Grapefruit Essential Oil

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Grapefruit Essential Oil
Grapefruit Essential Oil – Uses And Benefits – image to repin / share
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General Description

Grapefruit pertains to the yellow-orange-skinned, spheroid fruit of subtropical citrus trees scientifically named as Citrus paradisi. [1] The plant itself is actually a hybrid and was first developed in Barbados as a result of a natural cross-pollination between sweet orange (C. sinensis) and pomelo (C. maxima). Grapefruit, which was once identified as the “forbidden fruit,” is named as such because the fruits often grow in great grape-like clusters, particularly the small, green, and unripe ones that group like a bunch of grapes. [2] To date, grapefruits come in a variety of cultivars such as Ruby Red, Pink, Thompson, Marsh, and Duncan and are characterized with segmented flesh in different colors and degree of sweetness. [1]

The grapefruit alone is utilized by a number of people as a medicine, being a natural source of phytochemicals, antioxidants (e.g., vitamin C and lycopene), and fiber, [1] but the essential oil derived from grapefruit peels and the extract that can be acquired from the seeds have good reputations medical-wise too. Grapefruit essential oil is obtained by cold pressing the peel of grapefruits. Such process produces a pink to orange-pink essential oil with a thin consistency and a fresh, mediumstrength, citrusy aroma, a liquid highly valued in aromatherapy to “uplift” one’s spirits and ease muscle fatigue and stiffness. Grapefruit essential oil works perfectly with rosemary, cypress, lavender, geranium, and cardamom essential oils. [3]

Aside from its medicinal and pharmacological properties, grapefruit essential oil is used in the manufacturing industry as a fragrance component in soaps and cosmetics. It can be used as a household cleaner for fruits, vegetables, meats, kitchen surfaces, dishes, etc. [4]

Grapefruit Essential Oil – Uses and Reported Benefits

Grapefruit juice is integrated in the dietary management of atherosclerosis, cancer, and psoriasis, whereas the grapefruit seed extract is orally given for bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, including that from yeast. Grapefruit seed extract also acts as a facial cleanser, a first-aid treatment, a remedy for mild skin irritations, and a vaginal douche for vaginal yeast infections. Grapefruit essential oil, on the other hand, is applied on the skin for muscle fatigue and on the scalp for hair growth. It is used as well for the common cold and flu (influenza). [4]

Grapefruit essential oil is commonly used as an astringent and as a digestive aid but is also effective for water retention and obesity. [5] It can serve as a “purifier” of congested, oily, and acne-prone skin too and is occasionally incorporated into creams and lotions as a natural toner and cellulite treatment. Not only that, grapefruit essential oil can relieve one’s nervous exhaustion and depression. [3] Inhaling vapors from grapefruit essential oil can alleviate headache and stress. [4]

Grapefruit Essential Oil – Contraindications and Safety

A Japanese study using urethane-anesthetized rats had demonstrated that olfactory stimulation with the scent of grapefruit essential oil and limonene, its active component, increases the blood pressure by eliciting the renal sympathetic nerve activity. Grapefruit essential oil affects autonomic neurotransmission and blood pressure through central histaminergic nerves and the suprachiasmatic nucleus, [6] and because of such effect, individuals with already high blood pressure or with diseases characterized by a high blood pressure should avoid the use of grapefruit essential oil.

Although grapefruit is generally safe in food amounts, there is a scarcity of credible data on the safety of its use during pregnancy and breast-feeding. In other words, it is best to avoid grapefruit essential oil when pregnant or lactating for safety’s sake. [4] Medical expertise and opinion should also be sought prior to grapefruit essential oil use, especially when taking other medications; a long list of drugs have been known to interact with grapefruit, and concomitant use of these medications with grapefruit essential oil may lead to very undesirable effects.

Grapefruit Essential Oil – Scientific Studies And Research

Grapefruit and grapefruit essential oil gain much of their medicinal utility from their antibacterial property, a feat well explored by a number of studies. In the study of Adukwu, Allen, and Phillips (2012), for instance, five strains of Staphylococcus aureus were determined to be susceptible to grapefruit essential oil, as screened through disk diffusion method. [7] Moreover, grapefruit seed extract had been determined to safely exert bactericidal effects against several Gram-positive and Gramnegative microorganisms at dilutions. In fact, as Heggers et al. (2002) had cited, a good bunch of testimonials have deemed grapefruit seed extract to be effective against more than 800 bacterial and viral strains, 100 fungal strains, and numerous single and multicelled parasites! [8] As looked into by disc diffusion method in one study, grapefruit essential oil possesses a wide spectrum of antimicrobial activities principally against S. aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, S. epidermidis, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Serratia marcescens, and Proteus vulgaris, and their inhibition zones ranged from 11 to 53 mm. [9] The seed extract of grapefruit owes its microbicidal action to its ability to disrupt the bacterial membrane and to release the cytoplasmic contents within 15 minutes after contact even at more dilute concentrations. [8]

