More on Emu Oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis
A friend of mine suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis and always is seeking cures and salves to reduce her pain. Sadly, virtually everything she’s tried has done very little good. Her partner is an acupuncturist and natural healer—he’s tried hard to help—but even so, the quest for relief had been yielding little that was effective. That was, until she tried Emu oil.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that causes the lining of the joints to swell. It’s a miserable condition, with symptoms including painful joints, extreme stiffness, fatigue, and diminished appetite. While the beginning stages might include just stiff finger and toe joints, arthritis eventually spreads to larger joints and may make it difficult to walk or perform self-care functions. Over time, the condition can trigger bone loss and deformity around joints, plus it can affect other body systems, putting victims at higher risk for heart disease, lung disease, infections, lymphoma, osteoporosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, anemia, and more. While there’s no cure, sufferers may experience long periods of remission, but unfortunately, they’re also subject to acute flare-ups.
The mainstream medical approach to relief relies on various drugs with obnoxious side effects that might make one wonder if the cure is worse than the problem. Traditional treatments include large doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Ibuprofen (with side effects including stomach irritation, kidney damage, heart problems) and steroid drugs (with side effects including pronounced weight gain, osteoporosis, diabetes, and potentially fatal heart attacks,).1 More recent drug interventions include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which can cause liver damage, reduce bone marrow production, increase infection risk, trigger severe lung infections, and cause blood clots in the lungs.
Management of rheumatoid arthritis usually involves lifestyle modifications as well as medication. To minimize inflammation, good diet and a regular exercise regimen are of paramount importance. The Mediterranean Diet and Tai Chi and yoga seem to be particularly helpful. Massage and acupuncture also can help, as can certain supplements that reduce systemic inflammation such as turmeric, proteolytic enzymes, and omega-3.
Still, in the middle of a flare up, victims want immediate relief and that’s when the quest for salves and potions ramps up. That’s when Emu oil may be of use. Emu oil is harvested from the emu bird, a flightless relative of the ostrich, nearly as large, and native to Australia. The oil is produced from fatty acid deposits beneath the bird’s skin, which is then processed to remove bacteria and contaminants and to increase fatty acid content.2
The Aborigines in Australia started using emu oil for medicinal application over 40,000 years ago, according to aboriginal oral tales. One might surmise that anything popular for that long has to have some muscle behind it. The oil has been used for diverse purposes, including as an anti-inflammatory as well as to resolve digestive issues, soften skin, heal wounds, make hair grow, treat ulcers, reduce cholesterol, repel insects, and lessen breast sensitivity in nursing mothers.3 Very little scientific research has been completed to verify the benefits, but a few studies do show that emu oil works, and anecdotal accounts abound.
One study on rats that was completed in 1998 found that emu oil applied topically does indeed reduce chronic inflammation as effectively as ibuprofen, and without side effects.45 As stated in a recent Health Tip, “The study noted that this anti-inflammatory activity was probably connected to emu's ability to decrease levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the damaged tissue--which would also explain emu's ability to promote wound healing by inhibiting local secondary inflammation.” The Health Tip also mentioned that, “A 2015 review published in the January edition of Nutrition [noted that] emu oil contains high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that appear to act on cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase, and lipoxin pathways to bring about its potent anti-inflammatory benefits.”
Another study in 2016 combined emu oil with curcumin and applied it topically to rats. Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice Turmeric, known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities. Delivering curcumin to joints is difficult because it doesn’t absorb well. One thing that makes emu oil so effective is that it penetrates into the skin fast because, unlike many other oils, it contains no phospholipids, which block absorption. This quality allows the oil to reach deep into muscles and joints. In fact, because emu oil is a “transporter oil,” meaning that it penetrates deep beneath the skin, it works well combined with other anti-inflammatory oils that might need a boost getting to the target area. The results of the study showed that when combined with emu oil, curcumin reached its target and the combination provided “significant reduced levels of proinflammatory mediators,” meaning, translated into plain English, that it worked very well to reduce inflammation.6 The transporter oil quality makes emu oil an essential addition to pain-relieving formulas, particularly formulas including such highly effective anti-inflammatories and pain relievers such as DMSO, calendula, MSM, arnica, and St. John’s Wort.
If you or someone you know suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, know that while emu oil may help, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential. In addition to eating a clean, Mediterranean-type diet, keeping stress to a minimum and getting exercise—as Jon Barron has written before, some things that might prevent or weaken flare-ups include:
- Regular detoxing—particularly heavy metal detoxing and blood cleansing.
- Raising body pH.
- Using immune boosters such as AHCC, echinacea, and pau d' arco and pathogen destroyers such as garlic, oil of oregano, and olive leaf extract to take on any pathogenic bacterial components.
- Using proteolytic enzymes such as pHi-Zymes to reduce inflammation systemically and reduce the incidence of circulating immune complexes.
- Supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids to help with inflammation.
- Using progesterone creme to combat excessive estrogen, which can be a factor in joint inflammation.
- 1. “Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Mayo Clinic. 8 March 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353653
- 2. Johnson, Jon. “Everything you need to know about emu oil.” 17 July 2018. Medical News Today. 9 March 2019. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315535.php
- 3. “7 Proven Imu Oil Benefits.” Healthy Focus. 9 March 2019. https://healthyfocus.org/emu-oil-benefits/
- 4. Ruggieri, Christine, CHHC. “Emu Oil Benefits Skin & Treats Skin Conditions Naturally.” 8 October 2016. Dr. Axe. 10 March 2019. https://draxe.com/emu-oil/
- 5. Whitehouse, M.W. “Emu oil(s): A source of non-toxic transdermal anti-inflammatory agents in aboriginal medicine.” 1998. Inflammopharmacology. 9 March 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17638122
- 6. Jeengar, M.A. et al. “Amelioration of FCA induced arthritis on topical application of curcumin in combination with emu oil.” 16 September 2016. Nutrition. 9 March 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27178879