A Dangerous Cocktail: Grapefruit & Medication

So, I am sort of on a end of school kick right now. I finished my last final on Friday, which was in Pharmacology. In fact, it was my last undergraduate final, ever. Before basking in an ever glorious, extended “spring break” and temporarily forgetting everything I have studied so hard to know, I wanted to share a quick blurb that may be useful for people who take medication, whether it be over the counter or prescription.

Context. Early in the term in Pharmacology class, my professor told us a story that when she was sick in college, she decided to take some cold medicine. Also, for some odd reason, she had a huge craving for grapefruit juice. She felt even worse in a few hours despite her efforts and eventually concluded it was the grapefruit juice to blame!


But, why you ask? Grapefruit juice is commonly put in the warning labels as “food to avoid” for many medications. The citrus fruit actually inhibits a very important enzyme in your liver, Cytochrome P450 (CYP 450).


Figure. Cytochrome p450 oxidase structure from Wiki

CYP 450 is primarily responsible for “first pass metabolism,” breaking down  substances that enter your body orally. This, of course, includes medicine that you consume.  By stopping this metabolizing enzyme from working, you decrease your body’s ability to biotransform the medicine from an active substance into an inactive one. While this may initially sound ideal to blast the sick away with higher concentrations of meds, this is not the case! You are putting yourself at risk for toxic levels of this medicine in your blood stream, which can have dangerous and even deadly implications.

Lesson of the day? Make sure to read your drug inserts before consuming your medicine! It may seem tedious and unnecessary, but the information on there is important and there for a reason!



Edit: I don’t usually talk about my grades, but just found out from my prof I got a 99% on the Pharm final! Totally makes up for my dumbass failing the first half of the term. Hooray ;__;!


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