Grapefruit seed extract is made from grapefruit seeds ( Citrus x paradisi ). This popular product is used as a natural remedy for a variety of health problems, including infections and other skin problems. Also known as GSE, grapefruit seed extract is often used as an ingredient in personal care products. It is sold in liquid form and in the form of dietary supplements (tablets or capsules).
What is grapefruit seed extract used for?
Under various conditions, grapefruit seed extract acts as an antimicrobial agent, a substance that destroys or inhibits the growth of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi. In fact, research has confirmed the use of grapefruit seed extract as a functional hardener in meat products.
Grapefruit seed extract also contains naringenin, a substance known to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help protect cells from free radical damage.
Due to the antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of grapefruit seed extract, it has been used in the following conditions:
However, research on the health effects of grapefruit seed extract is limited. Additionally, the American Botanical Council published a report in 2012 indicating that any antimicrobial activity of grapefruit seed extract may be due to synthetic additives in the food, rather than the extract itself.
Also, these additives may not always be disclosed. Researchers have found that many grapefruit seed extract products on the market contain chemicals, including preservatives and disinfectants, that are not listed on their labels. This includes benzethonium chloride, a compound found in many first aid cosmetics, ointments, and antiseptics.
The results of the report should be taken into account when evaluating the results of studies on the use of grapefruit seed extract.
Bacterial skin infections.
Grapefruit seed extract can be effective against a wide variety of bacteria, according to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
The study tested the effect of grapefruit seed extract on human skin cells. The researchers concluded that it kills bacterial strains within 15 minutes of exposure, even at dilute concentrations.
In a preliminary study published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology in 2004, grapefruit seed extract was found to protect against pancreatitis .
In tests on rats, the study authors observed that grapefruit seed extract helped protect pancreatic tissue by providing antioxidant effects and improving pancreatic blood flow. More rigorous testing is needed to see if this benefit applies to humans.
Possible side effects.
Grapefruit seed extract is possibly safe for oral and medicinal use. However, given the evidence that many grapefruit seed extract products contain synthetic chemicals that are not listed on their labels, it is important to use caution when using any type of grapefruit seed extract, especially nutritional supplements.
The safety of supplements has not been tested and due to the fact that these products are largely unregulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, their content may differ from what is stated on the label.
Also note that the safety of supplements for pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and people with medical conditions or taking medications has not been established.
What to look for
Grapefruit seed extract is available online and in some health food stores. Not all food is intended for human consumption. Supplements intended for human use come in the form of extracts, capsules, and tablets.
Just in case, it's best to look for products that are certified by ConsumerLabs, US Pharmacopia, or NSF International. A seal of approval from one of these organizations does not guarantee the safety or effectiveness of a product, but it does provide assurance that the product has been manufactured correctly, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.
Finally, remember that the supplement label should not contain medical treatment claims. Selling dietary supplements to treat a specific medical condition or to alleviate the symptoms of a medical condition is prohibited.
Get the word of drug information
Given the lack of scientific support for the use of grapefruit seed extract, it is too early to recommend this product for any condition.
However, there is some evidence that consuming naringenin, the main antioxidant in grapefruit, may help improve overall health by reducing inflammation and possibly protecting against diabetes , obesity, and metabolic syndrome . You can get naringenin, of course, from grapefruit , but also from grapes, oranges, tomatoes, and other fruits and herbs.
If you plan to use grapefruit seed extract, be sure to check with your doctor. Please note that alternative medicine should not be used as a substitute for standard care. Treating a disease on your own and avoiding or delaying standard treatment can have serious consequences.
Frequently asked questions
You can buy liquid extract, capsules, or tablets online or at supplement stores.
Grapefruit juice and possibly other grapefruit products can interact with certain medications, leading to serious adverse reactions. Always ask your doctor before taking grapefruit seed extract and tell him what other medications you are taking.