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The Ugly Truth About Grapefruit Seed Extract

Affiliate Disclosure | in Everything Else | by | with 105 Comments

Wow, good to know!

Oh you have food poisoning, an earache, and a bottle of homemade lotion to preserve? There’s an extract for that.

But why stop there? This cosmetic preservative is touted as a natural treatment for eczema, acne, cold sores, athlete’s foot, candida/thrush, sore throats, Group B Strep (GBS), stomach bugs, parasites, food poisoning, wart, gingivitis and atypical boogie woogie.

I’m talking about grapefruit seed extract, of course. Now, since this is a post about why I don’t use it you might expect me to say the claims made about grapefruit seed extract (GSE) are false.  They’re not. Well, except for that last “disease” because I, er, made it up.

Truth is, many of these claims can be backed up with studies, such as this one which found that it performs as well as 30 antibiotics and 18 fungicides.

So why will you not find GSE in my ebook, DIY Organic Beauty Recipes, or any recipe on this site? Because according to the findings of some experts, calling it natural is like spiking mineral water with gasoline and serving it at a day spa.

Confusing Labels

According to GSE manufacturers, the main constituent of their miracle extract is diphenol hydroxybenzene. (Source. Note: This is an archived page from Mountain Rose Herbs. They no longer carry GSE) Now, just because a compound sounds scary doesn’t mean it is. I eat sodium chloride on my eggs almost every morning and I’m still here. (It’s sea salt)

Still, I wanted to know whether diphenol hydroxybenzene is considered a natural compound or synthetic chemical. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database had never heard of it. Neither had ChemSpider, which is the official database of the Royal Society of Chemistry. By the time I checked OSHA I was starting to get suspicious. It’s almost like someone just made up this chemical and slapped it on a label!


According to Steve Humphries, PhD, “people with chemistry training will recognise that the description ‘diphenol hydroxybenzene’ is not the correct way to name a chemical compound. ‘Hydroxybenzene’ is a benzene ring with a hydroxy group attached, ‘phenol’ is also a benzene ring with a hydroxy group attached.   So ‘diphenol hydroxybenzene’ just loosely says that we have some benzene rings with hydroxy groups stuck on them somewhere!” (source)

According to this article, it’s likely that diphenol hydroxybenzene is an abbreviated name for another, unspecified chemical.

So What’s Really In Grapefruit Seed Extract?

First, let me say that though it sounds similar, grapefruit seed extract is very different than grapefruit essential oil or grapeseed oil. Now that we’ve tidied up that bit of business let’s move on!

In a 2001 study supervised by chemist G. Takeoka, researchers found that the primary active ingredient in commercial preparations of grapefruit seed extract was benzethonium chloride or benzalkonium chloride, both synthetic compounds. Additional studies confirmed these results. (source) The Environmental Working Group lists benzalkonium chloride as a known immune system toxin and respiratory toxin. (source) It is commonly used in drain cleaner, disinfectants and other cleaning products.

“Some samples were shown to contain up to 22% benzalkonium chloride by weight, despite the known allergenicity[22] and toxicity[23] of the compound at higher doses.[6]” (source)

GSE manufacturers responded to this finding by claiming that their mysterious diphenol hydroxybenzene – which I’d like to remind you is was not listed in any of the databases I searched – is just really easy to confuse for benzethonium chloride. All those machines and chemists just got it wrong.

Maybe that’s accurate. Then again, in the words of Dr. Humphries, “If you believe that multiple independent universities using a variety of sophisticated analyses can all be wrong, and all mistakenly identify exactly the same chemical, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you :)” (source, emphasis mine)

Other synthetic chemicals/preservatives that have been found in grapefruit seed extract include:

  • Triclosan – A known endocrine (hormone) disruptor that induces reproductive toxicity. It is also suspected to impair heart function and muscle function  Known to be toxic at very low concentations (source)
  • Methylparaben – Linked to cancer,hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation. (source)


How Is This Possible?

The answer may be pretty simple.

“Self-made pure GSE processed without solvents is prepared by grinding the grapefruit seed and juiceless pulp, then mixing with glycerin.[1]

Commercially available GSE sold to consumers are made from the seed, pulp, glycerin, and synthetic preservatives all blended together.[1]“(source)

Chemists and manufacturers can argue all day long about exactly what chemical compounds are in GSE, but it seems pretty clear they’re synthetic. Multiple studies have concluded that it is not the grapefruit seed extract, but instead the added preservatives that demonstrate antimicrobial activity.

“Thus, it is concluded that the potent as well as nearly universal antimicrobial activity being attributed to grapefruit seed extract is merely due to the synthetic preservative agents contained within. Natural products with antimicrobial activity do not appear to be present.” (source, emphasis mine)

What About Organic Grapefruit Seed Extract?

Even “pure organic” grapefruit seed extract contains roughly 60% of our mystery chemical, diphenol hydroxybenzene. According to this post, that’s because “organic” GSE is approved by The Soil Association.

