What You Need to Know About Caffeine Drug Interactions:
And before you click-off thinking, “I drink decaffeinated, so I’m okay,” note that even decaffeinated coffee and tea still contain some caffeine. Coffee and tea can alter the effect – and safety – of your prescription medications. In addition to caffeine, both Coffee and Tea, including Green Tea, contain several plant nutrients (phytonutrients) that have the potential to interact with medications, or alter the metabolism of certain drugs – or vice versa. There are so many phytonutrients in coffee and tea that it will be impossible to consider them all individually, but we can review the effects of caffeine on various drugs. Coffee and tea during pregnancy.
Caffeine Drug Interactions can be roughly categorized into three groups:
- those where the drug decreases the metabolism of caffeine (thereby increasing the effects of caffeine);
- those where the coffee or tea increases metabolism of the drug (thereby decreasing the effect of the drug); and
- those where the coffee or tea enhances the effect of the drug (thereby effectively increasing the effects of the drug, potentially making a normal, safe dose an un-safe dose). For the interactions outlined below, it is the caffeine drug interactions that cause the effects:
Except for the decaffeinated preparations, all coffees and teas contain caffeine. Several medications decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking these drugs along with drinking coffee or tea can increase the risk of side effects, including anxiety, nervousness, headache, increase heart rate, increased blood pressure, and other side effects.
Caffeine Drug Interactions: Examples of these medications that DELAY METABOLISM of caffeine include (causes effects of caffeine to linger):
- Antibiotics: the “fluoroquinolones”, including ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Noroxin), trovafloxacin (Trovan)
- Some oral contraceptive pills (birth control pills)
- Cimetidine (Tagamet)
- Disulfiram (Antabuse)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
If you are taking any of these medications, simply know that even the lower amounts of caffeine that are present in teas can have lasting effects.
Caffeine Drug Interactions: Examples of drugs whose METABOLISM is INCREASED BY CAFFEINE (decreases the effects of the drugs):
- Dipyridamole (Persantine)
If you are taking any of these medications, and you are drinking tea or coffee, know that your dose may need to be adjusted: ask your physician!
Conversely, caffeine present in coffee and tea can decrease the metabolism of some medications. The effect is to increase the effect of those drugs.
Caffeine Drug Interactions: Examples of medications whose EFFECTS are INCREASED BY CAFFEINE:
- Some anti-depression drugs (MAOIs)
- Medications that slow blood clotting (clopidogrel – Plavix; diclofenac – Voltaren; ibuprofen – Advil, Motrin; naproxen – Anaprox, Naprosyn; dalteparin – Fragmin; enoxaparin – Lovenox; heparin, warfarin – Coumadin; and others
- Riluzole (Rilutek)
Again, if you are taking any of these medications and you are drinking coffee or tea, ask your physician whether your dose should be adjusted.
Health Benefits of Coffee and Tea
Teas have garnered recent attention for their health benefits. Green tea, especially, contains nutrients that have powerful health-boosting benefits. Even coffee has been found to have potential health benefits. For example, coffee is one of the most powerful antioxidants of any popular beverage. Remarkably, these two very different plant species share many of the same phytochemicals and their associated health benefits. These benefits are the result of plant nutrients – flavonoids, polyphenols, catechins – that are present in the coffee plant (Coffea arabica), and tea plant (Camillia sinensis).
So, if you are on prescription medications, it is important that you notify your physician that you are a tea or coffee drinker. Ask specifically about potential interactions of your medication(s) with caffeine, and with the various phytonutrients that are present in coffee and tea.
Don’t let the wonderful health benefits of your favorite brew have a negative impact on your health by altering the effect of your medications. Ask your doc!
Note also that these cautions also apply to those who take supplements of green tea extract or green coffee extract. Also note that decaffeinated tea and decaffeinated coffee both still contain a small level of caffeine, but also still contain a high level of the health-boosting phytochemicals! So, again, ask your doc!
For the rest of us, we should be enjoying the health benefits of our favorite brew! Coffee and Tea.
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