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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 12 2008

Nightshades

By Worker Bee
82 Comments

NightshadesAs you (our gracious company of Apples) know, we unequivocally love our vegetables. Powerhouses of nutrients and antioxidant action, they’re the backbone of a good Primal Blueprint diet. But the issue of nightshades has come up a few times recently. Nightshades, those vegetables that find their roots in the Solanaceae family of plants, include a host of reputable veggies and spices: eggplant, potatoes (yes, we know, not so reputable), peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, et al. (Black pepper isn’t included in this list.)

Nightshade, you might exclaim? Isn’t nightshade those plants (many with alluring little berries) our camp counselors told us never, ever, to so much as put our grubby hands on? Quite possibly. The kinds of nightshade plants growing wild in the woods can be highly toxic. Some can cause death if ingested. Some actually have psychotropic properties. Inherent in this power is pharmaceutical potential. Very minute amounts of some nightshade components are prescribed to successfully treat a few kinds of allergic reactions or chemical poisoning as well as nausea related to certain conditions.

These potent little components are alkaloids, chemical substances that have one or more circular structures containing nitrogen. Essentially, they act as natural pesticides. (Evolution wasn’t just our gig after all. A plant’s gotta protect itself!) Four kinds of alkaloids in the Solanaceae family include the steroid alkaloids (the alkaloid found in most nightshade foods), tropane, pyrrolizidine and indole alkaloids. Steroid alkaloids have been shown to block certain nerve activity that can, at high levels, cause muscle shaking, paralysis and respiratory difficulty. They have also been associated with inflammation, particularly in the joints. Finally, some nightshade foods like eggplant and tomato contain trace amounts of nicotine.

But what does this mean for the tomato salad I always serve at our 4th of July barbeque? Should I give up eggplant parmigiana? No peppers or Tabasco? I thought hot food was good for me!

Before you raid your kitchen and gardens, let’s stop and take a closer look here. First off, nightshade foods contain a very small fraction of the alkaloid levels found in other “toxic” nightshade plants. If nightshades presented a major health threat to humans, we would’ve stopped eating them a long time ago or died off from the inability to learn from our neighbor’s experience. Even when nightshade foods are common ingredients in certain ethnic diets (peppers in parts of Latin America or tomatoes in Italy, to give some basic examples), the population as a whole in those parts doesn’t seem to suffer ill effects.

So, what gives? Are they bad, or are they O.K.? Our simple answer: eat them (and enjoy them) in moderation if you don’t feel any ill effects. While research hasn’t yet turned up any definitive evidence that the alkaloid-containing foods in question harm the human system, it’s generally accepted that some people are much more sensitive to them than others. Nightshades, in those with this sensitivity, have been associated with symptoms like stomach discomfort, digestive difficulties, joint pain, and muscle tremors. These reports have been enough to influence medical care professionals and some organizations to advise those with certain conditions like GERD, gout, or arthritis to avoid nightshades. If you don’t have these conditions but are concerned, it’s a good idea to take a full 2-4 weeks off from nightshade foods and see if you feel any differently. Some of us have mild enough reactions that we may not feel the difference until we set our own “control” scenario for comparison.

Finally, if sensitivity doesn’t seem to be a problem but you’d like to take some reasonable precautions, know that cooking nightshade foods (steaming, boiling, baking) can reduce the alkaloid levels to nearly half. And yet another reason to avoid potatoes: sprouted potatoes (and their associated green parts) have higher levels of alkaloids than other foods.

And, finally, we’d like to put in a plug for a widely varied diet. As much as we love our tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, we wouldn’t recommend making them the sole or primary vegetables in your diet. Variety offers the best in nutrient-rich and low-risk nourishment.

