Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is a liquid that is extracted from the pulp, seeds, and membranes of grapefruit. This grapefruit seed extract liquid is promoted as a natural preservative and as an antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral agent.
Because GSE has a broad spectrum of applications and supposed benefits, it’s natural to find yourself wondering, “exactly what is grapefruit seed extract?”. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of grapefruit seed extract, including a breakdown of grapefruit seed extract uses and benefits, along with information for buying and using grapefruit seed extract.
If you’ve asked, “what is grapefruit seed extract used for?” you’ve likely found that this question has a very long answer. In natural medicine, practitioners might recommend taking grapefruit seed extract to fight a large number of different infections, and it is also used in a variety of cosmetic products, as a food additive, and in natural cleaning products.
In a natural pharmacy, you’ll find liquid grapefruit seed extract in addition to grapefruit seed extract pills. You’ll probably also see grapefruit extract, which is slightly different, as it is derived from the whole grapefruit including the rind, as well as grapefruit essential oil, and other grapefruit products that are extracted from only the rind of the fruit. Although from the same fruit, these are all slightly different. The information in this article pertains to only grapefruit seed extract.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Benefits
There appears to be many benefits of grapefruit seed extract, most of them resulting from the substance’s reported antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Some researchers believe that GSE’s mechanism is due to the presence of naringenin, a flavonoid that acts as a cell-protecting agent.6 Much of the evidence in support of these benefits is anecdotal, as few scientific studies have examined the effects of GSE in the various applications described below.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Candida
Many grapefruit seed extract testimonials report that users have effectively used grapefruit seed extract for candida treatment. There are few clinical studies confirming a link between the treatment of candida and grapefruit seed extract, but an early assessment of the effect of GSE on candida determined that it exhibited powerful antifungal activity.1
Grapefruit Seed Extract Thrush
Because GSE can be consumed orally, some find that they can use grapefruit seed extract for thrush. Some proponents believe that in using grapefruit seed extract, yeast and fungi are affected by GSE’s believed inhibiting effect on the cell’s cytoplasmic membrane.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Antimicrobial
The majority of evidence for GSE indicates that it is antimicrobial. In one study on grapefruit seed extract, bacteria count exhibited a reduction when mixed with various dilutions of GSE.2 Because of its reported antimicrobial activity, GSE has been examined for various practical uses like a preservation agent and cleaning additive.
Grapefruit Seed Extract as Preservative
A study that tested whether we might use grapefruit seed extract as a preservative on fresh vegetables found that the survival and growth of human pathogens like Salmonella showed significant reduction as an effect of topical GSE application.3
Grapefruit Seed Extract for Cleaning
While you’re not likely to find a 100% grapefruit seed extract disinfectant, GSE is sometimes added to natural cleaning products, along with other common ingredients like lemon, tea tree oil, and vinegar.
Grapefruit Seed Extract and Cancer
Studies has confirmed that GSE contains polyphenols and exhibits antioxidative activity. Antioxidants are important because they help protect against the cell damage caused by oxidative stress, and low levels of antioxidants have been linked to higher risks of cancer.4,7,12 However, there are other extracts, such as grape seed extract, that have received more attention and research into their anti-cancer properties.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Cold Sores
Among the reported health benefits of grapefruit seed extract on skin, some users claim that they effectively use GSE as a topical treatment, usually in a diluted form, for cold sores.
Grapefruit Seed Extract and Parasites
Anecdotal evidence reports effective use of grapefruit seed extract against some parasites, most commonly Giardia. Its anti-parasitic qualities may be associated to its strong antibacterial activity. In fact, one study on pork loin quality found that packaging using edible gelatin blend films containing GSE were more effective at decreasing E.coli and L.monocytogene populations compared to the control after 4 days of storage.13
Grapefruit Seed Extract for Bad Breath
Because GSE appears to kill bacteria, some have tried using it to combat bad breath. GSE can be safely consumed orally, and more sources say to dilute the extract by placing between 2 and 10 drops in roughly 10 tablespoons of water. Some report positive grapefruit seed extract teeth benefits as well due to antibacterial properties, and put a drop on their toothbrush along with toothpaste when they brush.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Interstitial Cystitis
No studies have been found on GSE and interstitial cystitis. However, a small-scale clinical study on grapefruit seeds and urinary tract infections (UTIs) found that a dosage of 5 to 6 grapefruit seeds taken every 8 hours yielded positive results comparable to antibacterial UTI drugs.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Acne
Some people report using grapefruit seed extract on face acne. Due to its antimicrobial properties, acne caused by a bacteria or infection might be treated with GSE. To give it some extra bacterial fighting power, try pairing it with tea tree oil, an essential oil widely known to effectively combat bacterial acne.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Sinus Infection
A number of natural health resources describe a sinus infection grapefruit seed extract treatment that involves nasal spray. Some stores sell a GSE spray, but you can make your own at home by adding a few drops of the extract and a pinch of salt to a cup of warm water. Then, irrigate the nasal passage by using the mixture in a nasal spray bottle or neti pot.
