Influence of Emu Oil on
In Older Individuals
By: Dr. Leigh
From presentation given at AOCS Ratite Oil session,
May 1998, Chicago Illinois
As we age, there
are a number of issues that set us up for complications in our daily lives. There is a change in our skin thickness,
so we are always interested in that and looking to change some of
that. There is loss of elasticity
and of the adherence to deep tissue – some of that sagging that you get is
due to this. Langerhans
cells are also decreased, and so immunocompetence
is declining with age, and we are more prone to skin infections. There is also probably a decline in that
ability of the skin to synthesize lipids, so this is the principal benefit
we are aiming for when we apply oils.
Skin dryness also increases with age.
The consequence is that there is a loss
of the integrity of the skin, and then a decline in the ability to repair
this. You are also at a greater risk
for insults to the skin/body.
Dr. Hollick has done some studies with
mice, applying emu oil to their skin with corn oil as the negative
control. Epidermal growth thickness
and, believe it of not, hair growth
increased. His comments were that
there was increased thickness although I don’t
know what that number was, and 80% of resting hair follicles were
“charged”. The bottom line is, you have to have a hair follicle for it to be
rejuvenated. Emu oil will not make
last year, did another study on skin thickness using ratite oils (ostrich,
rhea, and emu), with retinoic acid (Retin-A) as the positive control and
mineral oil as the negative control.
There were probably 4-5 mice per group. The findings from that
mouse study was that the Retin-A gave marked hyperplasia. The ratite oils gave anything from mild
hyperplasia to the mosaic effect seen with Retin-A. The mineral oil, to out chagrin perhaps, also
gave a postive response. But this is because it is an irritant,
and it gives a different hyperplasia to the response you see with
Retin-A. We also looked at fish oil
and chicken oil. These did not
demonstrate any topical activity.
The next study that Dr. Pugliese did for us was to take a
look at elderly individuals and see what their response was to the
topical application of emu oil. So
we recruited 8 people. In
retrospect, there is a little problem here since they were unbelievably
healthy Mennonites. These people,
then, were a little unusual. The
average age was 72. We did throw in
one unusual patient who was 38, who had scleroderma, so she lowered the
average age. The average age would
have been 77 otherwise, and there were 4 patients that
were over 80, or at least claimed to be. I didn’t check
birth certificates or anything, but these church Mennonites cannot lie, so
we had to accept this. They were
instructed to apply emu oil at least nightly (but more often if they wanted
to) to the back of the non-dominant hand.
That is what we measured to skin thickness on. The study was 6 weeks in duration.
Most of the mice studies had been of
about a 5-day duration. I was always a little concerned about
what you can do to the skin of a newborn in just 5 days, and how applicable
that would be to humans. I think you
would probably need a longer time frame.
This (SLIDE SHOWN) is sort of a summary
of the 8 patients, looking at the summation of the epidermis and papillary
dermis changes. There is a huge
variation in skin thickness between individuals, so if I just gave you the
raw numbers, it becomes a little tricky.
That’s why you need to look at the relative
change. (percent change). Let me point two out. Patient 6 is the young lady in the group
who had the scleroderma. There was
essentially no response. I was
looking for a miracle cure for scleroderma, and this study suggests that it’s not emu oil.
And this other individual with zero change was an individual who
claimed he was 84. He was what you
would call “ham hands.” They were so
big he could not purchase gloves. I
think he plowed with his hands. They
were the hardest hands I’ve ever seen, and when
you put emu oil on them it would just dissipate right away. So I thought this could be
interesting. But maybe he needed
quarts of emu oil, instead of the two ounces that we gave. He had no change. So there are limits, and he could have
been an individual that did not follow the protocol as closely as the others. Anyway,
his hands were different.
The changes are of the order of 9.9 to
10.6%, depending on which portion of the skin you looked at. Combined, there was an 8% increase in
skin thickness from 6 weeks of application of pure emu oil.
Most of the other products that I’ll be talking to you about in later sessions are
formulation, looking to make enhancements.
If you haven’t tried emu oil, it’s of
course grease. It depends on how
interested you are in applying grease anywhere – to your hair, to your
hands, etc. Formulations that take
some of that greasiness with probably be important to us.
I will elaborate more later
about the fatty acid roles. The
fatty acids are probably what contribute more to the changes. I’ll give more
details in the next talk.
Here are some slides to show you what the
scans look like (SLIDES SHOWN). This
section right up here is the epidermis, and this software program within
the equipment allows you to determine the thickness changes. This area in here is the papillary
dermis. You can look at density, and
there are a number of different measures that you can
follow with this type of equipment, all depending on the internal software
for those interpretations.
(end of skin thickness part of talk)
In response to the question of whether skin thickness change was
measured at the beginning and at the end of the study, or between the two
hands (one with emu oil applied, the other without), Dr. Hopkins said that
only skin thickness of the emu-oil-treated hand was measured – first at the
beginning of the study, then at the end.