Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Emu Oil

Posted by admin January 11th, 2011

Elusive Anti-Inflammatory Component of Emu Oil Isolated

"…even at full strength, emu oil generated irritation levels so low, the results were comparable to that of water…"

A newly-issued (1995) US patent, "Anti-inflammatory Composition Derived from Emu Oil" has revealed that 4 inventors have isolated a yellow-colored component from emu oil that appears to be the active ingredient responsible for the oil's renowned anti-inflammatory activity.

US Patent # 5,431,924 reveals that the inventors (all Australian) describe experiments that they conducted with emu oil and with this yellow-colored component to demonstrate the anti-inflammatory activity of the yellow component.

Of the 17 claims made In the patent, 3 of them cite compositions in the form of oral, topical, and injectable compounds.

The impact of this documentation on the anti-inflammatory properties of emu oil has effects that reach far beyond emu enthusiasts. Kristi Tomlin, registered pharmacist in Blackwell, Oklahoma, acknowledges that the main problem with anti-inflammatories currently on the market is their side effects.

"The oral anti-inflammatories eventually cause stomach discomfort and irritation, which in turn leads to other problems," she reports. "For those able to endure this irritation, the next problem is that it eventually stops working. The patient builds a tolerance for the medication, leaving it ineffective."

Topical applications, too, leave much to be desired. "Most of the topical applications which require no prescription use an ingredient derived from a Mexican pepper. Although the warmth it produces contributes to relief, the products often irritate and even burn the skin," Kristi observes.

Another method of delivery for anti-inflammatories, the injectable form, is often used for severe cases. In addition to the irritation caused to the blood vessels, one of the main deterrents for using this method is consumer reaction. "Most people do not like the idea of getting shots or giving themselves shots," revealed Kristi. "Patient compliance diminishes considerably if there is an aversion to the method, frequency, or the effects of a medication," she elaborated.

Summarily, the majority of anti-inflammatories on the market today produce side effects that are often so severe, the consumer must weigh their benefits against their side effects. However, in the case of emu oil, laboratory irritation tests conducted by Emu Ranchers Incorporated in 1991 revealed that even at full strength, emu oil generated irritation levels so low, the results were comparable to that of water In laboratory and clinical tests, as well as marketing studies for new products, pure emu oil and compounds formulated with it have generated surprisingly little irritation. Even current research on the oral consumption of bacteria-free emu oil has yet to reveal adverse side effects from oil use. A pharmaceutical grade of emu oil possessing anti-inflammatory properties with minimal side effects could alleviate the most pressing concerns regarding the use of anti-inflammatories in the medical profession today.

The documentation of the patent notes that the inventors have found that "emu oil deficient in linolenic acid is highly active and secondly, emu oil contains other compound(s) which alone or when combined with a transport enhancer provide an effective anti-inflammatory composition."

Further, this "biologically active yellow-coloured component may be included In topical, oral and systemic compositions for the treatment or prophylaxis of musculoskeletal and/or dermatological conditions arising from inflammatory reactions of environmental or systemic origins."

One of the most interesting observations noted in the experiments occurred when emu oil was exposed to sunlight for several weeks. Upon examination, the oil appeared inactive when tested for anti-inflammatory activity. However, this anti-inflammatory activity was actually restored with the addition of retinyl acetate.

Other findings elaborated on within the patent "clearly identify the yellow components in emu oil immuno-regulant activity, apart from their ability to modulate disease once initiated." The patent displays table after table of experiments conducted with other oils, fats, and compounds used and readily available on the market today.

Allen Strickland, pharmacist in Ozark, Alabama, summarized the three aspects of the invention as (1) a pharmaceutical composition that acts to provide effective transport across the dermis or mucous membranes; (2) a method of treatment; and (3) the process by which the biologically active yellow-coloured component is extracted from the emu oil.

According to Strickland, the published documentation in itself will be a valuable sales tool.
"It's a lot easier to attract the interest of a pharmaceutical company when you have this sort of research to support your product," he reflected. "Pharmaceutical companies devote persuasive reason to pursue research on emu oil." Another notable aspect of the Invention indicates the ease by which the compositions may be formulated.

"The compositions of the invention may be readily formulated by those skilled in the art using appropriate vehicles to produce a variety of topical compositions including liniments, aerosols, creams, ointments, gels, lotions and the like" reads the patent.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this documented research from the perspective of the emu rancher is the unmistakable recognition by the US government that emu oil really does contain an active component. Strickland noted that many drug formulations are based on an active, natural source.

"Even aspirin, one of the most widely used compounds, is based on salicylic acid which is found in the bark of the willow tree," he explained.

Edna Hennessee of the Cosmetic Specialty Labs, Inc., notes that ingredients from natural sources provide an excellent base for cosmetics. "In my 53 years in this business, I have found that it is very difficult to duplicate (synthetically) what nature has provided. That emu oil is simply good stuff," she asserts.

A brief summary of the claims listed in the patent lay claim to:
  • A biologically active yellow-coloured component of emu oil
  • prepared in a prescribed manner;
  • A composition comprising the aforementioned component and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier;
  • The composition noted above in an injectable form, an oral form, and a topical form;
  • method of extraction;
  • compositions with named carriers;
  • compositions with emu oil concentration levels of from 20 to 95%;
  • topical compositions with the yellow-colored component comprising 1-99% by volume and method of extracting the component;
  • named chemical treatment of the component upon extraction;
  • methods for the prophylaxis and treatment of musculoskeletal or dermatological conditions arising from inflammatory reactions of environmental or a systemic origins.

The compositions named within the patent call for a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier to transport the oil through the skin. Despite documented, continuing investigations being conducted by researchers on the transdermal qualities of the oil (Auburn University), the experiments discussed within the patent indicate that best results were obtained when the oil was combined with a separate carrier such as isopropyl alcohol, eucalyptus oil, etc. When the mixture was applied to the skin of rats, potent anti-inflammatory activity was observed, according to the patent.