When taking a new medication, it’s important to be aware of the possible side effects the drug can cause as well as how it may interact with other drugs, foods, and drinks.
Cymbalta is a medication used to treat depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Unlike other medications commonly prescribed for depression, Cymbalta does not have any known negative interactions with foods. However, other triggers can affect how Cymbalta works in the body.
In this article we will address what Cymbalta is and foods to avoid while taking it. We’ll also discuss other interactions and the side effects of Cymbalta.
What Is Cymbalta?
Cymbalta is a brand name of the medication duloxetine. It belongs to the family of medications called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. These affect mood, stress, digestion, and pain perception.
Cymbalta is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the following conditions:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain (DPNP)
- Chronic musculoskeletal pain
Foods to Avoid While Taking Cymbalta
Several older types of antidepressants—including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)—can have negative interactions with certain foods. Many MAOIs can prevent the breakdown of tyramine, an amino acid that can be found in fruits, aged cheeses, fava beans, alcohol, and some meats and fish. When these foods are consumed while taking MAOIs, it can result in elevated blood pressure.
These same interactions haven’t been linked to Cymbalta. For the most part, unless your healthcare provider instructs you to avoid certain foods, you should be fine to continue your normal diet without any risk of interaction.
That said, avoid consuming large amounts of caffeine, which can increase your risk of serotonin syndrome. Symptoms of this potentially life-threatening reaction include:
- Muscle twitching
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
While there are no reported interactions between Cymbalta and food, the drug can trigger adverse effects when paired with other substances. Before starting Cymbalta, discuss any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and supplements you currently take and any known allergies with your healthcare provider.
Drinking alcohol while taking Cymbalta can increase the risk of liver problems. The medication isn’t recommended for people who regularly consume alcohol, are heavy drinkers, or have a history of heavy or chronic alcohol abuse. Talk to your doctor before consuming alcohol while taking this medication.
Signs you may have liver damage from Cymbalta and alcohol include:
- Abdominal pain
- Dark-colored urine
- Itchy skin
- Jaundiced skin or eyes
Since alcohol is a depressant, when mixed with Cymbalta, it may result in temporary feelings of euphoria. But in the long term, it may destabilize your mood and result in worsened anxiety and depression. Alcohol consumption with Cymbalta can have long-term health effects including high blood pressure.
Herbs and vitamins
Before taking Cymbalta, tell your healthcare provider about any supplements, herbs, or vitamins you take to prevent any possible interactions. In particular:
- Cymbalta may interact with tryptophan supplements. This essential amino acid has several purposes, including producing niacin, which is essential in creating the neurotransmitter serotonin.
- St. John’s wort may interact with Cymbalta and increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.
There are no known food interactions with Cymbalta. However, consuming large amounts of caffeinated beverages may put you at a higher risk of serotonin syndrome.
There are no reports of vaccine interactions with Cymbalta. If you have any concerns about getting vaccines while taking Cymbalta, talk to your medical provider.
Cymbala can interact with other medications, specifically those that increase the amount of serotonin in your body. Medications that can affect Cymbalta include:
- Anticoagulants (Warfarin)
- Aspirin and other NSAIDs
- Diuretics (water pills)
- Other antidepressants (MAOIs, SNRIs, and TCAs)
- Fentanyl and other opioids
- Sleeping pills
Additionally, avoid substances such as MDMA (ecstasy), which can increase serotonin levels.
It can take several weeks for antidepressants to start working. During this period, it is common to experience side effects as your body gets used to the medication. Side effects of Cymbalta can include:
As your body adjusts, these side effects should lessen.
Always follow your healthcare provider’s directions for taking Cymbalta. Don’t adjust your dosage or stop taking the medication without first consulting with them. Cymbalta can cause withdrawal symptoms when stopped abruptly.
Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you know how the medication will affect you.
See your healthcare professional if any of the following side effects are severe or do not go away:
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Appetite changes
- Stomach pain
- Dry mouth
- Increased urination
- Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
- Fatigue and/or drowsiness
- Muscle pain or cramps
- Decreased libido and/or sexual dysfunction
- Uncontrollable shaking
When Cymbalta is prescribed to your child, closely monitor their mood and symptoms. It is not uncommon for some people, especially young adults between the ages of 18-24 who have Major Depression Disorder (MDD), to have suicidal thoughts when they first start taking antidepressants.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
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Herb–Drug Interactions with St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): an Update on Clinical Observations. (2009).
Label for CYMBALTA (Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules). (2017).