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Medication Interactions With Foods

Interactions between medications is an important matter to consider and most of us have learned about those. What, however, do we know about medications and foods we eat? The following may surprise you and in some cases disappoint you, but we do have to pay attention to them. Why buy and take medications if they are neutralized by some of the foods we eat, or even made strong by some of the foods we eat. It's always a good idea to check with your prescribing doctor and maybe your pharmacist to learn if they are aware of any interactions with tood. Note: Don't be surprised if they don't know. See also Top Twenty Spices.

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Medications And How To Take Them

In the U.S., about 50% of medication is taken as it's prescribed. Patients often take less than they need, or leave big gaps between doses. These practices can weaken medication effects. We urge you to understand your treatment plan and follow your doctor's instructions. Medication containers are supposed to list, or show your procedure. For instance, three a day means every 8-hours while two a day means every 12 hours. So, schedule your plan and stick to it for the best results.
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Grapefruit changes the way some of the cells in our bodies move medications throughout our system. Grapefruit generally affectgs more than 50 medications. It can make some, like fexofenadine (Allegra) for allergies, less effective and make other medications too strong, including ones that lower your cholesterol like atorvastatin (Lipitor) and many heart meds including carvedilol and losartan.

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Milk, whether nonfat or whole interacts with many antibiotics making it difficult for your body to process them. Also, if you are taking magnesium tablets along with antibiotics, you may not be getting help from the antibiotics. Magnesium is found in milk along with calcium, the two minerals that can affect your antibiotic meds. Another milk ingredient also affects antibiotics: protein casein. Read the material for your specific antibiotic that comes with them to learn which foods and beverages you'll need to avoid while taking antibiotics.

Licorice is used by some as an herbal remedy to help with digestion, and by others to flavor foods, licorice can even incite rejection of transplants. Licorice contains the chemical glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin can weaken the effect of some medications, including cyclosporine, used to keep people who've had transplants from rejecting their new organs.

Dark chocolate, in any form, can weaken the effects of medications designed to relax you or help you get to sleep, like Ambien. It also is capable of boosting the power of Ritalin. If you take an MAO inhibitor for depression, dark chocolate and increase your blood pressure to dangerous heights. Lighter milk chocolate can also affect the above types of meds, but not as seriously. Cocoa also falls into this category.

Iron Supplement: If you take levothyroxine Synthroid)and a multivitamin, check to see if the vitamin has iron in it. Iron can lower the effects of this medication. Lefothyroxin is a medication that gives you thyroid hormone when your body doesn't make enough. This is known as hypothyroidism. If you do need an iron supplement, consult with your doctor about when to take your meds. It is possible to spread them far enough apart for both to do their job properly. For food source for iron visit: Food Values Page Also, High iron foods include sunflower seeds, nuts, beef, lamb, clams, liver, beans, whole grains, dark leafy greens (spinach), dark chocolate, and tofu.

Alcohol: A challenge for some who take medications, especially heart medications. Alcohol renders some drugs less effective to the point of being useless and with others it can cause blood pressure changes. Still with other meds it can make them stronger than you want producing dangerous side effects. Read the labels on your meds. If an alcohol warning is there, don't consume alcohol during the period you take that medication.

Coffee:  Caffeine in coffee can make it harder for your body to accept and use iron, which we need. It can also weaken antipsychotic drugs like lithium and clozapine. Like some of the other foods mentioned before, it can also boost the effects and side effects of other medication including aspirin, epinephrine (allergy medication) and albuterol (inhaler med for breathing problems).

Antihistamines: Some antihistamines can make medication for high blood pressure less effective and raise your heart rate. Talk to your doctor about other ways to manage your allergies if you take blood pressure medicine. Look into Allegra or Costco's Aller Fex.

Anti-Epileptic Drugs (AED)L s AEDs control epilepsy seizures. However, AEDs can neutralize birth control pills making them less able to prevent pregnancy. Somoe research has shown that they may make other drugs stronger and cause potentially serious side effects. Alcohol can affect AEDs and can also trigger seizures for some people (particularly during a hangover). These reactions can depend upon the AED, how much the person drinks and how they react to it.

Ginseng: Equally as threatening to Warfarin takers, Ginseng can lower the effects of warfarin, thereby affecting your potential for blood clotting. With Ginseng internal bleeding can be caused if you are taking Warfarin, Heparin, Aspirin or any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, the blood thinners heparin or aspirin, or naproxen. If you take MAO inhibitors, ginseng can cause headaches, sleep problems, hyperactivity, and nervousness.

St. John's Wort: Considered an herb, this one is not as good as it seems to be via media and advertising efforts. Used sometimes by patients with depression this herbal supplement is not proven treatment for depression or any other health condition. You liver will release enzymes that may weaken some of your other medications including Altoprev and Mevacor, Sildenfall (Viagara) and digoxin (Lanoxin) used to treat certain heart conditions.
From Australia we recently learned this: A new Australian study highlights the fact that "natural" does not always equal "safe." Using reports filed with Australia's drug safety agency, the researchers found that adverse reactions to St. John's wort were similar to those reported for the antidepressant fluoxetine -- better known by the brand name Prozac. Those side effects included anxiety, panic attacks, dizziness, nausea and spikes in blood pressure, the researchers reported in the July issue of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology.

Ginkgo Biloba: is used by some to help with or prevent high blood pressure, dementia, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and other conditions, however, no research exists that shows it does any of that. What we do know is that it can weaken the effect of drugs used to control seizures, including carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, and Tegretol), and valproic acid (Depakene, Depakote, and Stavzor).

Migraines: What causes them? The most common food culprits out there contain tyramine or phenylethylamine, two amino acids found in chocolate, aged or fermented cheese (including cheddar, blue, Brie, and all hard and “moldy” cheeses), soy foods, nuts, citrus fruits, and vinegar (both red and cider.

Vitamin K & Warfarin Interactions: Here's one we pay attention to all the time. Warfarin/Coumadin are affected negatively by vitamin K. If you take warfarin, which is used to treat and prevent blood clots, be aware of how much vitamin K you take in. It can make the blood thinner less effective and put you at higher risk of a dangerous blood clot. Deep green leafy vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale, parsley, and spinach are some of the most common foods high in vitamin K. Brocolli also fits into this category. Try to eat the same amount of these foods every day so the level of warfarin in your blood stays the same

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