Foods To Avoid When Taking Lamotrigine: Comprehensive Guide

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Lamotrigine is a potent medication prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy. It also helps prevent depression in young people living with bipolar disorder. If you are taking lamotrigine to treat your bipolar disorder or epilepsy condition, you might be wondering which foods to avoid when taking lamotrigine. It is important to know about those foods to minimize the potential risks and protect your overall health. The foods may include refined grains, sugary foods, high sodium-rich foods, and saturated and trans fats-rich foods. These foods can interact with lamotrigine, reduce absorption of this medicine, and worsen its side effects. Let’s dive directly into the article that will guide you to the food you need to avoid with lamotrigine and what food you can consume. But first, we will discuss the basic understanding of lamotrigine and also its side effects! Read on!

What Is A Lamotrigine?

Lamotrigine is a medication prescribed by healthcare professionals that is available in four forms; oral disintegrating tablets, immediate-release oral tablets, chewable oral tablets, and extended-release oral tablets. You can find it under the brand names such as Lamictal, Lamictal CD, and Lamictal ODT. When it comes to the use of Lamotrigine, this medication is recommended in the treatment of seizures in individuals struggling with epilepsy. It can also stabilize mood in people living with bipolar disorder, a condition where a person faces extreme mood swings, ranging from high (mania) to low (depression) emotions. How does it work? During the treatment of epilepsy, Lamotrigine lowers the production of a substance called glutamate in the brain. This activity stops the brain’s neurons from becoming excessively active which, in turn, leads to fewer seizures. On the other hand, for bipolar disorder treatment, this medication may impact some brain receptors that manage the mood. As a result, this can reduce the number of episodes of mood swings you have.

What Are The Side Effects Of Lamotrigine?

Though consuming Lamotrigine is safe, it might have some side effects. In a few cases, the symptoms subside, but it may take a couple of weeks or months to disappear completely.

The common symptoms of lamotrigine may include:

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Double vision and blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Trouble with muscle coordination and balance
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Accidental injury
  • Back pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Stuffy nose
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Rash
  • Tremor

These common side effects might disappear in about a few days or weeks if they are mild. However, if they become more serious, consult the medical professionals.

The serious symptoms of lamotrigine may include:

Serious side effects are not common but if they tend to occur, seek medical help immediately. The following are the severe symptoms of lamotrigine:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm (fast or slow heartbeat, chest pain, or shortness of breath)
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Severe rashes on the skin
  • Serious allergic reaction
  • Aseptic meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and the brain’s membrane)
  • Low counts of some blood cells such as red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets
  • Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, which is a dangerous reaction of the immune system leading to extended lymph nodes and high fever
  • Frequent or more severe withdrawal seizures if the use of lamotrigine is discontinued suddenly.

It is important to mention that Lamotrigine has a strict safety-related “boxed warning” that is assigned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to research, this warning is regarding the use of medications that alert users about their significant risks. Skin rashes are the rare but major, life-threatening risk associated with Lamotrigine consumption which is higher in children as compared to adults.

These symptoms might interact with certain foods and can make the condition worse. Wondering, which foods to avoid when taking lamotrigine? The following are the foods we have listed in the section below!

What Are The Foods To Avoid With Lamotrigine?

Some evidence shows that nutrition impacts mental health. Research shows certain fatty acids moderately lower the severity of perceived symptoms in people living with bipolar disorder. Another study concludes that lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet and exercise can be helpful in bipolar disorder management. Wondering what to avoid when taking lamotrigine? These are the foods you should not add to your daily diet:

1. Refined Grains

Refined Grains such as white bread, white pasta, baked goods, white rice, and chips have a high glycemic index. This means these food items can increase the blood sugar levels. Eating them sometimes does not create a problem. But if you have them in excess quantities every day, it can raise the possibility of long-term high sugar levels that can lead to diabetes. An elevated blood sugar level can increase the extreme emotions that are associated with bipolar disorder. So, have a low-carb diet such as lean meats, eggs, nuts, leafy green vegetables, apples, blueberries, seeds, and unsweetened dairy products to manage the condition and overall health. No studies support the association between refined grains and epilepsy.

2. Sugar

Consuming foods highly rich in refined sugars can lead to high blood sugar levels, weight gain, and obesity and thus, can make lamotrigine less effective. Research says an individual should have less than 10 percent of calories from the added sugars. It means an average person can consume about 4 to 5 teaspoons of sugar a day. Avoid or limit the use of certain sugar foods such as candy, honey, cookies, syrup, desserts, ice cream, pastries, energy drinks, and fruit juice with lamotrigine. Some food options such as sauces, yogurt, dressings, and soup have hidden sugars. So, always make sure to closely look at the nutritional label of every product before purchasing.

