The origin of the common English name is uncertain. It is thought to be a hybrid of the Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) and the pummelo or shaddock (Citrus maximus). The pummelo was brought to Spain from tropical Asia by Arab traders in the 12th century via the same route taken by the orange. From there it was introduced into the West Indies by the mysterious Captain Shaddock in the 18 century. Once the fruit was hybridised it became cultivated in the New World. Florida is the centre of cultivation and many varieties were developed there.
The grapefruit tree is native to East Asia and the Caribbean and is widely cultivated in California, Florida, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Israel. The tree grows to a height of 10 m and has large dark green glossy leaves with fragrant white star-shaped flowers. There are numerous cultivated varieties eg the ‘Duncan’ in Florida.
Grapefruit oil is typically a pale yellow or greenish liquid with a fresh, bittersweet, fruity citrus fragrance. It smells clean and pure and has an immediate refreshing and uplifting
effect. The yield is approximately 0.7% and is expressed from the rind of the fresh fruit.
The main chemical constituents are monoterpenes including limonene (96-98%); aldehydes including nonanal, decanal , paradisiol, geraniol, neral ,citral and citronellal; coumarins and furocoumarins including bergaptole, and numerous trace compounds.
Apart from its use in aromatherapy, grapefruit oil is used widely as a top note in perfumery, cosmetics, soaps and as a food flavouring in soft drinks and desserts. As the standard growing and processing of the oil involves many chemicals, author Kurt Schnaubelt warns readers to only buy organic grapefruit oil.
Aerial antiseptic, antidepressant, antitoxic, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, choleretic, diuretic, depurative, digestive stimulant, lymphatic decongestant, stomachic, tonic.
Grapefruit oil has actions on several systems: eliminatory, musculoskeletal, skin, digestion, circulation and nerves. It is a lymphatic stimulant with detoxifying and diuretic
properties. Useful where there is rheumatic pain and swelling, sluggish appetite, flatulence or nausea. Makes an excellent blood purifier, so perfect for use in Springtime when the body is naturally attuned to clear out the toxins accumulated over winter. In addition helps with stretch marks and cellulitis.
In terms of Oriental Medicine energy, the oil is classified as being cool and dry energetically so it is indicated for conditions of Heat, Damp and Phlegm. The key actions would be to tonify Spleen Qi, smooth/regulate Liver and Stomach Qi.
Useful in cases of poor appetite, diarrhoea, mucous colitis, fluid retention, lymphatic congestion, excessive weight gain , dyspepsia, epigastric and abdominal distension,
hiccoughs, belching, flatulence, constipation, spastic colon, irritable bowel syndrome, nervous tension, restlessness, insomnia, over thinking, worry, anxiety, depression.
Used for cellulite, muscle fatigue, chills, colds and ‘flu, depression, nervous exhaustion writes Chrissie Wildwood.
Psychologically, grapefruit is indicated when one feels tense, frustrated, irritable and moody. It suits those who resort to comfort eating when their inner child is criticised or shamed. These individuals have high expectations of life, others and themselves and when reality and expectations do not meet, are left feeling anger, blame and self criticism. Grapefruit smoothes away the psychological Heat and congestion caused by angry disappointment and allows us to perceive and accept more realistic goals.
Jan Kusmerik recommends that grapefruit be used to relieved feelings of tension, frustration, irritability and moodiness, especially where expectations of others are not fulfilled. He says it suits comfort eaters, those with a short temper or who feel angry.
Unlike most citrus oils, grapefruit oil is not photo sensitising. Once you have opened the bottle, use within six months.
Grapefruit is very versatile and blends happily with a wide selection of fragrances bringing a refreshing, light, uplifting along with a slightly bitter note to the blend
Other citrus oils and neroli
Spices such as cardamom, ginger, black pepper
Woody oils such as cypress, juniper, pine. It comes out beautifully especially with sandalwood
Flowers such as lavender, geranium, neroli, petitgrain (although it is not a flower).
Herbs such as coriander, rosemary, mint
It makes a good addition for a room fragrance. When suffering from colds or flu, add a few drops to a diffuser to disinfect the air and raise your spirits. Add to Euclayptus radiata, black spruce, ravintsara, cajeput, thyme.
For those trying to slim down for summer holidays, grapefruit can be blended with juniper and cypress in a base of hazelnut or safflower.
For facial care, grapefruit can be blended with jasmine, pomegranate and apricot.
Blend with calendula, rosehip, borage, argan, geranium and lavender for stretch marks.
For digestive troubles, blend with cardamom, coriander, mint and jojoba and rub over belly in clock wise circles.
Tip: Grapefruit is very volatile and will evaporate quickly if the the essential blend is added to a medium that has to be presented in a jar (cream, ointment). Opening and closing the lid will cause the grapefruit part of the blend to vanish very quickly. It is better to use it in a oil base in a bottle in order to minimise exposure to air.