Promotion of second intention wound healing by emu oil lotion: comparative results with furasin, polysporin, and cortisone.
Politis MJ, Dmytrowich A
Department of Medical Physiology at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.
Previous studies showed that twice-daily application of emu oil lotion (mixture of emu oil/fat, vitamin E, and botanical oil) immediately after creation of full-thickness skin defects delayed wound healing 6 days later, perhaps owing to its anti-inflammatory actions. If administration was delayed for 48 hours, a two-fold promotion of wound contraction, epithelialization, and infiltration of organized granulation tissue was observed. In the present study, emu oil lotion was applied to full-thickness skin defects in rodents 24 hours after surgery. Six days postoperatively, wound contraction and infiltration of fronts of epithelialized and granulation tissue were assessed. Results indicated a two-fold promotion of all of the above parameters with emu oil lotion. No such effects were exerted by pure emu oil, furasin, cortaid, or polysporin. Data obtained indicate promise for emu oil lotion as an aid in treating full-thickness skin defects if applied after the major post inflammatory stages of wound healing have transpired.
The published analysis relates that "previous studies showed that twice-daily application of emu oil lotion immediately after creation of full-thicklness* skin defects delayed wound healing six days later, perhaps owing to its antiinflammatory actlons. If administration was delayed for 48 hours, a two-fold promotion of wound contraction, epithelialization, and infiltration of organized granulation tissue was observed."
The research objective was to ascertain turther potential effectiveness of emu oil lotion. Says the report, " The present study was undertaken to determine if the enhancement of wound healing observed by emu oil lotion treatment started at 48 hours post-injury could be reproduced or possibly enhanced by exposing open wounds to the lotion 24 hours postoperatively."
Precise test ointments included emu oil lotion, 100% emu oil, furasin, polysporin, hydrocortisone (1% ointment), and no ointment (control). The test ointments were applied to the rats 24 hours postoperatively to 3 mm lateral areas of shaved skin. The applications continued twice daily for the following five days. The report indicates that all assessments were done in a blinded manner six days postoperatively.
"Wound surface area was determined by measuring craniocaudal and lateromedial distance between hairbearing skin," conveys the paper. "An average of those two measurements was obtained and used to determine wound radius and then surface area for the circularly shaped defects."
Additional measurements were taken from tissue and cross-sections of midsegment wound material to verify the existence of statistical differences between the groups.
According to the published text, the most "dramatic results" were seen with the application of the emu oil lotion. 'The most advanced healing was in the emu oil lotion group, as borne out by quantitative analysis," reveals the paper. "Quantification of surface area showed statistically significant 55 percent reduction in cross-sectional area of wound exposed to emu oil lotion versus those exposed to no ointment. A 60 percent reduction in wound surface area was observed in previous studies in which emu oil lotion was applied 48 hours postoperatively. "
How did the other ointments fare? Discloses the document, "A signiflcant 38 percent reduction in wound surface area was observed with polysporin, an enlargement of more than 25 percent induced by hydrocortisone. Furasin induced no significant effects on wound healing in this model... Results indicate a nearly two-fold promotion of wound contraction, epithelialization, and infiltration of organized granulation tissue in wounds initially exposed to emu oil lotion 24 hours postoperatively. Pure emu oil promoted keratinization but had no significant effect on wound contraction or the location of the granulation-tissue invasion 'front'."
Familiar with numerous agents utilized in wound healing research, Politis offers this analysis of the significance of the study results: "The studies that were done in this particular model show that emu oil lotion is better than anything else commercially available."
Wound healing is an intricate process and while much is known about the individual components of emu oil lotion, the study implies that exactly how the formulation works is not yet known. 'The mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of emu oil lotion observed remain to be ascertained. Biochemicai assessment of emu oil lotion-exposed wounds must be done to determine how this agent works, but previous studies suggest several putative modes of action."
Adds the document, "A mitogenic effect of emu oil lotion is also possible. Application of this agent to equine hooves... promotes growth by two- to three-fold. Emu oil lotion promotes thickening of the epidermal epithelium in shaved, intact rat skin. Tissue culture studies are in progress to determine if emu oil lotion has direct mitogenic effects on culture skin cells."
The paper also makes this observation on pure emu oil, "Emu oil, a major component of emu oil lotion, is a popular over-the-counter skin moisturizer with highly lipophilic properties. It is possible that some of the beneficial effects of emu oil lotion are a result of a synergistic action of emu oil as a transcutaneous carrier for molecularly active components in the agent."
Commenting on emu oil as a potential instrument for transcutaneous transporting, Politis says, "Emu oil is very lipid or fat soluble and as a result it could carry with it other materials in the product or even on its own into the skin. So if you apply something onto the top layer of a wound it will penetrate very deeply into the bottom layers." The researcher adds his belief that emu oil has great potential as a carrier agent and that he has also been conducting research for a company regarding the mixing of various drugs with emu oil and examining penetration results.
In addition to conducting research with emu oil lotion, Politis has employed the formulation on his own animals as well as on various animal cases in his veterinary practice.
It works extremely well," offers Politis. "I even present it with an animal wound that's more than 24 hours old and less than a few days. I routinely put it on. I have been obtaining success with my own creatures as well as with other cases presented to me. I think it has enormous potential. The product of the emu is one of the most untapped naturally-occurring products that we have access to."
Adds the researcher, "I think the beneflt here is the safety of the product. To my knowledge, thus far with the exposure to emu oil lotion, there has been no reported problem on human skin or animal skin even after a year of being exposed to the product. Nearly 100 humans have been in contact with this potential. The product of the emu is one of the most untapped naturally-occurring products that we have access to."
Adds the researcher, "I think the beneflt here is the safety of the product. To my knowledge, thus far with the exposure to emu oil lotion, there has been no reported problem on human skin or animal skin even after a year of being exposed to the product. Nearly 100 humans have been in contact with this could be made available to do the work. The active ingredient could be determined and then appropriately concentrated and used for wound healing promotion purposes."
In addition to the research study noted here, there is limited research regarding the molecular composition of and potential uses of pure emu oil and emu oil in product. Politis feels strongly about the need for additional research regarding emu oil and says, "To know how the material works requires a scientiflc rather than an anecdotal approach. The researcher believes that more scientiflc studies should be done on emu oil because "It has great potential as shown in anecdotal studies and (because of its widespread use in the market without prior assessment of its effectiveness," says Politis.
Michael J. Politis received his Doctorate of Medical Physiology at New Jersey Medical School and his D.M.V. at Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Politis has published over 50 research papers in referred journals including, Brain Research, Trauma, Experimental Neurology, J. Reconstructive Surgery, etc., and has been a practicing veterinarian for several years. Politis also conducts research at the University of Saskatchewan in addition to teaching there.
Courtesy of Emu Today and Tomorrow, February 2000