EMU oil has been hitting the headlines as a beauty product for several years and has been used for thousands in aboriginal medicine for the treatment of burns, wounds, bruises and for joint and muscle pain. A natural bi-product, Emu oil has been found to be useful in the treatment of arthritis and since it has been identified as a tissue nutrient it may help in the normal growth of skin cells, which is particularly beneficial to people with psoriasis. It was my sister who first put me on to the soothing effects of emu oil but it wasn't until I found a local practitioner that I decided to look into what emu oil could do for me.

When I was first diagnosed with psoriasis aged 11, I couldn't even spell it but I was old enough to know there was no effective cure. Like me, My father had scalp psoriasis but his brother had the condition so severely that he emigrated to Australia as sunshine has been noted to have a beneficial effect.

Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disorder but it varies in degrees from a mildly embarrassing complaint to a painful and disfiguring ailment as graphically portrayed in Dennis Potter's TV series The Singing Detective.

Symptoms include intense itching and inflamed, raised red patches. Since the skin cells develop and die at an advanced rate, it causes skin to flake and fall off. Scalp psoriasis somewhat resembles a severe case of dandruff and it often appears in patches on elbow joints, behind the ears, on eyebrows and the back of the knee.

No one knows what causes psoriasis, though it is generally accepted that it has a genetic component, and a recent study has established that it is an autoimmune skin disorder.

At first I dutifully swallowed pills that looked like they could choke a horse and spread evil smelling coal tar shampoo over my head to no avail. I have tried creams, bath salts and ointments to varying degrees of success, finding Dead Sea products to be among the most effective. I have also tried cutting down on spicy foods and red wine as these seem to trigger a reaction with my skin.

More recently, when I discovered that laurel sulphate, a chemical found in most shampoos exacerbated the condition, I switched to using shampoos and conditioners made solely from natural ingredients.

Stress is apparently another factor so when I learned of massage practitioner Carol Richardson-Hill's combination of massage therapy and her own brand of emu oil products called Miraemu, I called her up.

Carol, who qualified as a massage therapist four and a half years ago, runs practices in Northwood and Harrow. Her emu oil is imported from Australia and she has sourced her own UK supplier who creates a range of hand mousses, eye gels, face creams, muscle and joint rubs and balms to her specifications. Carol tells me she has already received interest from a major retail group and the string of testimonials she has received range from "great stuff, much too cheap" to "amazing the muscle and joint rub really helped my husband after running the marathon."

Carol says she receives referrals from other therapists working at Zoom Leisure in Harrow where she operates from a couple of days a week, usually specialising in sports treatments and massages. Before she meets the client Carol chats to them over the phone.

She says: "I've never had a massage from a total stranger so why should anybody else? We'll talk about the issues they have and book the appropriate treatment. I will ask them for some background information about their health because with some conditions I have to make sure my treatments would be okay for them. I always look at treatment from a healing point of view.

"A lot of people that come to me at the leisure centre have never had a massage before. It can be quite daunting for them so I ask them to come and sit in a chair and see if they like it."

With me, after talking on the phone Carol recommended a Little Pot of Magic and a de-stressing head massage. She spent a long time at the beginning of our session asking me questions about my psoriasis. She explains how as a therapist you are constantly learning and looking at how chemicals and additives can affect the body.

"I'm appalled by the list of additives in creams and shampoos," says Carol. "I'd known about emu oil for a number of years and so I set about creating my own products that were as natural as possible."

As well as my magic potion, which seems at least to have calmed down the redness and acted as an emolient on my dry, flaky skin, Carol suggested I drink room temperature tap water and eliminating caffeine from my diet. Although still early days, I am finding the combination of a moisturising cream effective and I'm still enjoying the lasting effects of such an energising treatment.

Details: Carol on 07796 374249


1. Emu oil is highly moisturising, a natural skin softener and has rejuvenating properties. It contains omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids, oleic acid and palmitic acid.

2. Its non-greasy texure and natural, non-toxic, anti-bactials and hypo-allergenic properties make it a gentle and effective moisturiser for all skin types.

3. Emu oil has also been found to have effective anti-inflammatory qualities. The effect is similar to ibuprofen without the negative side-affects found in traditional prescription or corticosteroid based anti-inflammatory medications.

4. Professional sports trainers and players recognise the benefits of emu oil in reducing swelling and joint stiffness. It also reduces the effects of bruising and muscle pain.