What are your thoughts on nightshades? Do you choose to embrace or avoid them? What influences your decision?

willsfca Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Smart Fuel: Eggplant

Flame Thrower: 10 Ways to Reduce Inflammation

Health Benefits of Peppers (10 Peppers You Need to Try)

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82 thoughts on “Nightshades”

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  1. It seems, from gobs and gobs of research, that the human body benefits from small amounts of substances that are poisonous in large doses. Caffeine, ethanol, aspirin, et al. are plant and microbe poisons that have clear health benefits in moderation. There’s even evidence that animals and primitive humans figured out how to use mild poisons to their benefit.

  2. I love tomatoes and I eat them in my salads quite often. I also put salsa on my omlettes. I’ve been a little concerned since I first read Scott Kustes’s post on them although I can’t say I’ve noticed any ill effects. I’ve been without out them for the last couple of days because of the salmonella scare–might be a good time to try an exclusion test.

  3. I could eat bell peppers & tomatoes all day long, they’re so delicious. I tried to cut out nightshades for awhile, but found myself really missing them in my salads. I started eating them again, but watching the amounts a little more closely.

    I didn’t notice any big change when I stopped, but I still have a long way to go before I would say I’m fit or quite healthy. There’s so many things I’m trying to balance out that I doubt I could tell whether joint pain is from nightshades or a host of other things that cause it. I figured I would get my body into better shape and once I have a consistent handle on that I can try to tweak things further.

    For now though, I’m still eating the nightshades because I love them and it’s still better than my former diet. Also, I’ve been eating them my whole life and never noticed any ill effect, and I can seriously inhale some raw bell peppers.

  4. what about sweet potatoes and yams? I eat these way more than regular potatoes. they may not be nightshades,but as something fairly high-carb, what is your take on them?

  5. Hedda,

    If you going to eat carbs other than fruits and colorful veggies, you probably couldn’t pick beter than yams and sweet potatoes. Grok probably ate a fair amount of these types of tubers when he could find them

  6. Aside from paprika, what other spices are nightshades? I wonder in particular about curry powder? Does anyone have a good kimchi recipe that gets around the need for hot peppers and/or paprika? I would just like something with a little more kick than regular sauerkraut. Maybe I’ll get lucky and still have my minor elbow tendinitis etc. after eliminating nightshades. On second thought, maybe my minor complaints will disappear and I can learn to like blander food! Great post…as usual!

    Thanks!

    1. Cayenne and chili peppers are other spices that are in the same family and often included in spice mixes like “curry powder.” Except for black pepper (grinder/shaker), anythign named pepper is a no-no. Try cumin instead for the peppery bite. If you have a spice store in your area, go talk to them!

      Recipes for curry powder and other spice mixes are easy to find on the internet, just adjust to what you can safely eat. For instance, we can’t have BBQ sauce but you can still grill with a tasty spice rub.

      PS Try adding some fennel and/or ginger to the cabbage in your sauerkraut and experiment with different radishes in your kimchi.

    2. My understanding is that sichuan peppers and long peppers are nto nightshades and are ok to eat for the sensitive.

      1. I think those long “peppers” are actually chilies and that the “chillies” in mexican food are actually peppers.

  7. YAY! These are my favorite treat, I’m glad to hear the apple approves!I almost never eat any other kind of ‘carb’, so I’m glad this is safe:) Although, why do we call grains carbs? I mean, even veggies have carbs. They’re everywhere!I wouldn’t say I avoid carbs, just grains.

  8. thanks Mark for that

    another characteristic of this group are there lectin content

    “think of a lectin as a protein containing a key that fits a certain type of lock. This lock is a specific type of carbohydrate. All life forms, plant and animal, insect and fungus have cell membranes that contain carbohydrates that sit within and project from the membrane. If a lectin with the right key comes in contact with one of these ‘locks’ on the gut wall or artery or gland or organ it ‘opens the lock’, that is disrupts the membrane and damages the cell and may initiate a cascade of immune and autoimmune events leading to cell death. (see http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html)

    the primary concern over lectins is their ability – particularly in sensitive people to attack the gut lining and allow whole proteins to cross into the blood – initiating an auto immune response – some believe that this is at the root of MS and other autoimmune disease. you should get tested for leaky gut if you are concerned.
    i read a study analysing the tomato and found that they are only in the juice around the seed – so i eat tomatoes without the juice – just a nice in my opinion.

    i avoid potatoes and peanuts (a legume – a family with most lectins) but i do eat aubergine and courgette on and off.

    wheat and other grain fibre is high in lectins to.

    markus

  9. avoid potatoes and peanuts (a legume – a family with most lectins)

    I have a question not directly on topic but related to your comment. When I was looking for some almond butter the other day, I noticed a product I hadn’t seen before: butter made from sunflower seeds. Anyone tried it or have any info on it?

