Emu oil is a health and beauty product that’s heavily promoted as a topical healing ointment that’s used for many conditions. When you are pregnant and nursing, everything you consume and put on your skin has the potential to be passed immediately to the fetus. While pregnant, you need to be especially conscious of that fact.
Emu oil has been touted by manufacturers and salespeople as a tonic for wounds, arthritis, extreme muscular and joint pain, stretch marks and wrinkles. Yet the those claims are largely unsubstantiated. Few scientific studies have been conducted to prove the efficacy of emu oil in the treatment of most illnesses. Though it is often touted as an effective cure for arthritis and pain, these two claims have little foundation in medical literature.
The only emu oil claim that might have some scientifically demonstrated foundation is in its anti-inflammatory properties. Robert Nicolosi, a biochemist at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, said in a Newsday.com article that tests involving ear tissue of mice showed promise.
According to The Point Newsletter, a publication affiliated with the University of Hawaii system, some claims have documented the effectiveness of emu oil in the healing of an assortment of wounds, including extensive scars and wounds experienced by people that have had tattoos, body piercings and who have experienced outbreaks of dermatitis.
Is it Safe for Use During Pregnancy?
Though emu oil is described by manufacturers as a gentle and natural oil, it is not a safe oil to use during pregnancy. No clinical studies have proven that emu oil will eradicate stretch marks. However, emu oil has been shown to make a significant difference in the healing of wounds caused by surgical scars.
Since emu oil is not recommended for use while pregnant, it is also not to be used during lactation. Only until after your child is finished nursing, should you consider using emu oil for any reason. Nursing and pregnant mothers are instructed to avoid the use of emu oil.
Should you choose to use emu oil after both pregnancy and nursing are complete, then you have to be sure you are getting a quality product that is pure, or made mostly of emu oil.
Biochemist Nicolosi, in the Newsday.com article, said that commercial emu oil is usually about 5 percent pure emu oil. Other ingredients include aloe vera, menthol, glucosamine and MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane). Nicolosi said his studies discount 5 percent emu oil having any anti-inflammatory effect.
Emu oil is a mass-marketed product derived from the body fat of the emu, which is native to Australia. Emu oil has been used for hundreds of years by the Aboriginal people of Australia. Originally the oil was extracted when the skin of the animal was hung from a tree, or when the skin was wrapped around the affected area of the body. The warmth of the sun was used to naturally extract the oil from the hide of the animal. It’s been used for many years by the Aboriginal people for pain, muscle swelling, joint problems, skin rashes, arthritis, burns and wound healing. Aboriginal people also cooked with the oil and used it to treat leather.
The scientific name for emu oil is Dromaius novae-hollandiae 1. Official dosing instructions are not available for emu oil, but most manufacturers recommend that you apply the oil topically two to three times a day to the area that is affected. The bulk of the emu oil on the market today is produced by the Emu Producers International Cooperative, which produces about 5,000 lbs. of emu oil every day. The oil is then used in beauty creams, cosmetics, hair styling products and moisturizing products.
It is unclear exactly what component of emu oil creates the positive effects that some people are experiencing, though the oil contains an assortment of fatty acids, including oleic, linolenic, elaidic, eicosenoic, stearic, palmitic, myristic and palmitoleic. The principle fatty acid component is oleic acid, and some believe that this is what causes the reported anti-inflammatory effects of emu oil.
References and ResourcesUniversity of Massachusetts Lowell: Claims for Emu Oil Draw Questions
The University of Hawai'i System: The Point Official Newsletter for the Association of Professional Piercers: The Winter 2004, Issue 31
Wright State University: Popular Natural Remedies, Part XIII
Drugs.Com: Emu oil