It may seem like a rather benign citrus fruit, but grapefruits can kill and we're talking about more than just juice in your eye.
Grapefruits are a delicious, juicy, sweet citrus fruit packed with vitamins and fiber. But, if you’re on certain types of medications, grapefruit is not your friend. In fact, it could be an enemy.
In this TikTok by angelapharmd, she explains the dangers of grapefruit and prescription drug interactions.
When you're on a bunch of different medications, consuming grapefruit juice can block an essential enzyme, CYP3A4, in the intestine. This prevents many drugs from getting properly metabolized by the body, which causes some drugs to leave the body too quickly, while causing others to stick around too long.
If the medication passes through the body too quickly, it is ineffective. If too much of the medication is metabolized with a statin, for example, this could lead to liver and muscle damage, and eventually, kidney failure.
The interaction between medication and grapefruit could have devastating effects on drugs for cholesterol, high blood pressure, anti-anxiety, heart rhythm and even antihistamines, so definitely talk to your doctor and double-check to see if you need to be cautious around grapefruit.
Scientists aren’t sure what it is about grapefruit that messes with the enzyme, but furanocoumarin is the suspected culprit, which is a class of organic chemical compounds produced by certain plants.
The effect of grapefruit varies from person to person, since the amount of CYP3A4 in their body varies, as does the amount of juice it takes to affect the medication. Usually, pharmacists caution drinking a whole glass of juice, but some medications are so affected that even a bit of grapefruit oil may be a problem.
If your medication interacts with grapefruit, avoid eating grapefruits or drinking grapefruit juice, but depending on your medication, you may also need to be wary of “citrus-flavored” sodas, many of which contain a blend of fruit, including grapefruit.
Also, a few other citrus fruits may block the CYP3A4 enzyme, including Seville oranges (used in marmalade), pomelos and tangelos, so these fruits should likely be avoided as well.
If you are a big grapefruit fan, the good news is that your doctor may be able to prescribe alternatives that do not react poorly to grapefruit. If you don't like grapefruit, you now have a valid excuse to avoid them. Just be sure you're getting your vitamin C from approved sources, like oranges or vitamin supplements, because scurvy can kill you, too.
TL; DR: Grapefruits can interact with certain prescription medications, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist and make sure you're in the clear before digging in.