A Grapefruit A Day Isn’t Necessarily Bad

“Dear Pharmacist,

The Reader’s Digest says grapefruit juice is not compatible with my cholesterol medication, Zocor. I am worried because I enjoy grapefruit so much. Should I stop eating it?”

–M.R., Sebring, Florida

Answer: No. You should stick to your normal eating habits, even if grapefruit is part of that routine. Grapefruit does contain chemicals that alter the effect of enzymes in the body, and that may result in higher levels of medicine in the bloodstream. However, the body is capable of adjusting itself, and will do so if you eat the fruit or drink its juice regularly. In this case, a food-drug interaction is more likely to happen if you only occasionally consume grapefruit. Under those circumstances, the level of medicine in your bloodstream may suddenly spike. Also, you shouldn’t suddenly stop eating grapefruit, either. That, too, could have an adverse effect.

Grapefruit’s effect on medication was discovered during a 1991 study on the affects of mixing alcohol with a blood pressure medication. During testing, grapefruit juice was used to mask the taste of alcohol in tests, and researchers inadvertently discovered that grapefruit juice caused the levels of medication in the bloodstream to skyrocket. This effect is not seen with other citrus fruits. Zocor is not the only affected medication. Here are a few others that grapefruit interacts with:

Tegretol
Pravachol
Mevacor
Hismanal (now withdrawn from the market)
Halcion
Coumadin (warfarin)
Cyclosporine
Plendil
Sular
Procardia

If you want to know whether a medication you’re taking can be affected by grapefruit, ask your pharmacist if the drug will interact with Erythromycin or Sporanox. Because these two drugs act similar to grapefruit within the bloodstream, odds are the fruit will have a similar effect with your medication. In other words, if what you are taking interacts with either Erythromycin or Sporanox, it’s a good bet that grapefruit will interact also.  Another option is to buy my Drug Mugger book, it has a rather extensive chart in it showing the interactions of grapefruit juice with medications, and it has about 60 pages devoted to foods and drinks that interact with hundreds of different medication. This chapter is incredible, and I am proud to offer it to you. CLICK HERE for more information about Drug Muggers.

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