by Katharine Koeppen, RA
I love grapefruit essential oil. Its fresh, zingy, juicy aroma makes me happy. No surprise, since grapefruit is known for its ability to quickly elevate the blackest of moods. However, as much as I love grapefruit oil, I don't sell much of it. That's why I became very curious upon receiving a sudden onslaught of orders last year.
After making some inquiries, I discovered that a disreputable multi-level marketing company was touting grapefruit essential oil as a "fat burner", and encouraging people to consume nearly half a bottle per day. Not only is this a dangerous practice, but it reflects a basic misunderstanding of the digestive process.
Grapefruit oil is a powerful gall bladder and liver stimulant. The gall bladder stores bile, which is produced by the liver. When fatty foods enter the small intestine, the gall bladder releases bile, which emulsifies the fat, allowing it to be more easily digested and absorbed. While bile is necessary for the digestion of dietary fat, it is not a "fat burner". If fat is consumed in excess of the body's normal requirement, it is still stored in the body... as fat. Ditto for any excess carbohydrates or proteins, which are also stored as fat.
Oral consumption of grapefruit oil in the amount mentioned above will overstimulate the gall bladder. This can cause gall bladder spasms strong enough to dislodge a gallstone, potentially blocking the cystic duct or bile duct and ending in a trip to the emergency room. This is of particular concern as many people who have gallstones (especially middle-aged women) may be asymptomatic.
Additionally, expressed grapefruit peel oil from conventionally grown sources is full of pesticide and fertilizer residues. Excessive consumption will cause these heavy metal contaminants to become stored in the body. Over a prolonged period of time, this can lead to liver cancer. This is why Aromaceuticals is religious about stocking citrus oils from organically grown sources only.
Applied topically in small amounts, grapefruit essential oil is an excellent diuretic and lymphatic stimulant. It is one of my favorite oils to include in a cellulite or dry brushing blend. Grapefruit can be very effective for water weight loss in individuals with a sluggish lymphatic system.
Via inhalation, this bright and sunny oil can help curb food cravings in those who are overweight. Interestingly, it has been used to help stimulate the appetite in those who have suffered severe weight loss, such as cancer patients and anorexics.
In the end, the only way to lose fat is through sensible diet and excercise. Grapefruit oil is a wonderul adjunct to any weight loss regimen, but it is not a miracle cure.