“The Soil Association is the European organic standard, and the requirements are much less strict than that of the USDA.  They will allow and certify a synthetic chemical like GSE if it meets certain criteria for biodegradability, aquatic toxicity and bioaccumulation.  So, since the grapefruits were organically grown, and it meets the requirements, they approve the extract as organic, even though it’s a synthetic chemical.  The Soil Association also approves Phenoxyethanol as a preservative ingredient.  The USDA will not certify GSE, or allow it in a certified organic product.” (source)

Bottom Line

If supporting research is available I think it’s fine to call GSE a treatment for athlete’s foot, E. Coli and purple polka dotted ears. But with so little data on diphenol hydroxybenzene and the possibility of contamination with Triclosan and parabens, I don’t know that we should be calling it NATURAL.

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105 Responses to The Ugly Truth About Grapefruit Seed Extract

  1. Jenn says:

    I tried using this stuff over and over again for our thrush issues and it just made things so much worse everytime. Now I know why, thank you for sharing!

    • Jack says:

      That’s funny, since I’ve known multiple cases of it working brilliantly for thrush specifically. I would love to hear your definition of “made things so much worse” and I also wonder if you bought the fake crap GSE that is widely available on the market instead of the real stuff? Does it taste incredibly bitter? Does it make a huge amount of foam when you shake it up (even just a couple drops) in a water bottle? If you answered “no” to those questions, you got stuck with the fake crap.

      There’s no question that there’s an ongoing movement in the US to destroy the reputation of GSE and even replace it with garbage so that people who are new to it think they got something ineffective. It’s a pretty disgusting country we live in. The USDA won’t certify it; you’re damn right they won’t. haha… I wonder if you guys also trust the CDC the US FDA? They’d also like us to believe apricot pits are toxic, even though the only thing they are toxic to are cancer cells. Hmmm, I wonder what this could all mean? lol Keep living the lie, friends. Your losses.

      • Robyn says:

        Jack I agree with you…my naturopath got me the real stuff and it was the most bitter thing I had ever tasted. I used it to cure a severe case of candida of the gut. It was very hard to get back then…20 years ago. I certainly don’t trust the FDA OR CDC!

      • Lillian Green says:

        High, please can you tell me where to get the real grapefruit seed stuff and not the crap as you call as for me its like looking for needle in haystack Thanks

  2. Jessica L. W. says:

    Hmm this is kinda vague. Sounds like you need more evidence to make that claim. Grapefruit seeds are incredibly healthy. My parents use it and it works better then anything else. It’s practically magic.

    • fay says:

      i have been using it for years and works perfect

    • Morgen Pierre says:

      “Hmm this is kinda vague. Sounds like you need more evidence to make that claim….”
      —I’m not sure we read the same article! That was concise, and thoroughly researched. Adequately sourced as well – each source from a reputable article/website/journal, all sited well.

      “Grapefruit seeds are incredibly healthy…. ”
      —Yes, I completely agree, as does the author I imagine. I’m not sure how exactly that relates to the article, or even your own comment but, very good SEPERATE topic starter!

      “My parents use it and it works better then anything else. It’s practically magic….”
      —Without making fun, I just can not help but comment on how frustratingly entertaining it is that your comment’s implied intention was to push the author into researching more thoroughly, referencing better or otherwise adding more of the scientific process, and using less opinion (no matter how misguided your judgment)……. and your only, y-o-u-r o-n-l-y argument…is …. mom and dad like it.

      Oh boy

    • Lakeitha says:

      So can I use grapefruit seed extract for my daughter thrush an where can I get it from because none of the grocery stores sale it

  3. Britt F. says:

    Thank you for all the research you do, Heather! You rock this mama’s socks off :)

    • Beverly says:

      I agree with Britt F. I am so appreciative of the research you do! I am no longer a mommy with young children, but I have infant grandchildren (3) and relate the information to their grateful moms. Thanks for this info, Heather!

  4. Aimee says:

    Wow. I have been using Nutibiotic’s GSE for years and never knew all of this! Thanks for passing on your research!

    • Kristin says:

      I use the same brand and LOVE it! The only ingredients on my bottle are glycerin and GSE, so this article doesn’t pertain to that brand.

  5. Carrie says:

    Thank you. What would you suggest instead?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Carrie, it probably depends on what you are working to correct. The recommendations for eczema would likely be different than something for earache relief.

  6. Jen says:

    I wonder if a product such as DoTerra would have these synthetic ingredients? They don’t have tons of info on their site about how they extract their oil. I do know they have grapefruit oil in their blends. Now how do I go about finding out!?

    • Heather says:

      Jen, grapefruit essential oil is very different than grapefruit seed extract. I am personally comfortable with using grapefruit essential oil :)

    • *disclaimer* I am a DoTERRA consultant*
      DoTERRA does not have any synthetic ingredients – it’s what sets them apart. They test every batch third-party to get the Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade label. If any batch tests with synthtic particles, it’s scrapped. This is what makes the essential oils safe to ingest – it’s all organic compounds that the body can recognize. Also, they don’t sell grapefruit seed extract, they sell grapefruit essential oil. I know the lemon essential oils are made from the rind, so I’m assuming the GEO is made in a similar process. This also makes it safe to use with people on high blood pressure medications because the chemical compounds are different.

      Hope that helps!

