The Norman Transcript


September 4, 2013

Concerns about food and drug interactions with medications

NORMAN — Q: My elderly mother takes multiple medications for her many disease states. Recently, I overheard that there are many food/drug interactions. Should I be concerned?


A: For the most part, no. However there are a few common drug/nutrient interactions everyone should be aware of.

Grapefruit is the most commonly researched food that has been found to interact negatively with multiple medications. All in all, about 85 different medications have been shown to react with grapefruit. Statins, blood pressure medication and anti-clotting agents are among those drugs that have been found to have the most life-threatening interactions. Grapefruit contains an enzyme that prohibits our body from regulating the amount of drug in our systems which can lead to substantially more of the drug in our blood stream than recommended. This risk increases for those over the age of 70 as the body’s ability to regulate high concentrations of drugs decline with age. In addition to Statins, grapefruit it also commonly known to interact with zoloft, buspar, cyclosporine, allegra, plavix and certain immunosuppressants.

Vitamin K rich foods — People taking coumadin (warfarin) need to be aware that foods high in vitamin K may reduce the effect of their anticoagulant. It’s most important to consume a normal, balanced diet with steady amount of leafy, green vegetables in order to avoid these negative side affects. Consult your doctor before making radical dietary changes while on coumadin to get your blood levels tested.

Caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc) — Just be aware that caffeine can increase the side effects of certain medications such as bronchodilators and antipsychotics (clozapine).

Potassium — Foods that are high in potassium when combined with ACE inhibitors may boost potassium levels too high which can have adverse side effects.

Black licorice — The sweetening compound used in black licorice (glycyrrhizin) can cause irregular heart beat when combined with lanoxin (Digoxin). It also may reduce the effect of other blood pressure medications.

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