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"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."
Library at Thebes, inscription over the door
Grapefruit essential oil is one of the lesser known citrus oils; however, it has a number of uses in aromatherapy and is well liked by children for its gentle properties.
The Origins of the Grapefruit
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) belongs to the Rutaceae plant family; it is thought to be a hybrid of pumello fruit (Citrus maxima) and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis). Grapefruit is native to tropical Asia; it is believed that the pumello fruit was brought to Europe by early medieval Arab traders and cross-pollinated with sweet orange in the West Indies, where both plant species were introduced, resulting in the birth of the grapefruit. However, there are no records to verify the grapefruit's exact origins.
Botanical Profile of Grapefruit
The grapefruit is today cultivated in Florida, California, Brazil and Israel where the essential oil is also produced; California is the main producer of grapefruit essential oil. In Israel, grapefruit is used for many ailments and is treated with the same respect that lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is given by the English.
The cultivated grapefruit tree grows to over 33 feet in height; it has green, glossy leaves, large, round, yellow fruits and white, aromatic flowers which are star-shaped. The essential oil of grapefruit is obtained by the cold expression of the fresh peel of the fruit; it has a fresh, sweet citrus aroma.
Grapefruit Oil and Phototoxicity
It is thought that grapefruit essential oil is not phototoxic, unlike most of the other citrus oils; although grapefruit oil does contain furocoumarins, which are responsible for phototoxic effects, it also contains other chemical components which appear to neutralize the potential phototoxicity. Therefore, it is a good alternative oil to use in place of other similar citrus oils, as it shares the same properties as other citrus oils.
Use of Grapefruit Oil in Aromatherapy
Grapefruit essential oil is anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, detoxifying, anti-depressant, immune boosting, skin-toning and mentally rejuvenating. It is used to treat acne, oily skin, cellulite, muscle stiffness, water retention, obesity, colds, flu, depression, headaches, jet-lag, stress and nervous exhaustion. It is good to use it in a diffuser to disinfect a room.
Other Uses of Grapefruit
Grapefruit is known as a “happy” oil due to its uplifting qualities and is liked by children for this reason; it is said to improve concentration and self-confidence. It is used in aromatherapy spa treatments to improve lymphatic drainage and to ease muscle stiffness, by dispersing lactic acids.
Grapefruit is also used as a fragrance component in the perfumery industry, in soaps, cosmetics and detergents; it is used in both the food and drinks industry too. Grapefruit is high in vitamin C and is cultivated in southern Europe and Israel for the extraction of its juice and the canning of its fruit.
- Davis, Patricia 1999 Aromatherapy An A-Z UK: Vermilion
- Harding, Jennie 2005 Aromatherapy Massage For You London, UK: Duncan Baird Publishers
- Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils London, UK: Element
This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as Grapefruit Essential Oil
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