We’ve known for decades that grapefruit can benefit weight loss, but the possibility of using concentrated grapefruit essential oil for the same effects is now becoming more popular. Grapefruit oil, which is extracted from the rind of the grapefruit plant, has been used for centuries to help beat inflammation, weight gain, sugar cravings and even hangover symptoms. It’s also considered a natural stress-fighter, anti-inflammatory agent, antioxidant food and anticarcinogenic agent.
Even though the pulp of grapefruit has plenty of its own benefits — including being a popular fat-burning food — grapefruit essential oil actually comes from the peel of the fruit, which holds a range of beneficial volatile compounds.
As one of the most versatile essential oils, the aroma of grapefruit oil is clean, fresh and a little bit bitter, just like the actual fruit itself. It has the signature taste and smell of citrus fruits, which is why many people like to use it in natural household cleaning products and homemade beauty lotions, soaps or cosmetics.
What Is Grapefruit Essential Oil?
Grapefruit essential oil is a potent extract derived from the Citrus paradisi grapefruit plant.
Grapefruit essential oil benefits include:
- Disinfecting surfaces
- Cleansing the body
- Reducing depression
- Stimulating the immune system
- Decreasing fluid retention
- Curbing sugar cravings
- Helping with weight loss
Grapefruit oil is naturally high in antioxidants and phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress and disease-causing inflammation. Many of grapefruit essential oil’s benefits are due to one of its main constituents called limonene (which makes up about 88 percent to 95 percent of the oil). Limonene is known to be a tumor-fighting, cancer-preventative phytochemical that protects DNA and cells from damage. In addition to limonene, grapefruit essential oil contains other powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C, myrcene, terpinene, pinene and citronellol. (1)
Most commonly, grapefruit oil is used to fight throat and respiratory infections, fatigue, muscle aches, as well as a natural remedy for arthritis. It’s also been used consistently by those working to lose weight. It’s said to help increase energy levels and metabolism, plus it also can help curb sugar cravings.
As a natural detoxification agent, grapefruit oil can help the liver cleanse the body of toxins and waste, plus it can activate your lymphatic system and control fluid retention.
11 Grapefruit Essential Oil Benefits
1. Helps to Boost Weight Loss
Ever been told that grapefruit is one of the best fruits to eat for weight loss and fat-burning? Well, that’s because some of grapefruit’s active ingredients work to boost your metabolism and reduce your appetite. When inhaled or applied topically, grapefruit oil is known to lower cravings and hunger, which makes it a great tool for losing weight fast in a healthy way. Of course, using grapefruit oil alone isn’t going to make all the difference — but when it’s combined with dietary and lifestyle changes, it can be beneficial.
Grapefruit essential oil also works as an excellent diuretic and lymphatic stimulant. This is one reason why it’s included in many cellulite creams and blends that are used for dry brushing. Additionally, grapefruit can be very effective for shedding excess water weight loss since it helps kick-start a sluggish lymphatic system.
Researchers from the Nagata University School of Medicine in Japan found that grapefruit has a “refreshing and exciting effect” when inhaled, which suggests an activation of sympathetic nerve activity that helps control body weight.
In their animal study, the researchers found that grapefruit’s activation of sympathetic nerve activity has an effect on white adipose tissue within the body that’s responsible for lipolysis. When rats inhaled the grapefruit oil, they experienced increased lipolysis, which resulted in a suppression in body weight gain. (2)
2. Works as Natural Antibacterial Agent
Grapefruit oil has antimicrobial effects that help reduce or eliminate harmful strains of bacteria that enter the body through contaminated foods, water or parasites. Research shows that grapefruit oil can even fight strong bacterial strains that are responsible for food-born illnesses, including E. Coli and salmonella. (3)
Grapefruit is also used to kill skin or internal bacteria and fungus, fight mold growth, kill parasites in animal feeds, preserve food, and disinfect water.
A lab study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that when grapefruit-seed extract was tested against 67 distinct biotypes that were both gram-positive and gram-negative organisms, it showed antibacterial properties against all of them. (4)
3. Helps to Reduce Stress
The smell of grapefruit is uplifting, soothing and clarifying. It’s known to relieve stress and bring on feelings of peace and relaxation.
Research suggests that inhaling grapefruit oil or using it for aromatherapy within your home can help turn on relaxation responses within the brain and even lower your blood pressure naturally. Inhaling grapefruit vapors can quickly and directly transmit messages to your brain region involved in controlling emotional responses.
A 2002 study published in the Journal of Japanese Pharmacology investigated the effects of grapefruit oil fragrance inhalation on sympathetic brain activity in normal adults and found that grapefruit oil (along with other essential oils like peppermint oil, estragon, fennel and rose essential oil) significantly affected brain activity and relaxation.
