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Apr 4, 2003 05:14 PM

Pomelo = grapefruit?

  • p

I know they are different. I love the pomelo (pommelo) but I am taking a drug that won't allow me to eat grapefruit at the same time. Does Pomelo have similar chemicals that interacts with my system the same way as a grapefruit?

Don't tell me to ask my doctor. Doctors have no idea what a pomelo is.

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  1. The grapefruit is descended from Pomelo and (possibly) Citron. So if you have allergies to grapefruit you should probably stay away from Pomelo.

    1 Reply
    1. re: the rogue


      But thanks anyway.

    2. Hi- this is a great question. In all my years as a pharmacist and drug metabolism scientist (no kidding), this question has never come up. I would agree with the previous poster-- avoid the pommelo, but other citrus fruits (oranges and lemons etc.) are okay.

      And for the other science geeks out there, the offending compound is called bergamottin, and is concentrated mostly in the skin of the grapefruit, but some is contained in the juice as well (higher levels are found in commercially "pressed" juices than in home squeezed juice). The drug interaction occurs because the bergamottin inhibits an enzyme in the intestines that metabolizes CERTAIN drugs and more drug can enter the body in a person that consumes grapefruit juice. This can result in higher than expected levels of medication in the body. The enzyme inhibition can last a while, so the interaction persists even if the medication is taken several hours after the grapefruit juice. And there you have it...

      12 Replies
      1. re: catie

        Since the offending chemical is bergamottin, does this mean that people taking Zocor and related statins should also avoid Earl Grey tea, which gets its unique flavor from oil of bergamot, I believe.

        1. re: Kirk

          Is that why they call it Pommie tea?

          1. re: Lester

            There's no data out on a possible drug interaction with Earl Grey tea. I'd always heard that a bergamot was closer to a lime than a grapefruit, so my totally non-scientific guess is that it's probably okay. Also, there's not all that much oil of bergamot in a pot of tea, as compared to a big tumbler full of grapefruit juice.

            And as to that "Pommie tea"... not sure if that was a joke, but there's a far more tongue-in-cheek reason why it's called "POMmie tea"..

        2. re: catie

          Re the grapefruit juice effect on certain drugs: are you talking about those for hypertension? If so, does this apply both to calcium channel blockers (my husband takes verapamil) or beta blockers (I take Inderal)?

          We both love grapefruit juice but don't want to screw up our medications. THANKS! D.

          1. re: Donna - MI

            Your drug label will tell you very clearly if grapefruit juice is to be avoided.

            1. re: Donna - MI

              I know for certain that you should NOT drink grapefruit juice with Verapamil.


            2. re: catie

              thank you for this wonderful advice. I was wondering also as I am taking cholesterol pills and it says no grapefruit..Thank you so much.. but I did love grapefruit and pomelo.. so very much

              Oh well.. but thanks so much... I really appreciate your knowledge.
              Thank you.. thank you

              1. re: prettyandkind

                I am NOT a scientist or science-inclined, but just FYI, a CH recently told me about Perrier being available in a 12 pack of cans- Grapefruit flavor. Ingredients list carbonated mineral water and natural flavors. Nutrition label lists 0% for everything except calcium.made in france.hard to find!

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Hello againa nd thank you...I am not one for soda and carbonated beverages... not even champagne..LOL
                  but thank you . I just like fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and can no longer drink it.. darn..
                  You are a chef.. That sounds so interesting.. i love to cook...
                  Have a great day.

              2. re: catie

                Very interesting. I always assumed it actually reduced the effectiveness of the medication - not that it would actually cause more drug to enter the system. That is kind of a cool interaction effect from a biology perspective.

                1. re: thimes

                  I guess so...but then again. no one likes to take their meds..let alone too much of them.. LOL

                  1. re: thimes

                    Increasing the effective dose of a statin may be no big deal for somebody who is taking a quarter of the maximum dose except for a slight increase in the risk of side effects.

                    Blood pressure drugs such as many calcium channel blockers are another story as doubling or tripling the effective dose can lower blood pressure to a dangerous degree with a real risk of falls or blacking out.

                    Seville or bitter oranges also have the enzyme. This does not stop me from using a teaspoon or so of orange marmalade on toast. However, making orangeade from bitter oranges would not be a good idea even though using that juice much as lemon juice in making lemonade can taste really good.