Citrus paradisi is the botanical name for grapefruit. Most grapefruit varieties are somewhat bitter-tasting with a sweet, citrus aroma. The pulp may be yellow, pink, or red in color. Its common name is thought to have derived from the grape-like growth characteristic, as the fruits are commonly found in clusters on the tree. The fruit has been known by many names throughout its history — pummelo grapefruit, shaddock, pink grapefruit, white grapefruit, and forbidden fruit.
While the origins of Citrus paradisi seem to vary, most people believe the grapefruit is native to Jamaica or Barbados. Well before the 1800s, the fruit was known as the shaddock. An Englishman and ship commander by the name of Captain Shaddock discovered the fruit and introduced the seeds to the area. It is also commonly confused with the pummelo (C. maxima), sometimes spelled pomelo, which is a relative of the grapefruit. In fact, the fruit may have been the result of an accidental cross between the pummelo and the orange.
Today, the fruit is commonly cultivated in the United States, which is one of the leading producers of Citrus paradisi. Extracts from the seeds and pulp are useful in treating many health conditions. An extract derived from the leaves of the tree is used for its antibiotic properties, and an infusion can also be prepared from the grapefruit flowers.
Grapefruit oil has been used for treating muscle fatigue and stiffness, and as a cardiac tonic. Citrus paradisi stimulates the digestive tract, relieving indigestion and gas. Its diuretic properties remove excess water from the body, which is helpful to people with kidney problems, fluid retention, and bladder conditions. The acidic properties of grapefruit make it an effective treatment for urinary infections as well.
Both the pink and red varieties of Citrus paradisi are high in beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. It is also good source of vitamin C, making it valuable to the immune system, strengthening and protecting the body from colds and flu. Grapefruit increases circulation and stimulates the lymphatic system. The juice has been used in folk medicine for the treatment of diabetes as well.
As an antiseptic and astringent, Citrus paradisi can help clear oily skin and acneIt is even believed to help reduce the effects of cellulite. Grapefruit juice is low in calories, which can be useful for issues with weight. The tonic is also thought to promote hair growth. In addition, the oil is added to cosmetics and hair care products as a fragrance. This may include creams, body scrubs, lotions, or bath washes.
Extractions from grapefruit are used as flavoring agents in soft drinks too. The only downside to Citrus paradisi is its likelihood to irritate the skin of those who are sensitive when exposed to strong sunlight. People who are allergic to citrus fruits may also exhibit reactions to the seeds.