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Mary Shomon

Prescription Drugs can Interact With a Variety of Foods

By October 6, 2005

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Eating fruits and vegetables is essential to living a long and healthy life, yet research has shown they can cause dangerous interactions with medicines. According to the July issue of General Dentistry, foods can increase or decrease the activity and toxicity of orally-administered drugs (intravenous drugs are not altered). Find out more about foods and their interactions with drugs now.

One of the most studied of these interactions is the inhibition of CYP3A4 enzymes caused by grapefruit or its juice. CYP3A4 enzymes are responsible for the metabolism of more than 60 percent of orally-administered drugs. Drugs that interact with grapefruit include anti-infectives, anti-inflammatories, cardiovascular agents, central nervous system agents, estrogens, gastrointestinal agents, Histamine H1 antagonists, immunosuppressives, and erectile dysfunction drugs. Dental patients in particular should be aware of interactions with the sedatives triazolam, midazolam and diazepam which could cause excessive sedation.

As little as 6.0 oz of grapefruit juice may lower the amount of a drug needed to produce the desired effect, which could cause an overdose. The blood that absorbs nutrients passes through the liver before reaching the general circulatory system (the first-pass). The ability of a drug to successfully pass from the GI tract to the plasma is called its bioavailability. Grapefruit juice inhibits first-pass drug metabolism, increasing bioavailability.

Many elderly patients vacation or spend winters in southern states such as Florida , where they may be more likely to consume grapefruit and other fruits that may interact with prescribed medicines. The components of grapefruit juice believed to be clinically active are also found in limes, pumellos, and Seville oranges. Natural food products, citrus products and cabernet sauvignon wine are also known to interact with drugs. This interaction can increase the concentration of drugs in the bloodstream and enhance their potency, which can result in toxicity.

While most people know to ask their pharmacists about possible interactions between medicines, many don't realize they should also be asking about the foods in their refrigerator, according to Dennis Flanagan, DDS, MAGD. He advises that patients use caution because there are probably more food and beverage interactions that have not yet been discovered.

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NOTE FROM MARY: There is no evidence that grapefruits or grapefruit juice have an impact on thyroid medications. Patients on thyroid hormone replacement drugs are cautioned, hwoever, about the use of calcium fortified citrus juices, as the high levels of calcium in these juices can interfere with thyroid medicine absorption. Also, starting or stopping a high-fiber diet can affect thyroid medication absorption, and so thyroid levels should be tested four to six weeks after starting or stopping a high-fiber diet. Ideally, to ensure optimum absorption of thyroid medications, they should be taken first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, about an hour before eating.

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Source: General Dentistry

September 13, 2012 at 11:53 am
(1) Victoria says:

Hi Mary

I take 50mcg levothyroxine as soon as i wake up with water, then pretty much 5mins later I do half a lemon, in hot water ,for its health benefits. I know I shouldnt drink coffee when I take it it… .but now can i have my lemon water or not? .. I sip on that untill im allowed my coffee half hour later

essentially is it ok to take levo and citrus at same time?
thanks Victoria

November 2, 2012 at 8:50 am
(2) Lorri says:

I have the same question about lemon water

March 22, 2013 at 10:23 am
(3) Ornella says:

I thought you are to drink a good size glass of water with thyroid meds not coffee. Is this true?

July 4, 2013 at 1:20 am
(4) Krunal Shukla says:

I read your article “Prescription Drugs can Interact With a Variety of Foods” on about.com. It is very informative. I am currently doing research on Drug-Milk interaction which enhance the efficacy of drug. But I am not able to find out molecule moieties which show increased efficacy by interacting with milk or milk products. Kindly help in this research which will be very helpful for me to find out synergistic action between drug and milk.

February 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm
(5) Lynn says:

Hi I wish to ask if the following medication is effected when eating grapefuirt and taking lemon tablets: Lyrica, Plaquenil, Lexapr, Tramadol, Pandaol Osteo, Panadine forte.
Thank you

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