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Problems from these Popular Foods Exposed to the Light of Day
The nightshades are members of an enormous family of plants called Solanaceae, represent a huge family of plants. The ones that concern us in the Western diet mainly include tomatoes, potatoes (not sweet potatoes or yams), eggplant and peppers—this means all peppers including chili peppers, habenero, cayenne pepper and paprika (not peppercorns, see sidebar). Paprika is a sneaky one, showing up in lots of flavoring mixes and often under “spices” on ingredient labels. Other nightshades include goji berries (the new darling of the antioxidant crowd), ashwagandha (an adaptogenic herb from Ayurvedic medicine), Cape gooseberries (not normal gooseberries), ground cherries and garden huckleberries (not blueberries).
I’m a licensed naturopathic physician in private practice, and I will admit right off the bat that I am biased against nightshades. I used to eat a ton of foods in the nightshade family, but now I avoid them as much as possible. I am one of those who is very sensitive to these foods. In my medical practice, I treat pain often. My goal in pain treatment is pain relief. In my opinion, pain management—that is, long-term painkillers, without a goal of true pain relief—is for suckers. For me and many of my patients, nightshade avoidance is the answer to long-term relief from pain.
Why should you care about this? It’s likely that you enjoy eating these foods and can’t imagine that they are bad for you in any way. Well, if you suffer from inflammation, joint pain and cracking, avoiding nightshades will lessen your pain, whether or not the nightshades are the true source of the pain. Are you sensitive to weather changes? This can be an indication of nightshade sensitivity. Muscle pain and tightness, morning stiffness, poor healing, arthritis, insomnia and gall bladder problems—these can all be caused by nightshades. Nightshades can also cause heart burn or GERD—a lot of people already know they react this way when they eat peppers or tomatoes.
Like soy, most nightshades are relative newcomers to European/Western diets. The tomato came to North America in the very early eighteenth century. It was termed the “love apple” and grown first as an ornamental. That means people grew it because it is pretty, yet they did not eat it. Why did they not eat it? They thought the tomato was poisonous. The leaves of the nightshade family are indeed overtly poisonous (livestock farmers know this well) and people avoided the fruit as well.
During a famine in 1782, Scottish highlanders complained of dropsy (an old term for edema or swelling, often associated with congestive heart failure) when they ate abundantly of potatoes.1 Russian prisoners of World War II returned with advanced cases of dropsy, which was blamed on heavy potato consumption.2 An old saying in New Hampshire in 1719 was that the white potato shortened men’s lives.
Eggplant was also first grown as an ornamental, a decorative plant. It was not eaten until relatively recent years in North America. According to Dr. Norman Childers, author of The Arthritis Diet, peoples of the Mediterranean area previously believed that the eggplant would cause insanity if it was eaten daily for a month, in fact, it had the nickname of “mad apple.”3 How many foods that you eat have a reputation like that?
It’s extremely easy to overdose on nightshades in Western culture, especially if you are a foodie. Let’s say you have salsa on your eggs at breakfast, potato salad at lunch, and eggplant with peppers along with other spicy dishes at dinner. This is a large amount of nightshades, eaten three times per day, in multiple combinations. It’s very hard to avoid the nightshades, believe me, it’s a lot of work! This can be easily demonstrated by reading the menu at any restaurant— nightshades have become ubiquitous. Nightshade sensitivity, in terms of the vigilance needed to keep them out of the diet, is almost as bad as gluten sensitivity!
For those of you who think you have tried “everything” for your arthritis pain, tried this and tried that but haven’t tried avoiding nightshades— in my opinion, it’s something you do need to try. I can tell you as a naturopathic doctor that I have tried many different remedies for my middle back pain. Nightshade avoidance got rid of 90 percent of it. If you’re one of those people whose pain treatments (be it chiropractic, acupuncture, laser, energy medicine, whatever!) provides only a day or two of relief, you’re quite possibly nightshade sensitive.
A physical therapist once told me that if a patient isn’t responding to treatment, one of the first things to consider is nightshade sensitivity— there is simply nothing else that anyone can do to help somebody in pain when nightshade sensitivity is the cause—because once they eat some nightshades again, their pain will return as it was before. Sad but true, as I have witnessed many times in my practice.
CALCITRIOL IN NIGHTSHADES
The nightshades are considered a “calcinogenic” plant; that is, they cause calcinosis, which is a toxic calcification of soft tissues when eaten by animals. This happens because they contain calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D), the most active form of vitamin D. Please note that calcitriol is not vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). This is an extremely important distinction, as you will see.
In humans, calcitriol is normally the end product of vitamin D metabolism, so let me start at the beginning. Cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3, is produced in the skin by the action of sunlight or can be consumed in food or supplements. In the liver, vitamin D3 is transformed into calcidiol (25-hydroxycholecalciferol, the compound that we test in the blood as a measure of vitamin D status); then the kidneys transform calcidiol into calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D).
Calcitriol is an extremely potent hormone, thousands of times more potent than vitamin D3. It has been said that calcitriol is the most powerful hormone in the human body. Production of calcitriol is very tightly regulated by the kidney. Why is it so tightly regulated?
Calcitriol signals the intestines to absorb calcium from our diet. While we absolutely need calcitriol to maintain proper bone density, too much calcitriol, from any source, leads to hypercalcemia, also known as high blood calcium. The body does not like this situation and wants to get the calcium levels back down to normal as quickly as possible, as an imbalance of minerals in the blood particularly affects the heart. The quickest solution for the body is to deposit the extra calcium into the soft tissues. Each hypercalcemic episode likely lasts for only a short while, however, each episode leaves a small deposit behind. Over time, these deposits lead to the condition known as calcinosis.
Overconsumption of calcitriol from nightshade foods can circumvent the kidney’s control and over time lead to calcium deposits in the soft tissues such as the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, cardiovascular tissues, kidneys and skin. Osteoarthritis is basically calcium deposits in the soft tissues of joints. Chronic hypercalcemia can lead to generalized vascular (blood vessel) calcification, which is coronary artery disease. Nephrocalcinosis is calcification of the kidneys.
We are not supposed to bypass the body’s control mechanisms for calcitriol. Nightshades do this to our detriment. Many of us do not notice because it happens so slowly and gradually.
What causes arthritis? The conventional view is that arthritis is the result of the joint “wearing out.” If this were the case, then arthritis would always be accompanied by inflammation. Think of parts in a car. If they “wear out” due to friction, there is heat, which could be likened to inflammation in our bodies. However, osteoarthritis typically has no inflammation, so it really should be called osteoarthrosis.
What if calcinosis could explain most, if not all these osteoarthritic changes? Instead of your joints wearing out, what if nightshades and their calcitriol content were causing the joints (cartilage, tendons, ligaments) to slowly calcify? Bone spurs are calcium deposits in tendons or ligaments. Many people are told that they have “no cartilage left” in their joints, but what if the truth was that the cartilage had slowly calcified? It would be nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two situations unless one knew exactly what to look for.
Scleroderma is a widespread connective tissue disease that involves changes or hardening in the skin, blood vessels, muscles and internal organs. The cause is said to be unknown. Could it be caused by nightshades, leading to calcinosis?
Some physicians are giving calcitriol or its analogs for simple vitamin D deficiency. This is overkill and not good for the system. In bypassing the body’s control systems we are creating the same situation I described above. If your doctor insists on using calcitriol, ergocalciferol (vitamin D2, an unnatural form of vitamin D made by irradiating a fungus with ultraviolet light), or any other expensive analogue of vitamin D other than vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), you may want to find another doctor who is more educated in vitamin D supplementation.Please note that there are medical conditions where administering calcitriol is necessary, but simple vitamin D deficiency is not one of them.
