Chron's Disease and Emu Oil

Carla Hellemond

If you suffer from Crohn's disease you are not alone. Approximately 500,000 North Americans, including notable persons such as actress Shannen Doherty and Pearl Jam's lead guitarist Mike McCready, suffer from this debilitating immune problem. Onset of Crohn's usually occurs between 15 - 30 years of age, but can occur at any stage of life.

Life with Crohn's is no picnic. Symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and severe weight loss. Swollen eyes, arthritis, and various painful skin rashes can also occur. Genetically predisposed individuals are more likely to suffer from Crohn's, but other environmental factors such as smoking, birth control, lack of access to quality food, and excessive stress can be major contributing factors. Inflammation can affect any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the anus, but is usually concentrated in the small and large intestine. Early onset of Crohn's causes small erosions (aphthous ulcers) of the bowel's lining. As time goes on these erosions become deeper causing stiffness and scarring, potentially obstructing the bowel by preventing digested food, gas and fluids from passing through the small intestine to the colon. The result can be vomiting, nausea and severe abdominal cramping.

There is currently no cure for Crohn's. At best patients can try to mitigate the inflammation causing the disease and try to keep themselves in remission. Mild symptoms may be countered with an anti-diarrhea medicine, such as Imodium. Prescription medicines such as antibiotics, corticosteroids, or immune system suppressants are often prescribed as treatments for more severe conditions. These medicines may pose potential side effects such as increased risk of infection, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.

There have been limited clinical studies on humans regarding emu oil and inflammation, and its effect on Crohn’s. Australia seems to be leading the way in research regarding this subject.

An article published by the University of Adelaide states:

"Used by Australian indigenous populations as a skin wound treatment, and anecdotally regarded as useful in reducing bowel inflammation, research at the University of Adelaide has not only supported emu oil's anti-inflammatory properties, but shown that it can also help to repair damage to the bowel."

Professor Gordon Howarth PHD at Adelaide University, plans to proceed with clinical trials.

"We've now done sufficient studies in the laboratory to show that emu oil has potential to help reduce the debilitating symptoms of these conditions and to enhance intestinal recovery," Professor Howarth says. "We are now looking at further work to look at emu oil dosages, and whether the beneficial effects can be reproduced in clinical trials."

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