The Dangers of Drug Interactions with Grapefruit Juice

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A lot of people really love a piece of grapefruit or a glass of grapefruit juice with their breakfast.

However, if you use prescription drugs you need to know that there are some things that grapefruit juice doesn’t go well with. Toothpaste is one, but several common prescription medications can interact with grapefruit juice with serious and even deadly results.

The danger of grapefruit interactions with drugs was first identified 20 years ago by David Bailey, a Clinical Pharmacologist at Lawson Research Institute in London, Ontario. Today, 85 drugs that can interact with grapefruit have been identified.

Grapefruit and certain other citrus fruits such as Seville oranges, limes, and ponelos contain chemical compounds called furanocoumarins that block the enzymes that our body uses to metabolize drugs. If it can’t be metabolized, the concentration of a drug can increase in the bloodstream until it reaches dangerous levels.

Common drugs that can interact with grapefruit juice are some cholesterol lowering statins, antibiotics, and calcium channel blockers used to treat high blood pressure. Some cancer fighting drugs and immune system suppressors given to transplant recipients can also interact.

Ironically, most grapefruit is consumed by people over 45 which also happens to be the age group that takes the most prescription drugs. Older people are also less able to handle excessive concentrations of drugs that can be caused by interactions with grapefruit juice.

Half of the 85 drugs that are now known to interact with grapefruit can cause serious medical conditions including liver damage, acute kidney and respiratory failure, and intestinal bleeding. Some cases of sudden death have been linked to grapefruit interactions.

Grapefruit can block the metabolization of drugs for several hours after it’s consumed, so don’t assume that if you wait a few hours to take your medication it will be okay.

If you love grapefruit and are taking prescription drugs, be sure to talk to your pharmacist about possible interactions.

Written by Randy Howden. Visit me on

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