Grapefruit … a Powerful Pharmaceutical?

December 23, 2007 09:29 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A humble citrus offers a way to boost the blood levels of a raft of medications—a possible boon for some patients, while a risk factor for the unwary.

30-Second Summary

A recent Wall Street Journal article reports on research involving grapefruit juice and an enzyme, CYP3A4, which occurs naturally in the gut and breaks down certain drugs before they are absorbed by the body.

Grapefruit juice can get rid of that enzyme. As a consequence, a little fruit juice can help more of a medication enter the bloodstream. And that, claims some researchers in Chicago, could lead to lower drug doses and lower medication costs.

There are, however, reasons why the booster effects of grapefruit should be utilized with caution: everyone’s body has a different level of CYP3A4.

A glass of grapefruit juice could raise the effective levels of a medication by 20 percent in one person’s body, and by 100 percent or more in another’s.

Since some medications can be toxic at very high levels, patients must stick to the dose prescribed their doctor. Drugs that interact with grapefruit juice often carry a warning to that effect.

Headline Links: ‘Grapefruit effect of drug levels has a sweeter side’

Reference Material: Research, the drug industry and the Florida Department of Citrus


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