The adults who inhaled the oils experienced a 1.5- to 2.5-fold increase in relative sympathetic activity that improved their mood and reduced stressful feelings. They also experienced a noticeable reduction in systolic blood pressure compared with inhalation of an odorless solvent. (5)
4. Helps to Relieve Hangover Symptoms
Grapefruit oil is a powerful gallbladder and liver stimulant, so it can help stop headaches, cravings and sluggishness following a day of drinking alcohol. It works to increase detoxification and urination, while putting a hold on cravings that can occur due to hormonal and blood sugar level changes resulting from alcohol. (6)
5. Reduces Sugar Cravings
Feel like you’re always looking for something sweet? Grapefruit oil may help to reduce sugar cravings and help kick that sugar addiction. Limonene, one of the primary components in grapefruit oil, has shown to balance blood sugar levels and reduce appetite in studies involving rats. Animal studies also show that grapefruit oil affects the autonomic nervous system, which acts to regulate unconscious bodily functions, including functions related to how we handle stress and digestion. (7)
6. Boosts Circulation and Reduces Inflammation
Therapeutic-grade citrus essential oils are known for their ability to help lower inflammation and increase blood flow. The blood vessel-dilating effects of grapefruit may be useful as a natural remedy for PMS cramps, headaches, bloating, fatigue and muscle pains.
Research suggests that the limonene present in grapefruit and other citrus essential oils is what helps to reduce inflammation and helps to regulate the body’s cytokine production, or its natural immune response. (8)
7. Aids Digestion
Increased blood to the digestive organs — including the bladder, liver, stomach and kidneys — means that grapefruit oil also helps with detoxification. It has a positive effect on digestion, can help you shed fluid retention, and fights microbes within the intestines, gut and other digestive organs.
A scientific review published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that drinking grapefruit juice helps to promote metabolic detoxification pathways. Grapefruit may work similarly if it’s taken internally with water in small amounts, but there are no human studies to prove this yet. (9)
8. Works as a Natural Energizer and Mood Booster
As one of the most popular oils used in aromatherapy, grapefruit oil can increase your mental focus and give you a natural pick-me-up. When inhaled, its stimulating effects also make it effective for reducing headaches, sleepiness, brain fog, mental fatigue and even poor moods.
Grapefruit oil may even beneficial for healing adrenal fatigue symptoms like low motivation, aches and sluggishness. Some people like to use grapefruit as a mild, natural antidepressant since it can increase alertness while also calming nerves.
Citrus fragrances have proven to help restore stress-induced immuno-suppression and induce calm behavior, as observed in studies using mice. For example, in one study using rats that were forced to undergo a swim test, citrus fragrance reduced the time they were immobile and made them more reactive and alert. Researchers believe that the application of citrus fragrances for depressive patients can help reduce the doses of antidepressants needed by naturally lifting their mood, energy and motivation. (10)
Research also shows that grapefruit essential oil inhibits acetylcholinesterase activity, also known as AChE, according to a study done by the Department of Applied Chemistry at Kinki University in Japan. AChE hydrolyzes the neurotransmitter acetylcholine within the brain and is found mainly at neuromuscular junctions and brain synapses. Because grapefruit inhibits AChE from breaking down acetylcholine, both the level and duration of action of the neurotransmitter increases — which results in a person’s mood improving. This effect can help fight fatigue, brain fog, stress and depression symptoms. (11)
9. Helps to Fight Acne and Improve Skin Health
Many commercially made lotions and soaps contain citrus oils because of their antibacterial and anti-aging properties. Not only may grapefruit essential oil help to fight bacteria and greasiness that can cause acne blemishes, but it may also be useful for keeping your skin’s immunity strong against indoor and outdoor air pollution and UV light damage — plus it may even help you get rid of cellulite. Grapefruit essential oil has also been found to help heal wounds, cuts and bites, and to prevent skin infections.
A 2016 study published in Food and Nutrition Research evaluated the efficacy of grapefruit polyphenols in decreasing an individual’s susceptibility to ultraviolet radiation and improving skin health. Researchers found that the combination of grapefruit oil and rosemary oil was able to inhibit UV ray-induced effects and inflammatory markers, thereby helping to avoid the negative effects that sun exposure can have on the skin. (12)
10. Improves Hair Health
Lab studies show that grapefruit oil has antibacterial effects and enhances the susceptibility of microorganisms that are normally resistant. For this reason, grapefruit oil may help to cleanse your hair and scalp thoroughly when it’s added to your shampoo or conditioner. You can also use grapefruit oil to reduce greasy hair, while adding volume and shine. Plus, if you color your hair, grapefruit oil might also be able to protect strands from sunlight damage. (13)
11. Enhances Flavor
Grapefruit oil can be used to naturally add a touch of citrus flavor to your meals, seltzer, smoothies and water. This helps to increase your satiety after eating, curb cravings for carbs and sweets, and it improves digestion after a meal.
9 Grapefruit Essential Oil Uses
Grapefruit essential oil can be used aromatically, topically and internally. Here’s a quick breakdown of the best ways to use grapefruit oil safely and effectively:
- Aromatically: Grapefruit oil can be diffused throughout your home using an oil diffuser or inhaled directly from the bottle. Try this method by inhaling grapefruit vapors to help the body let go of bloating and retained water, headaches, stress, and depression.
