Grapefruit essential oil is an orange-tinted, citrus-scented oil frequently used in aromatherapy.
Through a method known as cold-pressing, the oil is extracted from glands located in the peel of the grapefruit.
Grapefruit essential oil has distinct properties that may offer a variety of health benefits — including reduced blood pressure and stress levels.
Here are 6 benefits and uses of grapefruit essential oil.
For those looking to suppress an overactive appetite, research indicates that grapefruit oil aromatherapy might be useful.
One study found that rats exposed to the scent of grapefruit essential oil for 15 minutes 3 times a week experienced reductions in appetite, food intake, and body weight ().
Another recent study showed that the scent of grapefruit essential oil increased activity in the gastric vagal nerve in rodents, resulting in lower appetite. This nerve plays an important role in stimulating the production of stomach juices needed for digestion.
The same study also examined the effects of the scent of limonene, a significant component of grapefruit essential oil. Smelling limonene had similar results on appetite suppression and food intake ().
Though these results are promising, they’re currently limited to animal studies. Further research on the effects of grapefruit essential oil in humans is needed.
Summary Research is limited to animal studies but shows that the scent of grapefruit essential oil may suppress appetite.
Grapefruit essential oil may help you shed some extra weight, though research in this area is limited.
One rat study found that the scent of grapefruit essential oil stimulated the breakdown of fat tissue and led to a reduction in food intake ().
Similarly, a test-tube study in fat cells of rats showed that grapefruit essential oil applied directly to the cells inhibited the formation of fatty tissue (.
Additionally, topically applied grapefruit essential oil has been observed to promote weight loss in people.
For example, a study in postmenopausal women evaluated the use of abdominal essential oil massages on weight loss ().
Participants massaged their abdomen two times daily for five days each week and received a full body aromatherapy massage using 3% grapefruit oil, cypress, and three other oils once a week ().
At the end of the six-week study, results showed not only a decrease in abdominal fat but also a reduction in waist circumference in the group using the essential oils ().
However, the use of different oils makes it impossible to say whether the results can be attributed to grapefruit oil specifically.
Keep in mind that evidence for any weight loss benefits of grapefruit essential oil is very limited and of low quality. More studies are needed to confirm these effects before any claims can be made.
What’s more, ingesting essential oils in supplemental doses is not recommended for humans.
Summary Rodent and test-tube studies have shown that grapefruit essential oil may decrease fat tissue and reduce appetite. One human study found that its use in massage therapy may help reduce belly fat, but more research is needed.
Due to the side effects of some medications used to treat anxiety and depression, many people seek out alternative remedies ().
Studies show that aromatherapy may be a beneficial complementary therapy for balancing mood and relieving anxiety ().
Currently, there’s little research on the effects of grapefruit essential oil specifically in this regard. However, studies link citrus essential oils that contain the same compounds as grapefruit oil to calming and anti-anxiety effects ().
The calming effects are, in part, attributed to limonene ().
Summary Although there’s little research on the specific effects of grapefruit essential oil, studies show that citrus essential oils, in general, may have positive effects on mood and anxiety.
Grapefruit essential oil has potent antibacterial and antimicrobial effects.
Test-tube studies show that it displayed antimicrobial properties against potentially harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, and Escherichia coli (9, ).
One study comparing five essential oils found that grapefruit essential oil was one of the most powerful in regards to its antimicrobial effects against MRSA — a group of bacteria that’s usually harder to treat, as it’s often resistant to common antibiotics (, ).
Lastly, it may also help to prevent stomach ulcers caused by the bacteria, H. pylori.
For example, a test-tube study examining properties of 60 essential oils found that white grapefruit essential oil had antibacterial effects against H. pylori ().
Research shows that grapefruit essential oil may be effective in fighting certain fungal strains as well, such as Candida albicans, a yeast that can cause infections in humans, especially in people with weakened immune systems (, ).
However, it’s unknown whether topically applied grapefruit essential oil would have an effect on H. pylori, and ingesting essential oils is not recommended.
Summary Grapefruit essential oil provides antimicrobial and antibacterial effects comparable to those of other proven topical ointments.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition that affects about one in three adults in the United States ().
Many people use natural therapies to help lower their blood pressure — either in conjunction with prescription medications or to avoid medications altogether.
Some researchers suggest that aromatherapy may help control both blood pressure and stress levels.
For example, a recent clinical study found that inhaling citrus and lavender essential oils had immediate and long-term effects on lowering blood pressure and stress ().
Participants wore a necklace containing the essential oils for 24 hours and experienced a decrease specifically in daytime systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading) ().
What’s more, they showed a decline in cortisol — a hormone released in response to stress ().
In another study, grapefruit essential oil enhanced nerve activity that helped lower blood pressure in rats. Researchers concluded that the primary active ingredient, limonene, likely contributed to these results ().
Still, research to confirm whether grapefruit essential oil alone can resolve high blood pressure in humans is currently unavailable.
Summary Initial research demonstrates that grapefruit essential oil may be effective at lowering blood pressure and stress levels — though more human studies are needed.
Grapefruit essential oil may contribute to healthy skin by preventing and treating skin conditions like acne ().
Many brands of face lotions and creams include citrus essential oils because of their refreshing scent and potent antibacterial and antioxidant activity.
These oils could help keep your skin bacteria-free, which may promote the acne healing process.
One test-tube study monitored the antibacterial activity of 10 essential oils against P. acnes, a bacteria commonly associated with the development of acne ().
Researchers concluded that grapefruit essential oil does have some antibacterial activity against P. acnes. However, this activity was not as potent as other essential oils tested, such as thyme and cinnamon essential oils.
Further research is needed to determine whether grapefruit essential oil is an effective home remedy against acne.
Summary Given its potent antibacterial activity, grapefruit essential oil appears promising in both preventing and treating acne.
For most people, grapefruit essential oil is safe to use topically or through inhalation.
However, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when using essential oils, including:
- Dilution. Always use a carrier oil when using essential oils topically to dilute the oil prior to application — a standard safety practice when using essential oils.
- Photosensitivity. Applying some essential oils — especially citrus oils — before sun exposure may cause photosensitivity and burning ().
- Infants and children. It’s generally recommended that you check with a healthcare provider before using essential oils on children due to safety concerns.
- Pregnancy. Some essential oils appear to be safe to use in pregnancy, but it’s recommended to consult with your doctor before using them ().
- Pets. Using essential oils topically or in aromatherapy can have effects on others in the household — including pets. Pets may be more sensitive to essential oils than humans ().
While most essential oils are safe to be used topically and in aromatherapy, they’re not safe to ingest. Ingesting essential oils can be toxic and in large doses even fatal (, ).
Summary While grapefruit essential oil is largely safe for use on skin or through inhalation, it may be best to take some precautions. Never ingest essential oils.
Grapefruit essential oil is commonly used both topically and in aromatherapy.
Research suggests that using this citrus oil may balance mood, decrease blood pressure, and relieve stress.
Grapefruit essential oil also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that may help treat various conditions, such as acne and stomach ulcers.
Further research is needed to support its beneficial properties. However, grapefruit essential oil may be a valuable natural approach when used in conjunction with more traditional therapies.