According to Medline, common side-effects of calcitriol injections include weakness, headache, somnolence, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation, muscle pain, bone pain and metallic taste.4 Note the muscle and bone pain—do these sound like nightshade problems I’ve mentioned already? The liver and gall bladder can be affected, resulting in pale or fatty stools, an indication you are not digesting your fats well. Yellowing of skin or eyes (jaundice) is another symptom, indicative of liver issues. Hallucinations can happen, and a rare side effect is overt psychosis. Remember what was said to happen when one eats eggplant every day for a month?
Solanine is a glycoalkaloid, that is, a non-protein compound containing nitrogen. It is a potent poison found in species of the nightshade family, especially potatoes and eggplant. It can occur naturally in any part of the plant, including the leaves, fruit, and tubers.
Solanine poisoning is primarily displayed by gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, cardiac dysrhythmia, headache and dizziness. Hallucinations, loss of sensation, paralysis, fever, jaundice, dilated pupils and hypothermia have been reported in more severe cases.5
Potatoes naturally produce solanine and chaconine, a related glycoalkaloid, as a defense mechanism against insects, disease and predators (humans included). Potato leaves, stems and shoots are naturally high in these glycoalkaloids. When potato tubers are exposed to light, they turn green and increase glycoalkaloid production. This is a natural defense to help prevent the uncovered tuber from being eaten.
In potato tubers, 30–80 percent of the solanine develops in and close to the skin. If the potato looks green under the skin, throw it away; likewise if it has begun to sprout, just discard it.
How toxic are these compounds? The World Health Organization sets an upper limit of 20 mg per 100 grams of solanine per fresh weight of potato. Above that limit, they cannot be sold in stores, as they are considered too toxic for human consumption.6
Solanine and related glycoalkaloids are poisonous because they are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors—they inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine, resulting in increased level and duration of action of this neurotransmitter. What does this mean? They cause prolonged muscle contractions. This is why people who are sensitive to nightshades or eat a lot of them often feel stiff when they wake up in the morning or sit for extended periods.
Studies with animals indicate that solanine causes cell membrane disruption in the digestive tract—exacerbated irritable bowel disorder in mice,7 gastrointestinal tissue destroyed in Syrian hamsters.8 It affects the gene expression of the human intestinal cell linings and also inhibits proteolytic enzyme activity.9 Solanines also destroy human liver cells in vitro.10
I have found fourteen research reviews linking potato blight in Ireland with birth defects in the following years.11 Potato blight involves a particular fungus growing on potatoes, causing them to kick in their defense mechanisms and make high levels of solanine. In my opinion, it would be wise for pregnant women to avoid the nightshades.
All nightshades contain nicotine, which is why they can be addictive. Is nicotine a problem when we eat it? A large body of research shows that nicotine consumption inhibits proper healing. In one study, nicotine delayed tendon-tobone healing in a rat shoulder—the equivalent of our rotator cuff.12 A follow-up study by the same authors showed that delayed healing in tendon-to-bone injuries resulted in inferior permanent healing of the area.13
Capsaicin is an alkaloid found in hot peppers. We hear a lot about capsaicin supposedly having anti-inflammatory properties, but it actually is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue it comes in contact with.
Spicy peppers are the only plants that contain capsaicin, to my knowledge. The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin. It can shut down the lungs—this is why some people have died from pepper spray. Asthmatics would do well to avoid capsaicin in general. They actually use capsaicin in animal studies to stimulate something very much like an asthma attack.
Substance P is released from the terminals of specific sensory nerves. It is found in the brain and spinal cord and is associated with inflammatory processes and pain—it acts as a neurotransmitter to carry pain signals to the nervous system. Capsaicin makes your nerves release almost all the substance P they have, and researchers have therefore suggested that drugs containing capsaicin can help reduce pain. For example, there is an over-the-counter cream containing capsaicin that is promoted to help deplete substance P from local nerve endings and relieve pain.
However, inducing massive releases of substance P on a regular basis is like taking speed until your adrenals run out of adrenaline; it leads to a chronic local or systemic depletion of substance P. Substance P is necessary for proper healing. The brain gets a signal from substance P telling it that something is hurt and needs to be fixed. So when you have diabetics using capsaicin cream for their neuropathy, they feel better—the pain signal is gone—but they are inhibiting the healing process.
A recent study looked at the use of capsaicin in insulin-dependent diabetic rats.14 The standard explanation for type 1 diabetes is malfunction and death of the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas. Another theory holds that malfunction of the pain nerves surrounding cells in the pancreas can cause type 1 diabetes. Researchers have found that the islet cells in diabetics are surrounded by large numbers of pain nerves that signal to the brain that pancreatic tissue is damaged. When the researchers injected Substance P into the rats, the islet cells began producing insulin normally almost immediately. They also produced insulin for about a month when they were injected with capsaicin.
Capsaicin depletes substance P. Although this study was reported as showing a beneficial role for capsaicin, the proper conclusion is that capsaicin is likely horrible for diabetics and their blood sugar control. I have witnessed firsthand the negative impact of consuming peppers on blood sugar control in some of my diabetic patients (the ones who keep diet and blood glucose logs).
Capsaicin receptors have been found in arthritic joints. When they inject capsaicin into mouse knee joints, it reduces blood flow.15 That’s a bad thing. Blood is what heals us. When neonatal rats were given capsaicin, their immune markers were depressed for ninety days.
In humans, increased consumption of peppers is associated with an increase risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma and stomach cancer. Researchers found seventeen times (!) the risk of stomach cancer in people who self-rated themselves as high consumers of peppers.16 In people who had tissue biopsies of colon polyps, dysplasia and adenocarcinoma, researchers couldn’t find any substance P in those biopsies. Where would it have gone? What they found was the presence of capsaicin receptors instead.17
How do you find out whether nightshades are causing your medical problems? For many, no relief comes until the diet is totally clear of all these nightshades for at least six weeks. Many people notice an improvement in their pain; sometimes it goes away completely.
If the person has strictly avoided the nightshades for six weeks, yet still doesn’t believe their pain has decreased, I suggest that they do a “nightshade party day”: salsa and eggs for breakfast, tomato and eggplant for lunch, potatoes for dinner—just have it all, and have a lot. Eat as much as you can in one day and then watch for symptoms over the next two days. Often there is a delayed onset reaction—there is for me.
But the real question is, why are some people more sensitive than others? Nutrient deficiencies certainly come into play. For example, if you don’t have enough magnesium, you will be more prone to calcinosis. Deficiency in vitamin D may exacerbate the problem. The speed at which one’s liver and kidneys detoxify these compounds plays a huge role, and this is dependent both on genetics and nutrition.
A key nutrient is vitamin K2—Dr. Price’s famous Activator X. I love this study on vitamin K2: The Effect of Vitamin K2 on Experimental Calcinosis. 18 They gave rats calcinosis by giving them way too much vitamin D2. D2 tends to cause calcinosis anyway. What did they find? A high dose of vitamin K2 suppressed experimental calcification of soft tissues induced by vitamin D2. So if you want to avoid problems with nightshades, be sure to eat goose liver, cheese, fatty grass-fed meats and pasture-fed butter—and take your butter oil.
If you suffer from osteoarthritis and you feel like you have some catching up to do in terms of resolving calcifications, you may want to take a vitamin K supplement. I use Allergy Research Full-Spectrum Vitamin K softgels, which combine vitamin K1 (phytonadione) and vitamin K2 (as both menaquinone-4 and menaquinone-7, known as MK-4 and MK-7, respectively).
Recently after a power-lifting meet, I felt like cheating on my diet. I called it an “experiment.” My old favorite food was pizza—the nastiest combination of all the nastiest foods there are, at least for me. We had it with peppers, sausage containing paprika, tomato sauce, gluten and dairy, all of which I’m sensitive to. I felt that this was my chance to test my vitamin K hypothesis. I took two Allergy Research Full-Spectrum Vitamin K softgels with the meal, along with digestive enzymes and some buffered vitamin C. Normally the enzymes and the buffered vitamin C don’t help me much. However, this time, when I had loaded up on vitamin K2, I had no day-after morning stiffness and none of my middle back pain returned. I’ve only done the experiment once at this point, but that’s what I found.
