The Dangers of Grapefruit Juice - Why Some People Should Not Drink Grapefruit Juice

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Grapefruit Juice is a Healthy Addition to Any Diet, Right?

As mentioned above, why would anyone think twice before gulping down a big glass of grapefruit juice?

Grapefruit juice can lead to potentially life threatening consequences when paired with some medications. This means that you should discuss your diet carefully with your doctor when he is prescribing medications for you to take. If you drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit you need to ask the doctor or pharmacist if there are any drug interactions to be aware of.

What Causes These Drug Interactions?

It may seem outrageous that something touted as healthy can be so dangerous. So then, what’s the science behind the dangers of mixing grapefruit with certain medications?

There is an enzyme (CYP3A) in the intestines and liver that helps your body absorb oral medications and excrete them when finished. When a prescription is written it is based on the assumption that by the size of your body the drug will be absorbed and excreted from your body at a certain rate. Grapefruit juice has been shown to affect this enzyme and the rate of medication being absorbed and removed from the body, the end result of that affect being an overdose of the drug, even if the correct dosage is taken.

What are Some of the Medications That Interact with Grapefruit?

A few of the medications that grapefruit interacts badly with are listed here. This is by no means a comprehensive listing, so always make sure that you ask before beginning any medications.

  • Norvasc or Amlodipine is used to treat angina. Grapefruit juice interacts with many of the medications used to treat the heart.

  • Valium ,also known as Diazepam, is a seizure and anxiety medication that has a bad reaction to grapefruit juice.

  • Pravachol, also called Pravastatin, is used to lower cholesterol, along with many other “statin” medications whose effectiveness can be altered by grapefruit juice.

Physicians recommend avoiding grapefruit with other medications that are not considered heart medications. These include some anti-depressants such as Elavel or Amitriptyline.

What are Some of the Symptoms of Drug Interaction?

Use of any of these drugs while drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit can lead to serious complications. For example, the following have been observed while researching the effect of grapefruit juice on the drugs listed above.

  • Valium with grapefruit juice can cause you to feel as if you have been sedated, sluggish and tired.

  • Norvasc is affected by grapefruit juice in that it causes a very fast heart rate, and causes blood pressure to drop to an unsafe level. This is a similar reaction to many heart medications that are combined with grapefruit juice.

  • Pravachol and other “statin” drugs with grapefruit juice can cause muscle toxicity, which includes muscle weakness, tremors, and aches.

How Can I Avoid a Dangerous Drug Interaction?

If you take the above listed medications or any others that your doctor has told you have bad interactions with grapefruit juice, do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice. The idea of having your juice in the morning and medication at night will not work because the effect on your body remains, even after 24 hours. If you think you will miss the taste or the health benefits of grapefruit juice try another citrus fruit, such as oranges, for your low calories and vitamin C. Even if your doctor did not specifically mention grapefruit you should always read the information provided by your pharmacist to avoid the possibility of drug interactions, allergic reactions and diet warnings.

Sources

Canadian Medical Association Journal Volume 167 “Grapefruit juice: potential drug interactions

Triangle Business Journal “UNC study shows why grapefruit juice poses danger