    Thanks!

  10. Oh my goodness…Dave C., You MUST try sunflower seed butter. It is DELICIOUS. You’ll never go back to almonds.well, you might, but I rarely do because almond butter is SO expensive!

  11. Thanks, Hedda. That’s the appealing part of it to me. The sunbutter is available at the Navy commissary for a lot less than I pay when I take a trip to Sun Harvest (our Wild Oats/Whole Foods type store) to get the almond butter. I’m just curious how they stack up against each other nutritionally.

  12. Be careful with the sunflower butter, that stuff is like the lovechild of crack & sugar. I don’t even put it on anything, just eat it right out of the jar in alarming amounts if I’m not paying attention.

    1. I already phased the Sunbutter out of my diet, one of the main ingredients is refined sugar. almond butter tastes just as good=)

      1. Not all Sunflower seed butter has sugar in it. Try MaraNatha All Natural Sunflower Seed Butter. I like the one with the “hint of sea salt”. Ingredients: Roasted sunflower kernel seeds, sea salt. It does separate, so you have to stir it up and keep it in the refrigerator, but it is oh so yummy.

  13. Rodney,
    Paprika is the only spice that I know of that is a nightshade. Curry powder is a mixture of spices intended to approximate the flavor of Indian food. As such, it typically contains some paprika. You’ll have to check your own jar of it to see if it has paprika. Prepared mustards, sausages, and lots of other foods have paprika too. Look for “spices” in the ingredients list, though that doesn’t automatically denote paprika, just that there is a mixture of stuff that they aren’t disclosing.

    Cheers
    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

    1. 1) Curry powder usually contains cayenne, not paprika.

      2) Paprika isn’t the only nightshade spice out there. Cayenne is one as well. So is the new chipotle powder.

  14. Hi – I mostly avoid nightshade plants. For me, eggplant and potatoes are the worst, but I do fine with tomatoes and peppers. 15 years ago I was getting cortisone injections behind my knees avery 3 months, but have had zero since cutting out potatoes.

  15. Just a follow-up. I bought some of the sunflower butter. Heather, your warning is heeded! This stuff taste great and I could easily see myself just taking a spoon to the jar rather than spreading a little bit on my Fuji. I’m going to have to be careful while still in weight loss mode! 🙂

  16. Nuts are great, but many Americans do have a weight problem. That is why I am so interested in fruit (i.e., acai, pomegranate, etc.). I know fruit also has calorie issues, but no direct fat content. Freeze dried acai powder is a real possibilty, as it contains no added sugar, etc. I still think it is better to eat the fruit/puilp/juice, but calories ned to be considered in some cases./

    Note that I graphed all the USDA values on my site (see Anti-oxidant Info.).

  17. Mark, what does “direct fat content” have to do with it if it’s about calories? I’m not sure I understand why fruit is better than nuts from your comment. Care to expand?

    Cheers
    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

  18. When you eat fat it stays fat (I know some fats are better than others), and fat is hard to burn. If you eat fruit, you have the chance to burn the sugar content before it becomes fat. Of course if you do not, then it does not matter.

    1. Sweets are what make you fat. Any competent first-year medical student knows that the liver converts glucose to fat. Not fat to fat.

      Heck, any farmer could have told you that the way to fatten up a pig isn’t to feed it fat (which pigs love, BTW), but to feed the porker grain. That’s a low-fat food, in case you weren’t paying attention.

