.org/emu-oil-a-natural-way-to-reduce-pain.php>
Wright State University <http://www.wright.edu/admin/fredwhite/pharmacy/popular_nremedies13.html>
photo by: Beatrice Murch (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmurch/2208032489/>