This week, one of the most e-mailed articles on The New York Times Web site was its Well blog, which discussed how grapefruit is responsible for many drug reactions. We’re learning that the chemical constituents within grapefruit affect the bioavailability of many drugs, including some cholesterol, high blood pressure, and anti-cancer drugs—as well as some opiates, birth control pills, and many other medications. In some cases the grapefruit increases the metabolism of the drug, and in other cases it suppresses, meaning that the person taking the drugs is, in essence, under- or over-medicating. This can be a dangerous proposition.
So, too, do we see these types of interactions with natural products. At NCCAM, we’re investing in research to explore the issue of interactions of natural products with drugs and other products people ingest, including grapefruit. We are in the process of developing materials for clinicians and consumers regarding potential interactions so they can make informed decisions… So stay tuned, and we will keep you posted on our progress in this important area.