Selangor Journal

The effect of drinking coconut water with medicines

Many people have asked if it is true that drinking coconut water with medicines will reduce the effectiveness of the medication. The question seems simple but it actually refer to the interaction between the medicines and the drink.
The interaction can either enhance or reduce the medicines’ effects.
Coconut water
Coconut water exist in the shell of young coconuts. It naturally taste sweet but low in calorie.
It contains 94% water and simple carbohydrates which are easily digested into sugar and electrolytes.
Besides that, it contains various growth hormones, enzymes, amino acid, vitamin c and is a good source of potassium (k+).
Coconut water is often taken as a drink to relieve thirst or dehydration caused by diarrhoea or excercising.
It has also been used as water replacement to hydrate the body in emergency situations.
There are several researches showing that coconut water can reduce the systolic blood pressure among hypertension patients (high blood pressure). Nevertheless, more studies are required to prove its benefit to health.
Interaction with medicines, herbs and supplements
Early clinical studies have shown that coconut water may reduce systolic blood pressure among hypertension patients.
Theoretically, drinking coconut water together with anti-hypertension drugs may enhance the effect of reducing blood pressure and ultimately increase risk of low blood pressure.
The same goes with coconut water consumed together with herbs and supplements believed to reduce blood pressure. For example, casein peptides, cat’s claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, noni fruit, bilimbi and others.
Interaction with diseases
Due to its content of potassium (k+), it can worsen the condition of hyperkalemia in certain individuals.
If consumed too much, it will increase the risk of hyperkalemia in patients with renal dysfunctions.
It is safe if consumed moderately. There are no safety concerns in drinking coconut water.
Similarly, if it is taken by children. So far there is no information relating to coconut water consumed by pregnant and breast-feeding women.
Actions that can be taken
Coconut water is safe to drink. However, hypertension patients under medication must be careful with their intake of coconut water.
It has the potential to enhance the lowering of blood pressure. Similarly, for patients with renal dysfunctions.
Some monitoring is needed if blood pressure becomes low (hypotension). Among the signs of low blood pressure are dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, weakness and nausea (stomach discomfort).
If the symptoms above are experienced, confirm it by measuring blood pressure using blood pressure monitoring home kit. Blood pressure is low when the reading is lower than 90/60 mmHg.
Treatment is not required of there are no symptoms although blood pressure is low. If there is dizziness or feeling of faint, sit or lie down.
In a lying-down position, the legs should be at the same level with the heart. In a sitting position, the head should be placed in between both kneecaps. If symptoms persist, immediately consult a doctor for further treatments.
In the subject of interaction with medicines, it is not only coconut water that can be an issue.
There are several other combinations between drinks and medicines that interacts such as between ferrous and milk, anti-cholestoral drug (atorvastatin) and grapefruit juice and warfarin with green tea.
As such, the public is advised to refer to a pharmacist or doctor before consuming certain things with medicines to ensure the interaction can be determined in advance.
If the public has any general questions concerning medicines, they can contact the National Pharmaceutical Call-Centre at 1800-88-6722. We are ready to assist.
Prepared by:
Mohd Dziehan Mustapa
Senior Assistant Director
Pharmaceutical Services Unit, MOH

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