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Antibiotic resistant urinary tract infections are increasingly common, leaving many looking for natural alternatives. Grapefruit seed extract may be an effective treatment that is safe, affordable and easily accessible
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common nuisance, disproportionately afflicting women, most of who will have a UTI at some point in their lives. UTIs when left untreated or when conventional treatment with antibiotics fail, can progress to more serious kidney infections. They are also of great concern for pregnant women, as the changes in prostaglandins and cytokines they induce can contribute to preterm delivery.
Conventional antibiotics are notorious for killing both the "good" and the "bad" bacteria within the body, as well as leading to the overgrowth of fungi like Candida albicans, which can lead to yeast infections. Moreover, even when conventional antibiotics suppress acute symptoms of infection, they can drive the survival of even more virulent antibiotic resistant bacteria. These surviving colonies form biofilm enabling them to lay dormant and grow back with even greater virulence when the infection recurs post-treatment.
This is why natural alternatives are becoming increasingly popular, especially those within the food category, like cranberry, whose safety is assured relative to what are often highly toxic conventional antibiotics such as the fluoride-based ciprofloxacin. You can view our Urinary Tract Infection database for over 20 natural substances that show promise as anti-urinary tract infection agents.
Grapefruit is perhaps the most interesting anti-urinary infection agent we have yet stumbled upon in our research. A remarkable case study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine in 2005 titled, "The effectiveness of grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) seeds in treating urinary tract infections," found that the seeds of the grapefruit were highly effective in killing antibiotic-resistant UTIs:
"Three middle-aged males and one female were diagnosed as having urinary tract infections (UTIs) between 2001 and 2003 in the Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesa, a unit of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. Of the 4 patients, only the female was asymptomatic. The 3 males had Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella species, and Staphylococcus aureus, respectively, in their urine samples, while the female had Escherichia coli. All 4 patients were treated with grapefruit seeds (Citrus paradisi) orally for 2 weeks and they all responded satisfactorily to the treatment except the man with P. aeruginosa isolate. However, the initial profuse growth of Pseudomonas isolate in the patient that was resistant to gentamicin, tarivid, and augmentin later subsided to mild growth with reversal of the antibiotic resistance pattern after 2 weeks' treatment with grapefruit seeds. These preliminary data thus suggest an antibacterial characteristic of dried or fresh grapefruit seeds (C. paradisi) when taken at a dosage of 5 to 6 seeds every 8 hours, that is comparable to that of proven antibacterial drugs."
The authors concluded that based on these case studies, "The adequate clinical response of these patients suggest that the 8-hourly dosage of 5 to 6 seeds of grapefruit seeds taken for a 2-week period may have an effect that is comparable to other proven antibacterial drugs."
They also referenced research on grapefruit seed extract's effectiveness at inhibiting bacteria:
"Recently, it has been confirmed that grapefruit seed extract (GSE) has antimicrobial properties against a wide range of gram-negative and gram-positive organisms at dilutions found to be safe. With the aid of scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), the mechanism of GSE's antibacterial activity was revealed (Heggers et al., 2002). It was evident that GSE disrupts the bacterial membrane and liberates the cytoplasmic contents within 15 minutes after contact even at more dilute concentrations. It has also been found that GSE appeared to have a somewhat greater inhibitory effect on gram-positive organisms than on gram-negative organisms; however, its comparative effectiveness against a wide range of bacterial biotypes is significant (Reagor et al., 2002)."
Indeed, our database contains a number of citations on grapefruit seed extract's anti-microbial activity, including against MRSA. Also, the more salient difference between GSE is that it also has potent anti-fungal activity, making it superior to conventional antibiotics.
The really amazing thing here is that even if conventional antibiotics were safe, effective, available and inexpensive (which they are not), not everyone in the world has access to them. Grapefruit, and related "medicinal foods," are far easier to acquire, and also provide significant nutritional benefits, which supports the underlying immune system whose status is responsibility for determining susceptibility to infection. We've reported on a similar case study on the use of black seed (nigella sativa) in putting an HIV patient into remission, as well as a case of temporary remission of incurable leukemia using cannabis.
Case studies always provide a powerful window into the role of ancient food-based healing interventions, which, owing to their non-patentability, will likely never receive the massive capital influxes required to fund the RCTs needed to legitimize them in the eyes of a medical model beholden to pharmaceutical interests.
Article originally published: 2015-08-04
Article updated: 2019-08-13