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Grapefruit and medication interaction

A property that some foods possess that enables them to provide medicinal benefits is known as nutraceutical. One of the most widely known of these nutraceuticals is grapefruit juice, which can directly or indirectly interact with various medications in a number of important ways. This grapefruit and medication interaction is possible due to some of the compounds contained in the fruit.

The important of grapefruits in medicine

While it is often remarked that breakfast is the most important meal, in that it fills you with the vitamins and energy you need to face the day, this is especially true with grapefruits. For instance, it is estimated that around 20% of all Americans take grapefruit juice for breakfast – coinciding with the time of day when medication is taken.

The scientific basis for the grapefruit and medication interaction was discoveredby scientists about a decade ago, quite by accident. The research being undertaken was actually looking into the drug-food interaction of alcohol, with grapefruit juice being used to mask the taste of alcohol during the study. What was eventually discovered was that grapefruit juice blocked special enzymes in the small intestine wall; enzymes that destroyed many medications, thus preventing them being absorbed into the body.

Further research has demonstrated that there are compounds within grapefruit juice, called furanocoumarins, that might be responsible for these unique properties. It was found that one glass of grapefruit juice could block the enzyme activity for longer than 24 hours. This duration meant that the grapefruit juice did not even have to be taken at the same time as the medication in order to promote the positive medicinal affect.

Taking care with grapefruit juice and medication

While the health benefits are remarkable, medical professionals recommend that caution should always be taken regarding grapefruit and medication interaction. Grapefruit juice, products and indeed juice from other citrus fruits can sometimes interfere with prescription medications. This is not an aspect to be treated lightly as there are some potentially dangerous health issues associated. The best advice is to seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist.

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