When people eat grapefruit, they often pay little attention to the tiny seeds inside. After all, who would willingly eat a grapefruit seed?
Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the benefits seeds have to offer. And the benefits of grapefruit seed extract are no different.
What is Grapefruit Seed Extract?
Grapefruit seed extract is exactly as it sounds – it’s grapefruit seeds that have been made into an extract. In some concentrations, the extract will also include the pulp and white membranes of a grapefruit.
The extract is made by mixing grapefruit seeds and/or the pulp into a highly acidic liquid, which is then converted into a yellow, thick liquid that has a strong, bitter taste. Vegetable glycerin is usually added to help make the taste a little more palatable, as well as reduce irritation to delicate mucous membranes when taken internally.
The main constituents of grapefruit seed extract that give it medicinal qualities are attributed to its high concentration of polyphenols known as limonoids and naringenin (1). These compounds are believed to be responsible for the benefits of grapefruit seed extract, like destroying bacteria and fungi.
8 Benefits of Grapefruit Seed Extract
So why is grapefruit seed extract so beneficial? Read below to find out why this supplement should be made a staple in your medicine cabinet.
1. Fights Candida
Candida, a yeast-like parasitic fungus that can sometimes cause thrush, is easily eradicated by grapefruit seed extract (GSE). If you’ve ever suffered from candida, you know it isn’t fun. It can present itself as a mysterious rash on the body, or as a thick, yellowish-white discharge from the vaginal tract in women.
Grapefruit seed extract, according to one study (2), possesses strong anti-fungal effects against the yeast strain, Candida albicans. The Polish researchers found that GSE used at a concentration of 33 percent had strong effects against Candida albicans overgrowth.
I’ve personally used GSE to treat Candida, and it is quite effective. Usually if I take a couple capsules or drops at night, it will be gone by morning. I’ve also come to find that combining fats and really sweet fruits like dates trigger lots of Candida growth in my body. By avoiding these combinations, I’ve been able to control the yeast levels in my body.
2. Remediates Digestion-Related Issues
Slightly related to point number one, grapefruit seed extract has the ability to treat digestive disturbances, and kill fungal infections like Candida albicans in the gastrointestinal tract. One preliminary human trial tested serial dilutions of GSE on patients with atopic eczema (a condition that is associated with a high frequency of recurrent fungal and bacterial infections). The patients also showed symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) like diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.
The subjects received either 2 drops of a 0.5% liquid concentrate twice a day, or 150 mg of encapsulated grapefruit seed extract (ParaMicrocidin®), three times a day.
After just one month, all subjects taking capsules experienced significant improvements in their symptoms of constipation, flatulence, and abdominal discomfort. Only 20% of subjects taking the liquid form of GSE experienced significant improvements in their IBS symptoms. The extract was found to be mainly effective against Candida, Geotrichum sp. and hemolytic E. coli (3).
3. May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
The benefits of grapefruit seed extract also extend to our cardiovascular system. One study found that rats given GSE daily for 31 days experienced significant reductions in their blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The rats given GSE also weighed less than control rats who didn’t receive the supplement (4).
Other studies have found that GSE was as effective as metformin (medication for type-2 diabetes) in reducing blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes (5). Not too bad for the tiny seeds of a grapefruit!
You might be wondering why these results mean anything for heart disease. High cholesterol, high blood sugar, diabetes and being overweight are major risk factors for heart disease. Keeping them low means your heart is less at risk.
While the studies on GSE and heart-related conditions have only been performed on rats, it provides promising results for similar benefits in humans.
4. Treats Fungal Infections
As demonstrated in points number one and two above, the major benefits of grapefruit seed extract can be attributed in its ability to fight fungus. This makes it an excellent remedy for common fungal infections like athlete’s foot, yeast infections (mentioned above), jock itch and ringworm. Just a note: ringworm is actually a fungus, not an actual worm or parasite!
