Grapefruit and medications do not mix. If you take prescription medications, or even OTC “natural” remedies such as red yeast rice, you might want to dial back the grapefruit.
Grapefruit juice has been touted as containing many compounds that can reduce hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and even the risk of cancer. Grapefruit juice can, therefore, be justifiably referred to as a classic nutraceutical. However, for many persons taking certain medications, grapefruit juice might actually better be termed a “nutrapollutical!”
Nutraceutical is just a fancy word for food that has pharmaceutical qualities.
Grapefruit juice blocks special enzymes in the wall of the small intestine that actually destroys many medications and prevents their absorption into the body. Thus, smaller amounts of the drugs get into the body than are ingested. When the action of this enzyme is blocked, more of the drugs get into the body and the blood levels of these medications increase. This can lead to toxic side effects from the medications.
In other words, eating grapefruit, or drinking grapefruit juice can render your medications useless or worse.
(Ingestion) of grapefruit juice with susceptible drugs should be separated by 24 or more hours to avoid the interaction. Since this is not practical for individuals who are taking a medication daily, they should not consume grapefruit juice when taking medications that are affected by grapefruit juice.
There is no mention of this kind of interaction with oranges or orange juice, only grapefruit.
These are medications with which grapefruit juice should NOT be consumed unless advised by a doctor:
- Statins (cholesterol drugs): lovastatin (Mevacor), atorvastatinLipitor, simvastatin Zocor, simvastatin/ezetimibe (Vytorin)
- Antihistamines: fexofenadine (Allegra), (terfenadine (Seldane), taken off the U.S. market
- Calcium channel blockers (blood pressure drugs): nimodipine(Nimotop), felodipine (Nitrendipine, Plendil), nisoldipine (Sular),nicardipine (Cardene), verapamil (Verelan)
- Psychiatric medications: buspirone (BuSpar), triazolam (Halcion),carbamazepine (Tegretol), diazepam (Valium), midazolam (Versed),sertraline (Zoloft)
- Intestinal medications: cisapride (Propulsid) taken off the U.S. market
- Immune suppressants: cyclosporine (Neoral), (tacrolimus) Prograf
- Pain medications: Methadone
- Impotence drug: (erectile dysfunction): sildenafil (Viagra)
- HIV medication: saquinavir (Invirase, Fortovase)
- Antiarrhythmics: amiodarone (Cordarone), disopyramide (Norpace)Toxic blood levels of these medications can occur when patients taking them consume grapefruit juice. The high blood levels of the medications can cause damage to organs or impair the organs normal function, which can be dangerous. If you or a family member are taking any of these medications, beware of the “nutrapollutical” grapefruit juice.