Unadulterated emu oil can vary widely in colour and viscosity anywhere from an off-white creamy texture to a thin yellow liquid, depending on the diet of the emu and the refining method(s) used. It is composed of approximately 70% unsaturated fatty acids. The largest component is oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Emu oil also contains roughly 20% linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and 1-2% linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid).
Two small-scale animal studies have suggested that emu oil, applied topically, may have anti-inflammatory properties or promote wound healing in various rodent models. Emu oil is also marketed and promoted as a dietary supplement with a wide variety of claimed health benefits. However, little is known about its risks and benefits. Emu oil has been used historically in Australian aboriginal traditional medicine for fevers, coughs, minor pain, arthritic joints, bruises, cuts and sores.
Commercial emu oil supplements are not standardized and vary widely in their potency. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration highlighted emu oil in a 2009 article on "How to Spot Health Fraud," pointing out that many "pure emu oil" products are unapproved drugs.
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