20 May 1998

Grapefruit Toothpaste Kills Bugs

Toothpaste and mouth-wash may make your breath smell better, but they are virtually useless against viruses that may be introduced orally. Worse still, some oral treatments actually provide protection for viruses under certain conditions. But the results of a new study, presented at the 1998 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta, could turn toothpaste into a powerful anti-viral agent.

The new study shows that naturally occurring substances, specifically zinc, aloe and grapefruit, when added to off-the-shelf oral hygiene products, can turn them into potent virus-killers. "Adding these natural agents to mouthwashes, rinses and toothpaste can prevent the onslaught of disease-causing micro-organisms in the mouth," said Milton Schiffenbauer, professor of biology at Pace University's New York City campus.

For the past few years, Schiffenbauer and his team in Pace University's biology department have conducted research into oral microbiology and two viruses, bacteriophages T1 and T7. Extracts of zinc, aloe, and grapefruit were separately added to toothpaste and combined in test tubes with the viruses. After 10 minutes of storage at room temperature or below, the T1 and T7 viruses were virtually inactivated.

"Our findings have a significant impact on oral hygiene care and its emerging role in chronic systemic diseases, due to the fact that many viruses found in the body enter through the mouth," said Schiffenbauer.