      • Becky says:

        There are some essential oils you absolutely cannot ingest, I don’t care how “pure” it is. Being a sales rep doesn’t make you knowledgeable about health. Please, do some research before you hurt someone. Their “Therapeutic Grade” is self-proclaimed and unregulated. Heck, I’m the World’s Greatest Chef.

  7. Kim says:

    I never tried it due to the cost, now I won’t bother!

  8. Andrea says:

    Wow!!! Thanks so much for the detailed research. People are always swearing by this for strep and I thought it was great because it’s pretty much tasteless….though I’ll admit, I have never noticed a difference when I use it for bacterial infections. What do you suggest as an alternative? I keep hearing bad stuff about internal silver use too, so I am all out of tasteless antibacterials that are palatable for babies.

    • Dana says:

      If I had a baby that was getting recurring strep infections, I’d be trying to get to the bottom of where in the world they are coming from and why the baby’s so susceptible. Getting that many infections in that short a time isn’t normal. I’d be questioning typical blood sugar levels, immune system activity, etc. and maybe even gut flora balance.

      What sort of damage strep can do depends on which strain it is, but some cause pneumonia, some cause arthritis (even RA), and some cause heart problems, among the more potentially serious issues. Whatever you can do to break the cycle, get’r done. Even if it’s a robust round of antibiotics–though I’d follow that up with probiotic treatment, and a serious probiotic too, not just yogurt. I’m using Prescript-Assist and I’ve heard good things about Bio-Kult. Mommypotamus probably has some good suggestions too. Friendly soil bacteria or friendly milk bacteria, either is good. If it comes in a two-part capsule (and the brands I named above both do), you can break that open and mix the powder in with whatever you’re feeding the baby, then you don’t have to worry about pill-swallowing.

  9. Danielle says:

    Is the same true of Grapeseed Oil?

    • Dana says:

      Grapeseed oil’s from the seeds of grapes, not related to grapefruit at all. It’s a fatty oil more like walnut oil or canola oil rather than an essential oil which is volatile.

      I think I have yet to buy grapeseed oil that wasn’t going rancid. I hate buying unsaturated oils, except olive oil, because they’re so often mistreated on the way to market and no good by the time I buy them. And even with olive oil I go for the stuff in dark glass bottles and buy small amounts at a time.

      I’ve heard good things about fractionated coconut oil as a carrier. It can also be used in cooking. Unlike regular coconut oil it doesn’t solidify at 76 F (or thereabouts) and below.

    • Jesse says:

      Heather wrote about that in the article. It’s different.

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      Danielle, that’s something completely different.

  10. Izzy says:

    Do you have any alternative preservatives you could recommend? I have only used this in some of my homemade lotions, etc.

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      Izzy, Lotions are so tricky. Heather uses a blend of potassium sorbate, citric acid and cinnamon, but it’s not as strong as GSE. The thing about lotion and lots of other water-containing products is if their made with good materials they will spoil. Unfortunately, cosmetic manufacturers have set the expectation that lotions should last forever so it’s hard to know what to do. I empathize!

      • Jennifer W says:

        Do the products in the e-book contain potassium sorbate? Are there substitutes provided for those of us allergic to potassium sorbate? I was considering the book but I don’t want to buy it if I can’t make the products because of allergy issues to the preservatives. Thanks!

  11. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. Wow! I’ve used GSE internally in the past on the advice of a chiropractor. I didn’t care for the way it made me feel. Now I can just throw away the rest of the bottle and find something more natural.

  12. Julia says:

    Based on your analysis of the chemistry involved in grapefruit seed extract, I understand and respect your concerns . Why then link to the product on Amazon?

    • Heather says:

      Julia, I didn’t initially but someone on my page reminded me that it is often confused with grapeseed oil and grapefruit essential oil. I linked to all three products so that it would be easier to differentiate them.

  13. Lori Langone says:

    These ear drops have helped to prevent ear wax build-up and ear infections in my 2-year old son. Now I don’t know what to think about this product. It contains Ctricidal GSE:

    • Jeanmarie says:

      I have used Nutritibiotic’s ear drops for years. I seldom need them anymore, but they definitely helped me when I used to get colds and earaches.

      I have several partial bottles of GSE that I don’t know what to do with now. Darn, another pleasant illusion bites the dust.

      • Jennifer W says:

        Dr. Mercola talks about using hydrogen peroxide for ear infections. You can probably find the protocol on his website @

        • Robyn says:

          I had excruciating pain to the point of tears on an airflight that no smelling of peppermint or ear popping etc. would fix. It was still very painful upon landing and that day. Went to a doctor, (fat and brown nicotine stains between two fingers,,, go figure, lol), and even after telling him the pain was from the flight, he said in a droned voice that he thought it was an ear infection and tried to prescribed me anti-biotics which I refused. Walked out frustrated, but remembered I had a herb remedy book with me. For ear aches it suggested washing out the ear with hydrogen peroxide, (I watered it down), and then putting some drops of onion juice in for the pain. Worked a treat and very quickly. :) Very cheap too and without the damaging effects which I believe anti-biotics have.

