Some Foods and Drugs Don’t Mix

While most of us are aware of the problems that occur when mixing prescription drugs with grapefruit juice, many don't know that there are a number of potential food and drug reactions.

Green tea and chocolate, for example, provide a number of health benefits, yet combining them with specific drugs can be pretty unhealthy.

The danger of combining alcoholic drinks with drugs such as narcotic pain relievers is more obvious. Less obvious are other combinations, including those with allergy, cold and flu medications, heart drugs, sleep medications and more.

Below, we’ll touch on the “less obvious” food and drug interactions that you should be aware of.

Potassium and Drug Interactions

Fruits such as bananas and oranges, as well as leafy green vegetables, are rich in potassium. Yet these healthy foods must be limited by people taking ACE inhibitors (which reduce the excretion of potassium by the kidneys) or potassium-sparing diuretics.

Avoiding potassium helps to prevent dangerously high levels of the mineral.

Pepper and Drug Interactions

While black or white pepper enhances the flavor of food, this spice can also enhance the absorption of a number of drugs, increasing the risk of side effects.

Tea and Drug Interactions

The dangers of excessive iron intake have been known for decades, yet there are still some individuals that suffer from low iron.

Since green tea is helpful in reducing iron absorption, people being treated for iron deficiency should avoid drinking tea until their problem has resolved. Some medicines, such as bronchodilators, are not recommended to be taken along with tea, since the caffeine can intensify their side effects.

Chocolate and Drug Interactions

Chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine as well as tyramine, a compound that should be avoided by individuals taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, a class of anti-depressant drugs. Fortunately, chocolate is generally consumed in small enough quantities to avoid the elevation in blood pressure that can occur when tyramine is given along with MAO inhibitors.

Aged meats, pork, fermented foods including most cheeses, soy sauce and even some fruits and vegetables contain higher amounts of tyramine and should be limited by MAO inhibitor users.

Dairy and Drug Interactions

Ciproflaxin is an antibiotic drug used to treat infections. To obtain optimal effects, "Cipro" should not be consumed with milk, yogurt or other dairy products.

Another antibiotic, tetracycline can result in an upset stomach if taken with dairy products, but it can be taken at least one to two hours apart.

Grapefruit and Drug Interactions

Grapefruit interferes with the enzymes that break down (metabolize) statins, a group of cholesterol-lowering drugs. This in turn, can increase the risk of side effects. However, the effect only occurs with the drugs Lipitor, Zocor and Mevacor, and not with Pravachol, Crestor, Lescol or Livalo.

If you are using statins and love grapefruit, ask your doctor about one of the latter four options.

Ask your Pharmacist!

Remember, foods can increase or decrease the potency of a drug, or have no effect at all. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist if any drug that you are prescribed has the potential to interact with the foods in your diet.

Here's the bottom line: It's really important to know what to avoid eating if you want to optimize the effects from any prescription drug. Do your homework!


Anonymous said...

I saw a doctor in Austin Texas once that told me to use Bayberry. What he said was that first, women need more bitters and Bayberry is a bitter. I had gone in for stomach issues and he said that I had a blockage. He explained that usually a mucus plug developes where you are having problems and to drink a few drops (I use one full dropper) of Bayberry (I found it from Pharm) and it would help to removed the blockage. We discussed my young son's lung history and he told me to use it when my son had an upper respiratory. I did once when he had a fever while on vacation. We were to fly home the next day and I was concerned about the congestion in his ears. Within one hour after he drank the tea mad from water and Bayberry, his fever broke and he felt well. He has a lung disease and I did this right after I found his fever. He went right through the virus in a few hours and he was fine the next day. I have recommended it for many friends and myself and I tell you, it works.

Heather said...

Thank you for this important information! Many people do not realize that foods, too, can interact with drugs. This can be especially frustrating and potentially dangerous for individuals trying to eat a ‘healthier’ diet. Many of the problematic foods in this respect are otherwise quite good for you: greens, green tea, black pepper, etc. If someone is increasing his or her consumption of these products in order to lose weight, the risk increases. So, knowledge in this area is important! That said, I just wanted to add that grapefruit interacts with other products besides the name listed, such as alprazolam.

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