As pointed out earlier, grapefruit essential oil possesses not only antibacterial but also antiviral and antifungal activities. In the study of Viuda-Martos, Ruiz-Navajas, Fern”ndez-L”pez, and P”rez-“lvarez (2008), lemon, mandarin, orange, and grapefruit essential oils exhibited growth-inhibiting activity against numerous fungi, namely, Aspergillus niger, A. flavus, Penicillium chrysogenum, and P. verrucosum. However, the findings from this study reveal that grapefruit essential was the best inhibitor of the moulds P. chrysogenum and P.
. [10]

Smelling the scent of grapefruit essential oil has been shown to result in many different beneficial effects on the body. For example, the findings from one study state that smelling grapefruit essential oil scent improves the activities of the sympathetic nervous system but diminishes the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (i.e., gastric vagal). It also increases the plasma glycerol concentration and body temperature but decreases appetite in rats. [6] The suppressive effect of grapefruit essential oil on the gastric vagal activity (i.e., digestion) and diminishing effect on the appetite can be very helpful to individuals intending to lose weight, especially obese individuals.

Grapefruit essential oil possesses some antioxidant properties too. [11]

Grapefruit Essential Oil – Molecular Components and Chemistry

Limonene is the most dominant and active constituent of grapefruit essential oil, followed by betapinene, linalool, and alpha-terpinene. [9] A Kenyan study analyzed through gas chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry the volatile components of the essential oil obtained from the cold-pressed peels of redblush grapefruit and detailed that monoterpene hydrocarbons make up 93.3%
of grapefruit essential oil, while sesquiterpene hydrocarbons constitute 0.4%. In this study, limonene was again dominant at 91.1%, followed by alpha-terpinene (1.3%) and alpha-pinene (0.5%), in addition to beta-caryophyllene, alpha-cubebene, and (E,E)-alpha-farnesene. [12]


[1] Grapefruit. Wikipedia. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[2] Bourne M. (1996). “Grapefruit tree” (citrus paradise). Retrieved 24 May 2013

[3] Grapefruit (Pink) Essential Oil. 10 ml. 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade. Plant Therapy Essential Oils. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[4] Cold-pressed grapefruit oil (grapefruit) overview information. WebMD, LLC. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[5] Grapefruit 100% Pure Essential Oil- 10 ml. Plantlife. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[6] Tanida M., Niijima A., Shen J., Nakamura T., & Nagai K. (2005). Olfactory stimulation with scent of essential oil of grapefruit affects autonomic neurotransmission and blood pressure. Brain Research, 1058(1-2): 44-55. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[7] Adukwu E. C., Allen S. C., & Phillips C. A. (2012). The anti-biofilm activity of lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) and grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) essential oils against five strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 113(5): 1217-
1227. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2012.05418.x. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[8] Heggers J. P. et al. (2002). The effectiveness of processed grapefruit-seed extract as an antibacterial agent: II. Mechanism of action and in vitro toxicity. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 8(3): 333-340. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[9] Uysal B., Sozmen F., Aktas O., Oksal B., & Odabas Kose E. (2011). Essential oil composition and antibacterial activity of the grapefruit (Citrus paradisi L.) peel essential oils obtained by solvent-free microwave extraction: comparison with hydrodistillation. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 46(7):
1455-1461. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[10] Viuda-Martos M., Ruiz-Navajas Y., Fern”ndez-L”pez J., & P”rez-“lvarez J. (2008). Antifungal activity of lemon (Citrus lemon L.), mandarin (Citrus reticulate L.), grapefruit (Citrus paradisi L.) and orange (Citrus sinensis L.) essential oils. Food Control, 19(12):
1130-1138. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[11] Misharina T. A. & Samusenko A. L. (2008). Antioxidant properties of essential oils from lemon, grapefruit, coriander, clove, and their mixtures. Prikladnaia Biokhimiia i Mikrobiologiia, 44(4): 482-486. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

[12] Njoroge S. M., Koaze H., Karanja P. N., & Sawamura M. (2005). Volatile constituents of redblush grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) and pummelo (Citrus grandis) peel essential oils from Kenya. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 53(25): 9790-9794. Retrieved 24 May 2013 from

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