Even if you are one of those lucky people who don’t seem to have trouble with nightshades, in my opinion it’s a good idea not to overdo. Avoid having nightshades with every meal; we are far too reliant as a culture on potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Vary your diet so you are not so dependent on these foods. Sweet potatoes, yams and parsnips are good substitutes for potatoes. You can steam cauliflower and mash it with butter and cream. As a substitute for chili pepper, use wasabi, horseradish, mustard powder, ginger, or freshly ground peppercorns. There’s no good substitute for tomatoes, so learn to use them sparingly.
Cooking does reduce the solanine levels in potatoes somewhat,19 and may even help reduce other toxins. So if you are eating nightshade foods, be sure to cook them, and cook them in butter or poultry fat—this is a synergistic combination because these fats provide vitamin K2. And you’ll end up eating less of the nightshade foods because when you cook in good fats, you are more quickly satisfied and end up eating less.
For those who are sensitive to nightshades, the best strategy is to avoid them completely for a long time, until you can completely heal. That means no potatoes, pizza, tomato sauce or Mexican food—but to live pain-free makes it worth the sacrifice.
NIGHTSHADES IN MEDICINE
Many of the alkaloids in the nightshade plants are extremely toxic; yet they have many uses in medicine if administered in extremely small dosages. They can serve as an antidote to poisoning caused by pesticides and chemical warfare agents such as sarin and VX. They are also used to halt—but not cure—many types of allergic reactions. Scopolamine, a commonly used ophthamological agent, dilates the pupils and thus facilitates examination of the interior of the eye. Nightshade compounds are also used as antiemetics in people prone to motion sickness or receiving chemotherapy.
Some of the most interesting uses of nightshades occur in homeopathy. Belladonna was one of the first homeopathic remedies, developed in 1799 by Samuel Hahnemann for scarlet fever, after he observed that symptoms of deadly nightshade poisoning closely matched those of scarlet fever. Belladonna now serves as a major homeopathy remedy for acute illnesses of sudden, violent onset. Other homeopathic remedies derived from the nightshade family include Stramonium, Hyoscamus, Tabacum, Dulcamara and Capsicum. Note that all of the “food nightshades” are used as homeopathic remedies as well. For those of you familiar with homeopathic theory and the “similimum,” it may start to make sense to you that eating significant amounts these foods could cause symptoms of disease in a healthy person.
WHAT ABOUT PEPPER?
Peppercorns are not the same as peppers; they are not members of the nightshade family. Peppercorns do not contain poisonous alkaloids. Fresh ground pepper is the best; pre-ground pepper is not good for you. It doesn’t taste very good and you’ll notice you have to use a lot more of it. Once the peppercorns are cracked open, the protective and flavorful essential oils begin to evaporate. This allows a type of aspergillus mold to grow, which then produces aflatoxin. You may be familiar with aflatoxin already, as it is very toxic to the liver and is the same toxin that occurs with peanuts. If you don’t eat peanuts for this reason, you would not want to use pre-ground pepper either. Freshly ground pepper helps with digestion—pre-ground pepper does not.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is one of the first things people mention when I suggest avoiding nightshades. Lycopene is a carotenoid found in almost any red, orange or pink fruit or vegetable; it’s simply highest in tomatoes. As with all of the fat-soluble carotenoids, to maximize absorption you’ll need to eat it with fat. We hear a lot about lycopene supposedly preventing cancer. However, in a study on prostate cancer in rats, when rats were given lycopene by itself, there was no observed decrease in cancer mortality when compared to the controls.20 However, when given tomato powder, there was a significant decrease in mortality rates from the induced prostate cancer. So there’s something in the whole tomato that protects against cancer and it’s not lycopene by itself.
The new theory in this reductionist way of thinking is that the anti-cancer substance in tomatoes is another glycoalkaloid called tomatine. While tomatine has been shown to inhibit and destroy cancer cells, it has also been shown to do the same to normal cells!21 This is the likely reason why many people get heartburn after eating tomatoes, not only because they are acidic (they are), but because the cells that line the stomach and esophagus are being destroyed. Can you really blame the stomach for sending you a signal that it isn’t very happy?
By the way, epithelial cells are what line the urethra as it passes through the prostate. Eating tomatoes in the hopes of reducing prostate cancer is similar to friendly fire—it destroys the cancerous cells and normal cells at the same time. Does destroying your normal and healthy cells sound like a good idea? Not to me. Actually, it sounds very similar to chemotherapy and radiation—trying to kill cancer cells while hoping that the normal cells survive the process. While there is a time and place for that type of approach, I don’t think I’d want to be eating such a potentially cell-destructive substance every day in my food.
Scientists are currently studying tomatine to use as an adjuvant in vaccines, in order to make the vaccine more effective by stimulating a massive immune reaction. The immune reaction happens because the body is reacting to the cell destruction that occurs when tomatine comes in contact with human cells.
Tomatoes also contain tomato lectin (another well-known lectin is gluten) which has been shown to agglutinate human, mouse and sheep erythrocytes—it can cause red blood cells to clump together. Combined together with tomatine, these compounds can cause leaky gut syndrome and potentially be a major issue in autoimmune diseases of all sorts.
For those of you have gone off gluten and you’re wondering why you still have digestive problems, it may be because of tomatoes. Potatoes can be another culprit, as many gluten-free products are filled with potato starch.
1. Famine, Mortality, and Epidemic Disease in the Process of Modernization, by John D. Post © 1976 Economic History Society, http://www.jstor.org/pss/2594505.
2. Childers NF. Arthritis-Childer’s Diet to Stop It. Nightshades, Aging, and Ill Health, 4th ed. Florida: Horticultural Publications, 1993; 19-21.
6. World Health Organization, Toxicological Evaluation of Certain Food Additives and naturally Occuring Toxicants, Thirty-ninth Meeting of the Joint FAO/ WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) WHO Food Additives Series, No 30; http://apps.who.int/bookorders/anglais/detart1.jsp
7. Patel B and others. Potato glycoalkaloids adversely affect intestinal permeability and aggravate inflammatory bowel disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2002 Sep;8(5):340-6. PubMed ID: 124796498.
8. Baker D and others. Lesions of potato sprout and extracted potato sprout alkaloid toxicity in Syrian hamsters. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1987;25(3):199-208. PubMed ID: 3612898.
9. Ruseler-van Embden JG and others. Potato tuber proteins efficiently inhibit human faecal proteolytic activity: implications for treatment of peri-anal dermatitis. Eur J Clin Invest. 2004 Apr;34(4):303-11. PubMed ID: 15086363.
10. Friedman M and others. Anticarcinogenic effects of glycoalkaloids from potatoes against human cervical, liver, lymphoma, and stomach cancer cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Jul 27;53(15):6162-9. PubMed ID: 16029012.
11. Masterson JG and others. Anencephaly and potato blight in the Republic of Ireland. Br J Prev Soc Med. 1974 May;28(2):81-4. PubMed ID: 4604097.
12. Galatz LM and others. Nicotine delays tendon-to-bone healing in a rat shoulder model. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2006 Sep;88(9):2027-34. PubMed ID: 16951120.
13. Galatz LM and others. Delayed repair of tendon to bone injuries leads to decreased biomechanical properties and bone loss. J Orthop Res. 2005 Nov;23(6):1441-7. PubMed ID: 16055296.
14. Razavi R and others. TRPV1+ sensory neurons control beta cell stress and islet inflammation in autoimmune diabetes. Cell. 2006 Dec 15;127(6):1123-35.PMID: 17174891.
15. Keeble J and others. Involvement of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 in the vascular and hyperalgesic components of joint inflammation. Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Oct;52(10):3248-56. PubMed ID: 16200599.
