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Can Grapefruit Seed Extract Cure Toothaches?

Dental care has been a major interest of Kelley's since he's had numerous dental procedures going back to 1996.


Some plant or herbal supplements provide seemingly miraculous cures

People have been treating illnesses with plant products for at least two thousand years. Tablets - or pills, if you will - were recently found in a Roman shipwreck (per an article in the May 2011 issue of Smithsonian ). Comprised of plant matter stuck together with clay, these tablets may have been diluted in water, wine or vinegar and then ingested. They could have been used to cure stomach ailments, from which sailors of that time often suffered.

In modern times, grapefruit seed extract (GSE) has been purported to provide numerous health benefits, perhaps the most impressive of which would be antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Labeled as “Pure Liquid Gold” by some marketers, GSE seems a kind of wonder drug.

The purpose of this article is to explore the use of GSE in dental care. If GSE really does have antibacterial properties, perhaps it could cure toothaches. Some people claim it does. Are they right or wrong?


An early proponent of GSE was Yugoslav physicist Dr. Jacob Harich, who, after World War Two, expanded his academic specialty to include medicine. In 1957, Harich came to the U.S. and studied at Long Island University in New York. He was interested in discovering the natural antibiotic properties in plants.

Harich eventually moved to Florida where he began studying GSE. In 1995, Harich was invited to the Pasteur Institute of France, a leading center in the fight against AIDS. Scientists at the Institute had been studying the effectiveness of GSE in the treatment of HIV. Harich later developed a powdered form of GSE used in fish and poultry feed to control salmonella and Escherichia coli.

The fact that the eminent Dr. Harich spent such a large amount of time studying the efficacy of GSE seems to make you think the stuff really works, doesn’t it?


Whether GSE has any medicinal properties seems to be a matter of interpretation or opinion. Scientific studies seem to indicate that if GSE has any antibiotic effects it may be due to the presence of benzethonium chloride (BC) or ammonium chloride (AC), both synthetic preservatives which have been found in commercial brands of GSE. Both BC and AC have proven antimicrobial properties.

Opponents of these studies claim that BC and AC were contaminants in the process to produce commercial GSE.

Be that as it may, independent studies conducted in 2007 and 2008, using only naturally produced GSE, have shown that GSE possesses no antibacterial properties.

What GSE does contain is the following: flavonoids, vitamin C and vitamin E, tocopherols, citric acid, limonoids, sterols and minerals.

Pro and Con

In 2005, in the article entitled “Grapefruit Seed Antibiotic Activity Is Due to Preservative Compounds,” Todd Caldecott wrote:

GSE is marketed as an all-natural and perfectly safe health food product, when it is neither. Various Citrus species have been used as a food and medicine in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. While they have many benefits, neither Chinese nor Ayurvedic medicine has ever advocated the use of Grapefruit seed or any other Citrus seed in acute infectious disease: this alone should provide some clue as to its effects or lack thereof.

In counterpoint, Allan Sachs, author of the book, The Authoritative Guide to Grapefruit Seed Extract, lists the criteria for the ideal antibiotic:

It must have broad spectrum application, be powerful and effective, non-toxic, have minimal impact on beneficial bacteria, be well researched, derived from natural sources, hypo-allergenic, biodegradable, compatible with other natural remedies and affordable.

Sachs suggests that GSE definitely qualifies as the ideal antibiotic. Since he’s written an entire book about GSE, perhaps he knows what he’s talking about!

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GSE as Dental Wash

GSE has been advertised for dental applications, specifically as a dental wash. For oral infections, you can gargle with a solution GSE and water two times per day.

GSE and Gingivitis

Hoping to cure a case of gingivitis, the author took 60 capsules of 250-milligram GSE over a period of 30 days. Although the gingivitis still persists, it has been reduced somewhat. So GSE does seem to have mild antibiotic properties, though when dealing with severe trouble with teeth or gums, taking a conventional antibiotic such as amoxicillin is recommended.


Toothaches happen when bacteria attacks the root or pulp of a tooth, often causing acute pain. This infection is usually treated with antibiotics such as amoxicillin or tetracycline. Ask your dentist which one is right for you. (Of course, taking a painkiller such as acetaminophen or Vicodin would be advisable as well.)

But it you want to try a so-called natural alternative such as GSE, go ahead, but be advised there appears to be no scientific proof it will work. Also keep in mind that once necrosis gets to the root of a tooth, sooner or later you’ll almost certainly need to have a root canal – or the tooth extracted.

Regardless of what medicine you take for toothaches, you have to appreciate those people who, like the Romans 2,000 years ago, choose to ingest plant products to cure their infections and diseases. If that way isn’t the best way, it certainly is the oldest!

Please leave a comment.

© 2011 Kelley Marks


Carolyn on August 03, 2016:

Tonight i had a excruciating tooth ache and googled articles ssuch as this one. I happened to have a grapefruit. i ate it and believe it or not.... pain greatly reduced almost immediately! i think i can at least get through the night now. :)

Chris on August 29, 2014:

I was once in Costa Rica for a surf trip for 1 month and this old surfer guy told me to definitely bring GSE and drop 15 drops into a glass of orange juice if I had any stomach problems. I ended up having bad stomach pain and diarrhea... Took his advice and by the next day I was fine and dandy. Not sure about toothaches but I can see it could work. (My toothache recipe which works flawlessly: dilute one spoon of coconut oil with 2 drops of lavender essential oil, peppermint, essential oil, clove essential oil, and tea tree essential oil. Apply. Pain gone.)