    2. Do you know of any research that supports the “fat stays fat” statement? If this were true, everything we know about nutrition and digestion would need to be re-evaluated.

      I’ve studied this site and find the scientific data referenced here, data that completely contradicts your fat statement, to be sound, as far as I can tell.

      IMO, “fat stays fat” just makes no sense based on my understanding of basic physiology. If “fat stays fat,” wouldn’t we eliminate it directly since it’s not being digested/broken down? It sounds like you’re saying that fat is teleported somehow straight from our stomachs to our hips or thighs or spare tire. Or are you saying it is indigestible like fiber? In this case, it would just come out the other end, still fat, and would have no net impact on our nutrition or calories or anything else.

      Respectfully Confused,

  19. So then it’s not calories, but macronutrients that matter? This sounds like the same flawed logic that begat the low-fat paradigm in the first place. The body can burn fat as well as glucose, hence how people maintain energy on a low-carb diet. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding where you’re going with this.

    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

  20. I took a look at your website, and assumed your reply would be something along that line ;).

    I am open to alternative nutritional theories.

    I think my only point is that the sugars (and hopefully a good mix of sugars, not sucrose) are immediately available to burn. Where the low-fat diet fails is that many people do not burn them off (I think).

    If you ingest fat, and your body is not tuned to burn fat, it much more directly goes to your exsting fat deposits.

    Do you see a problem with eating fruit (an honest question)?

  21. Mark,
    No, I don’t think there is anything wrong with fruit, per se. If you read my site, you’ll notice that I recommend real, natural foods. Fruits are part of that. However, we have to acknowledge that today’s fruits are nothing like the fruits we evolved with. Today’s fruits are bred to be sweet, meaning more sugar. They have less vitamins and more sugar today…basically less good stuff and more bad stuff. That means fruits are great replacements for grains, but poor replacements for vegetables.

    The fact that sugars are immediately available to burn isn’t necessarily a good thing. The failing of the low-fat diet is that it plays games with hormones, insulin in particular. Blood sugar spikes and dips result in constant hunger.

    The key factor is that the body SHOULD be tuned to burn fat. Which means you have to turn down the sugar and teach it to burn fat. I’m not sure that there’s any facts behind the statement that fat is deposited more directly into fat deposits. If anything, sugar (even natural sugars) raises the fat storage hormone insulin and cause a propensity to store fat.

    Also, a diet based on whole, natural foods, a Paleo-style diet if you will, is hardly an “alternative nutritional theory.” It’s the diet your body evolved with.

    Cheers
    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

  22. I too, have celiac disease. I am intolerant of so many things, including nightshades and cruciferous veggies. Sweet potatoes and yams are not nightshades, even though they too, do not agree with me. I can’t remember where the yam comes from, but sweet potatoes are a member of the morning glory family.

  23. Mark – thank you for covering this topic. I am so glad to see your site and others covering the possible problems with nightshades. I am highly intolerant to nightshades. I used to eat them on a regular basis but I do not eat any of them now. My symptoms ranged from arthritis, inflammation around my eyes and eye lids, acne and digestive issues. When I was in my mid-20s I had been diagnosed with osteo-arthritis. Within a month of not eating nightshades, the pain in my joints went away. I highly recommend if any one suspects that they are having problems with nightshades to try and get them out of your diet. It is well worth the effort.

  24. Spices that are nightshades include:

    Cayenne
    Chili
    Paprika
    Pepper sauce
    Pimento

    Remember that anything with “pepper” or “chili” in the name, other than pepper ground from peppercorns is a nightshade. All of the commercial curries will have one form or another of pepper in them. And many of the things that you eat such as mayonnaise that just say “spices” include paprika or other nightshades.

  25. i too am intolerant to nightshades and get a wide range of symptoms (migraines, jaw pain, dry skin, upset stomach, bloating and irritability) if i eat anything from this family.

    also a note to those avoiding nightshades:
    be careful about OTC pain meds. ibuprofen/motrin/naprosen are all nightshade derivatives.

    soy sauce made in the US is made with genetically modified soy beans (GMO) and is cut with a nightshade (petunia). stick with organic soy sauce as it is not GMO.

