Getting a Grip on Pain:
Documenting the Facts on Emu Oil and Arthritis
Dr. Thom Leahey of the Arthritis Clinic in Ardmore, OK, discusses
reducing arthritis pain with Emu Oil, and the use of Emu Oil in his
A preliminary study has already produced some positive indication,
that the oil may substantially reduce the pain caused by arthritis.
"We took a random sampling of 20 volunteers for a double blind,
placebo-controlled study using emu oil and mineral oil," said Dr.
Leahey. "The only qualifying parameter was that the volunteer could
not have ever used emu oil before the test. Volunteers also remained
on the same arthritis medicine they were currently taking,: he
"In this 2 week study, 7 of the 12 emu oil users reported a
significant reduction in pain, morning stiffness and swelling. Only
1 of the 8 mineral oil users (placebo) related the same results,"
reported Dr. Leahey. Encouraged by these preliminary findings. Dr.
Leahey felt the oil merited additional investigation through a
comprehensive clinical study that could be documented and published
in scientific and trade journals.
The proposed study, which will extend over a three month period,
will involve 500 participants. 'The main qualifying factor will be
that the participant must have had arthritis diagnosed in their
hands," he explained. Although the extensiveness of the arthritis is
not a factor that will disqualify a volunteer, Dr. Leahey maintains
a personal theory that the oil may have its greatest impact on early
stages of arthritis pain. "I don't know if any topical aid would be
beneficial for chronic or burnout arthritis, where the cartilage has
been actually destroyed. I suspect the oil reduces inflammation
around and within joints, and assists in allowing a greater freedom
of movement." he reasoned.
"This study will not only provide for a subjective determination of
the effect of the oil," said Dr. Leahey, "but it will also include
direct measurements. By using a dynamometer, we can confirm changes
in the participant's gripping strength. Also, by direct examination
of the hands, it is very easy to test the sensitivity and number of
tender and swollen joints." he revealed.
Volunteers that are accepted and have been off arthritis medicine
for one month will receive an Initial examination measuring the
gapping strength in the hands. The subject may be asked at the
beginning of the study to assign a number corresponding to the pain
level being experienced in their joints on a scale of 1 to 5. After
the hands are examined, the subject will be instructed on how to
properly apply the oil onto the hands, tentatively 3 times a day for
3 months. The subject's hands will be reexamined and evaluated at
the end of each 30 day interval.
"When I was initially approached by patients advising me that they
were experiencing relief from emu oil, I did a literature search on
the topic of emu oil and medical applications. I quickly learned
that there is a big void in this area and that there were no
published articles in scientific or medical journals." Dr. Leahey
Personal observation of the effectiveness of the emu oil on his own
patients was the motivating factor behind Dr. Leahey's proposal for
a clinical study. "The dramatic results I have observed convinced me
that this oil can make an impact on those suffering from arthritis."
he stated. "The advent of this oil has simply changed my practice."
"The research is imperative," stated Dr. Leahey. The initial results
and potential are so exciting. In the last few weeks. I've begun
recommending the use of emu oil as part of a regular treatment
program for patients," he revealed. "Iíve observed some very
surprising results. The oil is very economical compared to regular
arthritis medicines, and appears to have fewer side effects," he
continued. "It's very encouraging to find something that may help
relieve the suffering associated with arthritis, and it's very
exciting to be a part of a project that may impact the quality of
life for so many people."
"I believe there's been an oil strike here, and I want to be a part
of it." Dr. Leahey declared.
Dr. Thom Leahey attended graduate school at Texas A&M University
where he graduated with a Bachelors in Science and a Masters in
Science. After graduate school. he attended the Texas College of
Osteopathic Medicine in fort Worth where he graduated in June 1983.
He did his residency in Michigan at Garden City Hospital and the
Internal Medicine portion at Providence Hospital. He finished his
residency in June, 1988. He then moved to Talihina, Oklahoma where
he spent two years doing Indian Health Service at the Choctaw
Nations Indian Hospital. Dr. Leahey moved to Ardmore in June, 1990,
and joined the Arthritis Clinic. He does rheumatology practice with
special interest in medical disability evaluations. He is on staff
at Memorial Hospital. Dr. Leahey is the Medical Director of 6
nursing homes in southern Oklahoma. He is the President of Southern
District of Osteopathic Association in Oklahoma for 1995. He is a
member of: American College of rheumatology, American college of
Physicians, Oklahoma Osteopathic Association and Fellow of the
American Academy of Disability Evaluation Physicians.
Excerpted with permission from an
Today & Tomorrow July, 1995