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10 Grapefruit Seed Extract Uses

Made from grapefruit seeds, grapefruit seed extract is used as a natural and homeopathic remedy for several various health problems. A popular product, grapefruit seed extract uses range from treatment of skin wounds, infections, digestive disturbances, and more.

A bottle of grapefruit seed extract.

You can buy grapefruit seed extracts as dietary supplements in capsule or tablet form. Alternatively, you can enjoy grapefruit seed extract benefits by buying the extract in liquid form.

Are you ready to learn more? Let’s dive in and learn all about grapefruit seed extract uses and grapefruit extract seed benefits.

What, Exactly, Is In Grapefruit Seed Extract?

Closeup of citrus seed in a person's palm.

As we noted above, grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is derived from the seeds of the common grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi). GSE is made from the seeds, pulp, and membranes of grapefruits.

Grapefruit seed extract contains powerful naringenin, which is a substance with antioxidant properties. Antioxidants serve the role of helping to protect cells from free radical damage. Moreover, grapefruit seed extract has antimicrobial properties.

Grapefruit seed extract also contains polyphenol limonoids. Naringenin and limonoids are powerful chemical compounds and both serve as antioxidants and antimicrobials. They don’t just kill microbes that are dangerous. Polyphenols also protect our body tissues from producing excessive reactive oxygen that occurs when dangerous pathogens infect our body’s tissues. 

The fact is, you may already be taking grapefruit seed extract because it is commonly used as an antimicrobial and preservative in some natural care personal products. Grapefruit seed extract is also found in products in the food industry, more commonly for the preservation of food. 

How to Use Grapefruit Seed Extract Internally

Usually, grapefruit seed extract is found in the form of a liquid concentrate, but you can buy it in tablet or capsule form as well.

You can take grapefruit extract in a variety of different concentrations and delivery forms. For example, you can use capsules or liquids to treat conditions on the skin, in the nose, in your ears, or in your mouth. 

To use grapefruit seed extract in liquid form, mix 10 drops of the concentrate into a glass of juice or water and drink it one to three times per day. You can drink this solution with a meal or without a meal. 

There are companies that offer grapefruit seed oil in nasal sprays, throat sprays, mouthwashes and gargles, ear drops, shower gels, toothpaste, wound disinfectant sprays, and more. If you use one of these products, be sure to carefully follow the instructions on the product’s label.

Also, you can take capsules once or twice daily to treat infections that are in your gastrointestinal tract. 

Woman holding up a medication capsule and a glass of water -- grapefruit seed extract uses can be medicinal in nature.

The Top Grapefruit Seed Extract Uses

There are several different ways grapefruit seed extract can benefit you and your body. Below, we have listed the most common grapefruit seed extract uses. 

1. Gargling for Sore Throats and Colds

Because of its antimicrobial properties, grapefruit seed oil can be used as a gargle for the sore throat that is often associated with colds and flu. To be clear, grapefruit seed extract won’t cure a cold or flu, but it can help to alleviate the sore throat that sometimes comes with these conditions. 

2. Dental and Gum Health Mouthwash

You can use grapefruit seed oil as a mouthwash to help prevent or even treat gum disease. To create an effective mouthwash, mix 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract concentrate into a five-ounce glass of water. Use this solution to rinse your mouth, just as you would regular store-bought mouthwash. 

3. Sinus Wash for Nasal and Sinus Infections

Man suffering from allergies, common cold, or flu -- among the many grapefruit seed extract uses is treatment for sinus infections and nasal passage irritation.

You can use grapefruit seed extract as a sinus wash to treat sinus infections and nasal irritations. 

4. Ear Drops

There are products on the market that are eardrops that can be used to treat earache and ear infections. An ear infection is serious, so be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure you don’t need an antibiotic. 

5. Candida, Traveler’s Diarrhea, and Other Digestive Disturbances

Numerous animal studies have shown that grapefruit seed extract can protect against stomach damage that is caused by stress and alcohol

Apparently, the lining of the stomach can be protected against things like lesions and ulcers if the blood flow to the area is increased. Increasing blood flow can help prevent free radical damage. 

Also, grapefruit seed extract can kill the bacterium H. pylori, which is one of the primary causes of ulcers and stomach inflammation. 

Grapefruit seed extract is sometimes used to treat fungal pathogens such as Candida albicans, which live in the gastrointestinal tract. 

Because of this, some studies show that grapefruit seed extract can effectively help with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. People in the study received two drops of liquid concentrate two times a day or a dose of grapefruit seed extract capsules. Subjects reported significant improvements in flatulence, constipation, and other abdominal discomforts after a month of use. 

More human research needs to be done, but studies in test tubes and animals show a lot of promise. 

6. Skin Wounds

Studies show that grapefruit seed extract is effective in treating several different types of bacteria found in human skin cells. Specifically, grapefruit seed extract has been shown to kill more than 60 different types of yeast and bacteria

Equally important, the study shows that grapefruit seed extract kills bacterial strains within 15 minutes after initial contact, even if the solution has been diluted. 

7. May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

Some of the risk factors for heart disease are obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Animal studies have suggested that grapefruit seed extract can help improve these conditions and thereby reduce the chances of a person developing heart disease. 

In one study, rats who consumed grapefruit seed extract every day for 31 days showed a significantly reduced blood sugar level, and also their cholesterol levels decreased. Moreover, these rats weighed less than rats who didn’t receive grapefruit seed extract. 

The study showed that in these rats, the grapefruit seed extract was just as effective at treating diabetes as the drug metformin. 

