Emu Oil Institute
Why Emu Oil Works
by Dr. Leigh Hopkins, Pharm.D.
Why Emu Oil Works is the $64,000 question or do we have some clues? The simple answer and one which is close to being correct, is that emu oil is one of the basic food groups that our culture has chosen to deny. Avoiding fats in our diets creates the many conditions which respond to emu oil. Why it works when applied topically, when other sources of these fatty acids do not, is still unknown, but this too could simply be due to the similarity of emu oil with the fats in our skin thus enabling it to readily mix (and penetrate) with these fats.
How does it work? This is a subject that is made complex by the large number of steps within our body's chemistry that involve fatty acids. To begin with, no drug offers the wide scope of activity seen with emu oil, which further supports the idea that emu oil activity originates from a food group rather than a single compound. Our body's needs for fats can be broadly grouped into structural and functional needs.
Structural needs - All our cell walls are made of fat which separates the watery contents of each unique cell from the adjacent cells. These cell walls are complex constructions which contain pores, channels and receptors which enable the cell to receive and send signals and to respond to various chemicals and to release various chemicals. When fats are missing from our diets, our body makes fat from the protein and carbohydrates which we eat. Unfortunately, it cannot make some types of fats that are required by the cell wall. Therefore, all cell wall structures are defective when some of the necessary essential fats, such as found in emu oil, are missing from our diets. We can think of our skin as the largest cell wall we have. A dry, itchy skin (i.e., a defective skin) is a sign of missing essential fatty acids.
When the essential fats are missing from our cells, the more rigid saturated and monounsaturated fats must be used in their place. This rigidity impairs all our cells, which must be flexible to work best. Hard arteries can be thought of as containing rigid, saturated fats rather than the soft, polyunsaturated fats.
Functional needs - Fats play many very different roles in our body other than the simple concentrated energy source and cushion which we usually think of fats as providing. All cells produce hormones directly from the fatty acids which we must receive from our diet or from the topical application of these fatty acids. These hormones influence all aspects of local cell activity. They are involved in such activity as inflammation, healing, and cell growth and dying. When we don't have enough of the correct fats, these processes of every day life do not operate at peak efficiency. Emu Oil can provide the necessary fats that are required to normal cellular function.