Melasma Grapefruit Seed Extract
Melasma is a skin condition disorder that produces dark skin patches, usually on the face. While more research has gone into the effects of grape seed extract on melasma, there is some anecdotal evidence that oral ingestion of grapefruit seed extract helped reduce and lighten the appearance of dark blemishes. Certain phenolic compounds are known to inhibit melanin synthesis (the underlying mechanism producing melasma), but it is not known if the phenolic compounds found in GSE are the mechanism behind this anecdotal success. 7
Grapefruit Seed Extract Giardia
Some sources claim that GSE is a highly effective treatment against the parasitic infection giardia. They recommend an oral regimen of approximately 25 drops of GSE per day, and some users have seen positive results from taking approximately five GSE oral capsules per day.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Rosacea
Specific causes for rosacea are still unknown, but some believed causes include family history, chronic sun exposure, and possibly Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium linked to gastrointestinal ulcers.15 Considering the variable origins of the condition and the known anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial effects of grapefruit seed extract, it makes sense for many people to turn to it for help. Some anecdotal evidence supports success of GSE controlling flare ups, but be aware that grapefruit often reacts with other medications, so always consult with your doctor.
Grapefruit Seed Extract for Sibo
Some users have tried treating SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) with GSE, with mixed results. Evidence shows that GSE exhibits antibacterial properties, but because the manifestation of this bacterial overgrowth condition depends on an individual’s specific microflora, it may work for some, but not for others.2,3,4
Grapefruit Seed Extract Uses
Due the antimicrobial and antifungal properties of grapefruit seed extract, there are multiple different uses for it. In the home, it can be used for cleaning and disinfecting, especially in the kitchen as it is known to help kill E. coli. Its anti-fungal characteristics also make it useful as an at-home remedy for athlete’s foot and other nail fungi. It’s used in cosmetics and skin care products for scent as well as a preservative, and is also used to help treat sick animals on farms.
In using grapefruit seed extract, dosage will vary significantly simply because there are so many uses for grapefruit seed extract. It’s wise to read dosage instructions on the label of the product in addition to asking a naturopathic health practitioner how to use grapefruit seed extract for your specific case.
It’s helpful to know that GSE comes both capsule and liquid form. Capsules are ingested, while the liquid drops can be applied topically, or added to liquid. The topical solution, sometimes called grapefruit seed oil, uses a carrier oil like jojoba and is applied the skin. Liquid GSE is often added water to create a grapefruit seed extract nasal spray or drinkable solution.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Side Effects
Side effects of grapefruit seed extract reported by users are mostly limited to skin irritation resulting from topical application. While there are no known studies on potential grapefruit seed extract dangers, numerous studies have found that grapefruit interacts with certain pharmaceutical drugs, sometimes leading to serious negative reactions. So, is grapefruit seed extract toxic? In general, no—but users who are taking pharmaceutical drugs should ask their physician before using GSE. Pharmaceuticals known to be altered by the consumption of grapefruit include dihydropyridines, terfenadine, saquinavir, cyclosporin, midazolam, triazolam and verapamil, lovastatin, cisapride and astemizole.8
Likewise, it’s wise to consult with a physician before taking GSE while pregnant. Some naturopathic sources suggest several grapefruit seed extract pregnancy and breastfeeding remedies, especially for thrush. For example, one grapefruit seed extract baby remedy recommends dipping a cotton swab in GSE and wiping it lightly inside of the child’s mouth several times per day in order to treat thrush. While there’s no scientific evidence supporting this specific treatment, there’s also no conclusive evidence that GSE could be toxic to children in small doses.