8. Protection Against Pancreatitis

The Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology published a study in 2004 that indicated that grapefruit seed extract can protect against pancreatitis. The study was done on rats, but the authors of the study observed that GSE protected pancreatic tissue because it improved pancreatic blood flow and offered antioxidant effects. 

9. Urinary Tract Infections

Because grapefruit seed extract does a great job of killing bacteria, some researchers have become interested in testing the potential for grapefruit seed extract at treating urinary tract infections. 

A small study showed that people who ate grapefruit seeds for two weeks every eight hours experienced relief from urinary tract infections. Because of this study, researchers have concluded that the antimicrobial compounds in grapefruit seeds can help the human body fight the growth of infectious bacteria in the urinary tract. 

10. Athlete’s Foot

Because grapefruit seed extract kills candida, GSE can be used to effectively treat athlete’s foot. To treat athlete’s foot with grapefruit seed extract, apply a topical solution of GSO to the affected areas up to three times daily. 

More Grapefruit Seed Extract Benefits

Closeup of grapefruit wedges.

Grapefruit is known to have multiple health benefits, so it’s only natural that the extract from this delicious fruit would have equally significant benefits.

Grapefruit has tons of vitamins and minerals, including the following:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Thiamine
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Folate
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lycopene
  • Flavanones

Grapefruit seed extract can serve as a natural concentrated antioxidant and general antimicrobial. This powerful extract kills all sorts of infectious microbes, including those that are viral, fungal, and bacterial. 

Most of the studies have been in animal studies and test tubes, but initial results are promising. 

Powerful Antioxidant

The damage that is caused by oxidative damage has been linked to several different chronic illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease. Grapefruit extract’s powerful antioxidant properties can help protect your body from free radical oxidative damage. 

Moreover, grapefruit and grapefruit seed extracts are rich in flavonoids, vitamin E, and polyphenols, all of which are powerful antioxidants. 

Specifically, the polyphenol naringin is what gives grapefruit a bitter taste, and it has been shown to protect the tissues in mice from radiation damage. 

Increases Blood Flow

Reduced and restricted blood flow is linked to several different conditions, and when blood flow is too restricted, it can cause a stroke or blood clot. In this case, cells in these areas that are affected can become damaged and even die. 

Studies have suggested that grapefruit seed extract supplements can significantly reduce the severity of damage from restricted blood flow. 

Studies show that rats who are given grapefruit seed extract before researchers restricted blood flow to their organs had greatly reduced inflammation and damage in the area that was restricted. 

Grapefruit Seed Extract Side Effects and Warnings

Most studies indicate that there are minimal side effects with using grapefruit seed extract, but there are a few cautions and warnings that should be addressed. We’ve listed the most common ones below. 

Depletion of Normal Healthy Flora (Good Bacteria)

One thing to keep in mind is that since grapefruit seed extract is antimicrobial, it will also deplete the beneficial flora in your body when you take it long-term.

If you’re going to take grapefruit seed extract for three days or more, be sure to consume your usual probiotic supplement two hours before you take your grapefruit seed extract. 

Interactions with Medications

In addition to the listed side effects, grapefruit and grapefruit seed extract can interact with several different medications, including the following.

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Immunosuppressants
  • INdinavir
  • Most calcium channel blockers
  • Some statin drugs
  • Carbamazepine

The reason this happens is that grapefruit contains substances that can inhibit the P450 enzyme that your body uses for metabolizing some medications.

When you eat grapefruit while taking these medications, your body may fail to break the medications down, which can result in adverse side effects, including overdose.

Closeup of doctor-patient consultation.

If you are currently taking any of the above-listed medications, be sure to talk with your medical practitioner before adding grapefruit or grapefruit seed extract to your diet.

If you are a nursing mother or pregnant, never take any dietary supplement or use external products without speaking with your doctor. Also, these supplements are not suitable for children. 

Lack of Regulation in the Supplement Industry

One thing to keep in mind is that the supplement industry is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and their content doesn’t even have to be accurately reflected on the product’s label. If you buy grapefruit seed extract in liquid or supplement form, be sure to read the reviews of the products carefully. 

An issue that is commonly found in the supplement industry is that sometimes, additives in the supplements arent’ disclosed. Specifically, grapefruit seed extract products can contain preservatives and disinfectants that aren’t always listed on the product labels. This can include benzethonium chloride, which is commonly found in ointments, cosmetics, and first-aid antiseptics. 

You can also practice caution by looking for supplements that have been certified by U.S. Pharmacopia, ConsumerLabs, or NSF International. While a seal of approval from any of these organizations doesn’t guarantee the safety or effectiveness of a product, it can provide some reassurance that the product contains the ingredients that are listed on the product’s label. Also, this seal of approval can assert that the product was manufactured properly and doesn’t contain harmful contaminants. 

Also, keep in mind that although supplements are not federally regulated, it’s illegal for companies to make claims that a product can treat a specific disease or alleviate disease symptoms. This is where customer reviews come in and these reviews can help you determine if a supplement is right for you. 

The Difference Between Grapefruit Seed Extract and Grapefruit Seed Essential Oil

Dropper of essential oil.

One important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to confuse grapefruit seed extract with grapefruit seed essential oil. Essential oils are used for aromatherapy and occasionally topical uses (when used with a carrier oil). These potent oils are not to be ingested internally.

Grapefruit Seed Extract Benefits: Final Thoughts

Studies have shown that there are minimal side effects when grapefruit seed extract is used as suggested, so this important and powerful supplement can be used safely to treat a variety of conditions. Following the suggested best practices for grapefruit seed extract uses can ensure that you can enjoy the benefits of grapefruit seed extract safely.