Natural supplements and the practice of naturopathy aim to enhance internal defences against infection. Grapefruit seed extract has been claimed to help during a UTI infection but there is no evidence as to the use of Grapefruit seed extract being effective in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
What is grapefruit seed extract?
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is made from grapefruit pulp, white membranes and seeds, a byproduct of extracted grapefruit juice. Grapefruit seed extracts are added to cosmetics, food supplements, and pesticides, but there are uncertainties about the true nature of the active compounds in GSE because synthetic additives have been found in commercial products such as Citricidal.
Why is grapefruit seed extract considered for treating UTIs?
- One small African study published in 2005, treating four patients, noted the beneficial effects of GSE for the treatment of UTI.
- The usage of GSE in combination with antibiotics was noted in a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacognosy Research to have beneficial effects against the adhesion of bacteria in the urinary tract.
- Components of citrus have demonstrated in a study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology in 2008, inhibition of bacterial cell–cell signalling and biofilm formation.
What are the issues with Grapefruit seed extract?
- Controlled trials and studies are often limited in complementary and alternative medicine and involve small numbers of participants. They are often conducted under less rigorous controls, guidelines and environments than those undertaken for the development of new pharmaceutical medications such as antibiotics. Do your research, there should be clear, peer reviewed, empiric evidence as to the efficacy of complementary therapies rather than theorisation about how they may be beneficial in the treatment of a chronic UTI.
- There have been insufficient in-vivo large scale patient trials for the usage of GSE for urinary tract infections. Studies are very small and much of the evidence of efficacy is anecdotal. What kills bacteria, viruses and fungi on an agar plate isn’t necessarily going to be effective when you swallow the same ingredient.
- No research study has been undertaken to effectively determine the correct dosage and length of use of GSE for urinary tract infections.
- It can interfere with certain medications and if taking blood thinning drugs, nothing should be consumed containing Grapefruit. It should not be used if breastfeeding or pregnant.
Considering using a complementary medicine? Before doing so it may be worth reading the Buyer Beware information on our Natural Supplements home page.