Skin: The Importance Of The
Maintenance Of The Normal Skin Barrier With Emu Oil
By: Leigh Hopkins
The skin serves numerous functions but the primary protective or barrier
function is the most obvious. All of the cells in our bodies have
miniature barriers called cell-walls to separate each cell. The cell wall,
in turn, must have many mechanisms that enable the cells to communicate
with other cells through pores, channels and receptors. This communication
is necessary since all the cells must function in an orchestrated fashion
to accomplish everything that we do in our daily lives. The cell wall
barriers are simply layers of fats that surround the watery contents.
Therefore, the communication mechanisms must operate through these fatty
cell walls. In fact, many of the substances that are involved in this
communication process are various fats since it is easiest for fats to
move within the fatty layers that comprise the cell walls. Our societal
attention to fats as only sources of calories and a sign of being
overweight does a critical disservice to the major importance that fats
play in our bodyís biochemistry and physiology. Fatty substances control
the majority of our bodyís physiology through receptors that activate
many important genes.
Likewise, our skin barrier is comprised of a supporting structure of
collagen, a protein, that contains fats that serve a critical function.
These fats prevent the excess loss of water through our skin and prevent
the cells of our body from becoming dehydrated and dying. A major sign of
a defective skin is the dryness that results from excessive water loss.
This water can not be applied topically but must be ingested otherwise we
would drown in our shower. To prevent the excessive water loss and the
resulting dry skin, we must repair the skin barrier. We find that the skin
composition in individuals with dry skin is due to an improper mixture of
the skin fats. This is due to a deficiency in our diet of the correct
fats. On a nutritional basis, we can provide these necessary fats through
the skin. The skin is not a usual means to acquire nutrition but it can
absorb enough fatty substances to correct the fat imbalances that are the
cause of the defect in the skinís barrier function and thus correct the
dry, itchy skin problem.
Essentially, all moisturizing lotions on the market do not contain
nutrition for the skin but rather serve to provide an artificial barrier
through the use of petrolatum. Petrolatum is an inert substance that does
not allow water to escape through the dry skin. Petrolatum is not a means
to correct the underlying problem but it is a temporary solution. However,
if you want to have a normal healthy skin that is as soft as babyís
behind, you must supply the correct composition of fats to the skin.
The fatty acid composition of emu oil is very close to the correct
composition of these fats as found in normal skin. Thus, emu oil is an
excellent moisturizer that returns the skin to its natural barrier
function. Emu oil can make the skin feel soft, more elastic and firm
due the restoration of the normal fats in the
Reprinted with permission from Emu's Zine Online Magazine