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Citrus paradisi


Citrus paradisi

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Grapefruit, grapefruit peel, pink grapefruit, pomelo

Original Habitat

C. paradise, or Grapefruit, is thought to be native to areas in the Caribbean such as Barbados, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Grapefruit is cultivated and exported from Mexico and the warmer climate of the United States. The grapefruit tree grows upwards of 6 to 10 metres with edible fruit which is round and ranges in colour from pale pink to yellow. The fruits grow in clusters that can range from four up to a dozen per cluster. The essential oil is extracted (expressed) from the peel of the fruit. The tree requires well drained soil and full sun.

Plant Part Used

Peel (Zest)


Grapefruit oil and/or its constituents can be found in the food and beverage industry as a flavouring for soft drinks, ice cream and chocolates.[1] In the fragrance industry, it is used in oriental blends, as a top note in oil blends and in body care products. In therapeutic aromatherapy, it is used regularly as a single oil and it is also found in formulations.


The cold pressed or expressed oil of grapefruit is clear to light yellow essential oil has a very citric, refreshing scent and top note. It is has a thin, watery consistency. Grapefruit seed oil is also available and is a darker colour unless it has been refined.

Chemical Constituents

Monoterpene hydro carbons (Limonene and Myrcene), Sesquiterpenes (nootkatone), alcohols, aldehydes, esters, flavonoid glycosides (naringin) [2][3][4][5]

Medicinal Uses

Antiseptic +++

Olfactory Stimulant- Animal studies have indicated that inhalation of grapefruit oil can have a strong stimulant effect, increasing sympathetic activity as well as blood pressure.[6] This olfactory stimulation with grapefruit oil also exhibited decreases in appetite and increases body temperature in rats. The limonene content is thought to be responsible for this action.[7]

Appetite Suppressant- The appetite suppressant activity has been further supported in an additional animal model whereby use of the oil resulted in lipolysis which then decreased body weight and suppressed the appetite. This action is attributed to limonene.[2]

Cytochrome P450 inhibitor- Grapefruit and its oils have been shown to inhibit the CP450 enzyme thereby increasing the oral metabolism of several prescription and OTC drugs. In laboratory analysis, chemical constituents were identified (furocoumarins: bergaptol and geranylcoumarin) that inhibited P450 and also demonstrated radical scavenging activity.[8]

Antibacterial Activity-  Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacterial strains are usually resistant to antibacterial drugs such as ethidium bromide and norfloxacin. However, in a laboratory setting, the addition of constituents of C. paradisi oil resulted in the action of these drugs against MRSA greatly being greatly improved.[9]

Apoptosis- Several citrus essential oils were studied for potential induction of apoptosis in human leukemic (HL-60) cells. All oils including grapefruit demonstrated apoptotic activity. Researchers determined that constituents other than limonene may be responsible for this action.[4]

Traditional Use

Fatigue, loss of energy, lack of vitality+++
Bruising, wounds++
General tonic++
Acne or mild skin disorders, reduction of oils in skin++

Post-menopausal Abdominal Fat- Using aromatherapy massage, researchers examined and recorded the self-image of post-menopausal women as well as measuring abdominal fat. A mixture of grapefruit oil and other oils was massaged into the abdominal area for 6 weeks; the participants also massaged themselves during this time with the same oil mixture. Compared to a control group, the group using the grapefruit oil mixture exhibited a decrease in waist circumference and abdominal fat. In addition, self-image improved in the grapefruit oil mixture group.[10]

Sympathetic Activity- Researchers investigated the effects of grapefruit essential oil, among others, on sympathetic activity parameters in healthy participants. Inhalation of this oil induced a measurable increase of the measured parameters.[11]

Insecticide- Peel oils from different citrus fruit including grapefruit were tested against Callosobruchus maculates (Cowpea Beetles). Out of the four fruit-derived essential oils, grapefruit showed the highest fumigant activity.[12]

Contraindications and Precautions

Generally considered safe with no reported adverse events.

Not to be used in combination with prescription medications as it may interfere with first pass metabolism and affect dosage.

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

May be moderately phototoxic.[13]


[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

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  1. Purdue University, Center for New Crops and Plant Products.  Available from: . [Accessed on 10th July 2009].
  2. Shen J. Olfactory. Stimulation with scent of grapefruit oil affects autonomic nerves, lipolysis and appetite in rats. Neurosci Lett. 3 Jun2005;380(3):289-294.
  3. Feger W. Nonvolatiles of commercial lime and grapefruit oils separated by high-speed countercurrent chromatography. J Agric Food Chem. 22 March2006:54(6):2242-2252.
  4. Hata T. Induction of apoptosis by Citrus paradisi essential oil in human leukemic (HL-60) cells. In Vivo. Nov-Dec2003;17(6):553-559.
  5. Kirbaslar SI, Boz I, Kirbaslar FG.Composition of Turkish lemon and grapefruit peel oils.J Essen Oil Res;18 (5):525-543.
  6. Tanida M. Effects of olfactory stimulations with scents of grapefruit and lavender oils on renal sympathetic nerve and blood pressure in Clock mutant mice. Auton Neurosci. 30 May2008;139(1-2):1-8.
  7. Tanida M. Olfactory stimulation with scent of essential oil of grapefruit affects autonomic neurotransmission and blood pressure. Brain Res. 5 Oct2005;1058(1-2):44-55.
  8. Girennavar B. Radical scavenging and cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitory activity of bergaptol and geranylcoumarin from grapefruit. Bioorg Med Chem. 1 Jun2007;15(11):3684-3691.
  9. Abulrob AN. Identification and biological evaluation of grapefruit oil components as potential novel efflux pump modulators in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacterial strains. Phytochemistry. Nov2004;65(22):3021-3027.
  10. Kim HJ. Effect of aromatherapy massage on abdominal fat and body image in post-menopausal women.Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. Jun2007;37(4):603-612.
  11. Haze S. Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults. Jpn J Pharmacol. Nov2002;90(3):247-253.
  12. Moravvej G. Fumigant toxicity of citrus oils against cowpea seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus (F.) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae). Pak J Biol Sci. 1 Jan2008;11(1):48-54.
  13. Tisserand R. Balacs T. Essential Oil Safety. Toronto:Churchill Livingston ;1995.

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