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 06, 2014:

Yes, Michele, GSE has many uses. Speaking of such, I used it to treat a stomach problem. But treating a tooth abscess with it would take lots of nerve. Is that tooth still viable? Later!

Michele on June 05, 2014:

I have used GSE on toothaches twice - Once I think I had an abcess. It was gone by the next morning. Probably 10 drops of GSE in 1/3 c water. Doesn't take much. I have used it also on nausea/diarrhea and also cold sores. My son also used it on warts. I think he put it on full strength with a toothpick. And I think it took maybe a month for them to go away.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on April 26, 2012:

Thanks for the plug about GSE, Sammy. I'm very glad it helps fight the dreaded Montezuma's revenge. Later!

Sammy on April 26, 2012:

I used GSE while travelling in Mexico a few years ago.

I carried it for treatment during a 2 week trip. I got sick 3 times and each time the GSE took care of it.

I remember one night in my sleeping bag outside. I woke up around 3:00AM feeling not so good and I immediately put a few drops of the GSE in my mouth, I kept at near my head, took a little water swiched it around (it tastes pretty unpleasant) went to the bathroom, had diarhea, went back to bed and woke up in the AM feeling fine. I never worried what I ate, although I am a vegetarian, and no fish are not vegetables, so I didn't eat those but still during this trip I remember getting sick 3 times and feeling better within 12 hours.

It was an interesting experiment for me.

I would not want to travel anywhere without GSE in the future.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 19, 2011:

Thanks for the comment and status update, June. Many people are conviced about the antibiotic effectiveness of GSE. I may even try it someday. Later!

June on December 19, 2011:

Goodmooooorning...Yep... toothache gone! 40 drops of GSE (I mixed it well while dripping it, as it is heavy and can collect in the bottom of the glass) with a juice glass of apple cider before bed (9pm), then another 50 drops and 5 ibuprofen at 1am (awaking in pain and couldn't close my mouth), then in the morning (8am) the pain was gone, but I'm taking 30 drops to to kill any other bacteria that may be lingering. I'm convinced by my experience, that this stuff is the best broad spectrum antibiotic.. and it kills bacteria before the bacteria has a chance to mutate and adapt and become resistant to GSE, unlike the antibiotic resistant bacteria that is immune to broad spectrum pharmaceutical antibiotics. I ate breakfast...Good day and good luck.

June on December 18, 2011:

One of my chickens had a fatal upper respiratory infection. we had lost two chickens to this. I was at my wits end, and I looked up GSE and poultry. I found Citricidal, which the USDA approved for the use of avian bird flu in 1984. This web site also says it fights fungus and mold and bacteria. So I mixed 8 drops of GSE in with about 3 ounces of water (very strong dose) and gave the gasping chicken a syringe full twice a day for three days. The chicken was cured! My boyfriend who has raised chickens for 10 years had never seen a bird with such a bad case recover. He was shocked! And I am thankful! Never give GSE straight. I now have a toothache, and took 40 drops about 4 hours ago, and now took another 50 (both times in apple cider). I'll tell you tomorrow what the results are. Good night.

Planet Healthy on July 08, 2011:

Interesting info, Grapefruite extract is also good for stomac pain

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on May 06, 2011:

Yeah no problem! I could probably write a hub about my recovery so when I get writers block I can explain how Hoyer Lifts work while you are in traction!

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 06, 2011:

I'm hoping for some testimonials in these comments. In one of my other dental hubs, a hubber said she cured her son's toothache with GSE, and that's why I wrote this article. Anyhow, thanks for offering to throw yourself in front of the car. Hahahahahahahahaha! Later!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on May 06, 2011:

I almost wish I had a toothache so I could experiment! Haha! Now that I've said that I'll be sure to get one - and I'll let you know if it works;)

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 06, 2011:

Thanks for the compliment, RealHousewife. I wish I could have added some personal experience with GSE to this article, but I've only heard little about it. At any rate, if I had a toothache I almost certainly would opt for a proven antibiotic, because time is of the essence in that particularly situation. Later!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on May 05, 2011:

Excellent hub! I didn't know so much about grapefruit and it's healing benefits either, you did a great job - really thorough research!

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 05, 2011:

There are so many plant products about which I know little or nothing - certainly the subject for a hub or two or three. Thanks for the comment, KoffeeKlatch Gals. Later!

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on May 05, 2011:

Grapefruit is truly an amazing fruit. I had never heard of grapefruit seed extract as a toothache relieving aid. Very interesting.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 05, 2011:

Hey, Cardisa, up to a couple weeks ago I hadn't heard of GSE either. Take this information and do what you will with it. Later!

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on May 05, 2011:

This is very useful information. I've never heard of this grapefruit cure before. Thanks!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on May 05, 2011:

I had never heard about grapefruit seed extract relieving toothaches, this is great knowledge and organic. I love all things organic.

Thank you for the great tips on relieving toothaches naturally and with a very cost effective method.

Great! :) Katie

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 04, 2011:

Hey, jpcmc, there are many plant products that seem to have great medicinal properties. Is GSE one of those? I couldn't say for sure. I'm hoping for some insightful feedback. Later!

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on May 04, 2011:

Wow, never knew grapefruit can do all these. I know that grape fruit is used by some weight loss diet program. This is really interesting stuff.

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