What, by the way, is an emu? An emu is a large bird that lives only in mainland Australia, and is perhaps best known for its inability to fly. Emus are tall (five to six feet tall), dark (mingled black, brown and tan) and well, handsome might be a stretch. Decide for yourself here. Emus have lived in Australia for at least 80 million years.
Emu oil comes from the large fat pad on the back of the emu bird. This fat pad is similar to the hump of a camel in that it serves both as insulation as well as a fat reservoir. The male uses this reservoir for nourishment when he sits on the eggs that the female lays.
The unusual mating life of the emu deserves at least a mention. During mating season, the male and female emu mate daily, and the female lays an egg every two to three days. After her seventh egg, the male begins sitting on the eggs, where he continues to sit for 55 days straight without eating, drinking or defecating. Meanwhile, the female emu will breed with another male, and return to lay more eggs for her first mate to brood (up to half of the chicks in a brood have other fathers). She may also start another nest with another male--the female emu can nest up to three times in one season. Once the chicks hatch, the male watches over the chicks for about six months.
Aborigines of Australia have integrated the emu into their culture, health practices and mythology for thousands of years. They use emu fat to help heal wounds, burns (including sunburn) and injury. Here are some claims of the healing properties of emu oil, the oil extracted from the fat pad of the amazing emu bird:
- Emu oil helps burns (including sunburns) to heal faster and with less pain and scarring.
- Emu oil helps to heal wounds and to reduce the formation of scar tissue, particularly keloid tissue (the tissue that can overgrow around the site of a healed injury).
- Emu oil reduces the pain, swelling and itch of insect bites regardless of the type of insect that bites.
- Emu oil lessens the skin inflammation and irritation that often accompanies eczema, a chronic skin condition. Read How To Use Emu Oil to Treat Eczema for more on this topic.
- The anti-inflammatory properties of emu oil relieve the muscle pain of bruising, and help the bruise to heal faster. See photos of a bruise treated with emu oil here.
- Emu oil reduces the pain and inflammation of arthritis. In this application of emu oil, the oil must be enhanced (by agents such as esters of salicylic acid) so as to better permeate the skin. In other words, it is not enough to just apply the oil to the exterior of the skin.
In addition to these benefits, emu oil has additional unique properties:
- Emu oil is bacteriostatic. Non-contaminated emu oil prevents the growth of bacteria.
- Emu oil does not clog pores; the word that dermatologists use for this property is non-comedogenic.
Using emu oil is a low-risk all-natural way to accelerate healing. Keep in mind that emus have been around for at least 80 million years, so they must be doing something right!