The news of a cancer diagnosis is never anything less than devastating, but as if the disease itself weren’t bad enough, the treatment is, for some, even more difficult to live with. Radiation therapy is among the most common kinds of cancer treatment, with nearly two-thirds of all people with cancer undergoing the treatment. Radiation therapy is also one of the most painful forms of cancer treatment; about 85 percent of people who undergo it experience moderate-to-severe skin reactions, known as radiation dermatitis, or more commonly, as radiation burns.
Radiation therapy works to treat cancer by using X-rays to destroy cancer cells and reduce the size of malignant tumors. While effective on many different kinds of cancer, radiation therapy is also harsh on the skin and radiation burns are a common side effect of the treatment. The burns are marks left on the skin after the concentrated exposure to radiation necessary to treat the cancer.
These marks generally develop in four stages: redness, peeling, swelling, and finally death of skin cells. Usually, radiation burns will appear within the first two weeks of treatment, but the end of treatment doesn’t always mark the end of their reign of terror on the skin—in some people, these painful burns can last for several years after radiation therapy is completed.
While there are some risk factors that can make a person more susceptible to experiencing dermatitis during radiation therapy (like certain pre-existing skin diseases, obesity, malnutrition, and diabetes), there are no surefire methods for avoiding the side effect all together. With that in mind, treatment becomes the top concern for anyone suffering from this condition.
Doctors will frequently prescribe topical steroid creams like corticosteroid cream or oral and topical antibiotics to treat radiation burns, but some natural treatment options are effective, too. One of the best natural treatments? Emu oil.
Emu oil is an effective, natural treatment option for cancer patients suffering from radiation burns. Here are some of the properties that make it such an effective treatment option for cancer patients experiencing radiation burns.
Emu oil is a powerful natural moisturizer, with the ability to penetrate the skin and provide hydration to deeper layers than typical moisturizers. Studies have shown that emu oil is an effective treatment for dermatitis and eczema and that it can improve skin hydration thanks to its molecular size, which is small enough to penetrate the epidermal barrier. In simple terms, this means that emu oil is able to reach deeper levels of the epidermis than conventional moisturizers.
As a topical solution, emu oil can help reduce inflammation in skin damaged from radiation, as well as relieving joint pain and muscle aches that cancer patients frequently struggle with.
Emu oil can also be taken as an oral supplement too, in which case it can bring its healing effects to the inside of the body. Internally, emu oil’s anti-inflammatory properties can work to reduce intestinal inflammation, including painful intestinal ulcers often developed by chemotherapy patients.
Emu oil isn’t just useful in treating radiation burns. Another benefit of emu oil for cancer patients is its role in promoting hair growth. When massaged into the scalp, emu oil can stimulate dormant hair follicles and encourage hair growth, something that’s often an important milestone for cancer patients, not just physically, but emotionally as well. The key to emu oil’s hair growth magic is in its rich supply of fatty acids, which are vital to hair follicle cell division.
In addition to hair loss, chemotherapy frequently causes dry lips and brittle nails, both of which can be alleviated with emu oil. When it comes to treating brittle nails, the key is once again found in emu oil’s high fatty acid content. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to improve hair and nail density and improve brittle nails.
Dry, chapped lips are another common side effect of chemotherapy. Thanks to its amazing moisturizing effect, emu oil is a powerful ingredient when added to a quality lip balm. Doctors recommend non-pigmented lip balms and patients are advised to avoid scented and flavored products, as the ingredients in them can irritate the already ultra-sensitive skin. Look for a natural lip balm that’s infused with emu oil to maximize the benefits while minimizing risk for unpleasant side effects.
Another way emu oil can benefit cancer patients, particularly those undergoing chemotherapy, is by preventing bone loss. A 2012 study suggested that taking emu oil as a dietary supplement could prevent chemotherapy-induced inflammation, osteoclast formation, and, notably, bone loss. It’s worth noting that not all emu oil supplements are created equally. Some are diluted with other oils and don’t provide the same benefits as pure emu oils. It’s important to look for quality oils with a high level of fatty acids to maximize the potential benefits.
A cancer diagnosis is difficult for any person and their loved ones to bear, and treatment can be equally challenging. If you are undergoing cancer treatment and are dealing with the painful side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, consider using emu oil to ease the discomfort and promote healing. And if someone you care about is dealing with cancer, please send them the link to this page so that they can benefit from this information.
As always, keep your physician informed of your use and results.
"The oil is wonderful, silky and not greasy. I began using it once daily since I started radiation after undergoing 5 months of chemo and 2 months after a double mastectomy. I am only 13 treatments into 30 prescribed treatments and though my skin has pinked up a bit the emu oil instantly soothes and takes the pinkness away.
I also started massaging the oil into my hair and scalp and it seems to have stimulated the hair follicles as my hair feels fuller though still very short. I rub it into my eyebrow and eyelashes which had both completely fallen out. Besides the benefit to stimulate the follicles the oil works great to condition and style what little hair I have into a cute pre-pixie, it also is wonderful around my eyes and has freshened my complexion: everyone says I look very healthy despite all I have been through. Very grateful I came across EmuJoy!" - Ana N.
"I had a partial mastectomy and an axillary lymph node dissection, which left two big scars. I then learned I would be immediately going through months of very aggressive chemotherapy and 7 weeks of radiation.
I used the Emu oil on the scars from the day after surgery and continue to do so. The Emu oil caused the scars to heal quickly and less painfully. I have no hard areas on either scar and the short 4-inch one on my breast looks like a thin line. The long scar through my armpit is soft and hardly shows. The skin thickening that happens after breast radiation is minimal.
During radiation therapy, other patients asked me to write down what I was using. Their burns were much worse than mine and they were in pain. As soon as they started applying the Emu oil they found relief. Even during chemo when I had a very compromised immune system, I applied Emu oil to any cuts I got and they healed quickly. It provided relief from the growing arthritic pain in my finger joints and when my veins hardened from the chemo, it eased the horrible aching pain in my right arm." - June T.
If you or someone you care about is undergoing chemo or radiation treatment, emu oil may help make the process a bit more bearable.
Click here purchase the Cancer Care Pack with a bottle of pure emu oil and emu oil lip balm. They can also be purchased individually.