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Emu Oil for Aging Hair

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February 17, 2009 Reviewed by admin 15 Comments

Just down the road from my home is a very cool Saturday "farmers market". It is held in a huge old (converted) horse barn and each of the 40 "horse stalls" is home to a rotating group of vendors. You can find anything from freshly baked breads and home grown vegetables to very high-end handmade custom furniture so any time we have visiting house guests I use my hosting duties as an excuse to go snoop around the market.

Two years ago there was a vendor who was enthusiastically extolling an endless list of virtues for emu oil. According to his gospel-like shpeel, because emu oil is molecularly similar to human skin it is a wonderfully effective moisturizer for hair and body, a treatment for burns, a hair growth treatment, and a chemical -free anti-bacterial for the treatment of everything from dandruff to rashes. Being the smarty pants that I am, I knew his promises were too good to be true, and I did everything but roll my eyes and snicker at the crowd of believers who lined up to buy the small bottles of magic potion.

I, Kate, do hereby apologize to Mr. Emu Oil and his band of believers because scientific research suggests he just might have been telling the truth all along. Emu oil contains essential fatty acids: linolenic, linoleic, oleic, and palmitic. Linolenic (omega-3 EFA) and linoleic (omega-6 EFA) have important nutritional effects on immune cell function, inflammatory responses, all organ systems, smooth muscle activity, the circulatory and cardiovascular systems. Oleic is a known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

What really has captured my attention is that topical applications of Emu oil may result in the growth of thicker hair..... both a thickening of existing hair shafts (which shrink in diameter with age) and a "re awakening" of the dormant (sleeping) hair shafts (which increase as a percentage of total hair shafts with age).

Dr. Michael Holick, M.D, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, conducted a study on mice which was designed to quantify the effect of Emu oil on hair growth and hair re growth. It seems portions of hair were removed from the mice, and those areas were treated with either Emu Oil, or a corn oil.  According to Dr Holick, "We found that there was about a 20% increase in DNA synthesis, which means that there was a 20% increase in the proliferation activity, or the grow th activity of the skin in the animals that received (a processed Emu oil), compared to the animals that received corn oil".
"We found that there was an enhancement in the growth activity of the hair follicles. So it gives us very good scientific indication that we were stimulating skin growth. Over 80% of hair follicles that had been asleep were woken up and began growing hair." Overly simplified, normal hair follicles alternate between a resting phase and a growth phase, and topical applications of Emu oil were a wake up call for these snoozing hair mice.
Balding men take note: According to my google search, "another medicinal effect of emu oil is its' reported ability to inhibit 5 alpha reductase – a body chemical that is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into DHT. It is known that DHT is strongly implicated in the onset and progression of male-pattern baldness. When Emu oil is applied onto balding parts of the scalp, it works to de sterilize the DHT-producing components of hair follicles". Jeepers! All this great stuff, and no reported side effects?

So, in a quest for truth (and to satisfy my own curiosity) five months ago I started applying "molecularly distilled" emu oil to my scalp twice weekly, and leaving it in overnight. By the way, the great variation in price and quality in emu oil has largely to do with the "refining" process. Because emu oil penetrates so quickly and easily through your skin into your body, the refining differences are important.  “fully refined” emu oil may still contain up to 10% impurities. The more expensive "Molecular distillation" process yields a very clean oil - free of impurities, bacteria, toxins and heavy metals. The variations in color have only to do with what the emu eats and nothing to do with quality. My recommendation: Spend a few extra bucks and buy emu oil which is "certified"  and which has been through the "molecular distillation" process.

It is much too early in my experiment to decide how well Emu oil works as a growth/re-growth/thickening agent, but I must say that my hair and scalp are clearly in much better condition. Gray hair does not product the same amount of natural oils, and the emu oil seems to have provided a better balance. The Emu oil also has addressed the minor and sporadic (stress or diet caused) flare-ups of itchy scalp I can experience during 1) the holiday season or 2) extreme cold weather "wool hat" season or 3) extreme hot weather "cowboy h at" season.

I will continue with the twice weekly applications and will update you 1) as results become clear, or 2) at the end of 2009....whichever comes first.  Drop me a line using the comment box if you have personally used the Emu oil for at least 6 months for hair growth/re-growth and are already "ahead" of me on my "aging hair" experiment.

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  • February 2, 2017

    by Ebonyeyez

    I don't believe in the hype of emu oil for hair growth itself, but I do believe the pure versions are beneficial as being no irritating and soothing, thus enabling the scalp to recover. I love the shampoo and conditioner and the use on my gray hair. The oil gives my hair a nice beautiful healthy sheen without looking greasy. I go to the emu association to locate vendor selling pure products.