  14. Elaine says:

    I used Nutribiotic GSE on my baby when he had thrush. I’m worried how it may have affected his little system now! Thank you for enlightening me about this. Up to this point I’ve recommended GSE to anyone whose baby had yeast issues. I won’t recommend it any more.

  15. Ailsa says:

    I use Nutribiotic GSE for various things. I just looked up the ingredients and it states only two – 67% vegetable glycerin and 33% grapefruit seed extract. It does not list any of the chemicals you mentioned, does this mean they are “hidden” or not in this brand.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Alisa, here’s an analogy that might help. When I make vanilla extract I mix vanilla beans and water together. Now if this extract were used in some cookies that were sold the extract would need to be listed on the ingredient label. However, the vodka and vanilla beans would not. Based on the studies I’ve come across it seems that the label is accurate, but “grapefruit seed extract” seems to me to be a highly processed substance rather than a basic extract, like vanilla.

    • Ailsa, did you see my comment on my email with Nutri-biotic on their process/ingredients/ and preservatives? I think it may surprise you in what exactly makes up their GSE.

  16. This is such an incredible post, thanks for doing all the research for us! I’ve used GSE because of all the touted benefits but because I hadn’t noticed any of the benefits in myself I stopped … now I’m going to look into it a bit more and possibly toss my bottle!

  17. Ashley says:

    Great article and info. Do you use or is it safe I use YL grapefruit essential oil then?

  18. Chessie B says:

    I used it for really stubborn thrush with my baby girl when nothing else was working. It cleared everything up but now I’m wishing there had been an alternative. It is unbelievable what they can label as safe.

    • Karen says:

      There are alternatives, oil of oregano and colloidal silver both can heal thrush. If your child keeps getting thrush, then she probably has a yeast/candida over growth problem. Chances are she needs to have her gut healed.

  19. Great article Heather. When I first came into natural health, everyone raved about GSE, and when I started making my own natural laundry detergent, I used it as a natural preservative in it. (Now I wonder why because soap doesn’t typically go bad.. so silly!) Then somewhere along the lines, I found out about how it’s processed and the chemicals used to do so. I too was intrigued at why it was “organic” or “natural” yet the manufacturing process didn’t seem so natural to me. So I emailed Nutri-biotic (the GSE brand I used) and they replied to me with their manufacturing steps and 3rd party independent lab testing results.

    Their lab testing looked perfectly clear, but I wasn’t impressed by their manufacturing process. There were several things they told me in the steps that I thought was off.

    One was that they heat the product during the manufacturing process. To what degree they didn’t say, but don’t we all know that heat destroys vital properties.

    Next, food grade ammonium chloride and ascorbic acid are added, and this mixture is heated under pressure. Again, heat, but this time with pressure and an iffy sounding chemical added. Plus, is the ascorbic acid from a gmo source? Who knows!

    Another thing that made me uncomfortable was that the representative said that the material undergoes a catalytic conversion using natural catalysts (including hydrochloric acid and other natural enzymes). Hydrochloric acid??!!

    Finally it’s treated with ultraviolet light.

    Now all of that could sound worse than it really is, but to me, there are just way to many steps in the process and many of them are iffy. This email was from late 2012 so maybe they’ve changed things at this point… I’m not sure. Plus, studies have shown that GSE can not only kill off bad bacteria, but good as well which in turn can throw the body even more out of balance as far as gut flora goes. I still have that email, and I can forward it to you if you’re interested in having it. For me and my family… we won’t be using GSE either. There are other, more natural, options available that I’m more comfortable with.

    • BreeAnn says:

      I use this whenever I get a yeast infection. I’m currently working on balancing my gut flora so I stop getting them, but I’m wondering about treatment of yeast infections specifically…what do you do when you HAVE one? So far this has been a miracle worker for me so I hate to give it up. Megan, you mentioned other alternatives. What do you use?

      • Hey Breeann! Fortunately, I’ve never been one to get yeast infections much. I’ve had two and they were both with my last pregnancy. The first one I treated with OTC options because I was NOT prepared for it and I was miserable, and the second one I did all natural. Now that I know about them and I’ve researched them, I know what caused mine and I also know how to prevent or deal with them naturally.

        I wrote a Q&A post once for a mama dealing with thrush on her and her baby so check out my response there — — much is the same for vaginal yeast infections.

        For me, it was diet. I ate the worst with my 3rd baby… I wanted sugar all the time! I had the yeast infections with him and dealt with never-ending thrush with him too. Once I realized what kept causing it, I majorly decreased my sugar consumption and I started taking Beeyoutiful’s “Yeast Assassin” for pregnant/nursing women. If you’re not preggo or nursing I’d take the regular one. (Just Google it.) I had no problems after that. I also treated his thrush naturally and we finally beat it. For me, it was a combination of correcting my diet and using the supplements.

        Some of those other natural things too are inserting a pealed (not crushed) garlic clove coated in olive oil each night, using apple cider vinegar or yogurt douches to restore pH balance, using some major probiotic therapy (internally and externally) as in eating more cultured/fermented foods, taking high-quality supplements, and even inserting a probiotic gel cap vaginally throughout the day. Also, coconut oil with lavender and tea tree oil always work well too, but to make it even better I’d infuse garlic into the coconut oil first.

