Grapefruit Seed Extract & Intestinal Parasites

Grapefruit with mint
Grapefruits sliced. (Image: Almaje/iStock/Getty Images)

Grapefruit seed extract is a popular supplement some people believe can cleanse their digestive systems. It’s taken in capsule or liquid form. Some Western travelers to developing countries swear by a few drops in their water bottles to protect against parasites. But experts are split over the supplement’s efficacy.

Grapefruit Seed Extract Claims

Grapefruit seed extract is made from grapefruit’s pulp, seeds and white membranes. This bitter substance is used topically as well as internally, and as an antibacterial household cleaner. Pure Liquid Gold, a company that sells grapefruit seed extract, claims it will kill pathogens that cause infectious disease, including viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites. According to the company, because of the extract's broad-spectrum anti-pathogenic effect, it will solve your intestinal problems with or without a diagnosis.

Common Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites are responsible for illness and death around the world, especially in less-developed countries. Common parasites that are still widespread in the United States include giardia lamblia, enterobius vermicularis, necator americanus, ancylostoma duodenale and entamoeba histolytica. Symptoms of giardia are vomiting, nausea, weight loss and diarrhea. Enterobius vermicularis, also known as pinworm, causes sleep disturbances and irritation. Necator americanus and ancylostoma duodenale are hookworms which cause anemia, blood loss and wasting. Entamoeba histolytica causes fever, weight loss, gastrointestinal obstructions and bloody diarrhea.

Treating Parasites with Grapefruit Extract

Preparations of grapefruit-seed extract are sold under several different brand names, such as Parcan, Citrocidal and DF1000. The recommended dosage is 100 milligrams, three times a day. Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby, who runs an alternative health website, recommends combining grapefruit seed extract with other anti-parasitics to treat infection. Suggested additions to grapefruit seed extract include wormwood, mugwort, fresh pumpkin extract, oil of cloves and/or black walnut husk. He cautions that a cure is not guaranteed, and relapses could occur. However, other doctors disagree with using grapefruit seed extract against intestinal parasites. Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine Is an expert on botanical medicine. According to Low Dog, grapefruit seed extract’s potency as an antifungal and antibacterial agent has not been adequately established. Since researchers have uncovered incidences of adulterated grapefruit seed extract on the market, she does not approve the substance for internal use.

Considerations

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If you decide to try grapefruit seed extract or other anti-parasitics, Scott-Mumby advises that you should prepare yourself. “Treatments often lead to coughing up live worms or parts,” he writes on his website, “and seeing a flush of dead worms in your stool is only slightly less horrifying. Be warned!” He also emphasizes that you must maintain good standards of hygiene, and treat everybody in your household at once, to prevent recurrence. Pets should be regularly dewormed and you should not allow them to lick you anywhere near your mouth. If you like to eat rare steak or pork, first freeze it for at least 20 days to kill tapeworms.

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