Emu oil may cut bowel cancer

Cathy O'Leary – Medical Editor – The West Australian, 1 May 2014

Groundbreaking Perth research is investigating whether taking emu oil capsules could help cut bowel cancer rates.

Dr Suzanne Mashtoub, of the University of WA's school of medicine and pharmacology, is being awarded a $25,000 Early Career Investigator grant by Cancer Council WA to test if the natural remedy could treat bowel diseases that can lead to cancer. Dr Mashtoub, a National Health and Medical Research Council post-doctoral research fellow, is believed to be the only researcher in the world looking at using emu oil as an internal treatment for bowel diseases. She said Aboriginal people had used emu oil for thousands of years to provide relief from pain, and research had shown the benefits of applying emu oil to the skin to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

"We know it has anti-inflammatory benefits when applied topically, so with inflammation in the intestinal tract we thought if we apply it orally, then we might see the same beneficial effects on the inside as well as the outside," Dr Mashtoub said. "We'll look at whether emu oil can reduce inflammation and repair damage in the bowel caused by ulcerative colitis, and subsequently monitor if we can prevent the development of bowel cancer." The laboratory-based research is expected to be finished by early next year. Dr Mashtoub hopes clinical trials will not be far off, particularly because emu oil capsules are already approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and readily available. The aim would be to give emu oil to people who had inflammatory bowel disease to help prevent it progressing into cancer. The grant is part of almost $3.2 million in research funding the Cancer Council will announce tomorrow.


Cholesterol Trial

ScienceDirect – Nutrition Research – Volume 24.1 Issu~, June 2004, Pages 395-406


The comparative cholesterol lowering and anti atherosclerotic properties of emu oil and olive oil were evaluated in four groups (n = 8) of hamsters fed a non-purified diet containing either 10% coconut oil crude and refined, emu oil, and olive oil and 0.05% cholesterol (wt/wt) for 8 weeks. Hamsters fed the olive and emu oil diets had significantly lower concentrations of plasma total cholesterol (- 31 %, and -25%; P < 0.05, respectively) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (-50%, and -41%; P < 0.05, respectively) compared to the coconut oil-fed hamsters, with no significant differences in plasma high- density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) or triacylglycerol (TAG) concentrations. Compared to the coconut oil fed animals, hamsters fed the emu oil and olive oil-containing diets had reduced aortic cholesterol ester concentrations (-20% and -60%, respectively). The present study suggests that compared to a diet containing coconut oil, both emu oil and olive oil are capable of reducing aortic early atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic hamsters.


Osteoarthritic Hand Pain

Ray Power B.Sc (Clin.Sc), Melainie Cameron B.App.Sc (Ost), M.H.Sc (Research) Victoria University


Objective of trial was to establish the effect of emu oil applied topically or ingested, on grip strength, tenderness and pain on people with osteoarthritic hands. The results suggest that emu oil may be useful in the management of pain in people with OA of the hands. Clinically, practitioners are advised to forewarn clients that improvements might not be observed for the first 3 weeks of treatment.


Muscle Soreness

Technology Investment Corporation P/L (TIC), Report, March 2008


Aim of trial was to investigate the effectiveness of pure Emu oil for relieving muscle soreness in a human model and to compare the effectiveness of Emu oil with a conventional anti-inflammatory “over the counter” (OTC) product.

It was concluded that both Emu Oil and Piroxicam (NSAID) displayed a significant reduction in pain and soreness over the first 3 hours of application compared to when „no treatment‟ was applied. Emu oil is shown to provide a more immediate response within the first hour of application compared to the NSAID.

Emu oil displayed a more sustained and continued benefit throughout the period prior to re- application, whereas the effect of the NSAID immediately diminished after 3 hours and continued to reduce in effectiveness until re-application at the 46 hour mark. It was concluded from the chart that Emu oil was at least, equally effective in the reduction of muscle soreness and inflammation to the NSAID while exhibiting a more prolonged and continued treatment without the potential adverse side effects of the NSAID (see next page). Furthermore, it was concluded that Emu oil provides substantial benefit compared to no treatment at all.


Biological Activity of Emu Oil

Robert Nicolosi, Subbiah Yoganathan, Thomas Wilson, Jajime Sasaki University of Massachusetts Lowell and

the Forsyth Institute, presented at AOCS, May 2001


Emu Oil is derived from the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), which originated in Australia. While many therapeutic benefits have been attributed to emu oil ranging from wound healing, antiinflammation as well as anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity, there have been no published reports of these benefits. This presentation will report of the cholesterol lowering, anti-inflammatory and transdermal delivery properties of emu oil.

