Grapefruit contains compounds that inhibit an enzyme in your body called cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4). This enzyme is responsible for breaking down many medications.
When CYP3A4 is inhibited by grapefruit, it can lead to slower or incomplete metabolism of medications. This means higher levels of the drug remain in your body.
Higher drug levels can lead to an increased potency or effectiveness of the medication, which can be dangerous, especially if the drug has a narrow therapeutic window.
In some cases, combining grapefruit with certain medications can result in drug levels becoming dangerously high, potentially leading to overdose symptoms.
Elevated drug levels can cause side effects to become more severe or appear even when they wouldn't normally occur at standard doses.
Some medications processed by CYP3A4 may cause liver toxicity if their levels are too high, and grapefruit can contribute to this risk.
Certain medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol, or heart conditions can interact with grapefruit, leading to dangerous cardiovascular effects.
Some drugs that affect the central nervous system, like sedatives or psychiatric medications, can be significantly impacted by grapefruit interaction.
The interaction with grapefruit can persist for up to 24-72 hours after consumption, depending on the specific medication.