Blue Emu: What It Is and How It Works

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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two jars of original blue emu super strength
Image Credit: www.blue-emu.com
Blue Emu

You may have seen Blue Emu® or other brands of emu oils when you’re shopping in the pain relief or skin care aisle. Emu oil is an over-the-counter ingredient that, depending on the formulation, is used for muscle aches, joint pain, digestive issues, and to promote healthy skin and hair. What’s in it and how well does it work for pain relief? Learn more about blue emu cream and oil for muscle ache and joint pain, as well as other products containing emu oil.

Possible Benefits of Emu Oil 

Emus are large, flightless birds from Australia that are now farmed around the world. Emu oil is collected from fatty deposits beneath the skin of the bird. The Aboriginal people of Australia speak about having used emu oil for more than 40,000 years. They passed the use of it on to Europeans, who also began to use it to soothe aches and pains, help heal wounds, and as a sunscreen and bug repellent.

Today, a variety of commercial products use emu oil, including the Blue Emu brand. Emu oil can be processed as a cream, an oil, or taken by mouth in capsules. Some products are pure emu oil, while others are formulated with other ingredients.

Proponents of emu oil claim it can help address various health and wellness concerns, including:

  • Reduces muscles aches 
  • Stops itchiness and skin irritation 
  • Lowers cholesterol 
  • Helps heal wounds 
  • Soothes symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Repels insects 
  • Relieves sore nipples from breastfeeding
  • Promotes hair growth
  • Prevents bone loss due to chemotherapy

There is a lack of research to support the effectiveness of emu oil, but certain studies have looked at some of the claims:

  • Wound healing. In mice, burns treated with emu oil healed more slowly than burns not treated with it. The emu oil may also have resulted in the production of more keratin, a protein that can toughen the skin. The number of hair follicles around the burns increased, which would presumably leave a small scar. 
  • Inflammation. Emu oil has been reported to reduce the level of cytokines in the body—substances that are associated with inflammation and inflammatory bowel disease.

     

  • Arthritis. A study in rats showed that emu oil reduced swelling, a symptom of arthritis, in the animals’ paws. 

Animal studies do not establish how emu oil may act in humans, however, and there is no scientific evidence that it reduces pain.

Emu oil can be effective as a moisturizer because its particles are smaller than many other creams and oils, so emu oil particles can be absorbed into deeper layers of the skin. Emu oil contains antioxidants as well as fatty acids, which may benefit the skin and digestive system. One study showed that emu oil improved itching from dandruff, but it was less effective than hydrocortisone.

What to Look When Choosing Using Emu Oil 

There are many products available that contain or are made of pure emu oil, which can be more expensive than other moisturizers or topical pain-relievers. Blue Emu alone makes 10 different products. The original Blue Emu formula does not list any active ingredients as established by the U.S. Food and Drug A, which are those that have an effect on the treatment or prevention of disease, but it does contain glucosamine and aloe vera.

Blue Emu’s Maximum Pain Relief Cream® lists trolamine salicylate as its active ingredient, which is a well-known topical treatment for muscle aches and pains found in many over-the-counter products. Emu oil also contains terpenes, naturally occurring substances usually found in plants that give them smell and flavor. Terpenes are found in cannabis and many aromatherapy products.

The American Emu Association certifies products that meet its standards for genuine emu oil and has a quality control program for its members, as well as guidance for the ethical and humane raising of emus.

Emu oil can be an effective moisturizer, and is considered low-risk when used as directed in capsule form for digestive or other concerns. Whether it’s effective as a topical rub for muscle aches and pains is not confirmed, but it is a popular ingredient in many products.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Oct 4
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Attarzadeh Y, Asilian A, Shahmoradi Z, Adibi N. Comparing the efficacy of Emu oil with clotrimazole and hydrocortisone in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis: A clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2013;18(6):477-481. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3818616/
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  5. Cox-Georgian D, Ramadoss N, Dona C, Basu C. Therapeutic and Medicinal Uses of Terpenes. Medicinal Plants. 2019;333-359. Published 2019 Nov 12. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-31269-5_15 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7120914/
  6. Afshar M, Ghaderi R, Zardast M, et al. Effects of Topical Emu Oil on Burn Wounds in the Skin of Balb/c Mice. Volume 2016 |Article ID 6419216 | https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/6419216