Emu Oil: a novel therapeutic for disorders of the gastrointestinal tract?

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 May;27(5):857-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2012.07098.x.


Gastrointestinal diseases characterized by inflammation, including the inflammatory bowel diseases, chemotherapy-induced mucositis and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced enteropathy, currently have variably effective treatment options, highlighting the need for novel therapeutic approaches. Recently, naturally-sourced agents including prebiotics, probiotics, plant-extracts and marine-derived oils known to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties have been investigated in vitro and in vivo. However, animal-derived oils are yet to be extensively tested. Emu Oil is extracted from the subcutaneous and retroperitoneal fat of the Emu, a flightless bird native to Australia, and predominantly comprises fatty acids. Despite the limited rigorous scientific studies conducted to date, with largely anecdotal claims, Emu Oil, when administered topically and orally, has been shown to possess significant anti-inflammatory properties in vivo. These include a CD-1 mouse model of croton oil-induced auricular inflammation, experimentally-induced polyarthritis and dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis. Recently, Emu Oil has been demonstrated to endow partial protection against chemotherapy-induced mucositis, with early indications of improved intestinal repair. Emu Oil could therefore form the basis of an adjunct to conventional treatment approaches for inflammatory disorders affecting the gastrointestinal system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Acids
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Oils / chemistry
  • Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Palaeognathae*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Fatty Acids
  • Oils
  • emu Oil