Grapefruit interactions merit public's attention

People's Pharmacy

April 16, 1996|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Patients have come into my office waving your column about the dangers of grapefruit and drugs like Plendil, Procardia and Hismanal. Where does this come from? I can't find this research anywhere. Is this interaction clinically important?

One review for physicians was published in the Medical Letter (Aug. 18, 1995). The interaction is very important although it is not mentioned in standard drug references. Certain drug levels can be increased up to 1,000 percent. We heard of a case in which a young man died from cardiac arrest after taking Seldane with grapefruit juice.

We are sending you our "Guide to Grapefruit Interactions," which summarizes this research and lists other drugs that may be dangerous with grapefruit. Anyone who would like a copy plus our "Guide to Drug and Food Interactions," please send $2 with a long (No. 10) stamped, self-addressed envelope to Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. JJ-33, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

My son is becoming fearful about taking his Ritalin at school. Some of his classmates are pressuring him to share so they can find out what all the fuss is about.

When we told him that this would be against the law and he could go to jail, he started to cry. Now I feel awful.

Our pediatrician insists this drug is safe. If it's so safe, why do kids get into so much trouble if they give a friend a pill?

The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Ritalin (methylphenidate) as a Schedule II drug because it is in the same category as amphetamines.

We're afraid people aren't thinking rationally about Ritalin. We have heard of prosecutors dealing harshly with youngsters who sell or share their pills, yet the drug is considered so safe it is frequently requested for young children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Although this stimulant drug can help some kids focus, it should be integrated with classroom structure and behavioral reinforcement.

Your son must not share his Ritalin, but it can be safe under careful medical supervision.

What you describe is classic pica -- the urge to eat something that isn't food (ice, dirt, laundry starch). Although there is a lot we don't know about this condition, iron deficiency is often behind these strange cravings. We're delighted that you were tested and that the treatment has solved the problem.

I thought the limit had been reached in this nonsense with the gin-soaked raisins when you printed letters claiming benefits not only for arthritis, but for getting rid of skin tags. I was wrong.

Now I read that this miracle cure is destroying dog tumors that previously had to be removed surgically! You are surely not so naive that you don't see that someone is just pulling your leg. It is a huge joke. I can't wait to read a letter from a couple hailing the raisins as a fertility drug. Can you give me one good reason why you continue to support this idiocy?

We agree that the raisin remedy is humorous. That's why we first printed it in our column a few years back. But we have received so many letters from people who claim relief that we aren't laughing any more.

There is no scientific evidence that raisins soaked in gin relieve arthritis, banish skin tags or reduce doggy skin growths. On the other hand, the people who contact us seem very sincere.

In the absence of proof that this remedy is bogus, we will continue to share people's stories. If the benefits they are reporting are due to a placebo effect, so be it. At least the raisin remedy seems cheaper, tastier and safer than many arthritis medicines.

Anyone who would like the recipe for gin-soaked raisins and other old favorites may order our "Guide to Home Remedies." Please send $2 with a long (No. 10) stamped, self-addressed envelope to Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. R-86, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

When it comes to skin tags or growths, whether human or canine, the raisin remedy is no substitute for proper diagnosis.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail to

Pub Date: 4/16/96

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