Grapefruit is a common citrus fruit that resembles a large orange when ripe. Its pink flesh has a tart, tangy flavor. The grapefruit was first bred in the West Indies in the 18th century, though it’s been cultivated in areas like Malaysia and India for over 4,000 years. Grapefruits are available year-round in many grocery stores and markets across the globe. The fruit of the grapefruit along with the oil, seed extract, and juice can be used in herbal medicine. The essential oil, extracted from the grapefruit peel, can be used in aromatherapy.1,2
Grapefruit Uses and Health Benefits
Grapefruit benefits range from helping fight cancer to helping cure psoriasis. The grapefruit seed extract contains anti-bacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties and can be taken orally to fight conditions like this, including yeast infections. When applied topically, grapefruit oil can help with hair growth, muscle fatigue, and skin conditions like acne.3 Grapefruit oil has even been said to help fight fevers associated with the common cold and the flu.1 In aromatherapy, grapefruit vapors can be inhaled to help treat symptoms of depression, stress, and headaches.2,3 The vapors may even help in treating a variety of lung infections.3 Grapefruit seed extract helps address nutritional deficiencies associated with nail disorders, pelvic inflammatory disease, and histoplasmosis.4,5,6
Other grapefruit uses include for:
- Malaria - Grapefruit is thought to help treat symptoms of malaria.
- Overweight - Studies suggest that adding grapefruit to your diet may help individuals lose weight.
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) - Grapefruit may help in lowering blood pressure. However, because of this, it’s best not to take grapefruit when on high blood pressure medications.
- Warts - Topical application of grapefruit may help fight off warts.
- Metabolic Syndrome - Taking grapefruit orally may help patients with metabolic syndrome.
Grapefruit Side Effects and Precautions
Although grapefruit is generally considered safe, it is important to proceed cautiously, especially if you are taking other medications. Grapefruit is known to interact with other drugs by increasing absorption in the bloodstream.7 Examples of common grapefruit interactions include with estrogens, medications for high blood pressure, caffeine, and Warfarin among many others.3 Talk to your doctor about starting on a grapefruit diet if you are currently using other herbs or medications, including both prescription and non-prescription drugs. Eating grapefruit should be safe for pregnant women, but pregnant women should avoid high concentrations of this herb, such as grapefruit essential oil.1