Study Reveals that Topically Applied Emu Oil Significantly Reduces Inflammation in Mice
by Elizabeth Marcelina
“Topically applied emu oil significantly reduced severity of acute auricular inflammation induced by croton oil in mice," reveals the recently published research report "Effect of emu oil on auricular inflammation induced with croton oil in mice."
The exciting report is part of an ongoing project by the Prince Edward Island Emu Co-op Association Ltd., and was published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research, December 1999.
The PEI Emu Co-op Association employed the services of the prestigious Prince Edward Island (PEI) Food Technology Center in Charlottetown for the product.
The study's leading researchers were Alfonso Lopez, DVM, Ph.D., Department of Pathology and Microbiology, and David E. Sims, Ph.D., Department of Anatomy and Physiology with the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), University of Prince Edward Island. The AVC conducted the trials under contract with the PEI Food Technology Center.
According to PEI Food Technology Center executive director Richard Ablett Ph.D., the study was carried out to validate anecdotal accounts suggesting that emu oil reduces pain and inflammation and to evaluate the antiinflammatory properties of emu oil under controlled laboratory conditions.
Croton oil, a commonly used topical irritant, was employed in the trial to induce auricular inflammation in mice. Explains the paper, "After application of croton oil, the anti-inflammatory activity of a topical preparation of a test substance is determined by comparing the magnitude of auricular swelling measured in control and treated mice. The objective of the study presented here was to determine the acute and antiinflammatory effects of topically applied emu oil on auricular inflammation induced by croton oil in mice."
Ninety-six mice were divided and randomly placed in four groups of 24 mice each. The groups were treated with low dose and high dose emu oil, an oil-control (porcine oil); and control (untreated). The study reveals that experiments were repeated twice, using 12 mice/group in each experiment.
The trial results relate that antiinflammatory effects of emu oil did not have a significant effect on the magnitude of swelling at 3 or 24 hours. "However," adds the report, "when croton oil-induced swelling peaked at 6 hours, magnitude of swelling was significantly less in mice that received emu or porcine oil, compared with the control group."
About the trial's outcome the research report states, "In conclusion, results of this investigation support the conclusions of anecdotal reports that indicate that emu oil reduces cutaneous swelling and inflammation."
The document relates that additional studies regarding emu oil and its relation to anti-inflammatory reduction are needed and says, "Future studies are necessary to investigate whether reduction in edema following application of emu oil to inflamed skin is the result of diminished fluid exudation (permeability edema), increased removal by the lymphatic system, or a combination of both mechanisms. ...further studies are necessary to determine whether a specific lipid fraction is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of emu oil."
"What this croton oil study shows us," says Ablett, "is that at the macro level of the emu oil we're seeing an antiinflammatory effect. Then you say, 'Which of the fractions within the oil is causing that effect?' So you repeat the study on fractions, where we've essentially taken the oil into four parts. Then we do the same trials again to see which of those four fractions if any will give us the antiinflammatory response. If none of them do then it may be a synergistic effect of various components within the oil. It's too premature for us to know at this point. However, the work is ongoing and they're testing various models right now."
Ablett remarks that the Center is also working with the PEI Emu Co-op Association Ltd. on additional studies and says, "We're doing a wound healing test and an arthritic model test. Those models are being tested as well as sort of a verification approach to anecdotal evidence of emu oil on wound healing and arthritis."
In the document the researchers make an interesting point about the oils employed. They note, "Porcine oil was arbitrarily selected for use as the oil control in this study, because, to our knowledge, it did not have known antiinflammatory effects; however we found that both emu and porcine oil had anti-inflammatory effects, suggesting that oils in general may reduce acute swelling and edema. On a volume-to-volume basis, emu oil appeared to have a more powerful antiinflammatory effect, particularly at 6 hours when the inflammatory response peaked."
The researchers also chose to mention a previously documented study regarding aloe vera in their trial discussion.
"Reduction in magnitude of swelling in response to topical treatment with emu oil at 6 hours was similar to that reported after treatment with aloe vera. In that study, topical application of processed aloe vera after induction of inflammation with croton oil resulted in a 47.1% reduction of EPW (ear plug weights), compared with EPW of untreated mice, whereas a fresh aloe vera preparation reduced EPW by 38%. Our results indicated that 6 and 12 hours after induction of inflammation, emu oil reduced swelling and edema by 45 and 68%, respectively, compared with controls. "
Also of interest is the emu oil used in the croton research study. Comments Ablett, "There are various methods of producing emu oil and what we tried to do was to target a technique to preserve whatever anti-inflammatory capability might be in the product by trying to do a cold extraction technique, So we have developed a proprietary method of preparing the oil in our lab. Then there's a company in Charlottetown that we have on contract to manufacture the product to our specification."
About the emu oil employed in the study the research document reveals, “The emu oil preparation consisted of equal portions of visceral and subcutaneous fat. Oil was extracted from the fat without high heat, light, or oxygen."
'We're quite enthusiastic about the outcome," says Ablett, "We feel there's significant results here. Based on that study, it looks like emu oil is more efficacious than aloe vera oil! However, for a truth to emerge you would do further studies which include aloe vera."
Courtesy of Emu Today and Tomorrow
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