        Anyway, hope that helps. There are other natural ways of dealing with vaginal yeast infections using things that are definitely more natural than GSE. Hope this gives you a starting point, and definitely, definitely research it more on your own. Try other things first, give them a good chance, and if they don’t work, then I suppose GSE is better than any OTC cream, but I’d keep trying to work my way away from it. Just my personal opinion though.

    • Tonny says:

      Hi Megan,

      What other alternatives are there besides GSE that are good for you?

  20. Emily says:

    Thanks for this info!… I was so happy to stumble upon WaterWipes, the “world’s purest baby wipes”. They contain 99.9% water and .1% GSE. They have been working well, and have been the best wipes so far for my daughter, so I’m sad to learn this about GSE. I will definitely be reconsidering ordering them again. Any suggestions for baby wipes? I know making them is best, but are there any safe ones to buy? Thanks again, I love your blog and Nourished Baby book!

  21. Richard says:

    I had a yeast or fungus (I’m not sure which) which caused an irritation on the inside of my thighs that persisted for at least 10 years. I finally tried a few drops of GSE in a pump of hand cream, appied about 3 times over 3 days and the condition disappeared FOREVER. Now I found this article to be very enlightening. And I would be careful about how I used it. But I sure as hell wished I’d used it on my nagging condition about 10 years earlier. It was incredibly effective.

    • Monika says:

      My husband had a reoccurring fungus on his shins for about 3 years…weed-eating in shorts and flip-flops. Doctor gave him an antibiotic ointment, took a while to heal because it would itch like the dickens and he would scratch himself bloody at times. It would go away and come back repeatedly until a health food store owner recommended Nutribiotic’s brand of GSE to me. We haven’t seen the fungus since…that was 12 years ago.
      At the same time my husband was treating his fungus, our oldest son (then just one year old) had a disturbing, red, raised dime sized rash appear on his leg that grew to quarter size. I feared it could be ringworm but never had it diagnosed. When nothing else worked, I began applying diluted GSE on it and it disappeared as well.
      I know your article doesn’t deny the effectiveness of GSE, but I think in certain topical situations (we used to take it internally too), I’ll probably continue to use the bottle I have (Nutribiotic’s brand) because it is so fast acting and effective and requires so little product. One drop goes a long way.
      I do plan on contacting the company, however, to ask questions, as well as voice my concerns about potentially harmful, hidden ingredients. Who knows, it may be our last bottle.
      Thanks for all your research, Heather, and helping others to make informed decisions.

  22. joyce says:

    I remember when I started seeing gse on the ingredient list of “natural,” skin and hair care products. I found it odd that all of the sudden products I had repurchased now had an ingredient that wasn’t there before. Since I have tried out many natural brand companies I realized a pattern with the ones containing gse. I always broke out on them in a way that was identical even though the brands were different. That was years ago when I stopped buying products containing it after researching impure cheap manufacturing for shelf life of the product. I tend to avoid companies that have this in their products and usually see a pattern of quantity over quality.

  23. kathy ging says:

    I have heard the negative comments about GSE but can attest to the fact that I have been doing the triple strength version – Citricidal – available only from the Internet sources not at local natural food et al stores – for FIFTEEN YEARS. One can buy Nutribiotic, 1/3 as strong at local stores.

    In all that time I have only had SIX colds, one bout of flu – a decade ago – and I will continue to use this low cost PREVENTIVE of 800 viral, fungal, bacterial and parasitical infections. It has a veritable host of pluses – including mitigating gingivitis, candida, athlete’s foot, Alzheimers, dandruff and many more. For +/-$20 a year it has saved me thousands of dollars in medical bills. NOTE: I do not do a large amount of VIt. C every day nor have I for all these years nor I have I taken a multi – vitamin for the last 15 years.

    I see many people get flu, walking pneumonia, strep throat, bad colds – not me! I attribute my good health to GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT.

  24. Laura says:

    It’s really easy to fall in the traps of the word “Natural”, I’ve noticed it more and more since I have become more aware of labels and ingredients of different products. What world do we live in.. makes me kind of sad. Can’t trust anything or anyone, always have to do a thorough research before purchasing anything..

  25. Ali Baker says:

    I have found coconut oil really helpful with thrush infections melting the oil and soaking a tampon in it helped tremendously I tried douching with GSE but now will be making my own toilet cleaner with the rest of it!!!X

  26. Katie G. says:

    So interesting! Do you think this would still be a better option than what some people are trying to avoid using when using this stuff?
    Even if it’s not full on organic/natural… I wonder if it’s the lesser of two evils?

    Just curious!

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      Katie, Probably, at least in some cases. One of the chemicals that chemists reported is considered a medium risk, while one is considered a low risk.

  27. […] The ugly truth about grapefruit seed extract  — very interesting and good to know […]

  28. SA says:

    Thanks for the additional explanation about grapefruit seed extract! I had read this a while ago – – and appreciate the information you added about benzethonium chloride.

  29. Lindsey says:

    Thanks for the article and research! I have heard of GSE (particularly when I was trying to get rid of GBS), but just never got around to trying it. Now I won’t bother.