16. López-Carrillo L and others. Chili pepper consumption and gastric cancer in Mexico: a case-control study. Am J Epidemiol. 1994 Feb 1;139(3):263-71. PubMed ID: 8116601.
17. Dömötör A and others. Immunohistochemical distribution of vanilloid receptor, calcitonin-gene related peptide and substance P in gastrointestinal mucosa of patients with different gastrointestinal disorders. Inflammopharmacology. 2005;13(1-3):161-77. PubMed ID: 16259736.
18. Seyama Y and others. Effect of vitamin K2 on experimental calcinosis induced by vitamin D2 in rat soft tissue. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1996;66(1):36-8. PubMed ID: 8698544.
19. Tajner-Czopek A and others. Changes in glycoalkaloids content of potatoes destined for consumption (2008) Food Chemistry, 106 (2), pp. 706-711.
20. Boileau TW and others. Prostate carcinogenesis in N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (NMU)- testosterone-treated rats fed tomato powder, lycopene, or energy-restricted diets. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Nov 5;95(21):1578-86.PubMed ID: 14600090.
21. Friedman M and others. Tomatine-containing green tomato extracts inhibit growth of human breast, colon, liver, and stomach cancer cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Jul 8;57(13):5727-33. PubMed ID: 19514731.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2010.🖨️ Print post
Read this in: Nederlands
Edward McGill says
Good information. Glad to learn that peppercorns freshly ground are OK to eat. Can I get a consultation with the N.D who wrote the article?
Walter Sobchak says
I know this is a very late reply, but you can reach Dr. Garrett Smith (the N.D. that authored this post) at the following:
Linda Janssen says
Can you give me updated information on nightshade foods and health? Do you still uphold your theory on nightshades affecting joint problems, ect? Thank you, Linda
It is not a theory it is a proven fact by people whom have done it. And I am one of them.
This was the best article I’ve found to confirm nightshades were affecting my Sjogrens and Fibro symptoms – pain, muscle aches, muscle cramping. May I please ask if you have found apples and/or blueberries attributing to these symptoms as well? Many articles out there name apples and blueberries as having the chemical found within nightshades. I have been completely on the fence about these…… I would so appreciate your insight.
Judi Cunningham says
Huckleberries are in the nightshade family, but not blueberries. I test allergic to all nightshade, but apples don’t give me any problems.
Can I eat SWEET POTATOES & Yucca Root?
Denis DeMonte says
I don’t know about yucca.. I think that’s the one you boil off all the toxins and then bake it, it should be fine with proper preparation. As for sweet potatoes, go wild on them! 🙂
The Yucca has many properties for the health, it helps reduce triglycerides and very rich in vitamin K.
It is one of the most consumed foods in South America.
Carol Rose says
Sweet potatoes and yucca (also known as taro root and tapioca flour is made from) are not night shade. Yucca is very dense so it takes longer to cook but a nice substitute for potato.
john martin says
Do nightshades cause ACNE?
I have recently learned I must cut out gluten (including all grains, which have similiar proteins to gluten, even the seed quinoa) and have deduced that eating grains all these years has given me leaky gut, which I am in the process of fixing. After about 2-3 weeks of no grains my ACNE clears up tremendously. I do not have any joint issues or any other side effects, not even stomach pain from eating TONS of sundried tomatoes, eggplant and paprika at all, but since reading in this well written article that tomatoes are to be avoided by people with leaky gut, I am at least cutting them out of my diet over the next couple months as I address this issue.
Back to my original question though… once I get all my health in order, if I start eating nightshades again (in moderate amounts)… if they cause me no symptoms and do not make my ACNE flare up, is it relatively safe to assume that my bodies handles them well?
Note: I take fermented cod liver oil + high vitamin butter fat every day and wonder if this is why I don’t notice any of the listed side effects when eating nightshades.
Tomatoes cause acne. Even cystic acne for me. Whenever i eat tomatoes i get big cyst under the skin. Jalepenos also cause me trouble but mainly with my intestines. I can feel them being roasted and burned up. Inflamed feeling. Burning Sensation. I noticed my healing abilities do decrease when eating potatoes. I stopped eating tomatoes for awhile and all the cysts went away. I noticed chili powder, paprika, cayenne peppers, and all the peppers in taco seasonings affect me except cumin and turmeric. I noticed all these foods are related to each other nightshade. Contain Glycoalkaloids and Tomatine. Now i am avoiding all nightshades. Almost instantly i notice a difference over night. Use to get redness a lot. Acne around the nose and mouth happened with peppers and chilis and tomatillos. Milk affects me also. I noticed skim milk to a less degree but now i avoid milk. I can handle cheese some reason though but not yogurt or milk. Causes cystic acne the milk for me. I had a allergy test done years ago and it showed i was highly allergic to tomatoes. Acne i think is the result of eating foods we are allergic to or are intolerant of. I can tolerate cheese because of the lack of the lactose i think. Everyone should avoid nightshade. I might get acne but someone else might be getting some other problem deeper inside the body. Theres a reason why people said these nightshade plants were toxic and poison before the 1800s. It wasnt because of lead plates or any of those myths.
Check your milk for odd ingredients. I have a bunch of food sensitivities and I believe IBS. I’ve been using elimination diets to get better. My biggest offender is the nightshade family, causing all kinds of fibro issues and a lot of extended pain. I drank a small glass of Whole Foods Market 2% milk two days ago! realized my mistake and vomited. It’s ingredients are milk, Vitamin A palmitate (possibly from potatoes) and vitamin D. This is my second time severely reacting to a skim milk product since I’ve been paying attention. My symptoms are almost the same as when I eat potato starch. I eat cheese, full fat, plain yogurt, and plain whipping cream with absolutely no problems…
Hi Lauren, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I appreciate your insight because I had been taking a vit. A palmitate supplement and it never occurred to me it could be made from potatoes. I cannot not have nightshades at all. I had recently been experiencing very bad joint pain in my right shoulder which would seem to correspond to my starting to take that supplement. Thank you for helping me connect the dots.
Absolutely agree, potatoes trigger my Hidradenitis Suppurativa. I believe tomatoes do to a lesser extent and have been a big capsicum eater in the past. I am also a big dairy eater and very interested in the interaction with calcitriol.
My granddaughter is 15 yrs. she has acne and it can worsen almost over night. It seems like it is milk products that cause it. I think it may be the high levels of estrogen from the pregnant cows. Ice cream, whole raw milk, yogurt seem to be the culprits. Cheese does cause it but not as intense. Would like to hear your thoughts.
I forgot to mention we don’t eat much nightshades but we do have some organic ketchup on you hamburg. I do know when I make boiled potatoes my husband and I both suffer all night long with terrific leg cramps in both legs at the same time. It brings tears to my eyes the pain is so severe. Does anyone else have this response to eating boiled white potatoes? We only have potato maybe once every month or two and I noticed if i slice and bake them we don’t have as much problem with the cramps, anyone know what the difference would be? The other thing is I noticed that most of the bagged potatoes are very green now. The whole bag! Does anyone know why this is?
I do not believe that your cramps have anything to with eating potatoes but it may very well have some thing to do with the water you cooked them in.It may be that your water is polluted with calcium chloride. Which will cause cramps in some people or if you ate cheese that day which has calcium chloride in it or you use a salad dressing with calcium dis odium edta in it . Most cramps are caused by a lack of magnesium and not the nightshades. Calcium chloride medical use is to treat magnesium poisoning. And edta does the same thing and worse. It makes no difference how you cook a potatoes it will not cause the symptom s your describing. Do not eat a potato if it has any green on on it as it is much more poisonous when it is green.
I had fairly bad acne as a teen lasting till i stopped eating nightshades in my mid 30s. I don’t know that nightshades are main cause of all teen acne but for me it was significant.
