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10 min read / 25 March 2024 / yasmin sharp

10 Benefits and Uses of Grapefruit Oil

Discover the remarkable benefits and versatile uses of grapefruit oil for health, skin, and home.

 

Grapefruit is something of a newcomer to the world of aromatherapy, as it only arrived in the western world at some point during the 20th century.

Western explorers first encountered the fruit in Barbados in 1750, although it remained unobtainable to the masses for some time.

Whilst widely available today, it was not cold pressed for oil until quite recently.

Grapefruit is thought to be a hybrid of sweet orange and pomelo, and even though it is a little behind some of the other members of the citrus family, it has quickly been making up for lost time to reveal a host of health benefits that could be helpful for a host of applications.

What is grapefruit oil?

Grapefruit oil is extracted from the peel of the fruit, producing an oil that is pale yellow in colour.

The oil is usually cold-pressed and used as a focus remedy in aromatherapy.

The presence of furocoumarins in the oil means that it has phototoxic qualities, so users should limit their exposure to UV rays for some hours after topical application.

The sharp, juicy scent has a lot of benefits to offer the mind and body, including energy boosting qualities, skin and hair properties and much more.

How does grapefruit oil work?

As an aromatherapy agent, grapefruit oil is great at reinvigorating energy levels, whilst helping to dispel stress and anxiety.

Plus, if you have stiff joints or muscles aches, diffusion may be able to provide some comfort.

Grapefruit oil benefits can also be enjoyed topically to improve skin health.

The diluted variety of the oil could make it useful for treating skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis and similar.

People find other uses for grapefruit essential oil, with its natural properties possibly working to reduce the appearance of cellulite, whilst providing better oil balance for skin and hair.

What are the benefits of grapefruit oil?

To enjoy the benefits of grapefruit essential oil it may be able to:

1. Deliver antibacterial protection

The strong antimicrobial and antibacterial properties found in grapefruit oil may help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria strains around the home.

According to a 2004 study, the antimicrobial effects of grapefruit oil displayed an ability to combat as many as 67 different biotypes.

So, when it comes to providing cleaning protection for your home, this makes grapefruit oil one of the most effective essential oils you can use.

To give it a try, add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water and apply in areas that need a tidy or spring clean.

2. Lower stress levels

In recent years, researchers have learned that the smell of grapefruit oil can have a positive effect on anxiety, stress and low moods.

It was even suggested that the oil may be able to lower blood pressure and improve heart health, whilst also reducing cortisol levels – a hormone that is released in response to high stress. 

A study conducted some years earlier highlighted that sympathetic activity in adult brains could be increased by grapefruit oil, helping to reduce stress levels and improve mood.

They also noted that systolic blood pressure was reduced quite significantly.

The results of these studies suggest that grapefruit essential oil could offer a solution for both the emotional and physical manifestations of stress and similar conditions.

3. Boost energy levels

Perhaps one of the most interesting and influential properties offered by grapefruit oil is its ability to reduce stress-induced immune suppression, whilst also providing more alertness and clarity.

This could be because grapefruit oil is able to prevent acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in the brain.

It breaks down neurotransmitter acetylcholine within the brain, which is mostly found at neuromuscular junctions and brain synapses.

The action and level of the neurotransmitter is increased once acetylcholine is no longer broken down by AChE following its interaction with grapefruit oil.

It is believed this can increase alertness, provide more clarity and boost energy levels, whilst also helping to lift low moods and anxious thoughts.

4. Relieve hangover symptoms

Many people struggling to recover from a hangover often turn to grapefruit as a natural remedy to ease some of the symptoms.

Research into this claim has found that the use of grapefruit oil could stimulate the liver and gallbladder, whilst also improving their overall functionality.

In 2016, researchers published test results that indicated cravings triggered by changing blood sugar levels after alcohol consumption could be curbed by grapefruit oil. 

Regular use of grapefruit oil could also help to detoxify the body, reduce headaches, stimulate urination and increase energy levels.

5. Improve skin health

The antimicrobial benefits of grapefruit oil could be used to prevent and ease acne and symptoms of similar skin conditions.

This claim is based on the findings of a 2017 study, although more research is required to better understand how the properties of the oil interact with certain skin conditions.

When applying cold pressed grapefruit essential oil to your skin, it should always be diluted with a carrier oil to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

And because the oil is citrus based, the cold pressed variety can produce phototoxic effects, so should ideally be applied at night to avoid exposure to UV rays.

6. Help to suppress appetite

Anyone with an overactive appetite may be surprised to learn that according to research, grapefruit oil aromatherapy treatment could offer some support.

In 2005, researchers found that after inhaling the scent of grapefruit essential oil for 15 minutes, 3 times a week, rats experienced reduced appetite, food intake and overall body weight.

A more recent study suggested that the gastric vagal nerve in rats could be stimulated by inhaling grapefruit oil.

This could prove useful as the production of stomach juices needed for digestion are stimulated by this nerve.

As part of the same set of tests, researchers found that a key component of grapefruit oil, limonene, also helped to suppress appetite and reduce food intake.

7. Promote weight loss

In addition to its potential appetite suppression abilities, grapefruit oil uses and benefits could also extend to aiding weight loss.

A 2010 test-tube study found that when grapefruit essential oil was applied directly to the fat cells of rats, the formation of fatty tissue was inhibited.

Topical application of grapefruit oil could also provide a solution.

For example, after massaging their abdomen and receiving a full body aromatherapy massage using an oil containing cypress oil, grapefruit oil and other oils, postmenopausal women involved in the test all experienced some form of weight loss.

However, it is important to note that research into the weight loss benefits of grapefruit oil is so far quite limited, so more studies are required before any full conclusions can be arrived at.

