The Benefits of Grapefruit Essential Oil

Grapefruit Essential Olil
David Bishop Inc. Collection/Photodisc/Getty Images

Grapefruit essential oil is a type of essential oil commonly used in aromatherapy. Sourced from the peel of the Citrus paradisi fruit, proponents suggest that breathing in the oil's tangy scent can help lift your mood and offer a variety of benefits.

Grapefruit essential oil contains a number of compounds thought to enhance health, including citronellal and limonene.

How Does It Work?

In aromatherapy, inhaling the aroma of grapefruit essential oil (or absorbing grapefruit essential oil through the skin) is thought to transmit messages to a brain region involved in controlling emotions.

Known as the limbic system, this brain region also influences the nervous system. Aromatherapy proponents suggest that essential oils may affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levelsblood pressure, breathing, and immune function.

Uses for Grapefruit Essential Oil

In aromatherapy, grapefruit essential oil is typically used for the following problems:

  • Acne
  • Colds
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hangovers
  • Headaches
  • Jet lag

Grapefruit essential oil is also used to reduce stress, stimulate circulation, increase energy, enhance mood, and improve digestion.

When used as an ingredient in personal-care products, grapefruit essential oil is said to treat oily hair and skin.

The Benefits of Grapefruit Essential Oil

Although very few scientific studies have tested the aromatherapeutic power of grapefruit essential oil, some preliminary research indicates that the oil may offer certain benefits.

For example, a rat-based study published in Brain Research in 2005 found that inhaling the scent of grapefruit essential oil stimulated activity in the sympathetic nervous system (the branch of the central nervous system involved in activating the body's "fight-or-flight" response to stress).

In addition, a number of preliminary studies suggest that grapefruit essential oil may act as an antimicrobial (a substance that destroys or suppresses the growth of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi).

However, it should be noted that these studies did not test the aromatherapeutic use of grapefruit essential oil.

Tips on Using It

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), grapefruit essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.

Grapefruit essential oil also can be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue, or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.

Possible Side Effects

Grapefruit essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional. Internal use of grapefruit essential oil may have toxic effects.

In addition, some individuals may experience irritation or an allergic reaction when applying grapefruit essential oil to the skin. A skin patch test should be done before using any new essential oil. Essential oils are absorbed through the skin, so topical application should not exceed safe use.

Before applying any type of essential oil to your skin, make sure to blend it with a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil).

There's also some concern that applying grapefruit essential oil to the skin may increase your sensitivity to ultraviolet light emitted by the sun and—as a result—raise your risk of skin cancer. When using grapefruit essential oil on your skin, it's crucial to protect against ultraviolet light exposure by applying sunblock.

Pregnant women and children should consult their primary health care providers prior to using essential oils.

Keep in mind that alternative medicine should not be used as a substitute for standard care. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. Learn more about how to use essential oils safely.

Where To Find It

Here are some tips on purchasing essential oils.

Widely available for purchase online, grapefruit essential oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in self-care products.

The Bottom Line

Grapefruit essential oil is valued for its invigorating, citrusy aroma in aromatherapy. There are many ways to use it, from using it in a body lotion to putting a drop or two in a bath. But if you have a health condition, don't rely on grapefruit oil to treat it (and it's a good idea to talk with your health care provider before trying any new treatment). 

Several other types of essential oils have been found to offer effects similar to purported benefits of grapefruit essential oil.

For example, lavender essential oil and rose essential oil may reduce stress. In addition, orange essential oillemon essential oil, and jasmine essential oil may help improve mood.

Sources:

Edwards-Jones V, Buck R, Shawcross SG, Dawson MM, Dunn K. "The effect of essential oils on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus using a dressing model." Burns. 2004 Dec;30(8):772-7.

Tanida M, Niijima A, Shen J, Nakamura T, Nagai K. "Olfactory stimulation with scent of essential oil of grapefruit affects autonomic neurotransmission and blood pressure." Brain Res. 2005 Oct 5;1058(1-2):44-55.

Warnke PH, Becker ST, Podschun R, Sivananthan S, Springer IN, Russo PA, Wiltfang J, Fickenscher H, Sherry E. "The battle against multi-resistant strains: Renaissance of antimicrobial essential oils as a promising force to fight hospital-acquired infections." J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2009 Oct;37(7):392-7.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

Continue Reading