Many grapefruit seed extracts are adulterated, non-profit research group finds

Sunday, June 10, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: grapefruit seed extract, chemicals, adulterated

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(NaturalNews) Grapefruit seed extract (GFSE) and the various supplement and cosmetic products that contain it are quite popular among natural health advocates because the powerful substance is said to help prevent and alleviate many health conditions such as cold sores, thrush, gingivitis and gastrointestinal upset. But a new review published in the American Botanical Council (ABC) journal HerbalGram claims that many, if not most, GFSE products on the market today contain synthetic preservatives, microbicides and disinfectants that are not necessarily listed on their labels.

The idea behind GFSE is that it contains natural antimicrobial, antiseptic and alkalizing properties that render it highly beneficial in a variety of clinical applications. Many GFSE users who take it internally say it has helped eliminate chronic infection, clear up colds and sinus infections, and even cure candida and other yeast and fungal overgrowths inside the body.

But the new review, compiled by Dr. John H. Cardellina, Ph.D., a natural product, organic, medicinal and analytical chemist, suggests that most commercially-available GFSE products contain synthetic chemical components that are the true active ingredients. Actual grapefruit seed extract, suggests the review, does not contain antimicrobial properties, and is not the ingredient responsible for the beneficial effects that users experience.

"A significant amount, and possibly a majority, of ingredients, dietary supplements and/or cosmetics labeled as or containing grapefruit seed extract (GFSE) is adulterated, and any observed antimicrobial activity is due to synthetic additives, not the grapefruit seed extract itself," says the report, which highlights several different studies that analyzed various GFSE products.

"Tests conducted in multiple laboratories over almost 20 years indicated that all commercial GFSE preparations that exhibited antimicrobial activity contained one or more synthetic microbicides/disinfectants, while freshly-prepared extracts of grapefruit seeds made with a variety of extraction solvents neither exhibited antimicrobial activity nor contained the antimicrobial synthetic compounds found in the commercial ingredient materials."

Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, propyl p-hydroxybenzoate, triclosan and benzethonium chlorides all found in GFSE products

Back in 1991, a study out of Japan was the first to identify the presence of methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, a synthetic chemical preservative, and triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal chemical potentially linked to endocrine disruption and cancer in commercial GFSE preparations. The study did not receive much attention at the time.

Several years later, a follow-up study once again tested commercial GFSE products, which were not named, for contaminants, and compared them to GFSE derived through ethanol extraction. It was discovered that the ethanol-extracted GFSE contained no antimicrobial chemicals, while many of the commercial GFSE products contained some or all of them.

Later studies also identified the presence of propyl p-hydroxybenzoate, the sodium salt of propylparaben, and various benzethonium chlorides, or ammonium salts, in various commercial preparations of GFSE. While concentrations of these chemicals varied among brands, most contained one or more of them.

You can view the full GFSE assessment here:

GFSE brands that contain citricidal, which is described as a "natural quaternary compound synthesized from the seed and pulp of grapefruit," are presumably the ones that contain the synthetic chemical byproducts in question. The following story behind the creation of citricidal explains how citricidal is produced, and what chemical processes grapefruit seeds undergo to create it.(

The jury is still out as to whether or not these grapefruit seed-derived components are beneficial or detrimental to health. But the findings at least help shed a little more light as to what many GFSE products actually contain, which will allow consumers to make better-informed purchasing decisions.

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