Background: Emu oil is a product of animal origin used for the treatment of inflammation, burns etc. as a part of aboriginal medicine in Australia. Crohn's disease is a common inflammatory manifestation in humans and other animal species relating to the ulceration and digestive disturbances in upper gastro-intestinal tract. Aloe vera is commonly used substance from plant sources for inflammation, wound healing and various other properties. Given the difference in the source of the substances all the while playing a similar therapeutic role in different parts of the world, the present investigation was undertaken to evaluate the protective effect of aloe vera and emu oil alone and in combination; in comparison to sulfasalazine (Allopathic drug) as an alternative for the treatment of Crohn's disease.
Methods: Wistar albino rats were divided into six groups with two sub-groups of six animals each. After pre-treating the animals with sulfasalazine, aloe vera, emu oil and their combination for five consecutive days, the animals were sub-cutaneously administered indomethacin on 4(th) and 5(th) day and each sub-group was sacrificed on day 6 and 9. After sacrifice, serum and intestine of these animals was collected. Intestine length from duodenum till caecum was measured for estimating relative organ weight and disease activity index. Part of intestine was preserved in formalin for histopathology while the rest was used for analysis of oxidative parameters and myeloperoxidase. Serum collected was used for measuring alkaline phosphatase and cholesterol.
Results: Assessment of the parameters in treatment groups indicated that the combination of aloe vera and emu oil resulted in better protection by suppressing the oxidative (P < 0.05) and histomorphological changes indicating a enhanced effect of these two agents which was found to be better than sulfasalazine.
Conclusion: The combination of emu oil and aloe vera exhibited enhanced effect resulting in significant protection from indomethacin induced ulceration. This might be due to the different mechanism of anti-inflammatory effects (Salicylic acid in aloe vera and n3, n6 fatty acids acting as pseudosubstrates to cyclooxygenase enzyme) of components of the animal and plant products tested.