Grapefruit seed extract can be applied to athlete’s foot without dilution two to three times a day (6), and it can be taken internally to help alleviate high levels of Candida albicans in the body. If you’re dealing with ringworm, apply liquid GSE to the affected area and let it sit for at least five minutes before rinsing off.
5. May Help with Urinary Tract Infections
Grapefruit seed extract is an excellent remedy for killing off pathogenic bacteria like those associated with urinary tract infections. One small study found that eating just six grapefruit seeds a day, every eight hours for two weeks helped treat antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections in some people.
According to the authors, the “preliminary data thus suggest an antibacterial characteristic of dried or fresh grapefruit seeds (C. paradisi) when taken at a dosage of 5 to 6 seeds every 8 hours, that is comparable to that of proven antibacterial drugs (7).”
It is likely that the antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds found in GSE are responsible for ridding the urinary tract of stubborn bacteria.
6. Contains Powerful Antimicrobials and Antioxidants
Grapefruit seed extract is a powerful antimicrobial and antioxidant. It works as an effective anti-fungal (as we’ve already seen), anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Some studies have found it to be just as effective as some commonly prescribed topical anti fungal and antibacterial medications like nystatin (8).
For this reason, grapefruit seed extract is commonly found in products used to disinfect and protect from unwanted bacteria. This includes products like ear drops, nasal sprays, throat sprays, wound-disinfecting sprays, mouth wash, toothpaste and other personal care products. It acts as an effective preservative (by keeping unwanted bacteria at bay), and is therefore often used as a way to preserve certain products.
I’ve personally found grapefruit seed extract to work quite well against mould that grows as a result of too-high humidity levels. My house is full of plants, and the humidity levels are quite high. In winter, the high humidity and cold weather often leaves wet spots in the North-facing corners of the house. Grapefruit seed extract, however, has kept mold growth at bay. It is one of the most effective natural anti-mold product I’ve ever used!
7. Helps Kill Plaque-Causing Bacteria
Grapefruit seed extract has also been studied for its beneficial effects against plaque-causing bacteria. One study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association investigated a series of different mouthwashes and their antimicrobial effectiveness against predominant oral bacteria. They tested three different mouthwashes: a herbal mouth rinse that contained GSE, an essential oil mouth rinse and a 0.12 percent chlorhexidine gluconate rinse (comparable to Lysterine).
The authors assessed the inhibitory effects of the three mouthwashes against 40 oral bacteria at different concentrations. They found that the herbal rinse was more effective than the essential oil rinse in inhibiting the growth of oral bacteria in vitro. The authors states that “the data suggest that the herbal mouth rinse may provide oral health benefits by inhibiting the growth of periodontal and cariogenic pathogens (9).”
Grapefruit Seed Extract Safety
Grapefruit seed extract comes in many different forms, whether that’s as a capsule, liquid extract, or tablet.
You have to be careful about how your grapefruit seed extract is made, however. A German study of six commercial grapefruit seed extracts showed that five of the products contained benzethonium chloride, a synthetic antimicrobial used in cosmetics and other topical creams. They also contained preservatives triclosan and methylparaben (10).
Similar claims have been made by multiple other studies that found GSE contaminated with these synthetic compounds and preservatives (11, 12, 13).
This is why it is important that you thoroughly research the grapefruit seed extract you intend on using. Look for organic brands, and only opt for high-quality products made by companies that are reputable. I would also suggest calling the company and asking them if their products contain these antimicrobial and preservatives, which will often NOT be listed on the ingredient label.
For these reasons, many people choose to use GSE externally, instead of internally. If you do want internal benefits, the best way might be by consuming some grapefruit seeds every now and then. The study mentioned above successfully had patients eliminate their Candida albicans complaints by taking 6 grapefruit seeds every 8 hours for two weeks.
Also, grapefruit seed extract can deplete the good bacteria in your gut if taken for long periods of time. Taking a high-quality probiotic can help replenish your gut.