Cancer Patients Compel Physicians
To Take A Closer Look At Emu Oil
Investigative Focus by Beth Silva
Reprinted with permission of Emu Today & Tomorrow May 2000
The topic of emu oil in medical applications was recently
addressed by Elton J. Lormand, M.D. at the American Oil Chemists
Society Annual Meeting & Expo held in San Diego on April 27. Dr.
Lormand is currently conducting research at the Advanced ENT &
Facial Surgery Institute in Cullman, Alabama.
Lormandís discourse "Potential Medical Applications of Emu Oil"
included a discussion on observational science, double blind studies
and anecdotal accounts of emu oil. The doctor also discussed patient
response and addressed the areas of potential benefit of emu oil in
the medical field including radiation oncology, cosmetic skin
therapy, rheumatology and hypercholesterolemia.
The physician relates that to date, he has experienced only
anecdotal personal experience with emu oil, yet "extreme patient
excitement compels a closer look."
Patients Speak Out
Incredibly, it was Lormandís head and neck radiation therapy cancer
patients who first introduced him to emu oil. Coincidentally,
patients of the radiation oncologist ( and member of Dr. Lormandís
research team ) were also using emu oil- without either physicianís
Regarding emu oil Lormand remarks, " Our patients are basically
directing our efforts. Itís not something that I would have been
inclined to pursue on my own investigate but our patients are
convinced that thereís a benefit to this. So now we actually
encourage them to use it during their treatment protocol, but weíre
not doing that based on scientific data- the patients simply offered
the opportunity. Most patients who intend to use it have pretty much
been made aware of the oil before we even mention it to them. There
are many cancer patients and they find out about each other, and emu
oil is one of the things they find out about so theyíll often ask us
about it before we even mention it. As far as the radiation
oncologist, he basically has a patient apply the emu oil prior to
treatment. However, none of the patients use the oil unless he
approves of it."
Regarding the use of emu oil for treatment Lormand relates that the
patients themselves came up with their own applications.
"I give them no specific instructions on how to use it," concedes
the physician. "The patients who do use it use it at their own
direction. They basically apply it 20 minutes prior to their
radiation treatment and some patients actually ingest emu oil for
the benefit of the mucosal surfaces. I donít recommend the ingestion
of emu oil because I have no data to support the procedure. But for
patients who have used it, the damaged mucosa side of the burn is
actually lessened as well."
Lormand relates that some patients apply emu oil to the afflicted
area after radiation. "Apparently they come up with their own
regime," he says, " and the trend, I guess if there is one, would be
toward applying it to their skin on a more frequent basis."
The physician stresses that his view regarding recommending the use
of emu oil at this point is more of a neutral one.
"Our position had been, " It is not likely to harm you we just donít
know if it will help you." But the result in the patients we have
seen basically has been one of less burn than would be normally
anticipated from the radiation dose. But the number of patients Iím
talking about is not statistically significant, yet thereís enough
of a difference in my mind to compel a closer look.
More Research Needed
Because his patients "suggested that what theyíre seeing is real"
and in order "to determine whether that is true from a scientific
viewpoint or not," Lormand says that the use of emu oil in treatment
requires further research.
"There is interest and that interest is based on observationally
results as well as patient reports but the use of emu oil in my mind
had only generated a question of benefit, and in order to answer
that question, research is going to need to be done," emphasized
Lormand. "Multiple purported application will require multiple
research efforts. Anecdotal evidence may serve as a starting point
Lormand, along with his associate radiation oncologist, has decided
to form an investigatory team to take a closer look at the potential
benefits of emu oil. The team is now designing a single pilot,
double blind study to access the benefits of emu oil in radiation
therapy with an "objective evaluation of skin biopsies in radiation
therapy fields with and without topically applied emu oil and
placebo." The patients will also serve as the control and the end
point will focus on histological criteria. Lormand relates that the
research project is currently at the institutional review board
level. He comments, "Weíll develop some preliminary data and if the
data looks promising weíll petition for a grant to conduct a larger
multi-center assessment study, which potentially would be at
multiple sites around the nation. From those results may develop
other studies. For example there may be some endeavor to try to
figure our what it is about emu oil that causes the benefits.
Adds the doctor, "It appears at this point that emu oil is
anti-inflammatory- that itís dealing with the inflammatory effects
of the radiation therapy however, this is only an hypothesis at this
The Future Holds the Answer
Whether or not emu oil has any benefits to cancer patients receiving
radiation treatment, Lormand feels that they are just at the
preliminary stages of investigation.
"The methods for determining benefit are well established in the
scientific method, " he says, " and due diligence is now needed to
extract the answers good or bad. With a pilot study we should have
results a years after the study is underway. Regarding any potential
beneficial results of the study, the future holds the answer."
Elton John Lormand, M. D. is an ear, nose and throat surgeon and
facial plastic surgeon who specializes in aesthetic surgery in laser
resurfacing and laser hair and tattoo removal.
Dr. Lormand currently conducts his practice at Advanced ENT & Facial
Surgery Institute in Cullman, AL and is certified by the American
Academy of Otolarynology, Head & Neck Surgery. He is also a member
of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy and the American
Dr. Lormand initially became acquainted with emu oil through his
practice year ago. His practice has been very innovative in
introducing to the community several advanced head and neck cancer,
laser assisted sinus surgery and tonsil/adenoid removal and
comprehensive facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.