Some Antidepressants Taken With Grapefruit Turn Toxic

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Although the sassy tasting grapefruit is nutritious it does not mix well with many medications.

February is National Grapefruit Month—a celebration of grapefruit’s benefits to our taste buds and health—but eating this fruit may prove toxic to individuals taking certain antidepressants.

This possibility is likely on the drug information sheet that comes with your antidepressant, but many of us do not read these sheets carefully, or we may feel too depressed to concentrate on reading the small print. Our physician or psychiatrist may think to warn us about this potential problem, but we typically do not remember everything our doctors tell us.

Grapefruit’s Effect

What you need to be aware of is that grapefruit and grapefruit juice can alter a drug’s effect, or increase the risk of experiencing medication side effects. This happens because chemicals in grapefruit block an intestinal digestive enzyme that breaks down the drug in our body.

The potency of certain drugs, such as the antidepressant Zoloft, is calibrated to allow for this enzyme’s action. The enzyme reduces the amount of drug available for absorption into the bloodstream. So, if the enzyme is blocked by grapefruit chemicals, too much of the medication is absorbed into our system quickly. The result may be an overdose, or side effects such as dizziness, mood swings, itchy skin, nausea, and feeling agitated.

Simple Solution

The ill-effects of mixing grapefruit with certain meds can occur at any age, but older adults are more vulnerable to these unpleasant consequences. The easiest way to prevent the problem is doing the obvious—not taking the drug with grapefruit products, or switching to a medication that does not interact with this citrus delight.

If you are on an antidepressant and enjoy eating grapefruit or related citrus foods, talk to your pharmacist or doctor about possible toxic interactions. Besides certain antidepressants, some statins, beta blockers, cardiovascular and cholesterol drugs, immunosuppressants, antihistamines, benzodiazepines, and anti-epileptic medications do not mix well with grapefruit.

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