Review on emu products for use as complementary and alternative medicine

Nutrition. 2015 Jan;31(1):21-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2014.04.004. Epub 2014 Apr 19.


Emu (Dromaius novaehallandiae), the flightless bird native to Australia and found in many countries, is receiving much attention for its nutritional benefits as well as its medicinal value. Emu oil contains high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. It has potent anti-inflammatory actions and thus can be used topically and orally to treat conditions such as mucositis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and auricular inflammation, and to prevent chemotherapy-induced bone loss. Emu oil also has a hypocholesterolemic effect, transdermal penetration-enhancing activity, cosmetic and insect repellent activity, and so on. However, its mechanism(s) of actions are unclear and have not, to our knowledge, been studied to date. Previous studies suggest that the fatty acids of the ω-9, ω-6, and ω-3 series, which are present in emu oil, may act on cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase, and lipoxin pathways to bring about its anti-inflammatory and other beneficial actions. The aim of this review was to provide a brief summary of the current knowledge of research on emu products, mainly emu oil, for the possible use as a complementary and alternative natural medicine for various chronic diseases. In this review we also highlighted the future research scope of emu oil for its possible antidiabetic activity. Thus, emu oil is an attractive pharmacologic agent to further explore for its therapeutic activity to treat various ailments.

Keywords: Antioxidant; Emu oil; GPR120; Inflammation; MUFA; PUFAs; Penetration enhancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Australia
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Dromaiidae*
  • Eggs
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Meat
  • Oils / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Oils
  • emu Oil