Nightshades absolutely make my skin become red and inflamed, followed the next day by acne. It took me almost 40 years to figure out that I need to avoid the entire nightshade family. But I can pig out on iced doughnuts without limit every day. I might get fat, but my skin isn’t affected.
Martin Babb says
Very interesting article. You might not be aware, but the writer’s section on Calcitriol has precipitated some heated disagreement with folks concerned with vit D metabolism at The Marshall Protocol site. I have sarcoidosis and got to this page after becoming convinced tomatoes made my pain worse. i would be VERY interested to know if there is supporting science behind the Calcitriol statements. Please, anyone who has supporting science please email me: Martin Babb firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for this article.
I posted this on Dr. Tom Cowan’s video:
Have you looked into D3 and nightshades causing “auto-immune” diseases?
Dr Trevor Marshal is a researcher who studied “vitamin d” and saw that it’s not a vitamin because every cell that needs it makes it in a complicated feedback loop WITHOUT THE SUN and D3 is a toxic steroid form. There are many forms of “d” that we know nothing about. When they test for one form and it’s low another form is high.
D3 causes calcium to build up in soft tissue and joints, causing inflammation, “auto-immune” diseases, heart & colon diseases, strokes, tumors, clots, ischemia and death.
His research makes sense but I don’t agree with taking a drug to block the VDR. I appreciate his work because quitting all nightshades nearly cured me.
I wonder why doctors have been pushing mega doses of D3 for over a decade when they know D3 is toxic rat poison. Maybe it’s because they knew D3 (steroid) cripples immune systems, helping them start this False Flag plandemic/WW3 shooting the masses with bioweapons and blame it on “viruses” the invisible enemy.
Everything is so *****ed up, most of what we believe is opposite to truth. There’s so much more we need to learn about who and where we are.
https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/food-features/nightshades/#gsc.tab=0 [show less]
Preston Glover says
Thanks for this article .. Now that i stopped tomatoes completely …i am pain free once again after 2 long years… I was told by one of the homepathic doctors in India to stop eating potatoes and eggplant but he never made a mention of the tomatoes.. Now that I am on total no-tomato diet.. i feel i am born again….
Hello, I have just started to eliminate the nightshade family as I am in terrible pain with oesteoarthritis. I was wondering how long before you noticed a decrease in your pain? Many thanks.
I eliminated all the night shades and eliminated all arthritis pain about 8years ago. You may think you have eliminated them but are still eating them. Do not eat potatoes tomatoes all peppers except for black pepper is okay. . You must eliminate blue berries most if not all store bought bread contains nightshades any food that contains paprika .do not eat any food with malto dextrin or modified starches do not eat. Do not eat any food or soup mix with spices listed as an ingredient do not eat . If you are on medications you will have to check for non medicinal ingredients that may contain nightshades. Do not eat egg plant or chinese goji berries. Do not eat any food with vegetable mono and diglycerides. Most yogurts are contaminated with them . Pretty well most snack foods and nuts are contaminated as well. and when your done you will know as you will be pain free and inflammation free. And your body will heal I know because I have already done it.
Jen Mc says
Great article. I realized I was allergic to nightshades about 1.5 years ago and that is was causing some severe cystic acne. After eliminating it from my diet, many long-term skin rashes that I thought were hereditary psoriasis vanished as well. My digestion, which I didn’t even realize was suffering, greatly improved too.
I also have an intolerance to milk, like Steve, but can handle fat-free/low-fat yogurt just fine and can handle the lowest fat milk products better than others. Cheese doesn’t seem to be a huge issue. Is there some connection between nightshade intolerance and milk intolerance?
Also, is there a comprehensive list somewhere of foods to avoid? I got myself in trouble drinking a tea my grandma gave me one (felt like I had the flu, I think it was just a big dose of alkaloids) and also almost took an herbal supplement and realized the bottle mentioned alkaloids right before I put it in my mouth! I would like to avoid that!
Natto, a Japanese dish of fermented soybeans, is one of the best sources of vitamin K2. Fermenting soybeans also seems to diminish the negative effects of soybeans that makes people avoid soy foods.
Great article. Thank you so much for the common sense explanation. I just started avoiding nightshade foods due to severe pain in my knees….things are better just after one week. Can’t wait for week 2!!
Randall Glas says
It seems to me that it might be possible to remove solanine from the potatoes.
I have been reading “EFFECT OF LIGHT ON SOLANINE SYNTHESIS IN THE POTATO TUBER by HERBERT W. CONNER”
It looks like acetic acid could be used to extract the solanine from potatoes.
Groundbreaking: How to Easily Remove Nightshade Toxins From Potato Starch:
I think you would have to boil the potatoes. Drain the liquid. Put the potatoes in a glass or ceramic container. Put water and vinegar in the container with the potatoes.
Let it set for a few hours. Then drain the liquid from the potatoes.
What do you think?
I would rather just avoid potaotes/ switch entirely to sweet-potatoes for any and all ‘potato’ needs… It doesn’t seem worth all the time and effort, especially when they’re sold side-by-side with sweet-potatoes, which I believe have a higher vitamin content than potatoes, as well as tons of potassium, as well none of the above-listed set-backs of potatoes to begin with…
I agree, I can’t digest potatoes, so changed to orange & red fleshed sweet potatoes, as they do contain more vitamins & minerals.
So . . basically, fermentation. Leave out the vinegar, use a salt brine and let it make its own vinegar, right?
By the time you’ve put the potato through all that it will be almost void of any nutrition, once a vegetable is cut it starts to oxidise & lose it’s vitamin content, & then more when boiled, so by the time it’s sat in water & vinegar for a few hours, the vitamins & minerals will be negligible, & the potato probably won’t taste very nice either, like Seth say’s, save the time & effort & switch to sweet potatoes,they are much more nutritious.
Thank you for this informative article. I went to a doctor for my Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Debilitating fatigue and Bronchitis 6 times per year for over 10 years). He told me to go on the GAPS diet and thought I would be cured in 6 months. I stayed on the diet for 4 years and the recurring fatigue and bronchitis persisted (of course the doctor did not believe that I followed the diet closely). I incorporated eggplant into my diet on GAPS, not having eaten much eggplant previously. I also ate more tomatoes and peppers than previously (potatoes are not allowed). I’m thinking that the nightshades are the reason I wasn’t helped by the GAPS diet. I did eventually notice that eggplant kept me awake at night and I started wondering about other nightshade plants, especially tomatoes. I noticed an improvement in my fatigue problems after removing eggplant and tomatoes from my diet.
I have been off of the GAPS diet for about 3 years and have struggled to incorporate any grains back into my diet. I tried some gluten free products and found most of them caused problems for me also. After reading this article, I noticed that most of them contain potato starch. I felt much better when I started avoiding potato starch, but still wanted to test fresh potatoes. It took about 5 days to recover from eating a large serving of mashed russet potatoes. I became diligent about avoiding all nightshades about 2 weeks ago and continue to improve. There have even been some mornings where I woke up feeling good and actually wanted to get out of bed! Perhaps this will be the answer to a 20 plus year problem with fatigue.
Walter Sobchak says
How are you doing, these days? I hope you’re well.
Paul Navrot says
When Dr. Price studied the extensive records of bones and teeth at Pecos, New Mexico, he was looking at a millenial record of cultures of people who apparently did not leave much evidence of preparing meals with either potatoes, tomatoes, or the State’s “Official Vegetable,” chile – all of which are native to the Americas. Now, a pico de gallo (onions, chile, diced tomato), egg, and potato burrito is almost ubiquitos with regional cusine.
Dunmire and Tierney, in Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province, describes a tomato-like fruit, ‘groundcherry,’ as being collected from uncultivated spaces in the region, but not necessarily found in their garden plots. They also describe obscure references to eating wild potatoes, regionally, but they do not mention that they were actively cultivated. In his book, The Great Chile Book, Mark Miller describes chile as being a relatively modern food, introduced as late as the Sixteenth Century to New Mexico.
