Grapefruit seed extract
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is derived from red wine grape seeds (citrus grandis). It’s used in deodorants and personal care products for its astringent, conditioning, and antimicrobial properties.
Not much work has been done on GSE but available information suggests it can have beneficial health effects. There’s a claim that, by virtue of its high polyphenol content, it can improve the skin’s elasticity and overall appearance. It’s also believed it can reduce inflammation by siphoning harmful free-radicals from the skin. It’s considered a good source of flavonoids, linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid), vitamin E, and antioxidants - mainly proanthocyanidins and catechins. It’s also considered a good formulation for reducing total cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, edema (swelling) as well as improving blood flow, wound healing, and diabetes-related eye conditions. GSE is believed to help in the control of fungal and bacterial infections. There’s even a claim that it’s got anti-estrogenic properties and can inhibit tumor growth.
In spite of the positive health assertions, GSE is considered harmful. The major concern has been the likely contamination by methylparaben and triclosan, which the World Health Organization considers cancer-causing. Triclosan is incorporated into deodorants and personal care formulations as an antimicrobial to prolong shelf-life and destroy odor-producing bacteria; methylparaben and other parabens serve the same purpose (see triclosan and parabens for more information). Triclosan is notorious for producing ‘superbugs’ by wiping out a wide spectrum of bacteria, both good and bad. It’s considered a major contributor to the higher incidence of food allergies.
GSE exposure may be through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. Exposure can produce prominent allergic symptoms such as urticaria (hives), rashes, itching, wheezing and other breathing difficulties, as well as swelling of the lips, mouth, and tongue. Other side-effects include headaches, nausea, dizziness, muscular problems, indigestion, abdominal pains, high blood pressure, and prolonged or excessive bleeding.