Mixing grapefruit with medicines: some surprising interactions
A review published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last month highlights that more than 85 medicines may interact with grapefruit to cause side effects — some of which may be serious.
While it’s been known for some time that the humble grapefruit can interact with medicines, the review points to a rising number of medicines that may interact with grapefruit to potentially cause serious side effects — up from 17 to 43 in recent years.
Clinical adviser at NPS MedicineWise Dr Andrew Boyden says that interactions can happen when medicines mix with certain foods or drink — and grapefruit is one example.
“Grapefruit juice interacts with several common medicines, making them work too strongly or causing side effects,” says Dr Boyden.
“Being medicinewise when it comes to grapefruit interactions is particularly important because of the large and varied list of medicines that could interact.”
“The list includes some commonly prescribed medications including some statins (cholesterol-lowering medicines), some types of medicines for heart conditions and high blood pressure as well as medicines that people may be taking only for a short period of time such as some antimalarial medicines, antibiotics and cough and cold medicines.”
An indicative list of the affected medicines is available on the NPS website.
People taking these medicines are advised not to eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice at all, because even one glass of juice can have an effect. Interactions can occur even when the grapefruit or juice is eaten or drunk at a different time to taking the medicine.
Dr Boyden says that people taking medicines who want to consume grapefruit are encouraged to talk with their doctor or pharmacist or call the NPS Medicines Line.
Over-the-counter and complementary medicines (such as herbs and nutritional supplements) might also interact with grapefruit juice, not just prescription medicines.
For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) . Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays). Calls are answered by healthdirect Australia
The NPS MedicineWise information on mixing grapefruit with medicines is available now.
Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.