Price hypothesized that diminishing soil quality led to the steady decline of dental and skelletal health of the locals at Pecos. These urbanized farmers could have consumed buffalo meat, but they did not consume buffalo butter. A general trend of desertification, over a millenium, could have resulted in diminishing sources of vitamin K2 from the meat and eggs of domestic turkey and wild game. If the inhabitants of Pecos were stresses from a lack of calcium, and associated fat-soluble vitamins, it is no wonder why potatoes, tomatoes, and chile were not found in their plots of corn, beans, and squash.
Garrett Smith’s article casts new light on the age-old stories that ethnobotanists have been sharing about American Southwest agriculture and cusine. His article also refines the basic components of traditional diets in regard to these popular New World foods.
I am from New Mexico. Are you advocating chile or potatoes, or are you saying that they are unhealthy?
Interesting read! I just wanted to add that, while there is no substitute for tomatoes, there are some good recipes out there for “no-tomato” tomato sauce for folk with nightshade allergies and sensitivities. Here is one such recipe that I make and use as a pasta sauce and general purpose tomato sauce substitute. It’s wonderful, easy to make, and even looks like the real thing! http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/no-mato-sauce-tomato-free-pasta-sauce-for-secret-recipe-club/
I have read that nightshade vegetables and fruits do not produce solanine and there is no scientific evidence in peer-reviewed journals supporting the view that nightshade vegetables and plants cause osteoarthritis or can alleviate its pain. The theory proposed by this article that OA is caused by deposition of calcium in the joints is not based on any known scientific evidence. Therefore, I see little value in the author’s advice. In fact, since nighshade foods are very nutritious, giving them up, because of a false theory would be harmful to health.
You might find the information in Dr Norman Childers books useful. After finding his cattle responded badly to the nightshade family and he had pains after eating tomatos he researched the link. Many ‘co-operators’ deleted nightshades from their diet and became free of pain. Well worth checking out. Not everyone is sensitive to nightshades (Dr Childers reckons about 10%) but for those who are this is very valuable information. Also Dr Sherry Rogers, who, as a GP, had all the best treatment that could be offered and it was only when she deleted nightshades from her diet she became well again.
I had an allergist who theorized that not everyone is as vulnerable to nightshades. Dr Childers felt that most people would feel the effects by age 60. I had the effects starting by age 20. For me it was bad headaches to start with and progressed to arthritis. In my early 30s I met a group promoting Dr Childers research and went cold turkey on nightshades and felt like a new man after only 2 days! That was in 2001 and I haven’t looked back. I did have the fortune of speaking to Dr Childers a few times on the phone and for a 100 year old man he sounded very youthful.
I don’t know about solanine, but trust me when I say that just because there is no evidence of something in peer-reviewed journals does not mean that it does not exist. Sorry for the triple negative! But my point is that nutrition research on humans is expensive, very time consuming and very difficult to maintain good controls. As such, academic research may be a good starting point, but the existing body of research is far from complete. Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats performing a thorough exclusion diet to test for the involvement of food in chronic illness.
I want to thank you for sharing this information.
For the past two summers my muscles would get really sore and stiff. I’ve been active all my life and couldn’t identify what was the culprit. After praying about the matter for a while (and after having tried different things) it occurred to me that the ONE thing that changes quite a bit in summertime is my consumption of tomatoes and peppers as we grow a large organic heirloom garden. So I googled “tomatoes and muscle /joint pain” & found your article. I’m immediately ceasing my nightshade intake and I pray it will help. As much as I enjoy our tomatoes, peppers, etc….my health is more important than my tastebuds:) thank you again!
After twice being told by doctors ‘you have arthritis and will be on painkillers for the rest of your life’ I looked for the reason. I have known for years that potato’s bring on pain and this year I had a lot of tomatos and peppers – so much so that I reached crisis point and have been back and forth to the hospital. Cause of all this? Extreme sensitivity to Nightshades. I suspect I have been sensitive for much of my life but they have built up in my body to the point where even a little paprika or potato starch sets off a reaction. I have been reading the research of Dr Norman Childers and it explains everything. His books are out of print and difficult to get but worth trying and if you search his website is still available but inactive. Dr Sherry Rogers also tells of this in her books. This really should be better known as the over 60 pages of testimonials in Dr Childers books show it is a problem for so many people. I have been trying to avoid nightshades for a month now and feeling much better but everything needs to be checked (potato starch is in medications/supplements and capsican in many painkilling ointments and creams) yesterday I bought honey almonds as a treat and found they had paprika in them so every label must be read. Some Yeast and baking powders have potato starch. In the UK I have found Doves Farm free from potato starch. It is not an easy diet to follow but for anyone who is nightshade sensitive it is essential.
Tomatoes were considered poisonous because many plates were made from pewter. Since tomatoes are acidic, eating them on pewter plates would cause the lead to leech into the tomatoe causing lead poisoning. Though food allergies are certainty real there is to many pop culture food “truths” out there for my taste.
This article is very valid, darling. Nightshades definitely make my body ache like crazy. No doubt about it. Why some people and not all is the question.
I’ve suffered from osteoarthritis for a long time especially in my hands, but I am anti-most drugs. My 93 year young mom has severe arthritis in knees and hands. I do most of the healthy things, exercise, mostly organic foods, etc. Even though my alternative doctor told me about nightshades years ago, I have never completely eliminated nightshade. I KNOW eggplant really bothers my hands, so Alan’s comment above “doesn’t alleviate pain” is not true for me nor for many others. We must listen to our bodies. So I am thankful for such an in-depth article and am going to go on this elimination diet for 6 weeks and see how I feel. Keep up the great research!
This is the best in depth, well researched information on nightshade sensitivity I have ever come across. I feel that I have nothing to lose except my pain by eliminating all nightshade foods. Thanks to Dr. Garrett Smith for his research and great article.
Virginia Dixon says
Fascinating! Just yesterday I was looking at a hike with knee pain. I had eaten fresh tomatoes and eggplant the night before and no doubt raw peppers for lunch and was wondering why I hurt so badly. For good measure I slathered magnesium chloride straight onto my knees and began to walk. Pain totally gone! I know I have been short of magnesium, but his experience has me looking for more sources.
I will try the K2 trick as well. To me eggplant is more lucious than chocolate! There will be fewer night shades for me now, but I will indulge with care.
Daniel Rogers says
I have found Elektra Magnesium to be good for me. Make sure you get a food grade source of magnesium. Sometimes they get it from the dead sea and other sources which are downstream of agriculture or mining runoff. Also Ocean sources cant be trusted either.
Chris Greene says
Potatoes, Peppers and eggplants these vegetable are more prone to pesticides and chemicals.
Tomatoes are also very high in histamine…so if you have a problem metabolizing histamine and a nightshade sensitivity. ..double whammy!
SK Glen says
I really liked this article but would like some clarification regarding the Healthy 4 Life publication on this website. I am getting ready to start a diet of bone broth for a couple of weeks (along with cut up organic vegetables, organic meats and healthy fats added in). Then after, I am looking to introduce more healthy foods a little at a time. So, I downloaded the Healthy 4 Life PDF eating guide published by Weston A. Price Foundation and started reading. Well, there are many recipes in it that have nightshades. I know I am sensitive to at least one nightshade as I had eaten Baba Ganoush a long time ago (several times). Every time I ate it, my mouth totally itched and had become inflamed. My question is does the Foundation intend to remove nightshades from the Healthy 4 Life publication? If so, I would love to get a copy of an updated version.
