Did you know that humans have been using emu oil for its ‘magical properties’ for over 40,000 years?
There’s a lot to learn about emu oil and how it can be used to get strong, thick and healthy hair so read this article until the end to discover all of its secrets.
This article intends to compile some of the existing information and provide a critical analysis of the claims made about this oil and to offer ideas for those considering its use.
In order to assist in making an informed decision about hair loss treatment, this article summarizes the available information on the uses and effectiveness of emu oil. The following sections will;
- Explain what it is;
- Discuss whether it’s right for your hair;
- Summarize the available scientific literature;
- Outline potential uses and side effects; and
- Layout the available products and pricing.
What is Emu Oil?
The emu is a flightless bird indigenous to Australia and raised in various countries for its red meat.
The oil is rendered from a fatty deposit on the back of the bird, only when they are being butchered for the harvesting of the red meat.
Once processed the oil becomes a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
It is important to note that there are appropriate methods for harvesting emu oil for human use, and the methods for collecting and processing it should be verified as there can be numerous negative consequences if these are not adhered to beyond the inhumane treatment of the animal.
Origins of the use of emu oil are commonly traced to use by Australian Aboriginal tribes, purported to have been used as a salve for wounds (1).
Recently, this oil has garnered attention from modern science and medicine for its potential use in a variety of fashions.
Now available as an all natural, topical skin applicant, pure emu oil is used as an over-the-counter product as well as in medical settings.
As an anti-inflammatory agent, it promotes the health of epithelial cells, particularly in its contribution to the structure of the cellular walls and its effectiveness for improving cellular functioning.
The oil is a highly penetrating vehicle, and when included in a compound can act as a delivery system that promotes skin absorption and can enhance the potency of topical medication.
In combination with other topical medications, it can help its absorption through the skin barrier and into the cell walls which assists in the uptake of the solution.
These two properties alone make emu oil a potential treatment for hair loss, as a means to reduce inflammation and for its capacity to boost absorption of other products.
Literature & Findings
Now let’s look more closely at how emu oil may be useful in treating hair loss.
Australian Journal of Dermatology
Participants of this study utilized emu oil topically, and were polled on their experience (4). In order to adhere to scientific standards, the study was constructed to be a double blind study where both researchers and participants were unaware of whether or not they were in the study or comparison group.
Each participant was screened for pre-existing conditions, such as eczema or acne, and was asked to discontinue the use of other topical agents.
The study participants reported emu oil as being superior to other products such as mineral oil, particularly related to texture and moisturizing properties.
American Emu Association
The American Emu Association (AEA), a non-profit agricultural association dedicated to the emu industry, supports a variety of claims about the properties of pure emu oil.
The AEA supports findings that suggest the oil acts as an effective vehicle for getting the ingredients of over-the-counter and cosmetic products through the skin.
They also support research that shows emu oil to be anti-inflammatory, as well as other skin supportive features that promote skin health.
As an all natural alternative, the AEA labels it as an environmentally friendly product.
Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) Research
The MPB Research outlet offers emu oil products, and therefore may not be the most reputable source for information. However, the sources cited throughout their website do appear to be legitimate resources.
Emu oil is composed of nearly 100 percent triglycerides, including a monounsaturated fatty acid. It also may act as a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor, a product in which the antiandrogen effects are utilized in the treatment of alopecia.
MBP Research supports research showing its anti-inflammatory nature, and its capacity as an emulsifier with moisturizing and skin promoting capabilities.
Is Emu Oil Treatment Right for You?
Hair loss and thinning hair effects both males and females, and can be caused by an array of conditions, health related issues, or can be genetically influenced.
Examples of conditions that can result in hair loss include; male pattern baldness, itchy scalp and inflammation, menopause, alopecia, hyperthyroidism, lupus, ringworm, certain medications, and high levels of stress.
Emu oil does not treat the majority of these conditions. However, it acts as a stimulant for the proliferation of skin and stimulating melanogenesis.
These properties make emu oil a potential treatment for conditions such as inflamed skin, male pattern baldness, female baldness, and medication-induced hair loss.
While the use of this oil does not act as a cure or a treatment for these conditions, it may help to counteract some of the symptoms that contribute to hair loss or thinning.
Recommended Use of Emu Oil for Hair Loss Treatment
Pure, all-natural, emu oil is to be applied topically on areas of the skin one wishes to promote and stimulate hair growth.
The product itself is scentless and does not stain, and should be applied at night prior to sleep. A few drops of the product should be massaged into the scalp, and it can also be applied to hair itself.
The areas to which the oil have been applied should be washed the following morning, and this process should be repeated daily.
Results vary and are dependent upon a variety of factors including the underlying condition being treated and individual differences.
Many users report short, fuzzy, hair growth in the area of application as well as thicker healthier hair in general.
In laboratory studies on animals, emu oil has been shown to increase the rate of hair growth and the overall quality of the hair that grows (5).
No Side Effects for Topical Use
Emu oil is an all-natural product that does not appear to have any potential side effects when applied topically. It has also been shown to have no potential for irritation to the skin or the scalp and is as gentle on skin as water.
Fully concentrated emu oil is also shown to be non-comedogenic, meaning that it will not clog pores like many topical products.
In pure form, emu oil is odorless and will not stain clothing or bedding. Essentially, there are limited downsides to utilizing this oil as a topical skin salve with the potential for added benefits of promoting health hair growth.
Brands and Pricing
This article does not support or promote one particular product, but is an amalgam of available information on emu oil products. The following brands are identified based on available web information and are in no way associated with the author.
These products have not been reviewed for their purity or the method of manufacturing, and potential consumers should engage in their own research about any product they intend to utilize.
One popular brand is the Emu Oil Pure Premium Golden 4 fl.oz., available at a variety of outlets and typically costing around $26-29 USD.
Another all natural, and pure brand is Emu Gold Emu Oil 100%, which can be slightly more expensive than other brands at $29-34 USD. An affordable alternative to these options is Pro Emu Oil, which typically costs less than competitors at $19-23 USD.
Cautions and Considerations of Using Emu Oil
Based on the popularity of emu oil products, there are some precautions to take when considering what product might be correct for you.
While emu oil has been approved for use by the FDA, one should consider the full composition of the product and its processing.
There are numerous monitoring institutions including the Australian Growers Association and American Emu Association, and their standards should be met by any producer of emu oil.
If the extraction process is done improperly or inhumanely, the oil can be contaminated by hormones from the animal. It can also contain trans fatty acids if the processing is done incorrectly, typically if done so at too high of a heat.
All natural emu oil should be free of solvent extractors. It should not be refined with degummers or corrosive materials, which can degrade the natural properties of the product.
Properly processed oil should also be free of blood or bi-products from the bird, and therefore should not require the use of preservatives or other synthetics.
There is evidence to support a variety of positive properties of pure emu oil, some of which may help with issues related to hair loss.
When utilized as a topical treatment, in pure form, emu oil is shown to act as an anti-inflammatory and emulsifier with some potential for stimulating hair growth. In general, when used topically there are a variety of potential positive impacts on skin health.
One should also consider the underlying condition that may be causing hair loss, if this is what they are attempting to treat. For best results, you may want to combine emu oil with other, more traditional treatments.
Keep in mind that emu oil is not a long term solution for androgentic alopecia. We recommend the first step in treating such hair loss is to get a medical diagnosis. After which your medical professional may recommend an FDA approved hair loss treatment such as minoxidil or finasteride.