Grapefruit Seed Extract For Nipple Thrush – Does It Work?

Grapefruit Seed Extract For Nipple Thrush - Does It Work?

Nipple pain is a common breastfeeding problem, especially in the early weeks.

Most mothers overcome early nipple pain and go on to breastfeed for many months or even years.

There are many causes of nipple pain (e.g. suboptimal positioning and attachment, vasospasm, bacterial infection, eczema, psoriasis, white spot, breast pump misuse, tongue-tie etc).

Regardless of the cause of nipple pain, optimising the positioning and attachment during breastfeeding is important and can help reduce the pain. A lactation consultant can help you work out what the cause(s) might be, and then work out a treatment plan.

One cause of nipples pain is thrush, which is a fungal infection due to the organism, candida. There are various treatment options available for nipple thrush. With so many treatment options, it can be difficult to know what to try first.

Grapefruit Seed Extract and Nipple Thrush

This article will provide you with information about nipple thrush, and about grapefruit seed extract as one potential treatment for it.

So, what are some signs you might have nipple thrush?

Signs And Symptoms Of Nipple Thrush

Nipple thrush can present in various ways. For example:

  • Some mothers describe a burning, itching, stinging or stabbing nipple pain
  • There is sharp, shooting pain, or a deep aching pain that radiates into the breast
  • The pain usually happens after and/or between breastfeeds, although it can also occur during feeds
  • Nipples are often very sensitive to anything touching them
  • The nipple might appear normal, or might be a brighter pink than usual
  • The areola might appear red and shiny, or have white flaky bits over it; it could be itchy, although there might be none of these signs
  • There might be thick, white patches on the insides of the baby’s cheeks, or on her tongue
  • The baby might have a red, spotty nappy rash

Are there any factors which can increase the chances of nipple thrush?

Factors Which Can Predispose To Nipple Thrush

While nipple thrush seems to appear out of the blue, there are factors which can increase the risk of developing it. They are:

  • Recent antibiotic use
  • History of vaginal thrush
  • History of nipple damage

If you think you might have nipple thrush, it’s a good idea to see a lactation consultant, to confirm this is what’s happening, and to work out the treatment plan that will work best for you.

Treatment For Nipple Thrush

Usually, nipple thrush is treated with antifungal agents (oral and/or topical). Some antifungal agents can be obtained over-the-counter, while for others you need to see a doctor and obtain a prescription. You can read more about the use of antifungal treatment for nipple thrush in the Royal Women’s Hospital clinical guidelines for breast and nipple thrush, here.

Various other topical preparations have been used to try to treat nipple thrush. Some examples are virgin coconut oil, gentian violet, olive oil and All Purpose Nipple Ointment. Anecdotally, some mothers have found each of these preparations helpful in the treatment of nipple thrush, although none of them have been well researched, and so whether they will be effective for you is difficult to say.

Grapefruit seed extract is another treatment some mothers have tried to treat nipple thrush. What exactly do we know about grapefruit see extract, and the treatment of nipple thrush?

Grapefruit Seed Extract For Nipple Thrush

Other than anecdotal reports that some mothers have found it helpful, we don’t know very much at all about the use of grapefruit seed extract to treat nipple thrush.

Grapefruit seed extract is also known as citrus seed extract. It’s a liquid extract that comes from the seeds or pulp of grapefruit. Its possible antifungal effect seems to be attributable to the active ingredient ‘citricidal’.

Some leading breastfeeding experts, such as Dr Jack Newman, have created protocols for the treatment of nipple thrush, and have included grapefruit seed extract in their protocols. You can read more about how it’s been included in Dr Newman’s nipple thrush treatment protocol, here.

A Canadian statement about the use of domperidone (motilium) indicates “Caution should also be used in mothers concomitantly taking medications known to alter the metabolism of domperidone (via inhibiting the cytochrome P450 pathway)”. Interestingly, grapefruit is also an inhibitor of the cytochrome P450 pathway.

Thrush can be a real pain to treat and get rid of. For more tips about the treatment of thrush, read here.


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Renee Kam is a mother of two daughters, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.

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