I continually get conflicting information about what is considered healthy and what is not. The latest is potato starch. I am sure many have seen the information on resistant starches and how healthy they are and one of the big ones is potato starch (many companies are now selling it). I read a popular doctor’s newsletter in which Weston A. Price Foundation is often quoted, and the doctor writes all sort of good things about nightshades. Any clarification would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Judi Cunningham says
Nightshades apparently don’t bother some people at all. Or possibly they just aren’t aware of the source of their problem. My arthritic knees become pain-free and my psoriasis disappears when I eat right. An excellent book that helped me was The Psoriasis Cure, by Lisa Levan. I think I got it from Amazon.Nightshades gave me hives even when I was a baby.
I appreciate this article. Thank you. I definitely noticed issues with nightshades. I even tried red & new gold white potatoes and still reacted & my eyes & ankles swelled up & so fatigued next day. I was surprised that Sweet potatoes were mentioned as safe for joint issues — Sweet Potatoes are considered “Very high” in Oxalates”, which also accumulate in tissues & cause joint pain, inflammation, mood issues and even genitourinary pain. Sweet potatoes are also high in estrogen, I’m told. Fyi.
Be sure! Nightshades cause all sorts of problems. For me, even a tiny bit of paprika can cause joint problems. I had a “health drink” with Ashwaghanda in it, not realizing that Ashwaghanda is a nightshade. I had to drive home from the store – a 15 minute drive. The Ashwaghanda had made me so tired, I could hardly stay awake on that 15 minute drive. I did not realize that even a tiny bit of nightshade can make me SO tired. Not all people are sensitive to nightshades – YET! But when you see all the people who have trouble with them, why do you disbelieve. Just be glad if you are not one of them. And BEWARE! You could, one day, join the ranks.
A question: Tomatoes are very prevalently used in Italian cuisine. So far as I’ve heard, that connection hasn’t been made there. Do you think it’s because of a moderate use? or perhaps it’s in conjunction with more whole foods and healthy fats? This is not a rhetorical question and I’d love some honest knowledgeable feedback.
I am wondering if anyone has looked at how this ties into the Marshall Protocol theories about the different forms of Vitamin D, the Vitamin D receptors, and autoimmune disease. Marshall Protocol points out that when D3 tests low, often calcitriol is off the charts high (in people who are ill with many chronic diseases and autoimmune disease. This suggests that low D3 is not the cause of the illness, but simply one of the effects. Marshall Protocol includes avoidance of Vitamin D supplements and D fortified foods, and even sunlight.
It does seem like it might be correlated. Would appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this who is familiar with the protocol or the research behind it.
After reading this article I pray I have found a solution. I have tried a yeast and sugarfree diet, no grains or dairy. I have been juicing everyday now for 3 months and still no reduction in oesteoarthritis pain. This may be the handset, I hope so as I dread the thought of hip replacement. Wish me luck!!!
You need to have patience with seeing results after removing Nightshades from the diet. The 3 Month rule applied almost to the exact week for me. It is my lower back and arthritis on 2 vertebrae that rub together (degenerated disc). I still feel some lesser pain in my spine, but no intense muscle reaction causing intense spasms. No more using ibuprofen, or heavier pain & muscle relaxers. Basically, the calcification on the bone areas takes about 90 days for it to subside. Most inflammation is removed. Maybe more time for some and less for others? Other comments on their timeframes would be interesting … ???
Tony Hunt says
Super informative article and I am totally anti nightshade due to a skin condition called Hidradenitis Suppurativa (unknown cause of disease). There are studies linking dairy consumption to HS. For me the trigger is potato’s… But I’m a massive dairy consumer. In your article you state calcitriol is in nightshades. That gets me very curious about potential calcinosis in hair follicles due to the combination of calcium intake and calcitriol.
Could you comment if you believe calcitriol is in nightshades that we eat? To the best of my Google/research it only appears to be in a poisoness nightshade Solanum malacoxylon… Not in yhr common edible potato’s, capsicum or tomato’s.
This would give a real line of investigation if you have information that calcitriol is in potato’s (solanum tuberosum)…
Not remotly helpful but then I was looking for clarification on nighshades from the Cure Tooth Decay book by Ramiel Nagel.
He says potatoes are fine but to avoid all other nightshades if you are having problems repairing your teeth. But then he also says to drink tomato juice !
So I assume there must be some way of treating nightshades to make them safe to eat ?
Is the substance in the seeds ?
I can give up grains alot eaiser than nightshades sadly and I have read ALOT of wedsites teaching how to repair teeth and yet not one has mentioned nightshades. And the websites based on traditional food preperation use nightshades and in a normal mannor !
Can anyone help clarify this please ?
Yeah, he recommended eating Tomatoes because they are high in Vitamin C. So the solution is to take around 100mg of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid etc.) when you have a meal with these foods in them.
You also separate these foods out sometimes and eat them a couple hours after you need to take in nutrients like vitamin d, vitamin a, and calcium (either from food or supplements).
Stopped eating tomatoes after itching and leg neuropathy, after a flu.Ended with not eating tomatoes. Friend told me about ashwagandha being in same category (nightshade) so I quit those supplements. Now I have aches which mostly were gone with the ashwagandha. Other benefits of ashwagandha are now gone too. What is going on? Wish I could do the ashwagandha.
I also had to stop taking aswagandha it is part of the tomato family. Also Maha oil has aswagandha in it I just read. Oh joy you real have to research everything not just that it is natural sometimes doesnt meant everything I am still confused about what is being said about Vit D what type is Ok and what is not what dosage please explain
I have been avoiding nightshades for a while and doing well, but you are right about having to research everything. I did read an article that said you could use Rodiola in place of Ashwaghanda for some of the same anti-inflammatoy effects. Plan on doing more research on this. You just have to read every label.
Jane Bouttell says
All my chronic symptoms fell into place. For some years, I had been suffering from ‘cyclical vomiting’ and regular bouts of depression. I was once prescribed Amitirptyline for the depression and responded well. I then found taking it when needed also cured the cyclical vomiting. (This has been attested by others with the same complaint.) THEN I discovered Amitriptyline is made from Deadly Nightshade. Homeopathic or what? I now avoid all nightshades aand have phenomenal levels of energy. Thank you!
Tony Nolan says
Priceless information. I have severe reactions after eating most the of the ‘nightshades’ foods, mainly digestive issues. I avoid them as much as possible, and believe this has helped to delay the onset of arthritis and similar pains. I am very grateful for the generous and careful explanation in Dr Price’s article
I was considering knee replacement because I could barely walk and deeply in pain. I got sick and couldn’t eat for two days and discovered that after not eating my pain went away and I was walking like I was twenty years ago. So I knew it was something I was eating causing my pain. After research I found out about nightshades. I immediately gave them up and have not looked back. I was eating 3 tomatoes every day. Plus tomato sauces, eggplant, paprika and dill pickles. Most all dill pickles are made with peppers. Pain free for six months now. You must be diligent. Read food labels carefully. Contact manufacturers and find out what their “natural flavorings” consist of. Being pain free is worth the effort.
I am curious about Ashwagandha. I had tried it once and I got headaches before I knew it was related to nightshades. I wonder if anyone has tried it with K2 to see if it seems ok. I more recently started supplementing K2 and have noticed I don’t get headaches often after I eat a bit of nightshades, whereas prior to that I had been more sensitive to tiny amounts.
This is a good thread to keep goin of testimonials, it will really help if after we tried it, we come back to write our experience bks i found these sight in search of having a frozen shoulder which one lady mentipn about this DNS foods, letkeep in touch to help others to ease the pain.
The Author makes no mention of any potential for Nightshades to cause mental and/or emotional side effects such as depression or anxiety. I am wondering why that is and what his opinion on that may be? Also, might anyone else here have experienced these symptoms and linked them to Nightshades? Thanks in advance.
Interesting article, I love tomatoes, salsa, potatoes, cayenne pepper, goji berries. But I’d love to have a pain free body instead. I have the stiff, tight, muscles and joints and I’m wondering if its from the nightshades I’m ingesting….hmmm. I willing to let them go for six weeks and monitor how I feel, will pick up Dr. Childers book too.
