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 practice.

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 explained.

"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 revealed.

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." he asserted.

"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 article in Emu Today & Tomorrow July, 1995