Ask The Pharmacist: Why Can’t I Take Pills With My Orange Juice?

prescription bottle of pills

( — You know that you should always follow the directions and warnings on your prescription labels, unless advised otherwise by your doctor — but sometimes, those messages don’t make a whole lot of sense!

Q: Why does my medication say that I can’t take it with orange juice?

A: There are some drugs on the market that come with a warning that states the patient should not take the medication if they also consume orange or other citrus juices (grapefruit, lemon, etc) because of the possibility of potentially dangerous interactions. These warning can be found on a variety of medications that are used for different purposes, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and mental health medications.

Typically, when a medication is taken by mouth, proteins in the body called enzymes break down the medication in the digestive tract so it can be absorbed by the body. Citrus juices, regardless of when they are taken, can interfere with how the enzymes work, and can lead on increased levels of the medication in the body. Higher drug levels can lead to increased side effects, some of which can be very serious.

Therefore, as with all medication, it’s very important to read all of the information that comes with your medications, and speak to your physician or pharmacist about your questions and report any side effects that you may experience.

By Dr. Crystal Riley, BDO Pharmacy Expert

A graduate of the Howard University School of Pharmacy, Dr. Crystal A. Riley has spent the majority of her career involved in drug information services for not only healthcare organizations and practitioners, but for patients as well. While her career has shifted towards researching healthcare policy and quality standards, Dr. Riley still actively seeks opportunities to keep patients informed and aware of medication-related issues to help improve their overall quality of life.