Full of essential oils and a multitude of health benefits, grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is derived from the seeds and pulp of grapefruits (not the GSE that is grape seed extract—that’s a horse of a different color). As a citrus seed extract, GSE is full of antioxidants and has powerful antiviral abilities. To learn more about what grapefruit seed extract can and cannot do, plus any potential side effects you should be aware of, read on!
The Top 5 Benefits of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)
First discovered by American immunologist Jacob Harich in 1972, grapefruit seed extract has since shown that it can bring you some amazing results when taken as a supplement. What are the benefits of grapefruit seed extract? Here are the top five health benefits you can expect.
1. Concentrated Antioxidants
Citrus fruits naturally contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin C, and the liquid concentrate of grapefruit seed extract gives you an extra strong dose of those antioxidants. Antioxidants are so valued because they guard against free radicals in the body that cause oxidative stress damage and can lead to premature aging, poor health, opportunistic infections, and serious chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
The chemical makeup of grapefruit seed extract includes vitamin E, polyphenols, flavonoids, and essential oils, each one of which acts as an antioxidant defender for your health. For example, naringin is a plant compound (aka phytonutrient) found in grapefruit seed extract that is responsible for its bitter taste, but also responsible for guarding living tissue from radiation damage in mice model clinical trials.
2. Protective Antimicrobials
The chemical compounds found in grapefruit seed extract can kill over 65 known types of bacterial and yeast infection strains. Those studies show that in laboratory settings GSE performs better against fungal infections than some antifungal medications like nystatin.
Grapefruit seed extract is able to kill bacterium by compromising their outer membranes, breaking them down until the microbes bust open (sometimes as quickly as 15 minutes after contact). That is some ruthless defense against dangerous, invading bacteria, and it can do essentially the same thing to yeast cells. Grapefruit seed extract triggers apoptosis in yeast, causing the cells to self-destruct. You might be reminded of an M. Night Shyamalan movie right now, and you wouldn’t be very far off at all.
These amazing results happened in lab studies, but people still consume grapefruit seed extract products for these benefits, even if scientists can’t promise these powers will work at full strength when ingested as a dietary supplement.
3. Help Treating Urinary Tract Infections
Thanks to GSE’s merciless ability to kill bacteria, research has been conducted to see if it can help treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). For those who experience recurring UTIs, any help is appreciated, and one study found that consuming 6 grapefruit seeds every 8 hours for a period of 2 weeks effectively treated UTIs in some of the participants. Though it’s not a magic bullet and more human studies are needed for a scientific consensus, if downing some grapefruit seeds with a glass of water could help avoid or shorten UTI treatments, it may well be worth trying.
4. Guards Against Stomach Damage
Many people have issues with either ulcers or stomach acid damage, and animal studies have shown that GSE supplementation can help protect the stomach lining from injury caused by stress or alcohol. Grapefruit seed extract is effective because it increases blood flow to the stomach lining and shields it from free radical damage.
Not only that, but grapefruit seed extract’s antimicrobial powers may be at it again, effectively killing off the H. pylori bacterium, which researchers believe is a key player in the development of stomach ulcers. Consult a health care professional if you have ulcers to ask if GSE might be right for you, and also to make sure there are no prohibitive drug interactions.
5. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Grapefruit extract can aid in a number of health problems, but maybe none as serious as heart disease. Diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol are huge risk factors when it comes to heart disease, and research suggests that GSE may help reduce those risk factors.
In a 2008 study, rats given grapefruit seed extract for a month had significantly lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels than the control group. Another study found that grapefruit seed extract was as effective at lowering blood sugar levels in diabetic rats as the drug metformin.
Fact vs. Fiction: Grapefruit Seed Extract
There are many benefits in using natural remedies in place of synthetic chemicals when it comes to health supplements, but not all of the rumors about grapefruit seed extract are true.
Can Grapefruit Seed Extract Treat Any Infection?
While the antimicrobial activity of GSE is impressive, that does not mean it’s effective in treating every kind of infection, from acne to opportunistic infections in the gut. Keep in mind that the antifungal and antiviral abilities of GSE have only been scientifically confirmed in test tubes—to get the same effects in the human body, you have to take into account the digestive process that grapefruit seed extract in supplement form must go through first, and there have not been any peer-reviewed clinical studies on that to date.
Is GSE a Completely Natural Product?
While GSE is far more natural than most pharmaceutical drugs, many commercial grapefruit seed extracts are highly processed. Check the ingredients label before purchase, because your natural supplement might be mixed with glycerin or processed using ammonium chloride and hydrochloric acid. Be sure to investigate or contact supplement providers to find out what goes into making the grapefruit seed extract you purchase.
Is Grapefruit Seed Extract Dangerous?
You now have an understanding of what grapefruit seed extract is good for, but what about any adverse effects? Laboratory studies are one thing, but how does it actually work in humans?
First of all, beware of potential contaminants in any supplements you buy, as supplements are not regulated by the FDA like prescription drugs are. Some studies have found that commercially produced grapefruit seed extracts contain artificial compounds instead of all-natural ones: methylparabens added as a synthetic preservative and benzethonium chloride and triclosan included to act as synthetic antimicrobial substances.
Likewise when it comes to any medications you’re currently taking; these unpredictable additives could interact with your prescriptions. One example involves warfarin, a blood thinner, which causes excessive bleeding if it’s compromised by GSE supplements. Be sure to consult with a trusted medical professional before mixing any new health care product in with your current medications.
Grapefruit Juice on a Whole New Level
The grapefruit was originally called the “forbidden fruit” of Barbados, but was soon found to have disinfectant properties useful against E. coli and salmonella bacteria. These antimicrobial findings are proven time and time again, which is why grapefruit seed extract is often included in mouthwashes, household disinfectants, and topical acne treatments.
Take the scientific evidence, health tips, and medical warnings into consideration when deciding whether grapefruit seed extract is right for you. Be sure to check with your doctor if you’re already on medications, then choose a GSE supplement that’s pure and free from synthetic additives. After that, you should be in the business of benefiting from grapefruit seed extract!