Can you take lower doses of your prescription medications?

It has been known for decades that certain natural compounds in foods can interfere with the effectiveness of prescription drugs. Certain compounds can facilitate the absorption of various drugs in the intestines, effect their metabolism by the liver, and/or their elimination in the urine. These effects can lead to higher levels in the blood and the need for lower doses.

Of course, this phenomenon can be dangerous if your doctor is not aware of it and does not adjust accordingly.

But the flip side is that you may be able to take lower doses of toxic drugs and still get the same results.

One important food that has this property is grapefruit. We know that grapefruit increases levels of certain antibiotics in the blood. And it has now been shown to be able to reduce the required dose of a toxic cancer drug by three times.

The potent drug Sirolimus was approved for use by organ transplant patients, but it’s also used by oncologists as an anti-cancer drug.

And a new study showed that drinking only 8 ounces of grapefruit juice each day causes Sirolimus levels to increase by 3.5 times.1 It appears that grapefruit acts by blocking an enzyme in the intestines which breaks down the drug. The effect takes place within a few hours and persists for a few days. One cancer patient who was drinking grapefruit juice while taking the drug experienced tumor shrinkage that has now lasted for more than three years.

While there is an option of taking yet other drugs to increase levels of Sirolimus, grapefruit offers a safe, effective, and inexpensive (not to mention delicious and healthy) way to accomplish the same results.

And as reported by the University of Chicago News on August 7, 2012, this study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)– not by a drug company. Apparently, the NIH had no comment. But as U of C reported, the authors of the study noted that such studies, “are not necessarily profitable” for drug makers. Especially when the study recommends lower doses of the drug.

No kidding.

1 “Phase I Studies of Sirolimus Alone or in Combination with Pharmacokinetic Modulators in Advanced Cancer Patients,” Clinical Cancer Research, Published OnlineFirst August 7, 2012