  26. did you include all processed foods that state modified food starch is a possible potato starch problem, and all shredded cheese? it’s covered in potato starch. it is the most difficult diet i have ever encountered, and cooking does not elleviate my pain. everything that everyone serves at potlucks add ingredients that have nightshades!!! i always feel best whenever i eat just fruit….but i cannot live on fruit alone. i have been living with the pain, but today it’s just too much. it would be great if there was an herb that helps us eliminate the alkaloids sooner.

  27. well this website and all the comments are sure enlightening…recently found out about having celiac’s (along with hypothyroid, psoriasis, etc) and after doing some ck’g as i was still having some issues this now tells me why. had a baked potatoe for lunch and guess where i spent the rest of the day. talking about trying to figure out now what i can eat is getting to be a major bummer.

  28. You should probably know if you have trouble with nightshades. Inflammation of the joints is a good indicator. I can’t stand the smell of tomatoes, and have never liked peppers, eggplants, etc. Your body knows if you listen to it.

    1. I have always disliked peppers, tomatoes, walnuts, eggplant etc. and people always teased me about it saying that I was just a picky eater and needed to try them. They make my mouth feel all tingly so I always avoid them. Finally two years ago a holistic nutritionist said that I was allergic to nightshades – what a relief for me to hear! I’ve always disliked milk and am not one to take the dinner roll at the end of a buffet, and I was told that when you are “allergic” to night shades that you also typically have an intolerance for milk and wheat. I agree – listen to your body – it knows what it’s talking about!

    2. I thought I was the only one who can’t stand the smell of tomatoes.

      They make me gag, just smelling them.

  29. In spite of Mark’s encouragement of eating nightshades, I think I will phase them out for a few weeks. Since I started eating primal, I’ve eaten copious amounts of raw tomatoes and sweet peppers and since I gave up my beloved tomato ketchup, I am now eating a great deal of hot sauce (no sugar). I have eaten cooked tomatoes and peppers all my life without a problem but since I started eating them raw, I have developed knee pain when squatting which was never there before.

    It’s bizzare as I cannot imagine what is causing it. At first I thought it was due to lack of dairy which I stopped eating over a month ago but as I’m getting plenty of calcium from my almond milk and yogurt I dismissed that idea. The culprit at the moment seems to be those tasty nightshades!

    I will eat them sparingly but only cooked as opposed to raw and see what happens.

  30. Because I have some issues digesting larger quantities of fat, I eat fat in moderation and have to look for some extra carbs to support a fairly intensive CF strength bias program I am currently trying out. I have tried to turn to the sweet potato approximately three times as a substitute for fruit and higher frutose containing foods, and everytime have experienced a light amount of indigestion. Would this be a product of the “nightshade” issue or perhaps some other sensitivity? Any thoughts are appreciated.

  31. No, sweet potato is not a nightshade. It is not related to the potato at all. It is part of the morning glory family.

    That doesn’t mean it’s not bothering your digestion, just that it is not a nightshade.

      1. No.

        Morning glories are in the Convolvulacae family.

        All nghtshade is in the Solanacae family.

        They are, however, both in the order Solanales.

        Just like we’re in the same order with lemurs (primate), but we’re not remotely in the same family under that order.

  32. Actually, a sweet potato is a nightshade. It’s just not a Solanacceae. Nightshade is a plant “order.” Sweet potatoes are different from potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers in that the sweet potato belongs to a different “family” of nightshades. Regular potatoes belong to the Solanaceae family. Sweet potatoes and yams belong to the “Convolvulaceae” family.

    1. Ro, where did you get this info? Everything I have read indicates that nightshades are the solanacea family, not an order.

      1. They completely redid animal taxonomy a few years back based on genetics rather than expressed traits. Maybe they did the same with plants. I get frustrated remembering all the studying I did for *nothing.* oh well. Progress, I guess.

