GrapeFruit Seed Extract Review & Information: Natural Antimicrobial Agent
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is a preparation derived from the seeds and pulp of grapefruit. It was originally developed by the German-born researcher Jacob Harich as an alternative to chemical means of preventing mold from growing on fruits and vegetables.
Farmers also use grapefruit seed extract on their equipment to inhibit the growth of mold, and cosmetic companies use it as a natural preservative. GSE first appeared as a dietary supplement in the 1980’s when people realized that compounds in grapefruit seeds called proanthocyanidins have powerful infection-fighting properties and can be used to control mold, bacteria and viruses in humans.
GSE is most commonly used as a broad spectrum antimicrobial agent – that is, to fight infections. The compound is reportedly effective in treating dozens of common pathogens, including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella, Herpes simplex and the flu virus.
Grapefruit seed extract is frequently used in alternative health circles as a treatment for symptoms attributed to the overgrowth of yeast, or Candida albicans, in the intestines.
Note, however, that both “good” and “bad” bacteria live in the intestines. Therefore, when GSE is taken over the long term, a supplement of acidophilus (“good bacteria”) is recommended in conjunction with it to replenish healthy intestinal flora.
Grapefruit seed extract can also be used topically to treat a variety of skin conditions, such as acne, blisters, and cold sores. For these purposes, use the powdered or liquid form of grapefruit seed extract, and always be sure to dilute it (or use a diluted preparation) because full strength GSE can burn or irritate skin.
People with oily skin may benefit from using grapefruit seed extract as a facial cleanser. It can also be used as a throat gargle or dental rinse or as a spray to treat minor burns, scrapes and cuts. Liquid GSE can also be used to clean and disinfect countertops, tables and kitchen utensils.
Grapefruit seed extract should not be confused with grape seed extract, which is an antioxidant supplement made from red grapes. Grapefruit seed extract is also sold as citrus seed extract or grapefruit extract. Since it tends to have a bitter taste, taking grapefruit seed extract in capsule form is often preferable for internal use. Liquid extracts and powders can be mixed with fruit juice to make them taste better, but people who want to avoid sugar may prefer to take the supplement in capsule form.
The usual recommended dose of GSE is around 130 mg taken twice daily. Since grapefruit juice has well-documented interactions with certain medications, people who are taking immunosuppressant medications, cholesterol lowering medications or antihistamines should talk to their doctor before using grapefruit seed extract.
It is not clear whether GSE poses the same risks as grapefruit juice, however. In fact, although there are not many studies on the subject, no specific nutrient or drug interactions have been reported for grapefruit seed extract.