  30. Jodi Strassheim says:

    Thanks, Heather,
    I’ve been waiting for this article ever since I read about it from you to begin with, many months ago. Someone else mentioned Citricidal brand….is that still containing the same harmful ingredients as all the rest? I hardly use GSE anymore because I’ve found tastier and more effective options for ears and throats. You mentioned it would be good for athlete’s foot? Even though it gets absorbed through the feet?

  31. Fiona says:

    HI Heather
    I often read your blog and find the recipes and information you share very useful. However, in the above post you mention the Soil Association, which is the UK organic standard. The Soil Association has the highest organic standards in the world – you can explore their website here for more information:
    I wondered who had indicated they would approve something the lower standard USDA didn’t approve, so clicked on your “source” link. The source no longer says anything about the Soil Association.
    Anyone can say “organic” until challenged, but it is only the Soil Association mark that indicates the product really is organically grown and produced.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for your comment, Fiona! I’ll look more into it :)

      • Heather says:

        Okay, I just checked out the link in my post and realized it was pointing to the wrong place – oops! I’ve updated the link.

        I also searched “grapefruit seed extract” on the Soil Association’s website and found that they do allow it. They may in fact have the highest standards in the world, it just may be that we disagree on this one preservative.

        • Fiona says:

          Hi Heather
          :) Thanks for your reply. I found only this on a search for grapefruit seed extract on the Soil Association website:
          The article appears to indicate organic grapefruit seed extract is sometimes used as a *preservative* in organic products, rather than as a product in itself:
          “Sometimes organic preservatives can be used such as organic grapefruit seed extract, or naturally derived anti-oxidants as above, but if these are not effective then a preservative that meets strict toxicological and biodegradibility requirements can be used. The toxicity and biodegradibility criteria ensure that the ingredient is not harmful to health and has minimum environmental impact. In addition emulsifiers must meet the same requirements, and are often naturally derived. For example decyl glucoside which can be made from corn starch, but is not yet available in an organic format.”
          I can’t find one organic grapefruit seed extract that carries the Soil Association mark, either in the UK or in Europe. There are a lot of products that *say* they are organic, though. Whether they are or not is open to interpretation. Unless products carry the Soil Association mark they cannot be trusted as organic.
          Anyway, I don’t really want to argue with you, Heather – your site is too valuable to degenerate into that. What I would like to point out is that repeating third hand criticism of a highly respected and trusted organisation, even in a country that doesn’t much care about UK organic standards, is inappropriate and beneath you.
          PS. “cornstartch” in organic products is becoming increasingly difficult to source organically, since imports are often contaminated with GMs. With much of our farmland now knee deep in water from recent flooding, this year looks like it’ll be something of a challenge!

  32. Connie says:

    There are always pros and cons – but here’s a success story for GSE. Over the course of a year, my mother became seriously ill with her second bout of Lyme Disease. She had started losing the use of her legs. The doctor kept trying different types of antibiotics, but nothing helped. Someone recommended GSE. Mom was ready to try anything — and within 6 weeks of GSE drops, she was back to normal. And so grateful. She recommended it to other people with Lyme when nothing else had worked, and they too had good success. I guess nothing is perfect, but in her case, the upsides definitely trumped the downsides.

  33. Deb says:

    My granddaughter is autistic and I’ve been told numerous times to give grapefruit seed extract for candida. I’ve attempted 2-3 times, but it makes her extremely ill. Thank you so much for the info!!!!

  34. Sonja says:

    I only use it for cleaning my bathroom…combine with Thieves & water…do you think that it would be as bad as using an OTC antibacterial cleaner? so much for my “natural” bathroom cleaner :/

  35. Tonny says:

    “Truth is, many of these claims can be backed up with studies, such as this one which found that it performs as well as 30 antibiotics and 18 fungicides.”

    From the source you give, it sounds like the “ParaMycrocidin” aka GSE, was responsible for inhibiting disease and toxic bacteria. It even was reported that no side effects occurred to the patients. This sounds to me like a good thing happening and not bad as you claim it to be.

  36. shanna says:

    Good info, I have really replaced all of my herbal tinctures or anything of the sort with YL Essential oils. They work so much faster with so little. Thank you for the info:)

  37. Quianna says:

    I’m not sure where else to post this so this seems like as good a place as any. I was making my own baby wipes for my son at daycare when they called and said they could no longer use homemade products there (boo!) So I went to find the most natural ones I could. I found Waterwipes which are 99.99% water and, of course, 0.1% GSE. Do you know of any store bought brands that are good? Thanks for the great blog! Another one I’ll obsess over for the next few weeks!

    • WaterWipes says:

      Thanks for your comments.

      We are aware that Grapefruit Seed Extract has received some bad press over the internet in recent times.
      Some unscrupulous suppliers have been accused of contaminating their core product with other chemical ingredients.

      However, we believe the issue can be isolated to a small number of suppliers, and did not involve our supplier.
      As a precaution we had our product tested for a number of contaminates such as parabens, among others.
      The tests showed there is no need for concern as they were all clear as expected.

      We also tested for a large number of pesticides and multi residue components. However none were detected in our Grapefruit seed extract.