For the cholesterol-lowering studies, hamsters were fed chow-based diets containing either 10% coconut oil or emu oil with 0.05% cholesterol for 4 weeks. Compared to coconut oil, hamsters fed emu oil had 25% lower levels of plasma non-HDL-C and a 27% increase in HDL-C (p<0.05).

For the anti-inflammation studies, the auricular areas of mice were treated with either 2% croton oil (pro-inflammatory oil) or emu oil. Auricular thickness and ear plug weights were significantly reduced 42% and 71%, respectively, in the emu oil treated mice. The cytokines IL-1 and TNF-alpha from homogenates of ear tissue were also significantly reduced 83% and 66%, respectively relative to the croton oil.

For the trans-dermal delivery system studies, five topical applications of emu oil containing delta tocopherol at ratios of 1:1,5:1, and 10:1 were applied to the shaved dorsal surface of hamsters. The 1:1 ratio of delta tocopherol to emu oil was also compared to stripped corn oil. At one hour, 1,2,3, and 7 days post-application, blood samples were taken for plasma analyses of delta tocopherol by HPLC. The different dilutions of delta tocopherol with emu oil applied topically showed a dose response reduction in plasma delta tocopherol. Compared to stripped corn oil, plasma from hamsters topically treated with emu oil had 2-4 times greater plasma levels of delta tocopherol suggesting more efficient trans-dermal delivery with emu oil. The active components of emu oil responsible for these biological activities remain to be determined.


Influence of Emu Oil on Skin Thickness in Older Individuals

Nicholas Calvino, December 11, 1997, BAKERSFIELD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE) via Individual Inc.


As we age, there are a number of issues that set us up for complications in our daily lives. There is a change in our skin thickness, so we are always interested in that and looking to change some of that. There is loss of elasticity and of the adherence to deep tissue some of that sagging that you get is due to this. Langerhans cells are also decreased, and so immunocompetence is declining with age, and we are more prone to skin infections. There is also probably a decline in that ability of the skin to synthesize lipids, so this is the principal benefit we are aiming for when we apply oils. Skin dryness also increases with age.

The consequence is that there is a loss of the integrity of the skin, and then a decline in the ability to repair this. You are also at a greater risk for insults to the skin/body.

Dr. Hollick has done some studies with mice, applying emu oil to their skin with corn oil as the negative control. Epidermal growth thickness and, believe it of not, hair growth increased. His comments were that there was increased thickness although I don't know what that number was, and 80% of resting hair follicles were "charged". The bottom line is, you have to have a hair follicle for it to be rejuvenated. Emu oil will not make hair follicles.

Dr. Pugliese, last year, did another study on skin thickness using ratite oils (ostrich, rhea, and emu), with retinoic acid (Retin-A) as the positive control and mineral oil as the negative control. There were probably 4-5 mice per group. The findings from that mouse study was that the Retin-A gave marked hyperplasia. The ratite oils gave anything from mild hyperplasia to the mosaic effect seen with Retin-A. The mineral oil, to out chagrin perhaps, also gave a postive response. But this is because it is an irritant, and it gives a different hyperplasia to the response you see with Retin-A We also looked at fish oil and chicken oil. These did not demonstrate any topical activity.

The next study that Dr. Pugliese did for us was to take a look at elderly individuals and see what their response was to the topical application of emu oil. So we recruited 8 people. The average age was 72. We did throw in one unusual patient who was 38, who had scleroderma, so she lowered the average age. The average age would have been 77 otherwise, and there were 4 patients that were over 80, or at least claimed to be. They were instructed to apply emu oil at least nightly (but more often if they wanted to) to the back of the non-dominant hand. That is what we measured to skin thickness on. The study was 6 weeks in duration.

Most of the mice studies had been of about a 5-day duration. I was always a little concerned about what you can do to the skin of a newborn in just 5 days, and how applicable that would be to humans. I think you would probably need a longer time frame.

This is sort of a summary of the 8 patients, looking at the summation of the epidermis and papillary dermis changes. There is a huge variation in skin thickness between individuals, so if I just gave you the raw numbers, it becomes a little tricky. That's why you need to look at the relative change. (percent change). The changes are of the order of 9.9 to 10.6%, depending on which portion of the skin you looked at. Combined, there was an 8% increase in skin thickness from 6 weeks of application of pure emu oil.

