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When You Take Drugs, Be Careful What Else You Put In Your Mouth

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Three important words when taking medication: Read the label.  Not only for how much to take or when, but also the warnings about what you can eat or drink. Failure to follow that advice can make the drug less effective and cause other physical problems.  

In this edition of KERA's weekly consumer health series Vital Signs, David Adams, an ambulatory clinical staff pharmacist with Parkland Hospital, explained some of the most common food and drug interactions.

From David Adams interview, some common food and drug interactions:

Alcohol: Tylenol and alcohol are both metabolized in your liver. Too much Tylenol, too high doses of Tylenol for too long a time, can be rough on your liver. Just like alcohol can be rough on your liver. You never want to take both of them together.

Grapefruit Juice: Grapefruit and grapefruit juice is metabolized the same way as many medicines are. So if you’re drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit, what could potentially happen is certain medicines could start to build up in your system and that could potentially be dangerous.

Green, leafy vegetables:  With people who are taking blood thinners life Warfarin, Warfarin works by suppressing vitamin-K. Vitamin K is integral in the process of coagulation. Green, leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin K, so you’re working against that process. You want to keep the amount of green, leafy vegetables at a constant. You don’t want to not be eating any at all, and all of sudden you eat whole lot of green, leafy vegetables because that could work against Warfarin.

For more information:

FDA: Avoid Food and Drug Interactions

FDA: Consumer Updates/Avoiding Drug Interactions

NCBI: Food-Drug Interactions

Multi-Drug Interaction Checker

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.