One of the most interesting properties of Emu Oil is its ability to penetrate through the skin barrier and carry other compounds with it. When Dr. Paul Smith, Professor of Pathobiology at Auburn University, Alabama conducted a study in conjunction with the American Emu Association to determine whether or not emu oil would work as a trans-dermal carrier his conclusions were “if you don't want it to get under your skin, don't mix it with emu oil.”
The Emu Oil Transdermal Study
Dr. Smith stated that one of the most important points of any research is not so much the principal component that you are investigating, but the kind of controls that you use. In this study, he wanted to compare Emu Oil to another well-known trans-dermal carrier - DMSO. DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) is an all-natural substance derived from wood pulp used primarily in Veterinary Medicine to carry various kinds of drugs into deep muscles and the bloodstream.
The drug chosen to transport was Ketoprofen, very much like ibuprofen, a commonly used over-the-counter pain relief medication. Although Ketoprofen is a very potent anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drug, it can cause serious problems such as indigestion, renal dysfunction, fluid retention, and jaundice when taken orally. Therefore, the effort was to determine whether or not Emu Oil could transport the compound trans-dermally in an effort to avoid some of the side effects from oral use.
Six control groups used the following combination of ingredients:
- Alcohol compound Propanol and Ketoprofen.
- Emu oil mixed with the alcohol compound Propanol and Ketoprofen.
- DMSO mixed with bovine serum and Ketoprofen.
- Mineral oil and Ketoprofen.
- DMSO, emu oil, and Ketoprofen.
- Isopropyl alcohol and Ketoprofen
Six groups of mice were chosen at random, base level blood samples were drawn for later comparison. The mice were caged separately and treated individually, then placed back into the cage. For the treatments, an area of skin over the back was selected, and the fur was clipped with extremely fine clippers so that the presence of hair would not interfere with the compound. Using a small syringe .2mils of the compound were drawn and spread over that area of skin. The mouse was then put back into the cage to be left for a half an hour.
Blood samples were taken from the tail of the mouse immediately following the treatment. Dr. Smith explained that an area of the mouse’s tail was cleaned with an alcohol swab and a vein in the tail was nicked to collect the samples. After collection, cells were separated from the blood using a high-pressure liquid chromatograph then evaluated for the amount of drug in the bloodstream.
Test results indicated the amount of Ketoprofen found in the bloodstream of the mice as follows:
- Propanol and Ketoprofen showed 6 units.
- Emu Oil, propanol and Ketoprofen showed around 700 units.
- DMSO in bovine serum and Ketoprofen showed less than 200 units
- Mineral oil and Ketoprofen showed approximately 300 units.
- DMSO, emu oil, and Ketoprofen showed over 800 units.
- Isopropyl alcohol and Ketoprofen showed about 200 plus.
This study indicated that emu oil worked well as a penetration enhancer of medical substances. A further test was then conducted with straight Emu oil and Ketoprofen. The results were very close to the Emu Oil and DMSO compound.
“We feel that this bit of information gives us a place from which to work to continue to use anti-inflammatory drugs to be carried through the skin to treat conditions that would be very meaningful, not only in animals but in humans as well, and we are excited about what we are seeing,” said Dr. Smith.