    2. Sweet potato is absolutely not a nightshade. Morning Glory family is unrelated to Nightshade family.

      If they do not agree with you, it’s worth discussing with an allergist.

      1. This is going the other direction of ill-informed.

        All life on earth is related; there’s only a matter of how far back you have to go to find the common ancestor.

        So morning glories and nightshade are a lot more closely related than they are to, say, a human being. Just like we’re a lot more closely related to a baboon than we are to a sweet potato.

    3. NO. Stop saying this ignorant nonsense.

      That’s like saying all roses are flowers, so all flowers are roses.

      They are NOT the same.

      Sweet potatoes are in the Convolvulacae family.

      All nightshade is in the Solanacae family.

      They’re in the same order, Solaneles, but Solaneles is NOT entirely nightshade.

      It only takes two whole seconds to look it up, dear. Why didn’t you, before opening your mouth to say things that aren’t so?

    1. It is pretty hard to get too much calcium in your diet. That is why so many women take calcium supplements, especially with any family history of osteoporosis.

  33. I believe some people’s immune system is low – stress related –the liver is overworked and they can’t elimina, and I was having aches all over. However, not wanting to discard nightshades from my diet, I started using a lot of kidney-clearing spices, apple cider, liver herbs and haven’t had a problem since. Try the masala indian spices, celery seed (this is nasty) schizandra and astralagus. Apple cider is owesome in eliminating joint deposits.
    Nightshades have tremendous health benefits – antioxidants, carotenoids, anticancer flavonoids that prevent cell death, etc. I take a break sometimes, a few days, then I totally gorge on them withought any bad effects.

  34. I’ve had joint problems and flare ups of joint pain my whole life. I don’t think you can assign this to being stress-related since it started at such a young age. I found a direct relation between my joint pain flareups and ingestion of nightshades, particularly white potatoes. I’m more inclined to eliminate some foods than to add huge quantities of other foods, especially apple cider which is super high in sugar.

    1. Childhood can be extremely stressful.

      Maybe yours wasn’t, but mine definitely was!

  35. You mean to say that my usual revulsion to ketchup is my body’s attempt to force my hand (and fork)? Fancy that . . .

    My sister recently found out that the anaphylactic reactions she’d been having were due to tomatoes.

    For years (note: I’m only 21!) I’ve been dealing with joint inflammation (tested for arthritis: negative), full body muscle tension (causing scoliosis!), trouble sleeping, stomach cramps and other digestive issues (was medicated for a short time a while back, didn’t help), headaches, breathing troubles (traditional asthma never fit) and possibly a couple more afflictions that I can’t remember right now. Plus the stress of feeling awful every day for years, of having no one be able to figure it out, and of people eventually thinking it’s all in my head.

    Going paleo has definitely helped for the most part, but I still feel awful sometimes, like last night when I couldn’t sleep because my joints were on fire. Well, let me tell you: I had some creamy vegetable soup yesterday that my aunt made for me (the creaminess was from leftover creamed potatoes) in addition to the salsa and potatoes I had while visiting family over the weekend.

    Between my sister’s reactions, and the fire in my bones last night, today marks day 1 of a 4-week no-nightshades trial. I’ll post back for anyone interested in my results!

    1. Hey, all of you who are considering taking a break from nightshades (which I highly recommend doing!) – you’ll probably need to do it for at least 6 weeks to get all of it out of your system.

      Most of my family is sensitive to nightshade. I didn’t think I was until I finally gave up ALL nightshade and experienced a new level of health and well-being! So, even if you don’t think you are sensitive to nightshade, you might want to give it a try of going 100% off of them for 6 weeks and see the difference.

      You can also take some zeolite or bentonite clay to help pull it out of your system.

      Interesting to learn that ibuprofen and some other pain meds have nightshade derivatives in them. My son went into shock and almost died from his first time taking ibuprofen.