There is also some grapefruit seed extract controversy. Some researchers have identified benzalkonium chloride in commercial GSE products, leading them to question whether GSE’s purported antibacterial properties are a result of the seed extract itself or of the chemical compound which forms in the chemical extraction process common in commercial GSE production.9
Where to Buy Grapefruit Seed Extract
If learning about all the benefits of grapefruit seed extract has left you wondering “where can I buy grapefruit seed extract,” you can easily find in at your local drug store, including large chains like CVS. Whole Foods carries an organic grapefruit seed extract as well. And if you’re looking online for grapefruit seed extract, Amazon offers ample variety, with many GSE products like nasal sprays and capsules.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Krajewska-Kułak E, Lukaszuk C, Niczyporuk W. Wiad Parazytol. (2001) Effects of 33% grapefruit extract on the growth of the yeast–like fungi, dermatopytes and moulds. 47(4):845-9. Polish. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16886437?report=docsum
- John P. Heggers, John Cottingham, Jean Gusman, Lana Reagor, Lana McCoy, Edith Carino, Robert Cox, and Jian-Gang Zhao. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. July 2004, 8(3): 333-340. https://doi.org/10.1089/10755530260128023
- Xu, Wen-Tao & Qu, Wei & Huang, Kunlun & Guo, Feng & Yang, Jiajia & Zhao, Heng & Luo, YunBo. (2007). Antibacterial effect of Grapefruit Seed Extract on food-borne pathogens and its application in the preservation of minimally processed vegetables. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 45. 126-133. 10.1016/j.postharvbio.2006.11.019. Retrieved from – View Reference
- Faleye, F., Ogundaini, AO., Olugbade, AT. (2012). Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of Citrus paradisi (grapefruit seed) extracts. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Scientific Innovation, 1(3). 63-66. Retrieved from http://jpsionline.com/admin/php/uploads/68_pdf.pdf
- O.A. Oyelami, E.A. Agbakwuru, L.A. Adeyemi, and G.B. Adedeji. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. May 2005, 11(2): 369-371. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2005.11.369
- Dembinski A1, Warzecha Z, Konturek SJ, Ceranowicz P, Dembinski M, Pawlik WW, Kusnierz-Cabala B, Naskalski JW.. (2004) Extract of grapefruit-seed reduces acute pancreatitis induced by ischemia/reperfusion in rats: possible implication of tissue antioxidants. J Physiol Pharmacol, 55(4):811-21.
- Sarkar, R., Arora, P., & Garg, K. V. (2013). Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available? Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, 6(1), 4–11. http://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.110089
- Bailey, D. G., Malcolm, J., Arnold, O., & David Spence, J. (1998). Grapefruit juice–drug interactions. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 46(2), 101–110. http://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2125.1998.00764.x
- Gary R. Takeoka,*, Lan T. Dao,Rosalind Y. Wong, and, and Leslie A. Harden. (2005) Identification of Benzalkonium Chloride in Commercial Grapefruit Seed Extracts. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 53(19), 7630-7636. DOI: 10.1021/jf0514064
- MedlinePlus.(n.d.) Interstitial Cytitis. Retrieved November 23, 2017 from https://medlineplus.gov/interstitialcystitis.html
- MedlinePlus.(n.d.) Melasma. Retrieved November 23, 2017 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000836.htm
- Borek, C. (1997). Antioxidants and cancer. Med, 4, 51-62. Retrieved from https://www.sciandmed.com/sm/journalviewer.aspx?issue=1053&article=673
- Hong, Y. H., Lim, G. O., & Song, K. B. (2009). Physical properties of Gelidium corneum–gelatin blend films containing grapefruit seed extract or green tea extract and its application in the packaging of pork loins. Journal of Food Science, 74(1). DOI: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2008.00987.x
- Ionescu, G., Kiehl, R., Wichmann-Kunz, F., Williams, C., Bauml, L., & Levine, S. (1990). Oral citrus seed extract in atopic eczema: In vitro and in vivo studies on intestinal microflora. J Orthomol Med, 5(3), 155-157. Retrieved November 24, 2017 from http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1990/pdf/1990-v05n03-p1, 55.pdf
- Canadian Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Rosacea. Retrieved November 24, 2017 from https://dermatology.ca/public-patients/skin/rosacea/