Emu oil comes from the fat of the emu bird. The oil may have various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve arthritis symptoms.

Emus are a species of flightless birds native to Australia. Farmers raise them to provide meat, leather, and oil.

Emu oil comes from a thick layer of fat on the bird’s back. Manufacturers refine the fat into an oil for cosmetics and health products.

This article explores the potential health benefits of emu oil and how it may help relieve arthritis symptoms.

Inflammatory arthritis is a group of arthritis conditions that cause symptoms such as:

  • joint pain and swelling
  • warmth in the joints
  • stiffness in the morning

These symptoms can cause prolonged pain and discomfort for people with this chronic disease.

Using emu oil may be an effective way to help lower the pain and swelling from arthritis.

Emu oil has potential anti-inflammatory benefits

Emu oil may have anti-inflammatory benefits when applied topically to the skin. A 2021 study found that the topical use of emu oil can relieve inflammatory arthritis symptoms such as joint pain and swelling.

Topical use of emu oil also delivers other benefits that can help people with arthritis, such as:

  • an analgesic for pain relief
  • an anesthetic to limit pain sensitivity
  • an antipruritic for itch relief
  • an antioxidant to protect your body from free radicals, or atoms that can cause cell damage
  • a moisturizer for dry skin
  • a penetration enhancer to increase the absorption of the oil and topical medications

Emu oil can also contain curcumin, which a 2017 research review showed may help manage oxidative and inflammatory diseases such as:

People most commonly use emu oil as a topical treatment (applied to the skin) for arthritis relief. The oil is also available as a carrier oil.

Carrier oils are base oils that can dilute essential oils before you apply them to your skin. Diluting an essential oil can lower some of its potency or strength.

Emu oil taken orally has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties in mice for gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s. However, additional studies are necessary to determine whether oral consumption of emu oil can provide anti-inflammatory relief for people with arthritis.

Emu oil isn’t suitable for everyone.

Pregnant people, breastfeeding or chestfeeding people, and children should not take any form of emu oil. Limited research exists on the benefits and risks of these people using oil, as research studies tend to exclude them.

Pregnant people can speak with their healthcare professional or lactation consultant to discuss safer alternatives to emu oil.

Before using emu oil for arthritis, talk with your doctor to ensure the oil is safe to use for your health conditions and won’t cause any side effects.

Although emu oil is available at most major retailers, look for companies that ethically source it, such as American Emu Association (AEA) Certified Business Members.

AEA members have agreed to follow ethical business practices to source emu oil to ensure consumers receive emu oil that’s certified refined, pure, and unadulterated (not mixed or diluted).

Also, when seeking emu oil for arthritis symptom relief, look for products containing unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic and linolenic acids.

Naturally refined emu oil can have an estimated 70% unsaturated fatty acids, which are primarily sourced from plants but can be in certain animals.

Unsaturated fatty acids can lower inflammation in many chronic diseases, including arthritis. There isn’t enough scientific evidence yet to determine how much emu oil is necessary for arthritis relief.

Until more research is available, follow the instructions provided on the packaging of your emu oil.

Emu oil is a natural oil that comes from the fat of an emu bird. Research indicates that this oil, whether used topically or taken orally, may have anti-inflammatory benefits that can relieve common arthritis symptoms, such as joint pain and swelling.

Emu oil can also easily penetrate the skin, lower pain sensitivity, relieve itch, and much more.

While naturally refined emu oil is fairly safe, there isn’t enough research to conclude that pregnant people, breastfeeding or chestfeeding people, or children should use it.