Does Garcinia Cambogia interact with Lexapro? (3+ risks)

In this article, we will discuss whether Garcinia cambogia interacts with Lexapro or not. We will also explore what research suggests on this, the potential interactions between Garcinia and Lexapro, the risks and side effects of this combination and precautions and management tips to minimize side effects when using this combination.

Does Garcinia Cambogia interact with Lexapro?

Yes, Garcinia Cambogia may interact with Lexapro (escitalopram). Garcinia is a fruit that is typically used to aid in weight loss as a supplement. The fruit is also called Malabar tamarind. It is generally considered safe for short-term use but may possess serious side effects when used with certain medications, especially antidepressants like SSRIs. (2,3)

Lexapro is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is widely used to treat depression, anxiety and panic-related disorders. It works by balancing the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, in the brain. This chemical improves mood, boosts motivation in a person and reduces feelings of depression or anxiety. (1)

Garcinia is used as a weight loss supplement because it blocks the enzyme called citrate lyase, which is responsible for converting the body’s carbohydrates into fats. The main ingredient in Garcinia that plays a role in several important health benefits is hydroxy citric acid (HCA). (2)

Due to the potential for risks of interactions, it’s recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before combining Garcinia or any other supplements with SSRIs or other medications.

What’s the potential interaction between Garcinia and Lexapro?

The possible interactions between Garcinia Cambogia (weight loss supplement) and Lexapro (an antidepressant) are believed to be related to their effects on serotonin levels in the brain.  1,4)

The main compound of Garcinia Cambogia is HCA (hydroxycitric acid) which works by influencing the levels of serotonin. Likewise, SSRIs like Lexapro work primarily by blocking the reabsorption of this chemical in the brain and thereby increasing its levels. (4)

When given both substances in combination, such as Lexapro and Garcinia, there is an increased risk of serotonin accumulation in the brain that could lead to a life-threatening condition called Serotonin syndrome. 

However, it is important to remember that not everyone will experience adverse effects from this combination, as individuals are unique in terms of their brain chemistry and how their bodies react to certain medications. So the risk of interactions may vary from person to person. (1)

What does research suggest?

According to a research study, a 35-year-old woman was brought up in an emergency department with excessive sweating and stuttering speech. Upon examination and inquiring about her medical history, doctors found out that she has been taking Garcinia cambogia for weight loss for the past 2-3 months and she also has a history of depression, so she also takes an antidepressant (escitalopram) 20mg along with it. (3)

Her vitals were not in the normal range. She had a rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. The woman told the doctors that she also experienced tremors and flushing after starting Garcinia with escitalopram. (3)

Upon running some tests, she was diagnosed with serotonin toxicity and the doctors discontinued her escitalopram as they discovered that she had too much serotonin in her body likely caused by the combination of supplemental Garcinia and the antidepressant. According to random research, 30 obese human subjects who were taking Garcinia to lose weight, had increased serum concentrations by 39.8%. (3)

What are the side effects of taking Garcinia and Lexapro together?

Here are some serious side effects that one might experience when taking supplemental Garcinia with SSRI antidepressants like Lexapro: (5)

Serotonin syndrome: Both Garnicia and Lexapro may increase the levels of serotonin in your brain, causing a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome by the accumulation of too much serotonin. The typical side effects of this syndrome include hallucinations, confusion, rapid heartbeat, fever, seizures, restlessness, gastric issues (nausea, vomiting) etc. (5)

Neurological effects: Neurological side effects like tremors, confusion, hallucinations, agitation, shivering or shaking, enlarged pupils, difficulty coordinating movements etc are common with serotonin toxicity. 

Cardiovascular effects: Garcinia cambogia can also influence blood pressure and heart rate. Combining it with Lexapro might increase the chances of heart-related problems. 

Individual variability: Everyone reacts differently to medications and supplements. What could be safe for one person could cause potential side effects in another person. It depends on various factors like your overall health and how fast or slow your metabolism works.

Supplement quality varies: Garcinia cambogia supplements can vary in quality. Some may not have the right amount of active ingredients or some might have impurities, as the supplement industry is not as tightly regulated as pharmaceuticals. 

If you experience any aforementioned side effects while taking Garcinia cambogia along with antidepressants or any other medication, it’s advisable to reach out to your doctor immediately as time is crucial. They may assess your situation and develop an adjustable treatment plan as needed. 

What are the safety tips for using Garcinia with Lexapro?

Here are some precautions and guidelines you might follow for safe consumption of Garcinia cambogia along with Lexapro (escitalopram): (3,5)

Consult with your healthcare professional: 

Before using Garcinia or any other supplement alongside Lexapro, consult with your healthcare provider. Inform them about all the medications or supplements you’re taking and if you have any past allergies so that your doctor can assess there are no potential interactions. 

Follow dosage recommendations: 

If you and your doctor decide to continue with Garcinia cambogia, it’s essential that you stick to the prescribed dose and do not increase or reduce the dose on your own. 

Monitor for serotonin syndrome symptoms: 

You need to be vigilant and aware of the symptoms of serotonin syndrome, which are discussed above in the article. Keep a check on how your body is reacting to this combination and report any side effects to your doctor right away. 

Consider alternatives: 

If you’re persistently experiencing side effects due to this combination, try stopping your weight loss supplement and go for an alternative approach to reduce your weight like regular exercise which may include running or cardio, a clean and healthy diet and other lifestyle modifications. 

As a pharmacist, in my opinion, while Garcinia has a lot of health benefits, one should be aware of its possible side effects and appropriate dose quantity as the amount of Garcinia being consumed plays a crucial role in whether it will produce beneficial effects or ADRs.

Talk to your doctor before starting any supplement when you’re already on antidepressants like Lexapro to avoid interactions, because Garcinia also interacts with other SSRIs like Prozac (fluoxetine). 

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