- Topically: When using grapefruit oil on your skin, it should be diluted with equal parts of a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil. Combine the two and then rub them onto any area in need, including sore muscles, acne-prone skin or your abdomen to improve digestion.
- Internally: Using grapefruit oil internally is ONLY recommended with a very high-quality, pure grade oil brand. You can add a drop to water or take it as a dietary supplement by mixing 1-2 drops with honey or a smoothie. It’s recognized as safe for consumption by the FDA, but only when you use a 100 percent pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil that only includes one ingredient: grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) rind oil.
Here are the top grapefruit essential oil uses:
1. Reduce Cravings: Add 1–2 drops of grapefruit oil to your water, inhale it directly from the bottle, diffuse 5 drops in your office or home, or massage 2-3 drops into your chest and wrists when a craving strikes.
2. Relieve Stress: Add 2–3 drops to a sterile cotton ball along with a touch of coconut oil. Then rub the mixture it into your wrists, neck or chest. You can also diffuse 5 drops of grapefruit or inhale it directly from the bottle.
3. Ease Hangover: Diffuse 5 drops of grapefruit essential oil in your home, add 1–2 drops to a glass of water, or apply 1–2 drops topically to your temples and neck.
4. Improve Skin Health: As a natural acne treatment or skin salve, combine 1–2 drops of grapefruit oil with about half a teaspoon of nourishing coconut or jojoba oil. Then apply the mixture once or twice daily on the affected area.
5. Eliminate Odors: To get rid of unpleasant odors in your kitchen, appliances and bathrooms, diffuse 5 drops of grapefruit oil along with other citrus scents like lemon essential oil and orange oil. While your house fills with a clean scent, you also eliminate odor-causing bacteria from the air. Additionally, you can use a small amount of grapefruit essential oil on wooden surfaces, countertops, floors or in household appliances to kill bacteria and odor naturally.
6. Boost Circulation: Add 2–3 drops of grapefruit oil to a nightly bath, place some on your shirt collar or dap 1-2 drops onto your wrists.
7. Aid Digestion: Make a homemade massage lotion with 3–5 drops of grapefruit oil and equal parts coconut or jojoba oil. Then rub the mixture onto your abdomen to aid digestion.
8. Boost Energy and Mood: Inhale grapefruit oil directly from the bottle, diffuse 5 drops at home or work, or rub 2-3 drops onto your wrists.
9. Improve Hair Health: Add 2-3 drops of grapefruit oil to your shampoo or conditioner and massage it into your scalp and hair. You can also add 1-2 drops of grapefruit to a small amount of coconut oil and rub the mixture into your clean, damp hair after bathing.
Grapefruit essential oil works well with lots of other oils depending on what you’re using it for. Try combing it with basil oil, orange oil, peppermint oil, bergamot oil, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil or lemon essential oil. Keep in mind that all citrus essentials oils are highly concentrated and are full of healthy acidic properties. Because of this, we recommend you use glass containers when storing them so they don’t eat away any of the plastic.
Grapefruit Oil Precautions
Grapefruit essential oil is considered safe, but it might interact with certain medications, including antidepressants and blood pressure medications. Before adding grapefruit to your diet or using grapefruit oil as a natural medicinal remedy, check with your health care provider if you take medications or have sensitive skin.
You also want to avoid direct sun exposure right after using grapefruit oil topically, as some citrus oils can increase photosensitivity. When using the oil on your skin, wait at least one hour before going into the sun. Also keep in mind that some people with sensitive skin might experience irritation or an allergic reaction when applying grapefruit essential oil, so a skin patch test should be done first to check for your reaction (the same applies to starting use with any new essential oil since essential oils all differ in terms of ingredients and chemical properties).
Finally, be careful to avoid any misleading information on the internet about using high quantities of grapefruit oil for weight loss, especially low-quality brands that might contain dangerous additives and fillers. Some sources claim that up to half a bottle per day should be taken for best results — but this is dangerous, potentially toxic and will very likely cause negative reactions. Overly consuming grapefruit oil can overstimulate the gallbladder and cause spasms and serious digestive issues like gallstones or changes in bile ducts, so use caution and only use grapefruit or any essential oil in small recommended doses.
Final Thoughts About Grapefruit Essential Oil
- Grapefruit essential oil is a potent extract derived from the Citrus paradisi grapefruit plant. It’s been used for centuries to help reduce inflammation, weight gain, sugar cravings and even hangover symptoms. Plus, it’s considered a natural stress-fighter, anti-inflammatory agent, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic agent.
- The top benefits of grapefruit essential oil includes its ability to:
- help boost weight loss
- work as a natural antibacterial agent
- help reduce stress
- help to relieve hangover symptoms
- reduce sugar cravings
- boost circulation and reduce inflammation
- aid digestion
- work as a natural energizer and mood booser
- help to fight acne and improve skin health
- improve hair health
- enhance flavor
- Grapefruit essential oil can be used aromatically, topically (when diluted with a carrier oil) and internally (when using a 100 percent pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil). When using grapefruit oil internally, remember that you only need 1-2 drops and excessive amounts can be toxic.