Emu oil for hair loss - is it really the miracle treatment so many sites claim it to be?
On this page I'll take a look at the facts about emu oil and the 'medical research' which has led to it being hailed as an effective hair loss remedy.
NOTE: The information given on this page is for your guidance only and should not be seen as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional if you are worried about hair loss, or before using any treatment.
Emu oil really does come from the emu - a flightless bird indigenous to Australia and related to the ostrich!
The oil is rendered from a fat pad taken from the back of the bird when the bird is butchered. (It's worth noting here that emus are not butchered solely for their oil - the birds are farmed in Australia, the USA, Canada and Europe for their red meat).
The processed oil is a mixture of monounsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids; some sources suggest that around 70% of the fatty acids in emu fat are of the heart-protective unsaturated variety.
Australian lore tells us that its native aborigines and first white settlers valued the ability of emu oil to heal wounds and that they would rub the liquid fat directly on to the skin.
The oil was also believed to relieve the pain of musculo-skeletal disorders.
Recently, however, emu oil has earned a growing reputation as a cure for hair loss, with many websites referencing 'research' that 'proves' it stimulates hair growth when applied directly to the scalp.
With regards to treating hair loss, there ARE some advantages to using emu oil, but probably NOT for the reasons that many sources suggest!
Emu oil DOES have anti-inflammatory properties - a fact documented by scientific research - so it can help promote a healthy scalp.
It's a natural substance (for those who prefer to avoid chemicals) and seems to produce no adverse side effects in those who use it.
According to the American Emu Association - a non-profit agricultural association dedicated to the emu industry - not only is emu oil non-irritating (even at full concentration) - it is also non-comedogenic, which means that it doesn't clog pores. So it can be applied to the scalp without fear of causing even more problems with a batch of pimples!
Furthermore, it's a good emulsifier, which means that it doesn't feel oily (also important for anything you want to apply to your scalp) and is extremely well absorbed through human skin.
In other words, emu oil appears to help the ingredients of hair growth stimulants get to where they're needed more easily.
Emu oil can help reduce inflammation - so if an inflamed scalp is causing your hair loss, then yes, it might help. (Another advantage here is that emu oil can soothe the irritation that other hair products might be causing).
As I mentioned earlier, emu oil helps transport ingredients through the skin, so it may help your hair loss medication to work more effectively.
But evidence that emu oil itself can actually reverse hair loss is practically non-existent!
Yes, there are many websites referring to 'research' that 'proves' its effectiveness as a hair loss remedy, but all this research seems to revolve around one individual, a Dr. Michael Holick.
Apparently, an article by Dr. Holick was published by Drug and Cosmetic Industry Magazine in 1996, and he then went on to file a patent application that claimed that emu oil stimulates both skin and hair growth.
Despite extensive searches, I've been unable to find any convincing, widely accepted medical evidence supporting these claims!
What's more, an article published in the UK's Daily Mail in 2009 referenced a study of emu oil, during which it was testing by balding volunteers. Results seemed promising - with the total average regrowth for the 6 month period at 45% - but the study was dismissed as "unacceptable" by consultant dermatologist Dr. Andrew Messenger from the Royal Hampshire Hospital in Sheffield. He said,
"The trial they describe [involving just 34 people, none of whom took a placebo, and with no independent verification] would not be accepted as evidence by anybody in the field. Just asking people if they think they have grown more hair is not good enough. Have they measured these patients' DHT levels? I see no value in using a product such as this."
To sum up then, it seems that emu oil certainly has its benefits but is not the 'miracle cure' that many sites (particularly those who sell it) allege it to be.
If you choose to give emu oil a try, then you can buy it online from Amazon, where it certainly has quite a fan base!
Not all emu oils are created equal and they can vary quite a bit in terms of the amount of anti-oxidants they contain and just how good they are at penetrating the skin.
In Australia, emu oil is regulated by the Australian Growers' Association (AGA). The Emu Oil Pure Premium Golden 4 fl.oz. (shown above) is AGA certified.
A similar system is used in the USA, where The American Emu Association has a certification program to establish quality control. Pro Emu Oil - which is made in the USA - is AEA certified.
To use emu oil for hair loss, simply massage it into the scalp a few drops at a time. You can mix it with another substance - hair loss medication, for example - or a cosmetic ingredient such as coconut oil, in order to enhance its effects.
You can also add it to the hair itself by pouring a few drops on to the palm of your hand, rubbing your hands together, then smoothing it over your hair from root to tip.
It's a good idea to apply emu oil before you go to bed, because then you can leave it on overnight to work its magic! (You might want to wear a shower cap, though, to protect your pillowcase). If the air in your room is dry, try using it in conjunction with a humidifier, which can really soften your locks.Once you've finished your emu oil treatment, then wash your hair with shampoo. If the oil seems to be helping you, you may even want to try using Emu Oil Shampoo and Leave-in Conditioner!
Sources - and for More Information
Have YOU tried emu oil for hair loss? Did it work for you, or did it at least improve the condition of your hair or scalp?
Please leave a comment below, or contact me and share your experiences.