You may have heard of the term “deadly nightshade” referring to a plant called belladonna, which was used as a poison in ancient times. Lesser known are the commonly eaten vegetables in the same nightshade family. Yeah, that doesn’t sound good at all, does it?
The truth is, they aren’t deadly, but they contain enough toxins to cause inflammation in some people, particularly those with autoimmune disease. Often, we don’t realize just how much, until we stop eating them:
- Peppers (bell peppers, banana peppers, chili peppers, etc.)
- Red pepper seasonings (paprika, chili powder, cayenne, curry, etc.)
- Ground cherries (similar to tomatoes, they have no relationship to fruit cherries)
- Read labels: terms like “spices” and “natural flavors” often contain the above seasonings, and “starch” often comes from potatoes.
Not truly a nightshade member but containing the same inflammation-inducing alkaloids are blueberries, huckleberries, goji berries and Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng).
The theory suggests that nightshades induce inflammation through a specific chemical known as solanine. Researchers now believe this chemical may 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 five other neurotoxins including atropine and nicotine.
Nightshades Could Be Causing Your Arthritis Flare-Ups
One of the major problems attributed to nightshades is arthritis. In fact, some researchers believe that arthritis is often misdiagnosed in people who may in fact only be experiencing the effects of nightshade consumption while having a nightshade sensitivity.
Alkaloids appear to affect the metabolism of calcium. Though not yet understood how, nightshade foods may remove calcium from bones and deposit it in soft tissue, setting the stage for arthritis.
For this reason, researchers have recommended that all individuals with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other joint problems like gout eliminate nightshade foods from their diet.
Norman F. Childers, Ph.D., is the founder of the Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation. He has the following to say on this subject: “Diet appears to be a factor in the etiology of arthritis based on surveys of over 1400 volunteers during a 20-year period.
Plants in the drug family, Solanaceae (nightshades) are an important causative factor in arthritis in sensitive people.” The primary cause of the reactions in some people is the presence of an alkaloid called tropane which many are very sensitive to.
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.