November 30, 2012

When is Grapefruit a Fatal Fruit?


Grapefruit is touted for its magical benefits in weight loss, arthritis relief, cholesterol lowering capabilities, cancer prevention, and the list continues. But in recent years the safety of grapefruit has been questioned for people that are taking some medications, including blood pressure and cholesterol.

With Type 1 diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure medications are added into a treatment protocol for preventative reasons. Often times, with Type 2 diabetes, these drugs are used as preventative or for treatment purposes.

The long-story short is that grapefruit can cause an overdoses of some drugs by stopping the medicines being broken down in the intestines and the liver.

The researchers who first identified the link said the number of drugs that became dangerous with grapefruit was increasing rapidly. The Canadian Medical Association Journal asks the question about grapefruit: Forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences?

Is the question too melodramatic? Maybe. Maybe not. The number of drugs which had serious side effects with grapefruit had gone from 17 in 2008 to 43 in 2012. The number of drugs to treat conditions like blood pressure, cholesterol. and organ transplants has increased.

This is not a new issue. The idea that grapefruit can alter the action of some drugs has been a caution for more than 20 years. In 2006, a study investigating the effect of grapefruit on certain drugs did not find ‘clinically significant’ affects in the blood that would impair the functioning of the drug.

Grapefruit contains potent enzymes. These consumed enzymes can wipe out natural enzymes in the body that are supposed to break-down the drug. This can result in a greater dose of the drug impacting the body. Some of the side effects can include stomach bleeds, altered heart beat, kidney damage and sudden death.

Grapefruit isn’t the only citrus criminal. Seville oranges, often used in marmalade, and limes have the same effect. Pomegranates can be a tricky fruit, as well. We needn’t look only down the fruit aisle to be forewarned. Milk can stop the absorption of some antibiotics if taken at the same time.

If you’re sweating bullets wondering if your next meal will adversely affect your medications – call your local Walgreens and ask to speak with the pharmacist. After all, they are at the corner of happy and healthy. This is where you should be, too.

Visit Your Diabetes Health for more resources about health.