  • April 27, 2015

    by Tracey

    I have been using Emu oil for a couple of years now. My skin glows from regular use on my skin. It has proved excellent for sore joints and muscles, especially after bathing. I first started using it for my hair. My mother asked the other day if I dyed my hair because it was so dark, because the gray has seemed to diminish. Not only that areas of hair that was badly damaged and broken off, had grown back and my hair has been growing like itdid when I was younger. It is soft, thick and healthy now. I swear by it.
    I bye the certified oil from Amazon.

  • March 21, 2015

    by ian collie

    I swear by emu. I use it post chemical peel, as a moisturizing agent, I add it to my lotion, and use it as a carrier oil to mix with minoxidil. It works to thicken strengthen and smooth. I have prefrontal early baldness. I hear a few times a week how great my hair is now and how glowing my skin is (I HAD cistic acne). I exercise 5 days a week, eat clean and raw when possible. Its definitely not "snake oil." Im a 1 year loyal emu addict/fan!

  • April 7, 2011

    by Cheryl

    I am curious how the results turned out too! Im in my early 40's & am trying to put off getting a perm but my hair is so thin & dull but long & want a more healthy head of hair that i can style so I dont hv to perm it.

  • January 9, 2011

    by Lori

    After noticing the dreaded receding temples in the mirror, I'm wondering if you have reported back on your results?

  • September 14, 2009

    by Tammy

    I am a hairdresser and am experiencing thinning hair. I bought emu oil and am doing a hair shaft experiment myself. I do not know where to get the "good stuff" but im using aea certified. Can you give a list of some brands to buy?

  • August 25, 2009

    by Stan

    Kate, So how did it go with the Emu oil?

  • February 22, 2009

    by JulieK

    Cool! I'll be giving this a try. Thanks, Kate. ~jk

  • February 20, 2009

    by Kate

    Hi Julie K,

    I too noticed that the Emu Oil I put on as a moisturizer for my arms/elbows coincidentally reduced some tennis elbow aches, but I can't locate any good scientific studies on Emu Oil for pain relief.

    Re Hair color: I don't know if extensive use of very blond highlights and reddish tinted low lights counts as coloring my hair, but I have them both and not only did the applications of Emu Oil not fade or change the color over the last 5 months, my stylist commented last month when he added the new highlights/lowlights that my hair and scalp have never looked better. And I am very liberal with the oil... I put it on my scalp before bedtime, brush it throughout my hair, and wash it out the next day, so my hair is really getting a big dose.
    For what is worth, I mentioned my Emu Oil experiment to my stylist before he added the most recent highlights and he did'nt have any concerns. That being said, I don't know if there are differences in applications, colors and chemical strengths in coloring, so the wise thing to do is to mention it to your stylist before you do anything. And again, be sure to use the "good" stuff... the lesser quality oil can contain up to 10% "mystery" ingredients.

    If anyone out there has had a negative result with Emu Oil and hair color, please post.

  • February 20, 2009

    by JulieK

    I have certified distilled refined (blah blah) (i.e. "the good stuff) emu here that I bought last year when my back was injured and wouldn't respond to anything else. It does to emu oil... Just saying.

    Now about hair. Kate: I take it you don't color your hair. If you do, I'm reading you all wrong. My question: Do you think emu oil would cause fade out to color treated hair? ~jk

  • February 18, 2009

    by Kate

    I know very little about the other topicals you suggested, but if it were me, I would start with the Emu Oil. Your friend should be able to determine if it has potential within 60 days, Emu Oil can't hurt, it is not very expensive, you could apply it "for life", it is natural and chemical free, and there is at least some scientific evidence that it works for male pattern balding. If "new hair shafts" awaken and sprout, it may be thinner/finer in diameter as compared to the diameter of the remaining hairshaft which he is now shaving off. Double check with a doctor or pharmacist if you decide to "mix" topicals/chemicals, although nothing I have seen leads me to believe there would be an adverse reaction if you combined Emu Oil with one of the other topicals.

    And let us know how it works if your friend tries it.

  • February 18, 2009

    by Michelle

    Thank you very much for the information! ^_^

  • February 18, 2009

    by Jeff

    Proscar is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, it is not a diuretic. Spironolactone is a K sparing diuretic with anti-androgenic properties. Rogaine's mode of action has nothing to do with DHT inhibition. Very irresponsible to post erroneous information.

  • February 17, 2009

    by admin

    Rogaine often has good results for male balding. But it works in a different way (by dealing with the male hormone responsible for most male hairloss) from folligen which strengthens follicles. He could also ask his doctor for Proscar - this is a dioretic believe or not, which has a side effect of helping hair grow back.

  • February 17, 2009

    by Michelle


    I have a friend who buzzed off his hair because of a receding hair line on both sides of the top of his head. I was wondering if the Folligen Nutrient scalp cream would help promote hair growth for him, or does it only promote tiny hair follicles to pop up. Should be consider Rogaine? If not, would the emu oil be better, or could anyone suggest a better remedy for his situation? Thank you!

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