Posted on 02/14/2010
What Is It?
This unlikely herbal infection-fighter is synthesized from the seeds and pulp of the grapefruit. It was farmers who first used grapefruit seed Extract (GSE) to inhibit the growth of mold on their equipment; later, cosmetic companies added it to their products as a preservative.
Then, claims that GSE could fight infections in people spurred interest within the dietary supplement industry, and in the 1980s, GSE products started to appear in health-food stores. It is sometimes also called citrus seed extract.
Grapefruit seed extract has been most heavily promoted as a treatment for Candida albicans, a yeast naturally present in the human body. Candida can cause complications when it grows out of control, however. GSE is particularly popular for controlling vaginal yeast infections caused by Candida, and in treating a poorly understood intestinal condition called Candida overgrowth syndrome (COS).
Some nutritionally oriented doctors continue to recommend GSE capsules, liquids, and powders for bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, including COS. However, aside from hopeful speculation, there’s no sound scientific evidence to indicate that GSE can actually eliminate any infection in human beings.
Specifically, GSE may help to:
- Control vaginal yeast infections. One study reported that 20 women with chronic vaginal itching and other discomforts apparently due to overgrowth of the organism Candida albicans responded well to GSE douches. The study, done in Mexico, is frequently cited in the support of GSE for vaginal yeast infections. No other research on the subject appears to have been done, however.
- Fight Candida overgrowth syndrome. Although no studies have proven the efficacy of GSE for this condition, it is a popular product among some alternative practitioners because of its antifungal effect.
–Given its bitter taste, the liquid extract is usually mixed with a sweet fruit juice to make it more palatable.
- For yeast infections (vaginal): When purchasing a GSE douche, follow package instructions. For capsules, liquids, or powders, take the equivalent of 130 mg GSE twice a day.
- For Candida overgrowth syndrome: Follow package instructions.
Guidelines for Use
- Don’t confuse GSE with grape seed extract, a powerful Antioxidant derived from red grapes.
- GSE is occasionally sold under such names as “Standardized extract of Grapefruit,” “Grapefruit Extract,” and “Citrus Seed Extract.” Unless otherwise indicated on the label, these products are all usually made from grapefruit seeds only.
- No drug or nutrient interactions have been reported for GSE. However, research is limited.
- A number of medications should not be taken with grapefruit juice, including certain immunosuppressants, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and antihistamines. It’s not clear whether an extract of the grapefruit’s seeds and pulp pose the same risks. Consult your doctor if you have any questions.
Possible Side Effects
The risks associated with the use of GSE are probably low, but little sound research on its effects in humans have been done.
Many of the types of infections for which GSE is recommended–vaginal yeast infections and intestinal parasites, among others–can cause potentially serious health problems if not treated properly. Consult a doctor if you suspect you have an infection.
Yeast Infections (vaginal) – 130 mg twice a day
For product recommendations and orders click here for the Natural Apothecary or call 773-296-6700, ext. 2001.
David Edelberg, MD