The fatty acids are probably what contribute more to the changes.


Emu Oil Found to Relieve Arthritis while Reversing Wrinkles and Hair Loss

Nicholas Calvino, December 11, 1997, BAKERSFIELD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE) via Individual Inc.


Scientists at Auburn and Boston Universities have concluded that oil from the Australian emu can quickly relieve the pain brought on by some forms of arthritis, while reversing the effects of chronic rashes, wrinkles and hair loss. This unique all-natural oil contains large amounts of linolenic and oleic acids, which are very powerful pain-relief and anti-inflammatory agents.

In addition, studies conducted by Dr. Paul Smith, professor of pathobiology at Auburn University, concluded that emu oil travels deeper into the soft muscle tissues of the body at a rate more than twice as fast as mineral oil, which is the main ingredient in many pain-relief and skincare products.

Registered pharmacist Kristi Tomlin sings the praises of emu oil for the treatment of pain because it doesn't produce any of the negative side effects associated with oral or injected pain relief products. In fact, Dr. Michael Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and dermatology at Boston University Medical Center, has discovered several potential benefits of emu oil on the body.

Holick found that emu oil produced a 20 percent increase in healthy skin cell production and an 80 percent increase in healthy hair growth. Even in extreme climates, the oil outperformed other products as a skin moisturizer and skin protectant. These results suggest that emu oil may help conditions linked to slow or unhealthy skin and hair cell production like wrinkles, stretch marks and hair loss, and skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis.


Orally administered emu oil decreases acute inflammation and alters selected small intestinal parameters of mucositis

This research work has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition.


Mucositis resulting from cancer chemotherapy is a serious disorder of the alimentary tract. Emu oil has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties of arthritis and wound healing, however, its effect on the intestine remain unknown. We investigated emu oil for its potential to decrease the severity of mucositis.

Mucositis is a common side-effect of cancer chemotherapy which drastically reduces the quality of life of patients undergoing treatment. Mucositis is a debilitating condition that can occur in all the regions of the gastrointestinal tract, however, it most commonly effects the mucosa of the mouth (oral mucositis) and small intestine (intestinal mucositis). It is characterised by erosion and deterioration of the mucosa with symptoms including severe pain and bloating, diarrhoea and nausea. The rate of infection and sepsis in mucositis patients is directly proportional to the severity of the condition. Mucositis remains one of the primary determinants of morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing treatment for cancer as a consequence of these secondary complications. Indeed, symptoms can progress to the stage whereby chemotherapy must be ceased. Currently there are no effective treatments for intestinal mucositis.

Clinical trials were carried out in a laboratory by the University of Adelaide and Emu Tracks. The promising anti-inflammatory effects displayed by emu oil in previous studies suggest the potential for therapeutic benefit in chemotherapy induced mucositis. Accordingly we hypothesised that emu oil ingestion would decrease the severity of intestinal damage induced by chemotherapy drugs potentially through the inflammation modulating effects of the oil.

Indications that the rate of recovery from mucositis could be improved with the intake of emu oil was established. This proof-of-concept study represents the first report of decreased intestinal inflammation following oral administration of emu oil. Emu oil altered specific parameters associated with induced damage from side effects of chemotherapy drugs. The decrease in acute inflammation is supported by previous studies in which topical application of emu oil reduced the severity of arthritis and dermal inflammation. It has been suggested that not only the anti-inflammatory properties of emu oil are significant in recovery but the components of emu oil, such as tocopherols, carotenoid and flavones, may exert anti-oxidant effects which may have impacted on levels of damaging reactive oxygen species which are generated in the first of five recognised stages of mucositis. The initial stage occurs immediately after the introduction of cytotoxins into the system, and it is these reactive oxygen species which are responsible for causing damage to cells, tissues and blood vessels.

In the present study Emu Oil had stimulated mucosal growth in the recovery phase of mucositis. Future studies, building on the positive indications found in this efficacy study, would benefit from the examinations of different emu oil doses. Emu Oil was able to decrease chemotherapy-associated inflammation in the small intestine, and alter the mucosal architecture in the recovery phase of mucositis. The promising results from the present study indicate that a further investigation of emu oil as a nutritional supplement to promote healing of the damaged intestine, following the resolution of cancer treatment, is required.

Further research is now being conducted to confirm the benefits of Emu Oil for conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease and other gastro-intestinal disorders. Early indications from this research look extremely positive and show Emu Oil to be highly beneficial.