      We believe our supply of Grapefruit seed extract is a clean supply from a reputable supplier and there is no reason for concern.

  38. Izzy says:

    Quianna, I can’t believe your daycare is dictating to you what you want for your child. That’s just unbelievable. I know that Honest wipes don’t have GSE but you’ll have to check the other ingredients. Bum Boosa wipes don’t have GSE either.

    • Quianna says:

      Thanks for the reply. To be honest I don’t think his butt liked the homemade ones all that much since they used Dr. Bronners Mild Castile Soap which contains coconut oil that he is very sensitive to. I checked out the ones you mentioned above and they have a long list of ingredients too. What do you think about the comments from waterwipes? His butt looks pretty good after using them for a couple of days but I surely don’t want to be putting harsh chemicals on his little tush!

      The daycare has to follow three different licensing agencies for their certifications so that’s the cause for the strict rules. Looks like I’ll be doing some more research! Thanks!

      • Izzy says:

        I know it’s so hard to find the right products. They might be missing some nasty ingredients & then have a huge list of other strange things. It’s interesting what Waterwipes has to say, maybe take a closer look at them. Check the EWG website for there recommendations. Waterwipes gets a good rating.

  39. […] the salve and inhibit microbial growth, most people use grapefruit seed extract. I don’t, and this is the reason why. According to renowned herbalist Susun Weed, “Infused oils in an olive oil base resist […]

  40. Jan says:

    GSE cleared up my gum disease. My dentist would not clean my teeth until I allowed them to treat my gums first with costly antibiotic injections into my gums. Even though I had dental insurance, I could not afford the co-pay. I researched the Internet and found articles on organic GSE used to cure gum disease linked to damaging the heart. I began flossing with organic GSE using a drop or two 3 times a week. Saved me thousands of dollars at the dentist. The dentist was amazed three months later when I came in to get my teeth cleaned. My gums looked healthy. He asked if I had them treated somewhere else.
    My mom began using it to clear up yeast infections and help control/prevent UTI’s. It works for us. Not sure I am ready to give up GSE just yet.

    • Jack says:

      “My dentist would not clean my teeth until I allowed them to treat my gums first with costly antibiotic injections into my gums.” — that’s one of the major problems with GSE. It keeps taking care of issues that you are supposed to be paying top dollar to treat. The dental examples are many, but only a small speck of the big picture when it comes to the “damage” GSE is causing big pharma’s bank account by saving you money.

      Don’t think they care about something as minor as GSE with all the other money they make? Think again; they want every dollar, and will do anything to get those dollars. The ongoing cancer scams (keeping known natural cures out of the public eye and/or tainting their reputations) is not enough for them. There will come a day when it will be illegal to even mention a natural remedy for any condition that has a costly treatment available from the drug companies. It’s very disturbing how this blog author uses cute “boogey woogie” terms and silly/sarcastic comments about purple ears to help further this underhanded cause. It almost makes her sound so simple minded that you HAVE to believe she has your best interest at heart when she’s just passing along the lies. Puppets… sad.

      I will be astonished if this post makes it past the predictable “awaiting moderation” step that my other post is still stuck on. haha

      • Heather says:

        Jack, your words seem a bit harsh. The mission of this site is to provide non-toxic, natural remedies and healthy recipes. Just yesterday I spoke at a summit on six common kitchen items I’ve used in place of OTC and prescription medications with my little ones, whom have never had any “real” medication. When the summit goes live I will be sharing it for free here. If you disagree on my assessment that GSE is not as natural as it seems I respect that, but I am more than comfortable with the findings I have shared here and stand behind them.

  41. Chantelle says:

    So I make a fruit and veggie spray :
    1cup water
    1 cup vinegar
    1 tbsp baking soda
    20 drops GSE

    Spray on fruits and veggies, wait 2 minutes and rinse off. Have any other suggestions instead of this??

    Great article by the way

  42. Julene says:

    We have been using GSE as an alternative antibiotic, antifungal and antibacterial treatment for a host of things. My daughter is unable to take conventional antibiotics (they make her very sick) but she has used GSE successfully for years with far mor effective results than the rest of us have gotten from traditional antibiotics. It knocked out her strep throat in three days. My husband got a bad infection from a deer fly bite. He took GSE in a glass of water three times a day and within a couple days the swelling was down and the localized fever was gone. Within five days he was totally back to normal. We will continue to use and trust it. It’s never failed us. I appreciate your research but while it may not be as “natural” as we think, it’s a far less worrisome remedy (IMO) than anything the pharmaceutical industry has to offer.

  43. Tiffany says:

    Ok so are you saying that if my bottle of GSE lists the ingredients as vegetable glycerine (67%) and grapefruit seed extract (33%) that there are hidden chemicals and solvents, or that only if i lists extra perservatives?

  44. bubbles says:

    oh no! Ive been using the GSE from nutribiotic.. where can one purchase “the real” GSE?

    As a side note.. my nutritionist Feline Butcher, says that soy is a culprit in many conditions, and is pretty much toxic to the body.. it is estrogenic, like plastics… which really messes people up, especially men.. soy can cause excema (did i spell that right?) lol… man boobs, and all kinds of things.. it really messes up the endocrine system.. so NO SOY!!!