Thanks for sharing,
This was really interesting read, but I’m curious to find out where to find more information about calcitriol levels in tomatoes (and other nightshades). There are a lot of other blog articles warning about calcitriol in tomatoes, but they have all drawn their information from this article.
And this article doesn’t seem to provide any sources to back up the claim about calcitriol. I can see that a lot of people do a lot better without nightshades in the diet, but it would be good to be able to look up pieces of information like this. It often happens that bloggers all copy something from one source, making the information “common knowledge”. It could turn out to be incorrect.
Wow, I am so glad I found this. Over the years, I had been eating more and more foods from the nightshade family and suffering from debilitating pain. Feels like I have cement in my leg muscles and my feet dont want to bend. Very stiff overall on first movement and much worse at night. Thank you for posting this.
I’ve used belladonna several yrs ago on occasion, while taking homeopathic supplements. I’ve had severe health issues, a majority the past 12+ years. Especially the past 11. I was also a smoker for several yrs n tobacco is a nightshade. I’ve read about how tomatoes n potatoes contain nicotine, n I have always felt sort of addicted to them, tomato in pizza sauce. Ironic how they contain nicotine n are 2 of the main staples in America. A few yrs ago, I took some Ashwaghanda root. Also a nightshade. A helpful herb sometimes but sometimes seems possibly dangerous, but since im already ill was unsure of sideeffects. I ate a green potato, after removing the spot n around it. Had heard that its fine that way, but they can accumulate more solanine. I think i had a worsening of illness that nite n came across the topic of nightshades. Possible the green potato n ashwaghanda root had a bad solanine reaction. I was wondering, if someone ingested belladonna yrs ago on occasion, n was a smoker for over a decade off n on, would they be likely to be more sensitive to solanine? Probably best to stay off nightshades altogether?
I had been dealing with perioral dermatitis for years. I even tried Chinese herbs, and the herbalist told me about nightshades. After just a few weeks without nightshades, my multiple skin issues either disappeared (perioral dermatitis, sebaceous cyst) or improved (psoriasis). Now, this weekend I caved in and had a spicy Indian curry. In the middle of the night I woke up to find that the sebaceous cyst had reappeared, bigger than before and incredibly painful. What on earth would nightshades have to do with a sebaceous cyst? I’m off nightshades for good … lesson learned!
Thank you so much for this article. I got chills reading. Just yesterday I discovered by chance that I have Genu valgum (commonly called “knock-knee”). Although it is not severe and my knees don’t knock as I am always trying to keep my feet pointing straight, the pain in my hips can be excruciating. I had an Ayurvedic massage three days ago and felt great! It really helped the pain. Then today, I had a baked potato with roast chicken pieces flavoured with tomatoes, cayenne, garlic and onions, and bham! I’m laid up in bed unable to sleep due to the pain in my hips and knees. I remember some time ago, I wondered if Potatoes were making me ill , which is unable to get comfortable, I reached for my phone to google it and found your article. It’s really opened my eyes and I don’t feel I need further convincing. However, since I had potatoes, tomatoes and cayenne in the same meal, I will do an elimination test to see if I’m allergic to all of them or not. I am particularly interested to see if cayenne is a problem for me – especially as naturopath and nutritionist, Barbara O’ Neille swears by it’s healing and blood thinning properties. I’m going to forward her your article. It’ll be interesting what she has to say about it.
Surprised anyone would debate that solanine is present in nightshade family foods (referring to one of the commenters above). This info has been around for years & scientific literature is available to read about it. Solanine first isolated from foods in the 1800s…
People can be resistant to giving up foods because they love the food so much and don’t want to give up the short-term, immediate pleasure that consuming the food gives them. I am a pepper head and adore all nightshade foods, yet also know that most of my inflammation is worsened by nightshades. I have eliminated them from my diet several times over the past 25 years, so can easily see the difference.
For those that keep questioning the article or the info – just take and hour or two and read some articles. There are plenty of studies on Pub Med. Better yet, just give up the damm nightshades for 3 months. What is three months out of your life, anyway? Just do it! But as others have mentioned, you have to be VERY diligent and read ALL ingredients. It is NOT easy.
Look at it this way: perhaps if you can get your inflammation under control by giving up nightshades, then maybe after a year or two of healing your tissues, some of the other inflammatory (NOT nightshades) foods may be able to be consumed on a limited basis (providing you do not have autoimmune reaction to inflammatory foods. To find out this info you have to get tested).
To the commenter that wondered about lack of info about problems with nightshades in countries like Italy: just take a vacation to Italy and have a look at the old folks there. My recollections are lots of humped necks & spines, gnarled fingers & ankles & lots of canes! Just because something doesn’t show up on TV or in magazines doesn’t mean it’s not happening…
Just starting yet another nightshade free period; today is day one! Good luck to all out there and hang in there. If you fall off the wagon, just start over, it’s ok. And if you are resistant to trying it, that’s ok too. But if you never really try it, you won’t ever really know, will you?
I am skeptical of the claim that calcitriol is present in nightshades.
I have scoured Pubmed and Google and have only found health websites claiming that nightshades contain it. I can’t find a single scientific study to back this claim.
Can someone point me to some actual science indicating that this is true?
Danielle Roach says
Great article. I just muscle tested myself for these sensitivities and they all were a YES so I am going to muscle test myself foods before I eat them just in case! THANKS
I am going to really miss my fermented hot sauce.
Do you have much experience with fermenting any of these foods? Would that allow you to eat them?
I am curious to this also.
I have a negative immune response to cucumber(which I believe is low sals,) but I wonder if fermented pickles are okay. I have not noticed a definite reaction to pickles like I do with cucumbers, but that doesnt mean they are good for me either. I have not started the Guaifenesin Protocol yet, I am just learnimg how to lessen my sals first.
Wow how informative & fascinating!! I’ve been on an elimination diet & have reincorperated peppers tomatoes & feel more inflammed… I’ve been wondering about this & it confirms my suspicions!! Oddly, I theorized before ever reading this article that since nightshades bloom/grow under moon light opposed to sun light, they may contain some form of anti Vitamin D!!! So after reading this I’m completely blown away & I’m done with nightshades!!!! Ty so much for sharing!!! Best read in a long while.. Possibly ever!!!
Linda Sewell says
Great article! I am histamine intolerant, family trait, the keto diet & avoiding nightshade foods cured just about everything for me except I was taking ashwagandha, not knowing it was a nightshade herb (also some goji berries), it injured my liver, which is now healing by simply stopping the herbs. I do take vitamin K, did not know it could prevent a reaction to nightshade food similar to the diamine oxidase capsules. I started taking the ashwagandha for anxiety, funny thing is I have far less anxiety (basically zero) now that I am not taking it. Thank you Dr. Garrett Smith for your work.
Hi Garrett, Thank you for providing this immense information on your blog. I’m glad that I found your article. It makes me feel sad upon reading your post that eggplant and some beans are part of the nightshade’s food, which is one of my favorites. While reading this piece a while ago https://gundrymd.com/remove-lectins/ it gives me another hope and insight, so I think I will still be able to eat them by following the guide, thanks anyway
Michel Tutundjian says
Does this mean taking D3 increases the problem? you said that D3 is not the same as D2 but it will end up as 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D which causes the problem. should I take D3 with K2 or remove it altogether? thanks in advance
Joe Killian says
There is an interesting connection between nightshades, autoimmune disease and the arterial epithelial “organ”, only one cell thick. Dr. Mark Houston wrote “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About – Heart Disease. 2012. It might be many otherwise cardio healthy people, find out perplexed with heart disease – and their doctors too. There are quite a few easy tests for the arterial system listed in the book.
Do we know how much Calcitriol is found in nightshades? I’m a CKD patient and am looking for a natural source for Calcitriol, since The Root Cause Protocol (Morley Robbins) teaches that synthetic Vit D explodes ceruloplasmin.