  36. I grew up eating nightshades, and adore them… And then in my 30’s I started getting crippled up with arthritis and fibromyalgia. Now in my mid 40’s, I’ve discovered the link between nightshades and arthritis, and FINALLY I have HOPE for the future!!! I’ve gone several months with no nightshades now, and feel 10 years younger. I decided to test it out a couple of times and eat some nightshades… And I’m really sorry I did it! Like an alcoholic with his booze, I adore my nightshades and now that I have suffered the “hang-over” of binging on them, I am CURED… hopefully forever! The pain I suffer from eating them is SO not worth it – If you have arthritis, I challenge you to go for 3 months with NO nightshades and see what it feels like to get your old “before arthritis” body back!!!

  37. When I learned that some of my favorite foods were possibly causing inflammation, I cut them out to see what would happen. Much to my amazement in about 2 weeks, my hip pain got about 95% better, my shoulder, elbow, wrist and thumb pain is almost gone, and after 3 weeks, I was able to open a sealed jar without any assistance. I used to eat fresh salsa just about every day. I cut out nightshades and grains. I’m still learning what my body can and cannot tolerate without payback, but I’m encouraged! Miss my salsa though, but this results is worth it.

  38. When I quit nightshades, it was like a miracle! I have eliminated almost all of the joint aches, tendonitis and reflux. Still struggling with food options since I don’t really like the flavor or texture of most fruits and vegetables.

    Gluten is next as it impacts your body’s absorption of Vitamin D and calcium when you are sensitive, often not diagnosed other than low D in a blood test.

  39. Nighshades are potentially the sneakiest cause of joint pain–gluten can cause joint pain through leaky guts, but nighshade effects tend to come on quicker. I run a website all about pain, and just wrote up an article about the evidence for and against nightshades and pain. Check it out at paindatabase.com!

  40. I have been nightshade free for three years and the difference is amazing. I no longer have the episodic knee and joint pain, but also the general stiffness that I had just accepted as normal went away as well. Also, most of my mother’s family thought they suffered from arthritis, but for those that have implemented a nightshade-free diet, this has completely went away.

    Although, I do have to note on your post that it generally takes longer than 2-4 weeks to see a difference. Most research says to try it for 6 months. I didn’t see the full result until 4-5 months into a nightshade-free diet – so don’t give up if you don’t think it works after a few weeks.

  41. Unfortunately for me, nightshades cause eczema on my hands and eyelids. And they also create a dazed and confused condition that I believe is another symptom of this allergy. It is as if the eczema is the visible sign of neurologic distress in my body (who knows what’s going on inside where you can’t see). An allergist discovered this when I was a child and we did a food restriction diet and my eczema went away. It was just tomatoes in the beginning, but now that I’m in my 60s, I get the symptoms when I eat any nightshade. So, bottom line…Eczema sufferers, try dropping the nightshades!

  42. I have a skin condition called Hidradenitis suppurativa. It’s extremely painful and very difficult to treat. I have never heard of anyone successfully putting it into remission until I read about a woman named Tara (aka Primal Girl) in one of Mark’s books. I googled here and read her story about putting her HS into remission here (http://www.primalgirl.com/2012/03/05/primalgirl-opens-up-hidradenitis-suppurativa-part-i/). Never been so excited to read a blog post in my life! I was already cutting back on nightshades as I felt they were impacting my digestion, but I finally gave them up completely once I read Tara’s story. I was flare-up free for a couple weeks, then “tested” a myself, eating peppers, and had a flare up within 24 hours.

  43. Hi What are the night shade veg. I know Tomatoes are one. thanks

  44. Just revisited this post.. Might be worth noting Goji berries are included in the nightshade family also.

  45. My six-year-old daughter has had stomach pains and diarrhea since she first started eating solid foods. At first, we took gluten and dairy out of her diet, but that only cleared up the diarrhea, not the pain. The doctors tried several types of medications, and scoped her stomach. She had open sores in her stomach, but they couldn’t find a reason for them. About two months ago, I read this article on nightshades (as well as one from whfoods.com) and decided to try removing them from her diet. Her stomach pain is completely gone now. I’m hoping to get another scope done this summer to see if the sores have also healed.

