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Many a time you should have experienced the problem of your medicines not working properly or producing some side effects and wondered what exactly happened. This may be due to the combination of medicines not working together or it may be due to your eating and drinking. It is always advisable to talk with your doctor regarding the medicines you are already taking or your daily food habits, so that you can avoid a situation where the medicines do not work.

Here are a few things that can affect your medications.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like grapefruit can change the way certain cells in the gut receive the medication and how it moves through the body. More than 50 kinds of drugs get affected by citrus fruits. Medicines like fexofenadine (Allegra) for allergies become less effective and certain other medicines can become more potent, including the medicine to lower the cholesterol (Lipitor).


The dairy products can make it harder for the body to process any antibiotic. Minerals in milk like calcium and magnesium along with the protein casein is the reason. If someone is taking antibiotics, then check out the foods and beverages they should stay away from.


There are many people who use licorice as an herbal remedy for digestion. Others use it to flavour foods. Actually a chemical in licorice called glycyrrhizin weakens the effect of medicines including cyclosporine, which is used by transplant patients to prevent their body from rejecting the new organ.


The effects of certain drugs like zolpidem tartrate (Ambien) used to calm down patients and make them sleep can be weakened by chocolate. It also has the potential to boost the power of certain other stimulant drugs, like methylphenidate (Ritalin) and if the patient is using a MAO inhibitor, to treat depression, then chocolates raise the blood pressure dangerously high.

Iron Supplement

Iron supplements can lower the effects of levothyroxine, a medicine used to enhance thyroid hormone when the body is unable to produce enough (hypothyroidism). This medicine along with a dose of multivitamin, always check whether the vitamin has iron in it.


To some extend we are all aware that alcohol is never good with your medication. Alcohol makes certain drugs less effective and even useless. They affect antihypertensives and cardiac drugs. It can also make some drugs stronger than they should be.


Coffee takes its toll on antipsychotic drugs like lithium and clozapine. It can also stimulate extra effects for some other drugs. Medicines like aspirin, epinephrine and albuterol which help in breathing problems. Coffee can also make it harder for the body to absorb and use iron.


Antihistamines are medicines themselves, which is used to control sneezing and runny nose. But they make drugs for high blood pressure less effective and also raise the heart rate.

Taking Medicines

The best way to take a course of medicines is to ‘Do as directed’ by the physician. We often tend to take fewer medicines than necessary, take it at random time and leave unauthorized gaps between doses; all this will ultimately weaken its effects. Understand the treatment plan and proceed according to your doctor’s advice.

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