3. Citrus Fruits

Lamotrigine and grapefruit (citrus fruit) have a distressing connection. How? Grapefruits or their juices are rich in compounds that can hinder the lamotrigine metabolism. These compounds slow the activity of the liver enzymes which have a major role in breaking down the components of this medication. When the drug takes time to get absorbed in the liver, its level increases in the bloodstream which, as a result, leads to increased side effects or fatal conditions. Therefore, it is recommended not to consume citrus fruits in raw or juice forms in excess amounts. However, having them in moderate quantities might not significantly affect the effectiveness of the medication.

4. Sodium-Rich Foods

High sodium-rich foods such as canned meat or fish, frozen breaded meats, salted nuts, savory snacks, and beans sealed with added salt can enlarge the blood vessels by increasing the pressure in these vessels. This can lead to high blood pressure and eventually, it can cause nerve issues. You have to remember that your body does not need sodium during the treatment of epilepsy. Sodium intake in a low amount can raise the chances of seizures and a high amount can contribute to nerve problems. Ensure to consume 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. You can visit the nutritionists to know your body’s daily requirements for sodium.

5. High-Protein Foods

Certain foods highly rich in proteins like legumes, meat, dairy products, and fish can affect the absorption of lamotrigine. This happens when amino acids in these foods and medications interact with each other. So, to increase the efficient absorption of this drug, it is recommended to consume high-protein meals and lamotrigine at different times. Take this oral medicine either 2 hours before or after having protein-rich foods. Following this strategy can help boost its effective absorption in the liver which, as a result, enhances its effectiveness in treating epilepsy or bipolar disorder.

6. Saturated Fats-Rich Foods

Experts say that high saturated fats in foods can increase nerve damage risks in people taking lamotrigine. This is because these foods can change the way the body absorbs this drug. The main sources of high-saturated fat are high-fat meat cuts, butter, cheese, sour, and cream. Eating fatty or fried foods with this medication will make it less effective in treating the condition, in addition, they will impact your heart health. So, an ideal option is to eat food with low saturated fat content, including lean protein, healthy grains, green veggies, and low-fat dairy products.

7. Alcohol

Lamotrigine interactions with alcohol are not good for your health. Drinking alcohol while taking this medication can have a bad combination which can increase certain side effects risks like drowsiness and dizziness. The components of alcohol can act as a depressant on the body’s central nervous system which can worsen the lamotrigine’s sedative effects. Also, alcohol can impact the mood swings associated with bipolar disorder. Hence, bipolar patients who consume alcohol are more likely to die too early. Therefore, it is suggested to avoid or limit the consumption of alcohol with Lamotrigine. If you want, take it in moderate amounts and also closely look for its potential side effects.

8. Caffeine

Caffeine is a potent stimulant present in many beverages such as tea, chocolate, coffee, and energy drinks. Lamotrigine and caffeine can have potential interaction. Research shows that caffeine can trigger the symptoms of mania (high emotions) in people living with bipolar disorder and impact sleep patterns and the metabolism of certain medications like lamotrigine to treat this condition. Moderate amounts of caffeine consumption may have not shown a major effect on the potency of this medication, but excess intake may interrupt its efficacy. So, it’s always advised to watch over your caffeine consumption while taking lamotrigine and if required, seek professional help.

What Are The Foods To Eat With Lamotrigine?

If you have concerns about the lamotrigine interactions with certain foods, there are other food options you can opt for that may include:

  • Non-citrus fruits: Apples, blueberries, bananas, watermelon, pears, blackberries, raspberries, and kiwi.
  • Low-protein foods: Oats, avocado, leafy green veggies, broccoli, rice, barley, and beans.
  • Caffeine-Free Beverages: Coconut water, fresh fruit smoothies, iced tea, fruit-infused water, and golden milk.
  • Unrefined Grains: lentils, black rice, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.
  • Healthy Fats-Rich Foods: Have fatty fish, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, olives, nuts, and fish oil.

Summing Up

We learn in this article about the foods to avoid when taking lamotrigine. Understanding the role of food choices with lamotrigine may increase the effectiveness of the treatment of epilepsy or bipolar disorder for people struggling with these conditions. Excluding certain foods from everyday diet can greatly boost the treatment experience and overall well-being. Also, make sure to remain active by regularly practicing some exercises to enhance seizure control. You can look out for your symptoms and side effects and openly discuss them with your doctors. Remember that making the right decisions regarding certain food items can play a significant role in effectively managing your mental health condition.

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