Which Medications Interact With Grapefruit Juice?

While grapefruit juice is rich in nutrients, it may cause interactions with some medications. In the early 1990s, a research team in Canada discovered a dangerous interaction between grapefruit juice and heart medication Plendil (felodipine).

Grapefruit juice next to a cut open grapefruit
Westend61 / Getty Images

Since then, doctors and pharmacists have learned that more than 85 prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs are affected by grapefruit juice, including some of the most commonly prescribed medications. This list includes a number of medications used to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, pain, erectile dysfunction, and allergies.

How Grapefruit Juice Effects Medications

The cells that line your small intestine contain an enzyme called CYP3A4. This enzyme helps break down dozens of medications. Certain substances in grapefruit juice inhibit CYP3A4 and hence allow more of a medication to enter your bloodstream.

Having too much medicine in your blood could result in serious side effects or a drug overdose. For example, if you take a statin (such as Lipitor) to help lower cholesterol, having too much of it in your body could increase your risk for a serious muscle disorder or liver damage.

Medications With Interactions

Most medications do not interact with grapefruit juice. However, grapefruit juice does have an effect on more than 50 drugs, including some medications for the treatment of:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma and COPD
  • Blood clots
  • BPH (enlarged prostate)
  • Cancer
  • Cough
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Hormonal conditions
  • Infection-viral, bacterial and fungal
  • Pain

How to Know If Grapefruit Juice Is Safe for You

Grapefruit juice does not affect all of the medications used to treat the conditions listed above. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist to find out about your specific drug.

All new medications are tested for drug interactions, including grapefruit juice before they are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When you order medications in the mail or pick them up at your local pharmacy, you should receive a patient information sheet, which will let you know if your drug is affected by grapefruit juice. Some pharmacies may also put a warning label on your medication bottle. If you are not sure, ask the pharmacist.​

What Can Happen If You Continue to Drink Grapefruit Juice

Your risk of serious side effects depends on how much grapefruit juice you drink, your age, and the type and dose of your medications. Additionally, the amount of the CYP3A4 enzyme in the intestine varies from person to person.

Older adults who drink a lot of grapefruit juice are more likely to have medication side effects. And, certain classes of drugs, such as the statins (used to treat high cholesterol) and calcium-channel blockers (used to treat high blood pressure) are more likely to produce severe side effects when taken with grapefruit juice.

Do Oranges and Other Citrus Fruits Interact With Drugs?

Oranges, lemons, and limes are less likely to interact with medications. However, tangelos, related to the grapefruit, and Seville oranges affect the same enzyme as grapefruit juice. Seville oranges are often used to make orange marmalade, so be mindful when selecting this spread for your toast.

How to Avoid Problems

  • Before starting a new medication, talk to your healthcare provider and pharmacist about potential drug interactions.
  • Carefully read the patient information sheet given to you at the pharmacy. If you do not receive one, then ask for it.
  • Check the warning labels on your medication bottle before leaving the pharmacy. If grapefruit juice is not mentioned, ask the pharmacist if you can safely drink it.
  • Make a list of all your medications, including prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs. Review the list with your healthcare providers and pharmacist to look for possible drug interactions.

If there is a chance that grapefruit juice will interact with your medication, you may want to start your morning with a glass of orange juice or cranberry juice instead.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bailey DG, Malcolm J, Arnold O, David Spence J. Grapefruit juice–drug interactionsBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1998;46(2):101-110. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2125.1998.00764.x

  2. Bailey D, Dresser G, Arnold J. Grapefruit-medication interactions: Forbidden fruit or avoidable consequencesCan Med Assoc J. 2012;185(4):309-316. doi:10.1503/cmaj.120951

  3. Food and Drug Administration. Grapefruit and Some Drugs Don't Mix.

  4. National Health Service. Statins.

  5. Monroe KR, Stanczyk FZ, Besinque KH, Pike MC. The effect of grapefruit intake on endogenous serum estrogen levels in postmenopausal womenNutr Cancer. 2013;65(5):644-652. doi:10.1080/01635581.2013.795982

  6. National Health Service. Does Grapefruit affect my Medication?

  7. Bailey DG, Dresser G, Arnold JMO. Grapefruit–medication interactions: Forbidden fruit or avoidable consequencesCMAJ. 2013;185(4):309-316. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2125.1998.00764.x

By Michael Bihari, MD
Michael Bihari, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician, health educator, and medical writer, and president emeritus of the Community Health Center of Cape Cod.