Grapefruit was my father’s favorite breakfast fruit. I loved oranges, and when I was quite young, grapefruits seem to me like very large oranges that were eaten with a special spoon, so of course I wanted some of Daddy’s big orange! Well, the first taste of that sour fruit changed my mind very quickly, and I never had an inclination to try it again. Until recently,that is. I saw a cents-off coupon for Ruby Red grapefruit snack cups and for some reason it appealed to the grown-up me. I made the purchase, stowed it in the refrigerator, and promptly forgot about it. A week later I had a craving for citrus, remembered the snack packs, and thought it would be a perfect time to try it. That first bite made my whole face pucker, yet there was something I really liked about the tart taste. By the time I was spooning out the last piece of fruit, I could taste just a hint of sweetness, and I was hooked. The little cup of grapefruit would make an excellent low calorie snack…until a vague warning started to burrow it’s way into my mind. Something about not taking a certain medication with this fruit. I thought it might be an antibiotic but decided to do an online search, especially since I now had to take six maintenance drugs daily for various health issues. What I found out worried and confused me.
Some sites warned I could kill myself by taking some of my medications if I also ingested grapefruit in any form; there were so many new drugs being produced that there was no way to know which ones would be adversely affected by grapefruit. Others explained how it would cause the drugs to build up until I overdosed on them, and some strongly advised not combining them because doing so would make my medicine less effective. I visited at least a dozen so-called “medical information” and “Physician Answers” type pages until I was beyond confused. I realized that if I want to get some true information I needed to contact a real medical expert, my own PCP. This is what she told me: ” A lot of drugs are metabolized by the same pathway through the liver as grapefruit. If you take them at the same time, they compete with the grapefruit for metabolism, and you end up with either too much or not enough of the drug in your system. You can still eat grapefruit; just be sure it is not at the same time as you take your medication. Give it a two hour window on either side.” I would certainly take her advice over an online “medical” web site, and I’m glad I took the time to contact her and put my mind at ease. This experience made me wonder how many other people have medical questions or concerns regarding health issues and don’t feel it’s important enough to ask their doctor about them, or are afraid of “bothering” them without having an appointment. Instead, they seek answers online because it’s quick and easy, wrongly trusting sites that include the headlines “Health”, Physician”, “M.D. Advice”, etc. If you need medical answers, ask the person who actually knows you, what your health issues are, and who prescribes your medications. Your physician will appreciate your awareness of a potential problem and your willingness to seek advice. Don’t put your trust, your health, and perhaps your very life in the hands of an anonymous online stranger .