  46. I recently ate too many potatoes and every joint in my body had become inflamed. My Holistic Practitioner confirmed I have an intolerance for nightshade. I have totally cut out nightshades from my diet and did a 3 day water fast which resulted in great improvement. It has been about 3 weeks and I still have some inflammation and discomfort in my elbows, knees and hips. I am very healthy and eat mostly raw and organic or all natural foods. I had no joint issues before the potato episode. Does anyone know of a cleanse to remove all the alkaloids? I tried googling but can’t find anything.

  47. I pretty much only eat what I can grow- tomatoes, peppers, eggplants. All organic and mostly cooked. I rarely ever buy those in the store. No problems! I make amazing tomato based dishes with eggs, middle eastern. Wonderful!

  48. I just want to add that golden berries also known as gooseberries and inka berries which have been touted as being anti-inflammatory also are in the nightshade family which can actually be pro-inflammatory to sensitive people. They are in the family of physalis of which all are night shades.

  49. I have a nightshade allergy, it backs up my system, and is very painful. I miss tomates and potatoes sooo so much!!!

  50. My husband has had joint pain since his early 20’s… he’s now 44. Years ago someone mentioned nightshades as a possible reason for them, but we were young and found it too hard to give up potatoes and tomatoes….. About four years ago we did, along with sugar, and the lessening of his joint pains has been amazing! Sometimes we fall off the wagon, but by and large if he stays away from these things, he is pain free. Unfortunately, I have no ill effects from these things but now can’t have them either! Sa la vie…. all in the name of love xx

  51. I think I may have found the answer. FIVE YEARS of joint pain, muscle aches, head aches, shoot pains through my bones, horrible fatigue, headaches, digestive issues.

    I am 23. I limp everywhere. My friend mock me with the Cards Against Humanity card: Moderate to Severe Joint Pain. It’s my card.

    I did a three day fast and broke into Primal a week ago. My joint pain dropped by 80%. Then I made a spicy salad with chipolte dressing and my pain was up again. Figured out the connection. Finally. I have literally looked into everything. This explains so much. Sensitivity to cigarette smoke. My poor teeth (Granted, sugar and grains weren’t helping). Why Taco Bell or Pizza were the worst.

    Why my pain stopped for little while when I did Gluten Free…Because I was cooking Asian everything with no peppers.

    This is…amazing. But also frustrating. I love my spices….

    Thank you for addressing this with the community.

  52. I recently discovered that I’m allergic to nightshades. In researching them, I learned that the popular supplement, ashwagandha, is a nightshade. It was in a compound that I took every day.

  53. Ive got IBS so there’s a lot of vegies I cant eat. I really rely on eggplant, tomatoes and capsicum (peppers in America?) to add flavour to my diet and variety. I eat them everyday…could this cause some kind of long term damage? :/

  54. The nightshades are awful for me. I get muscle stiffness, stomach disorders, sleepiness, joint pain. I can rather easily avoid white potatoes and tomatoes. But chilies, red and green peppers and cayenne are everywhere. and they re the ones that affect me the most. I have found that taking 2 capsules of Full Spectrum Vitamin K before eating nightshades, stops the calcification of my joints and I don’t feel pain the next morning in my joints. But I still get the extreme sleepiness and tummy/digestive discomfort.

    Any remedies?

  55. Very interesting that cooking reduces the alkaloid content so substantially. I’ve always hated raw tomatoes with a passion, but do enjoy eating them cooked in dishes once in a while.

  56. I was suffering from extreme jaw pain and fatigue off and on for a year. I ruled out dental issues and sinus issues with doctors. I read about nightshade pain and realized most of my jaw issues came after eating potatoes. I cut out all nightshades and kept a food journal. I then noticed after eating an apple, I had the same flare up. I learned that nightshades are not the only foods containing solanine. It is also present in apples, blueberries, cherries, okra, sugar beets, huckleberries, and artichokes. As long as I avoid all of these foods, I feel amazing.