Grapefruit essential oil is one of the most popular citrus oils in aromatherapy, with a fresh and tangy fragrance that never fails to bring a welcome boost to the senses. Like all citrus fruits, the grapefruit belongs to the Rutaceae family, which are a large family of shrubs, trees and occasionally herbs. This botanical family is of great economic importance and provides a wide range of citrus crops to the world of commerce; grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges and tangerines, as well as some ornamental species. After the orange, the grapefruit is the second most important citrus fruit worldwide. The fruit is almost round or oblate and grows in clusters of up to 6, although this figure varies greatly. A large tree can produce as much as 500 to 700 fruit per year.
The grapefruit was first described in 1750 by the reverend Griffith Hughes who called it the ‘forbidden fruit’ of Barbados. Later in 1789, Patrick Browne reported it as growing in most parts of Jamaica and he referred to it as ‘forbidden fruit’ or ‘smaller shaddock’. Shaddock was a popluar name for the pummelo at that time, and is a giant citrus fruit that can reach 10-11 inches in diameter, with a firm flesh and less juice than a grapefruit. It is thought to have been named after Captain Shaddock of the East India Company who introduced the tree to the West Indies. Tangy grapefruit is now believed by botanists to be an accidental hybrid of the pummelo(Citrus grandis) and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), and it was James MacFayden, in his publication ‘Flora of Jamaica’ in 1837 who gave it the botanical name of Citrus paradisi which literally means the ‘fruit of paradise’.
Properties and uses:
Grapefruit essential oil is classed as a top note and has a very wide range of uses due to its uplifting, stimulating and cleansing properties. It is highly effective when used in massage blends to treat cellulite and the elimination of toxins because it helps to stimulate the lymphatic system. In skincare it can be used to help relieve oily and congested skin and has an all-round toning effect on dull skin. On the emotional system it excels with a cleansing and balancing effect that really lifts the spirits when feeling down, or heading for nervous exhaustion and depressive states. It is also effective at the first signs of stress, especially when blended with other emotionally stimulating oils such as sweet basil. Grapefruit oil is valued for its skin care benefits and ability to promote the appearance of clear, healthy-looking skin.