Beware of what reacts with your drugs. What might be good for people who haven’t had a transplant might not be good for recipients. Check with your doctor before commencing any new medication.
Whether you are prescribed a short-term course of medicines (i.e. antibiotics) or are treated for another chronic condition (long-term therapy), be aware of interactions with your anti-rejection medications. For example, there are many drugs that may cause the cyclosporin or tacrolimus level in the body to change significantly.
Some antibiotics such as erythromycin, roxithromycin, fluconazole can lower the amount of anti-rejection drug in the body causing a high risk of rejection, whilst drugs such as rifampicin, St John’s Wort and phenytoin can cause high levels of drug to remain in the body, increasing the risk of toxic side effects.
Check with your pharmacist to determine foods that you need to avoid or restrict whilst taking transplant medication, as they may interact. A common fruit for recipients to avoid is grapefruit and products containing grapefruit.
Chemicals present in grapefruit can affect the way transplant medications are absorbed in the body. If you’re taking tacrolimus, grapefruit can increase the tacrolimus levels in your body leading to potentially dangerous side effects.
Superfoods like goji berry, spirulina and kale have not been tested as yet for interaction with transplant medication and must be consumed with caution.
For more on eating to keep your transplant safe, check out our transplant-friendly recipes.
There are many herbal supplements available, often marketed as cures for illnesses. While some herbal medicines can be harmless and possibly helpful, there are others that can pose a serious health risk or interact with anti-rejection medications.
Abnormalities in liver function tests have been reported after use of certain herbal preparations, and there have been a number of rejection episodes reported in liver transplant patients using St John’s Wort, which people take for depression. These herbal preparations may interact with the absorption or metabolism of your anti-rejection drugs, making them less effective in the long run.
In general, it is best to avoid herbal remedies unless you have specific clearance from your transplant doctor.