While grapefruit isn’t so much a favorite of mine, I know plenty of people who enjoy its tartness, especially in juice form. It’s long been touted for being packed with antioxidants to boost your immune system. But if you’re a fan, be careful taking it with medication: It could make it less effective!
Why does grapefruit affect medication?
Taking pills in the morning with a glass of water or juice is an easy way to get your daily dose. But grapefruit juice isn’t the best choice, as it can interfere with your medications. How? “The juice lets more of the drug enter the blood,” Shiew Mei Huang, PhD, of the FDA explains in a statement. “When there is too much drug in the blood, you may have more side effects.”
Medications are able to metabolize (or break down) thanks to a key enzyme called CYP3A4. But consuming grapefruit juice along with the drug can block this enzyme. This causes the medication to stay in your body longer instead of metabolizing in a timely manner, which could lead to serious health troubles. For instance, if you’re on medication to lower cholesterol levels, taking it with this juice often could cause damage to your muscles and liver. As a result, this increases your risk of kidney failure over time.
Dr. Huang also notes that grapefruit juice demonstrates an opposite effect for fexofenadine (brand name Allegra), which is used to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Once ingested, fexofenadine is moved by transporters into the body’s cells. However, he says that grapefruit juice could block those transporters, causing less fexofenadine to enter the blood. (This is why the drug’s label reads “Do not take with fruit juices.”)
To learn more about risks of consuming grapefruit juice while taking medication, watch the FDA’s explainer below:
What other medications are bad to take with grapefruit juice?
Unsure whether grapefruit juice can affect how your body breaks down other medications? Alway check the label for additional instructions on how to take your pills — and speak with your doctor to double check whether certain foods and drinks could be interfering with your medication. In the meantime, here’s a handy list of drugs that you shouldn’t take with grapefruit juice:
- Statin drugs to lower cholesterol, such as Zocor (simvastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin).
- Drugs that treat high blood pressure, such as Procardia and Adalat CC (both nifedipine).
- Organ-transplant rejection drugs, such as Neoral and Sandimmune capsule or oral solution (both cyclosporine).
- Anti-anxiety drugs, such as BuSpar (buspirone).
- Corticosteroids that treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, such as Entocort EC and Uceris tablet (both budesonide).
- Drugs that treat abnormal heart rhythms, such as Pacerone and Cordarone tablet (both amiodarone).
- Antihistamines, such as Allegra (fexofenadine).
Stay on the safe side by taking your pills with water to ensure they work effectively. (Even your morning coffee can negatively impact your meds.) This cuts out any guesswork on whether your medication is doing its job to help boost your health!