What pops into your mind when someone says drug interaction? Probably not grapefruit juice.
What is a drug-food interaction?
When a drug does not mix well with a food or drink and an unintended result happens.
The interaction could possibly do either of two things. It could make the medication become too strong or too weak. This could lead to increased side effects, the condition staying the same, or the condition getting worse.
It has to do with how much medication reaches your bloodstream.
One way is that too much drug gets into your blood because it was not broken down enough.
It was not able to be broken down because the grapefruit juice got to the enzymes that break down the medication first and prevented it. This leads to a buildup of the medication in your body which could lead to further interactions. It could also be more serious and cause severe versions of side effects.
The other way is that too little drug gets a chance to enter your blood because it could not hitch a ride on the carriers that were supposed to take it there.
Either situation can occur due to drinking grapefruit juice while taking the medication. Decreased levels of the medication can lead to continuation or worsening of the condition.
Do your medications interact with grapefruit juice?
Below are some of the most common types of medications that may have this drug-food interaction. More medications, vitamins and supplements may as well.
- Statins – These medications are given this nickname because their full generic name ends in statin. On your prescription it may say atorvastatin, simvastatin etc. or the brand name. The brand name is totally different so always ask your doctor.
- Medications for high blood pressure
- Some antihistamines such as fexofenadine (Allegra)
- Organ transplant rejection medications
- Anti-anxiety medications
5 things you can do right now
- Talk to your prescriber and pharmacist to see what works best for your situation. This is because the severity could depend on each person, their history, their specific medication, and conditions
- Find out if you must avoid it completely or space it from your dose depending on the amount of grapefruit consumed.
- Read your medication labels. Both prescription and over the counter. There should be mention of the interaction.
- Read labels on mixed fruit juices and know your fruits. For example, tangelos are a cross between tangerines and grapefruit.
- Check grapefruit and grapefruit juice against your medications, vitamins and supplements list. You can speak directly with your pharmacist and use online drug interaction checkers as a supplement to those conversations.
Remember that not all medications that mix poorly with grapefruit juice are listed here so be sure to follow up directly with your pharmacist or doctor.
Juices similar to grapefruit may also cause bad reactions so having the drug-food interaction discussion in general with your healthcare provider is best on how to move forward safely.
Harvard Health Publishing. (2021). Grapefruit and Medication: A Cautionary Note
Arayne, M. (2005). Grape fruit juice-drug interactions. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Healthline. (2020). Grapefruit Warning: It Can Interact With Common Medications
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021). Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don’t Mix
Medscape. (n.d.). Drug Interaction Checker