Can grapefruit affect my medication?

Can grapefruit affect my medication?



When you’re taking a new medication, there are a million and one things you may need to consider.


When do you take your medication? How much do you need to take? Should you take them before bed or first thing in the morning? Should you take them after food or on an empty stomach? Can you drink alcohol while taking your medication? You may have considered all of these things when you plan to take your medication, but have you thought about the fruit you eat?


Yes, there are fruits which can affect your medication, changing the way they act and potentially triggering uncomfortable side effects.


The most common of these is grapefruit and grapefruit juice, which can react with many different kinds of medication in a way which could be dangerous to your health.


If you’re a grapefruit lover, make sure you pay attention because your medication could be on our list of medicines that don’t get along with your favourite fruit.



Why does grapefruit affect some medications?


Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can affect your medication because they contain a kind of chemical called furanocoumarins.


This chemical reacts with an enzyme in the lining of your gut and liver which breaks down lots of different kinds of medications, making it less affective.


This means that if you eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice when taking a medication that needs this enzyme to break down, the enzyme won’t be able to do its job properly.


This can lead to too much of the medication you’re taking ending up in your blood stream, giving you a much higher dosage than you needed to take and possibly causing side effects.


You don’t need to eat or drink much grapefruit to activate this effect, just one whole grapefruit or 200ml of grapefruit juice will be enough to affect your medication.


And this isn’t just limited to swallowing your medicine with grapefruit juice, grapefruit can affect your regular medication at any time when you’re using it, so a blanket ban on grapefruit could be needed to keep your medication safe.


If you’re a grapefruit fan you’re going to want to be very careful about eating grapefruit when you take any medicine so we’re going to take a look at which medications can be affected by grapefruit, starting with statins.



Does grapefruit affect statins (cholesterol-lowering medication)?


If you use statins to help to reduce your cholesterol levels, you may be surprised to learn that grapefruit and grapefruit juice can affect some of these medications, causing side effects.


There are three kinds of statins that are affected by grapefruit, and three common stains which are not. You should not eat or drink grapefruit while taking these three statins:


  • Simvastatin
  • Atorvastatin
  • Lorvastatin


All other kinds of statin, including pravastatin, Fluvastatin, and rosuvastatin, are considered to be safe to take when you’re eating grapefruit.


However, if you’re not sure whether the statin you’re taking is safe to take with grapefruit or not, check the patient information leaflet included with your medication or ask your doctor or Chemist 4 U pharmacist, they’ll be able to let you know.



Does grapefruit juice affect antidepressants?


There is one common antidepressant which is known for its interactions with grapefruit and grapefruit juice, and that medication is sertraline.


If you take sertraline and grapefruit at the same time then the increased levels of medication in your blood can lead to side effects including:


  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Nervousness
  • Increased heart rate


Although sertraline is the most common antidepressant to interact with grapefruit, there are other antidepressant medications that can react to grapefruit juice too.


If you’re not sure whether your medication will interact with grapefruit, read the patient information leaflet thoroughly, or speak to a medical professional, it’s better to be safe than sorry!


Will grapefruit affect my blood pressure medication?


If you suffer with high blood pressure or coronary heart disease, you may be taking a kind of medication known as a calcium channel blocker.


They are often prescribed to people who are aged over 55 or those who are of African and Caribbean origin. These medications can interact with grapefruit or grapefruit juice, leaving you with much too much of your medication in your bloodstream.


Some of the most common blood pressure medications that interact with grapefruit include:


  • Amlodipine
  • Nifedipine
  • Verapamil


Many statin medications and tablets interact with grapefruit juice, so be sure to speak to your doctor if you love grapefruit but also need to take blood pressure medications.


They could offer you a different medication which means that you could take your statins while still enjoying grapefruit.


Can I eat grapefruit while taking warfarin?


Warfarin is a common blood thinning medication which helps to prevent blood clots. Drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit while taking warfarin could possibly make the affects of the medication much stronger, but that’s not all.


If you’re taking warfarin, cranberries and cranberry juice can also increase the affects of this medication, so it’s wise to stay away from all of these fruits while taking warfarin.




Are there any other fruits that can affect my medication?


So, we know that cranberry can affect warfarin in the same way as grapefruit, but there are some other fruits which can also act in the same way as grapefruit.


The other fruits you’re going to want to be careful with are also citrus fruits. Seville oranges, pomelos, and limes all contain the chemicals furanocoumarins, which are the chemicals that interact with your medication.


If you love citrus fruits, make sure you speak to your doctor or Chemist4U pharmacist if you’re worried that your medication might be affected, they’ll be able to put your mind at ease.


So, now we know that grapefruit can be much trickier than you might think when it comes to your medication. However, our list of medications that grapefruit can affect only covers some of the most common medications, so before you enjoy a tasty, fruity snack make sure you check the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication first.


You may be surprised at how many medicines can be affected by grapefruit! And if you’re ever worried about whether your medication will be affected by grapefruit, or need any other medication information, why not give our friendly Chemist 4 U pharmacy team a call?


They’ll be able to help you to be sure that you’re not going to have any medication disasters the next time you get a craving for grapefruit.

Laura Henderson - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 22 September 2021
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