Field of Science

Solution to grapefruit medication problem

Last Saturday our dinner group planning committee decided to include a salad recipe that featured chunks of grapefruit pulp. One of our super worry worts said, “Don’t grapefruit interact badly with some types of medication?” “Yes, but is anyone in our group taking such meds?” WW did not know, but why take chances? What chances are those?  If people are taking meds affected by grapefruit, surely they should know it and be wise enough to avoid eating it. In case you did not know, grapefruit contain furanocoumarins, which can increase the effective dosage of some blood pressure and heart meds, which means a safe dose can become a dangerous dose. This is not a good thing, but so far it has not appeared in any murder mysteries.  Since we did not have our groups list of meds currently being taken, and given the average age, it might be pretty long, avoiding grapefruit completely did not seem necessary. 

Later in a store, the Phactor noticed pummelo and wondered if they too were a problem. Pummelo are bigger, milder, sweeter than grapefruit, and they are one of the parents, the other being oranges, of grapefruit, a hybrid fruit that happened after pummelo were transported to the Caribbean. The answer is that pummelo contain relatively little if any furanocoumarins, and thus the less bitter taste. Fred Gmitter, a citrus geneticist at the University of Florida, says they have back-crossed grapefruit to pummelo and bred a new grapefruit with very, very low to no furanocumarins. So far, these have not appeared in markets, but pummelo are making regular appearances. And as a bonus, the new hybrid grapefruit are seedless!  

1 comment:

Eric said...

After proudly not ever having prescriptions my whole life, I recently started simvastatin , and now a perfectly good bottle of grapefruit juice sits there mocking me. Bring on the pummelo backcross!