Rheumatoid arthritis and eating grapefruit

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

There is a lot of controversy regarding grapefruit... and there is definitely one caveat when it comes to a certain medication.

Some people with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other inflammatory disorders find that eating grapefruit daily seems to alleviate their symptoms. This is thought to stem from plant chemicals that block prostaglandins, biologic chemicals that cause inflammation.

In addition, grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, a vitamin that helps to support the immune system. Vitamin C-rich foods like grapefruit may help reduce cold symptoms or severity of cold symptoms; over 20 scientific studies have suggested that vitamin C is a cold-fighter.

Vitamin C also prevents the free radical damage that triggers the inflammatory cascade, and is therefore also associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

On the other hand some people with rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from food sensitivity to grapefruit. In this case, they should reduce the intake of excessive quantities of orange juices, grapefruit, quantities of other acidic foods or juices.

Patients with RA who are taking cyclosporine for their disease are a special case. Cyclosporine (Neoral) is a potent

immunosuppressant medication that is considered a disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) because it not only decreases the pain and swelling of arthritis but it may also prevent joint damage and reduce the risk of long term disability.

Cyclosporine was originally used to prevent the rejection of transplanted kidneys, and continues to be used for a variety of organ transplants. It is now sometimes used to treat people with rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded well to other medications. Cyclosporine is also used to treat some other rheumatic conditions as well as severe forms of psoriasis.

Cyclosporine inhibits a group of cells, known as T-lymphocytes, which are important in the immune system, and which also contribute to the development of “autoimmune” diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

You should also avoid eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medication as it can affect the level of cyclosporine in your body.

Fortunately, cyclosporine is being used less frequently to treat rheumatoid arthritis with the advent of biologics.

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