While grapefruits have long been recognized for their healthy qualities and ability to promote weight loss, it was not until the last thirty years that we began to understand the benefits of specific parts of this fruit.
Extract of the grapefruit seed contains some potent compounds that can help you not only fight disease but also boost your health in meaningful ways.
This guide breaks down everything you need to know about taking grapefruit seed extract, including how it can help you be healthier and stronger.
Understanding Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruits are a citrus fruit with many excellent, healthy benefits, and these are concentrated when you enjoy grapefruit seed extract, which is derived from the pulp, white membranes, and seeds of the fruit.
As a natural antiseptic and antibacterial, grapefruit seed extract has been used by herbalist and natural medical practitioners around the world to treat infections and relieve digestive problems (1).
Grapefruit seed extract is different than other forms of the plant and similar sounding compounds.
For example, it is not the same as grapefruit seed oil, which is pressed solely from the seeds and only contains a small percentage of the nutrients of the extract.
It also differs from grapefruit essential oil (used primarily for aromatherapy) and grape seed oil or extract, which is made from grapes.
Combining the seeds and pulp into a highly acidic liquid begins the process of creating this extract.
Once processed, it becomes a bitter-tasting thick liquid with strong medicinal properties.
Most commercially-available grapefruit seed extract is combined with vegetable glycerin to reduce the acidity and bitterness of this compound.
Using Grapefruit Seed Extract
You can find grapefruit seed extract in many different forms today, including as capsules, tablets, bulk powders, or liquid concentrates.
Be sure to read the labels of your products carefully to avoid any that contain synthetic materials or added ingredients.
Ideally, your product should have just the extract and vegetable glycerin for best results.
Grapefruit seed extract is also used to create many natural personal care products, including toothpaste, mouthwash, cosmetics, and nasal sprays.
Your doctor will be able to help you determine the optimal dose of grapefruit seed extract for your condition and needs.
How much you take depends on the form of extract you are using, its potency, and your health needs.
If you do not want to take a supplement, you can enjoy many of the health benefits of this extract by merely eating the seeds and membranes of the fruit itself.
This is a bitter option but safe, nonetheless.
If you have a juicer, you can also make juice that includes the seeds and membranes to enjoy.
Health Benefits of Grapefruit Seed Extract
Among the many benefits of this extract include its ability to fight microbes, including bacteria and yeasts, and its support in treating diseases like diabetes.
Grapefruit seed extract may also be able to protect your skin, liver, and heart while helping you to lose weight.
This fruit and its extracts are wonderful for providing antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation and fight oxidative stress.
Let’s look more closely at these health benefits.
Provides Antioxidant Support
The primary benefit of grapefruit seed extract is its high concentration of antioxidants, which can protect your cells from free radicals that cause oxidative damage over time.
The polyphenols, flavonoids, and essential oils and vitamins found in this extract all provide antioxidant support for your cells (7).
In particular, naringin is a powerful polyphenol found in high concentrations in this extract that protects your tissues from damage (8).
The antiseptic qualities of grapefruit seed extract make it an excellent choice for destroying many kinds of pathogens, including ones that are often resistant to other forms of treatment.
This includes several types of yeasts, viruses, and bacteria.
In cell studies, this extract effectively inhibited the growth of several strains of Candida, a yeast that causes many different health problems (9).
In industrial applications, it could be used to help protect pharmaceuticals and other products from contamination by these microbes (10).
In a small clinical trial, grapefruit seed extract helped lower the presence of microbes, including E. coli, Candida albicans, and Geotrichum, in a group of patients (11).
After treatment, this group experienced fewer digestive problems and had an improvement in their skin issues, as well.
In another important cell study, grapefruit seed extract effectively managed the growth of the virus that causes dengue fever (14).
Protects Your Heart
The flavonoids and other compounds found in grapefruit seed extract can help keep your heart and blood vessels health while also lowering your risk of heart disease.
These can help to prevent atherosclerosis or the buildup of harmful plaque on arteries and blood vessels (17).
Treats Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria in the bladder, causing inflammation and irritation, and research has shown that eating grapefruit seeds can relieve these symptoms and stop the infection (18).
Boosts Weight Loss
You can also help improve your chances of losing weight by taking grapefruit seed extract.
In animal trials, the compounds in this extract were shown to enhance weight loss (19).
Additional cell trials also confirmed that the compound naringenin, which is found in grapefruit seeds, boost fat burning and insulin sensitivity while also improving energy productions (20).
When you are trying to lose weight, these can be extremely helpful.
