Q: I heard grapefruit interacts with certain medications. Is this true?
A: Yes. Unlike other citrus fruits, grapefruit interferes with the metabolism of a few dozen drugs (see partial list below). A chemical component within the fruit prohibits a certain digestive enzyme in the body from breaking down these medications. By continuing to consume grapefruit or grapefruit juice, you decrease the efficacy of the medication you’re on, and the drug itself can build up to dangerously high levels in the blood. Grapefruit should be fully avoided, as its effects wear off very slowly and are still evident 24 hours after consumption. Separating medicine and grapefruit by several hours will not prevent the drug-nutrient interaction. Having grapefruit once accidentally, most likely, will do no harm, but it’s advisable to switch to another type of fruit or fruit juice. The National Institutes of Health recommends not making any sudden diet changes, however, if you’ve always taken your medication with grapefruit. Speak to your doctor first, as your body may be accustomed to a certain level of the drug in your blood.
Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit products when taking the following:
- The high blood pressure/angina drugs Plendil and Procardia/Adalat
- The cholesterol-lowering agents Zocor, Lipitor and Mevacor
- The immunosuppressant medications Sandimmune and Rapamune
- The anti-anxiety/anti-insomnia drugs Valium, Halcion and Versed
- The neurological medications BuSpar, Zoloft and Tegretol
Note: This is not a complete list of medications that interact with grapefruit. Always check with your physician and/or pharmacist.