8. Boost hair health

The antibacterial benefits of grapefruit oil could make it an effective tool for cleansing the scalp and hair.

In 2004, researchers found that the oil’s natural properties were particularly effective against MRSA strains like ethidium bromide and norfloxacin, which is promising news as these microorganisms are often resistant.

Some experts also believe that the oil can be used to regulate sebum production, helping to promote scalp health and reduce the appearance of dandruff.

You can add a few drops of grapefruit essential oil to your shampoo or conditioner before washing, as it can reduce greasy hair, whilst adding shine and volume.

9. Stimulate blood circulation

Most citrus oils have the capacity to boost blood circulation and grapefruit essential oil is no different.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, grapefruit oil may help to control systolic blood pressure and boost heart health, and improving blood circulation can help to improve a variety of conditions.

Topical application may provide the best results, so try mixing a few drops of grapefruit oil with a carrier oil of choice and gently rubbing into affected areas of skin.

10. Calm inflammation

According to research published in 2016, the limonene compound present in the oil holds the key to regulating inflammation, helping the body to manage cytokine production, or its natural immune response.

This means that the blood vessel-dilating properties could be used to ease symptoms associated with the S. aureus bacteria, which is responsible for causing a wide range of skin and soft tissue infections.

Topical and aromatherapeutic inhalation are usually the best methods to use to experience this benefit.

If you are a first-time user, it is a good idea to complete a patch test to ensure you are not sensitive or allergic to the oil’s properties. 

How can I use grapefruit oil?

Grapefruit oil benefits can be enjoyed in lots of different ways, including:

As an aromatherapy lotion

The uplifting aroma of grapefruit oil can be used to ease low moods and lift negative thoughts.

Its focus-boosting properties are ideal for use in office and study spaces, helping to boost energy, motivation and concentration levels.

To try, simply add 5-7 drops of grapefruit essential oil to a diffuser or oil burner and relax as the sweet aromas envelop you.

As a cleaning agent

One of the best benefits and uses of grapefruit oil is as a cleaning agent.

Its antibacterial properties allow it to be used as an effective house cleaner, so you can keep surfaces clean in the kitchen, bathroom and any other rooms you need to keep fresh.

Add a few drops of the oil to water and dish soap in a glass spray bottle and spritz as needed.

What is the history of grapefruit oil?

The Reverend Griffith Hughes referred to grapefruit as the “forbidden fruit” of Barbados, and even though its history reaches back almost 400 years, it remained a rarity for most westerners until the 20th century.

This perhaps helps to explain why the botanical name given to grapefruit - Citrus paradisi – translates to “fruit of paradise”, as it was seen as an exotic fruit that was difficult to obtain.

Since its arrival in the West, it has quickly established itself as a fragrant, versatile oil in the world of aromatherapy.

Along with the likes of its citrus cousins lemon, orange, lime and bergamot, grapefruit essential oil benefits are wide ranging, containing a wealth of natural properties that can improve general wellbeing.

Grapefruit oil FAQs

What are the risks of grapefruit essential oil?

Grapefruit oil is safe for most people to use, although there are some things to keep in mind.

When applying topically, the oil should be diluted before topical application to reduce the risk of experiencing an allergic reaction.

Cold pressed grapefruit oil can also cause photosensitivity, so is best applied at night to avoid exposure to UV rays.

Can you consume grapefruit oil?

In the U.S. the FDA recognises grapefruit oil as safe for consumption, although it must be 100% pure, therapeutic grade that only contains grapefruit rind oil.

Consuming too much of this type of grapefruit oil could also cause serious health complications.

Nikura does not sell any essential oils that are safe for consumption.

What does grapefruit oil blend well with?

To enjoy additional mind and body benefits that can be provided by grapefruit essential oil it can be blended with a variety of oils.

For example, ylang ylang, geranium, lavender, rosemary, peppermint and bergamot oil go particularly well, especially when diffused or used in an oil burner.


References

[1] John P. Heggers et al. (2004) The Effectiveness of Processed Grapefruit-Seed Extract as An Antibacterial Agent: II. Mechanism of Action and In Vitro Toxicity https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/10755530260128023

[2] & [3] Komori T et al. (1995) Application of fragrances to treatments for depression https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/7750015/%5bApplication_of_fragrances_to_treatments_for_depression%5d_

[4] Ken Fujioka et al. (2006) The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16579728/

[5] Ané Orchard et al. (2017) Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435909/

[6] Jiao Shen et al. (2005) Olfactory stimulation with scent of grapefruit oil affects autonomic nerves, lipolysis and appetite in rats https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15862904/

[7] Katsuya Nagai et al. (2014) Olfactory stimulatory with grapefruit and lavender oils change autonomic nerve activity and physiological function https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25002406/

[8] Shinichiro Haze et al. (2010) Grapefruit oil attenuates adipogenesis in cultured subcutaneous adipocytes https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20143292/

[9] Hee Ja Kim et al. (2007) Effect of aromatherapy massage on abdominal fat and body image in post-menopausal women https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17615482/

[10] Abedel-Nasser Abulrob et al. (2004) Identification and biological evaluation of grapefruit oil components as potential novel efflux pump modulators in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacterial strains https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15504436/

[11] Jorge Luis Amorim et al. (2016) Anti-Inflammatory Properties and Chemical Characterization of the Essential Oils of Four Citrus Species https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4835072/

[12] Xiaona Zhang et al. (2022) Protective Effects of Grapefruit Essential Oil against Staphylococcus Aureus-Induced Inflammation and Cell Damage in Human Epidermal Keratinocytes https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35505451/

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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