Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Toxic Effects of Nightshade Vegetables on GI, Immune & Nervous Systems

I've heard for years that people with Arthritis should avoid nightshade vegetables. I knew the main culprits were potatoes and tomatoes, but did not understand what it was about them that effected inflammation. Eggplant and sweet and hot peppers are also considered nightshade vegetables.

Last night I chose to eat potatoes and unfortunately I experienced first hand multiple reactions all night and into today. My Fibromyalgia pain was worse, the tingling sensation in my feet from my diabetes was really horrible, I had the worst headache at the base of my head/neck (the occipital area), I was restless and could not sleep, etc. Hmm . . . What's all this about?

basket of ratte potatoes photo

In researching nightshade vegetables, I decided to focus on potatoes for today. (I'll do another article(s) on what I find out about tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.)  Potatoes are one of my favorite foods from childhood. My claim to fame is: 'I've never met a potato I didn't like', until now.

A UC Davis review paper on Potato Glycoalkaloids, (glī-kō-ˈal-kə-ˌlȯids), defines one of the main glycoalkaloids in potatoes as solanine which can be very toxic even in small amounts.  The natural function of solanine is to serve as protection from insects, fungi, etc.  Improper storage conditions are the major reason for increased levels of solanine. Potatoes should be stored in a dark, dry (not the refrigerator), and cold place, 45* being the optimal temperature. When potatoes are subject to light, they begin the process of 'greening' in which the potato peel actually turns green.  I did notice some greening on the potatoes I cooked last night. I peeled off part of it, but not all of it - my bad, but I did not know any of this information until today. 

On, it defines [Solanine poisoning as primarily displayed by gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, headaches, dizziness (and increased pain). Hallucinations, loss of sensation, and paralysis, fever, jaundice, dilated pupils and hypothermia have been reported in more severe cases.] Symptoms can manifest themselves anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. The (diabetic) tingly loss of sensation in my feet started about 2 hours after eating the potatoes last night. My fibromyalgia pain shot up about 4 hours after eating. The headache lasted 10 hours and the stomach cramping and loose stools have continued 16+ hours later.

The link between solanine poisoning and chronic illnesses has not been fully researched. However, those suffering with primary immunodeficiencies or acquired immune deficiencies are encouraged to eliminate toxic foods from their diets.  The elimination or exclusion diet as it may be called, basically eliminates foods which are known to cause allergic or inflammatory reactions. The anti-inflammatory diet eliminates wheat and corn products, red meats, sugars, caffeine, processed foods and nightshade vegetables. After eating from the modified food list for a 2 month period, you can try to add back in certain foods, one at a time, to see if or how they effect you. Wait a period of 2 weeks before adding the next new food.

Due to my Gastroparesis (see post below), potatoes are a recommended food that is easily digested. But for me, it's just not worth the horrible side effects. Noodles are another recommended food. I have added them back into my modified diet, starting with rice noodles, which I tolerated very well. I have added (wheat) egg noodles, and they seem to be fine as well with no side effects that I can tell. Foods that are easily digested are often not recommended for the diabetic or low glycemic diet as they cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly. To counter this reaction, I am successfully adding homemade soups to my diet, made from fresh anti-inflammatory vegetables. The strained vegetable stock makes a nutritious base for adding other digestible foods. These soups are delicious and nutritious.

Perhaps you've learned a little something today. If you already knew some or all of this information, I'd appreciate your insights and input.  I really look forward to all comments. Til next time, take care of yourself.  See you soon - bye.



  1. Well Being Journal
    Volo. 20, No. 3
    Garrett Smith, N. M. the evidence showing many people are affected adversely by consuming nightshade plants.

    same publication, same volume
    Jeff Foltz relates how his psoriatic arthritis decreased and joint inflammation stopped shortly after eliminating nightshades vegetables

  2. Hi Anna. Interesting question about nightshade veggies. I just subscribed to WELL BEING JOURNAL, which you can find online, because of the amazing articles I found in the issue I bought recently. Check out this amazing magazine.