The flavonoids in grapefruit seed extract may be able to help treat diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing blood sugar levels.
In animal trials, the use of this extract was found to lower serum lipid levels and blood glucose while also improving insulin sensitivity (21).
Keeps Your Mouth Healthy
Grapefruit seed extract is a common additive to mouthwashes and toothpastes because it supports oral health by eliminating the bacteria that cause gum disease and plaque (29).
In a clinical trial, patients using a mouthwash containing this extract saw improvements in gum inflammation and bleeding, bad breath, and plaque formation (30).
Protects the Liver
Your liver’s primary function is to detoxify the blood by removing harmful chemicals, fats, and medications and removing these toxins from your body.
When these compounds are allowed to build up in the liver, they expose this vital organ to stress and can impair its ability to perform its functions.
Protects Against Damage from Restricted Blood Flow
All your body’s cells need sufficient blood supply to work effectively, as your blood brings the oxygen and nutrients required for good health.
When blood flow becomes restricted, whether from a stroke or a blood clot, cells can become so deficient in these nutrients that they die.
The compounds in grapefruit seed extract may help to lessen this damage.
In animal trials, this supplement reduced the severity of both inflammation and damage to organs after a restriction of blood flow (33).
The antioxidants in this extract are likely responsible for this protective property.
Promotes Healthy Skin
The compounds in grapefruit seed extract are known to protect skin from UV damage while providing antioxidant support to the skin (34).
Protects Against Gastric Ulcers
Gastric ulcers can be caused or made worse by factors such as stress and alcohol.
The antioxidants in grapeseed extract can help to protect your stomach from ulcers by enhancing mucus production in the stomach while also improving blood flow and lowering damage from free radicals (37, 38).
In one trial, ulcer formation was reduced by half when using this extract.
Cellular studies also show that grapefruit seed extract blocks the growth of the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers, H. pylori (39).
Precautions and Interactions
Because it can kill microbes, grapefruit seed extract can also deplete the healthy bacteria that live in your gut, if you take it for extended periods.
If you take this extract or supplement for longer than a few days, you should also take a probiotic or eats foods that contain probiotics to restore a healthy gut microbiome.
Be sure to separate your grapefruit seed extract from the probiotic supplement by at least two hours.
There is insufficient evidence on the effects of grapefruit seed extract on either pregnancy, breastfeeding, or children.
Until we learn more about how these compounds affect these vulnerable populations, it should not be used by people in these groups.
While we have some scientific evidence to warrant further research into and optimism about the use of grapefruit seed extract, there is very little clinical evidence using rigorous methodologies to support its use.
As we learn more from clinical studies, we can verify the health benefits discussed above with more detailed evidence.
Because grapefruit juice blocks certain enzymes that are responsible for drug metabolism, you should exercise caution when taking medications while using grapefruit seed extracts.
For example, those who take statins to lower cholesterol, sedatives, immunosuppressant drugs, or medications for hypertension or epilepsy should talk with their doctor before using this extract (40).
You could suffer an overdose of your medication, as the compounds in this fruit can enhance the effectiveness of these drugs.
Seed extract from grapefruit can also interfere with many medications for heart problems, including medicines for arrhythmia and erectile dysfunction as well as antiplatelet or blood-thinning drugs (41, 42).
Many products that claim to be grapefruit seed extract also contain additional chemicals that are likely added by the manufacturer to boost its disinfectant properties.
However, these chemicals can be dangerous if you consume them.
Triclosan, a common additive to extracts like this, is known to cause problems with allergies and asthma and can even lead to miscarriage or hormone disturbances (43).
Another common additive, benzalkonium chloride, can harm your lungs, nose, and eyes (44).
It is, therefore, vitally important that you purchase products that are meant for use on humans and not for cleaning purposes, and that the ingredients on your product do not contain any additives, such as these.
Research your desired manufacturer and follow the advice of reputable natural medicine providers or your doctor when selecting a product.
Extract of the grapefruit seed is not only a powerful antioxidant, but it also can help to fight infection and lower inflammation.
It has the capacity to fight a wide variety of microbes, from bacteria to yeasts and viruses, and it can boost your cells ability to resist damage from stress and other chronic conditions.
Grapefruit seed extract can help treat diabetes, treat fungal infections, help you lose weight, and protect you from many diseases.
It can even protect your heart and brain. If you need an immune system boost or to combat the signs of aging, this antioxidant makes an excellent choice.
While it is generally safe and well-tolerated, grapefruit seed extract can interfere with some medications, so always talk with your doctor before starting to take this supplement.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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