What are the Dangers of Emu Oil?

Are there really dangers from emu oil use? Is this natural oil safe for you and your family?

The history of the emu bird shows that it was originally used by the Australian aborigines for food, clothing and natural medicine.

The oils made from the bird were traditionally used to treat various health conditions such as sunburn, sore muscles and dry skin.

While this is a natural oil, there are some precautions you need to take to ensure you’re using a highly-purified product free of bacteria, viruses and other contaminants.

The main safety issues involve the type of emu oil and if you’re using the oil externally or internally.


Only Purified Emu Oils are the Safest to Use

To ensure you’re using an oil that is safe for human use, try to only use products that are purified as fully-refined or molecular-distilled.

You can use emu oil topically or internally, but only pharmaceutical-grade oils should be used for human consumption.

Cosmetic-grade oils are safe for using on your skin and hair.

In North America, many oils are purified according to The American Emu Association regulations.


The American Emu Association and Purified Emu Oils

american emu association logo

The American Emu Association (AEA) is a non-profit organization made up of small emu farms.

They promote the emu industry and provide some level of regulatory process for the emu industry.

The AEA created the Emu Trade Rules as a self-regulatory method to provide safety and consistency to emu oil products that were being produced.

In the past, people used to melt emu oil on their stoves to make the oil; you can imagine the inconsistencies in purity levels if this method were still followed today.

The AEA consulted with the American Oil Chemist Society to produce a standard grading and purity for emu oils.

Three Grades of AEA Emu Oils:

  • Grade A – used for pharmaceutical, cosmetic and dietary supplements and called fully-refined emu oil.
  • Grade B – used in some cosmetic applications, but not for digestion.
  • Grade C – this is crude emu oil and used primarily for making soaps and animal feed.

Using emu oils that are AEA-certified will ensure you’re using a product that has been tested for purity; thereby reducing any dangers from emu oil for topical use.

Allergic Reactions to Emu Oils

Research has shown emu oil’s ingredients are almost identical in fatty acid composition to human skin.

This may make the oils more compatible and may reduce the possibility of allergic reactions.

And studies on emu oil  appear to indicate it has some positive benefits for your skin….

Emu oil has the following characteristics:

  • Emu oil doesn’t clog pores.
  • Emu oil is rapidly absorbed by your skin.
  • Emu oil is hypo-allergenic.
  • Emu oil fights inflammation.
  • Emu oil helps skin heal.

These properties may explain why this oil can be very compatible for many different skin types and may result in minimal dangers from use.

If you have sensitive or delicate skin (and have never used emu oil before) you should do a skin test to rule out any possible reactions.

You can learn more about the above characteristics by visiting Health Benefits of Emu Oil.

white plastic jar of 100% Progressive Australian emu oil

Australian emu oil has garnered a reputation as the best emu oil since this is where the oil originated. However, you can now get emu oils from the USA, Canada, Asia and Europe.

No matter which country you get your emu oil from you need to ensure that the oil has been tested to meet minimum standards for purity and has the lowest level of acceptable contaminants for cosmetic or pharmaceutical use.

To date, there are no documented reports of adverse reactions from topically use of emu oil.

However, I always recommend all first-time users of emu oil try a small skin test to ensure there are no negative reactions.

Research References:

Emu oil(s): A source of non-toxic transdermal anti-inflammatory agents in aboriginal medicine. Whitehouse MW, Turner AG, Davis CK, Roberts MS. Department of Medicine, University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital, 4102, Brisbane, Queensland. Inflammopharmacology. 1998;6(1):1-8.

Moisturizing and cosmetic properties of emu oil: a pilot double blind study. Zemtsov A, Gaddis M, Montalvo-Lugo VM. The Australassian Journal of Dermatology. 1996 Aug;37(3):159-61

Promotion of second intention wound healing by emu oil lotion: comparative results with furasin, polysporin, and cortisone. Politis MJ, Dmytrowich A. Department of Medical Physiology at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 1998 Dec;102(7):2404-7.

Anti-inflammatory activity and healing-promoting effects of topical application of emu oil on wound in scalded rats Di Yi Jun Yi Da Xue Xue Bao. 2005 Apr;25(4):407-10, Qiu XW, Wang JH, Fang XW, Gong ZY, Li ZQ, Yi ZH. Department of Burns, Nangfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510515, China.

Effect of emu oil on auricular inflammation induced with croton oil in mice. López A, Sims DE, Ablett RF, Skinner RE, Léger LW, Lariviere CM, Jamieson LA, Martínez-Burnes J, Zawadzka GG. Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Canada. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 1999 Dec;60(12):1558-61


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