The Dangers of Nightshades: Why Eating the Wrong Fruits and Vegetables Can Make Pain Worse

Fruits and vegetables are more than favorable for our health. However, certain products can bring negative effects if consumed in the wrong way.


Nightshades are a particular group of plants which is a part of the Solanaceae family. This family includes more than 2,000 species of plants. We know most of these plants, such as tomatoes, potatoes, all types of peppers, and eggplants.

At times, blueberries, huckleberries, goji berries and ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng) can fall into this group, even though they are not particularly a kind of nightshades plants.

The consumption of nightshades can cause an inflammation, as they contain a chemical known as solanine, which, according to experts, causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.

Researchers now believe this chemical may actually irritate the gastrointestinal tract. When it’s absorbed into the bloodstream, it can cause the destruction of the oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Solanine is known as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor – it acts to prevent the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh), leading to an excessive build-up of ACh in nerve receptor sites. This action allows for constant over-stimulation of Ach receptors, especially within the nervous system as it’s responsible for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Solanines are not water soluble, are not destroyed by cooking, and are not broken down inside the body but must be excreted as alpha-solanine. Alpha-solanine is classified as a neurotoxin. Interestingly most “foods” that contain alpha-solanine also contain at least 5 other neurotoxins including atropine and nicotine.

Nightshades and Arthritis

Arthritis has been found to be caused and aggravated by nightshades. Researchers have found that if you are suffering from any of the 3 types of arthritis, nightshades can further worsen them. This has been proven in at least one of the 3 forms of this disease.

Researchers have also come to the conclusion that there may be case of misdiagnosis of arthritis in some cases where similar effects are caused because of consuming nightshades. So your arthritis may actually not be arthritis! It is caused by eating some nightshade foods.

Researchers have found that alkaloids somehow make an impact on how our body metabolizes calcium. In fact, scientists have been unable to find the underlying cause why these foods can breakdown calcium in our bones, causing them to accumulate in the soft tissue in our body. This further leads to arthritis.

It is because of all these reasons why scientists now recommend that everyone having the following conditions should not consume nightshades:

– Rheumatoid arthritis
– Osteoarthritis
– Other joint disorders

Dr. Norman F. Childers, who founded the Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation, says that a diet containing nightshades seems to play a role in the etiology of arthritis. This has been studied in a 20-year survey that covered more than 1,400 people. According to him plants belonging to the nightshades or solanaceae family are critical in causing arthritis in those who are sensitive. The alkaloid tropane has been found to be the main cause behind the reactions in individuals who are sensitive to this compound.

Eliminating nightshades from my diet has had a profound effect on my health. In 2006 I completely eliminated all nightshades from my diet. The first big change I noticed was that I no longer needed an inhaler. I had been diagnosed with reactive airways disease ten years’ earlier and used inhalers on almost a daily basis.

My need for inhalers decreased dramatically, until two weeks later, when I noticed I hadn’t used an inhaler at all. Six years later, I have never had the need for an inhaler. Within three months of eliminating nightshades, I noticed that the knee pain and leg weakness I had on a daily basis was also completely gone.

For those that suffer from arthritis or an arthritis-related disease such as lupus, rheumatism, and other musculoskeletal pain disorders members of the Solanaceae family of flowering plants, more commonly known as nightshades, may be adversely affecting their health.

So what are these nightshade foods that must be avoided? The list contains the following plants:

– Tomatoes – all kinds of tomatoes. Even tomatillos
– Potatoes – all kinds (this does not include yams and sweet potatoes)
– Okra
– Eggplant (or aubergine)
– Peppers (all kinds including wax pepper, green pepper, bell pepper, red pepper, paprika, cayenne, and chili pepper among others)
– Tomarillos (these are fruits from Peru that look like plums)
– Goji berries
– Artichokes
– Blueberries and Garden Huckleberry (they have the inflammation-causing alkaloids)
– Sorrel
– Gooseberries
– Paprika
– Homeopathic Belladonna
– Pepino Melon

Most of the soy sauce that is made here in the United States is produced using GMO soy beans. They are cut along with petunia, which is a nightshade plant.

It will be safer and healthier to choose Braggs Amino Acids, which are available at the local health food stores. This is made from soy sauce that has been naturally fermented. The other ingredient in it is spring water. It will give you all the great taste of soy sauce without any harmful ingredients.

Note: – It should be made clear that condiments such as pepper corns, black pepper and white pepper don’t fall in the nightshade category.

Harmful Ingredients

– Homeopathic remedies containing Belladonna (known as deadly nightshade)
– Prescription and over-the-counter medications containing potato starch as a filler (especially prevalent in sleeping and muscle relaxing medications)
– Edible flowers: Petunia, chalice vine, day jasmine, angel and devil’s trumpets
– Atropine and Scopolamine, used in sleeping pills
– Topical medications for pain and inflammation containing capsicum (in cayenne pepper)
– Many baking powders contain potato starch
– Don’t lick envelopes, many adhesives contain potato starch
– Vodka (potatoes used in production)

Read labels carefully because you could be doing everything else right, and still be sabotaged by one small amount of an ingredient. You should never buy a food that uses the generic term of seasoning or spices because you won’t know what is really in your food.

Three Month Challenge

It is best to start getting used to a life without nightshades by engaging into a three-month challenge. It involves avoidance of all kinds of nightshade products, prescriptions, over- the- counter medications- and other processed foods which contain nightshades.

After the 3-month period, incorporate one nightshade at a time into your diet. This will lead to symptoms like energy loss, headaches, pain, stiffness, and respiratory problems due to the presence of nightshades. This will encourage you to never try them again.

The Cost of Pain

According to a report published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in June 2011, over 116 million adults in America suffer from some kind of pain on a daily basis. In other words, that’s a third of the country’s population. So, more people suffer from some kind of pain than the total number of people suffering from heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Overall, treatment of pain and other related costs come to over $635 billion annually. These expenses can be in the form of medical treatment, disability, or loss of productivity and wages.