  45. Chris says:

    There are different products being marketed as grapefruit seed extract. You can buy grapefruit seed extract that is simply ground grapefruit seed and pulp with vegetable glycerin – no synthetic agents.

  46. jbj says:

    I have used NutiBiotic GSE for a decade in my water pik. It removes most of the plague leaving very little for the floss to remove. Just recently I went to the dentist when I cracked a filling by an accident. I hadn’t been to the dentist or hygienist in eight years. He asked me where I was getting my teeth cleaned ! because my teeth were so clean. After using the water pik & GSE and flossing, I brush my teeth and gums with coconut oil. wonderful ! If GSE by NutriBiotic is as bad as the other products mentioned, it has not been my experience….when members of my household family get colds and flu, I never catch their sickness…. It would be hard to give up what has worked so well for my oral health….is it any worse than the toxic stuff in mouthwashes? Still Puzzled by this blog

    • Bet says:

      I feel the same way…puzzled at where this is coming from. Heather, everyone has an opinion and I respect yours, I just feel like you are throwing the baby out with the bath water instead of determining if the brand you tested was bad quality. Our family was on the antibiotic merry- go- around 7 years ago and we just kept getting strep, taking an antibiotic, getting over it for a week and it was back again. The GSE knocked it out for all of us-permanently. We do/did not continue taking the GSE after that week of treatment and we have never caught strep since. That was 7 years ago…strange huh? The nasties in antibiotics are IMHO more adverse to yours body than GSE- especially when you are taking an ongoing course of antiboitics. Purchase a brand of GSE as Jack said above that is horribly bitter and won’t foam and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how effective it is.

      • Heather says:

        Bet, there are a few things I feel it is important to clarify. First, I did not personally test any brands. I am citing a study supervised by chemist G. Takeoka.

        Second, my reason for not thinking this is a brand-specific issue is that according to the study cited here (, when the researchers made grapefruit seed extract from fresh grapefruits it did not demonstrate any antimicrobial activity. The researchers concluded that the extract did not have any inherent antimicrobial properties.

        In other words, it is my understanding that you can’t make a potent antimicrobial GSE extract in your kitchen using just seeds, water and glycerin. Something has to be added.

  47. danielle says:

    what if you dehydrate and grind your own and add to glycerin? You never talked about why you wouldn’t do that. Does it still contain all those chemicals?


    • Heather says:

      Hi Daniell, you can certainly do that, but according to this study no antimicrobial activity could be detected with grapefruit seeds prepared this way. The researchers concluded that it was not the grapefruit seeds themselves, but the chemicals added to most extracts that are antimicrobial.

  48. Ruthie says:

    I’m coming to this conversation late as I am coming to homeopathic remedies a bit late as well. Two questions: 1st there is mold on the windowsill of my son’s room and I’m seeing mold on the wall as I moved his bed away. I bought GSE by Nutribiotic 33% GSE67% glycerine. I was planning on mixing it with water and spraying it as I researched that GSE not only removes but kills spores (trust me if it returns landlord will be called) 2nd I was going to ingest it but now I’m having second thoughts. I love the benefits of GSE and a comment was to use GSE pure I guess and mix with vegetable glycerine. Why do you have to mix it with vegetable glycerine? What is the point of vegetable glycerine. Ok back to my mold issue. Do I return the NutriBiotic and just use Hydrogen Peroxide? Help is no much appreciated to a homeopathic newbee! Thank you!

  49. Kath says:

    Amazing stuff. I wash my mouth out with it before bed every night. Keeps my teeth shiny and gums super clean.

  50. Elaine says:

    YIKES! I have what a Dr. told me is Erysipelas (staph) on my face. Extremely itchy and nasty. It cleared up for a few days with anti-biotics but now is back. I have wiped down door knobs with bleach, clean pillow case every day, washed my pillow in bleach and hot water. Health food store sold me NutriBiotic GSE and pro-biotics (30 billion). Just took the last of the 50 billion this morning. Now what?

  51. Kristine U says:

    I was wondering if you have ever heard of or tried Caprylic Acid instead of GSE? I am working with a program that calls for GSE but says that I could use Caprylic Acid instead but it will take more capsules to do the job. I plan to research it a bit before I use it but was wondering if you had heard of it. Thanks!

  52. Bev Jo says:

    I’ve been using it for years after rinsing my mouth with it cured a gum infection. Dipping my toothbrush in it stopped the smell they get. It also worked in killing the horrible moldy smell my sponge gets.

    BUT if it’s toxic chemicals, I don’t want it!

    What else could work like this? I wish we knew for sure….

  53. Lagunapadi says:

    Hi all, I just came across this & didn’t ake the time to read all of your posts (yet) but I just want to say that Nutribiotic brand GSE liquid formula only has vegetable glycerine added, no other scary chemicals and it has worked brilliantly for me in the past.

    • Lagunapadi says:

      Ok, I’ve now read most of them & I stand corrected. I agree that I wont use it anymore, due to the use of hidden toxic ingredients. Thanks for your research,

  54. Sandra says:

    Never mind Meagan, I just found your posting on the process that Nutri-biotic uses for GSE.

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