grapefruit juice

When taking certain medications, your doctor or pharmacist may warn you to be careful about mixing it with other products which may adversely interfere with effectiveness of the medication or even cause serious side effects.  Grapefruit Juice is one such substance that is known to interact with many prescription drugs and according to a survey one in five Americans consume the juice every day for breakfast.

Researchers discovered this interaction by accident while investigating whether alcohol (masked with grapefruit juice) would interact with the drug that was under testing at the time.   They instead realized that the grapefruit juice caused higher levels of the drug to be absorbed several times more than in previous tests.  After the discovery, further research found that an active compound (called bergamottin) found in grapefruit juice was the cause for the drug interactions.

This compound in grapefruit juice interferes with crucial enzymes inside your body which are relied upon by many medications to allow their active ingredients to be absorbed by the body in a controlled fashion.  The absence of these special enzymes often makes it easy for these active ingredients to enter the blood stream at a faster rate than intended.  The danger then comes about as high levels of certain drugs can lead to severe side effects or fatal overdose.

Interactions With Medications

The following popular medications are known to interact adversely with grapefruit juice:

  • Statin medications such Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor;
  • Drugs used to treat high blood pressure such Lisinopril;
  • Psychiatric and anti-anxiety treatments such as Zoloft, Valium, and Abilify;
  • Prescription strength pain relievers;
  • Various Anti-HIV medications

For a more complete list of medications, you can visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grapefruit_drug_interactions

Should You Stop Using Grapefruit Juice?

If any of your medications belong to the class of drugs listed above, then you should talk with your health care provider so that he/she can provide proper confirmation and advice.  If your treatment is known to be severely affected by Grapefruit, your doctor may prescribe an alternate drug which doesn’t interact with the juice.  While alternatives for many of these drugs are available, in most cases, it might be best to cut back on your consumption of grapefruit while on your drug treatment regimen.

If your treatment does not interact adversely with Grapefruit then there is no reason stop consuming it, especially since grapefruit juice is a great source of Vitamin C and can improve your heart health.

Always consult with your doctor or pharmacist before starting or making changes to your treatment plan.

About the author:
Kevin Clarke is a pharmacist and publisher of Side Effects Hub.

 

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