The Solonaceae family – the “deadly nightshades” – include: banana pepper, bell pepper, belladonna, capsicum, cayenne, chili pepper, curry, eggplant, paprika, peppers, pimento, potato, Tabasco, tobacco and tomato.
The origin of the word “nightshade” is not clear, but some historians say that it was referred to in old English writings as “evil and loving nature of the night.” Others say the name originated among the Romans, who ground up a deadly black nightshade and put it in an alcoholic drink intended for the enemy. There are even reports that animals grazing in fields where nightshades grew were often found crippled or dead.
Dr. Sherry Rogers explains in “Pain Free in 6 Weeks”, that the nightshades contain potent alkaloids. In fact, some of the alkaloids are so potent that they are used to make medicinal prescriptive drugs and harmful toxic pesticides. The alkaloid solanine, abundant in the nightshades, is a calcium and sodium inhibitor. This is significant for those with arthritis, osteoporosis, chronic pain and other inflammatory conditions because calcium’s fundamental roles are to maintain strong healthy bones and to regulate the contraction and relaxation of the muscles. Another alkaloid, glycoalkaloid, interferes with the function of the enzyme that makes nerves and muscles work properly.
Alkaloids ingested from the nightshades silently accumulate in your system until they reach a high enough dose to produce pain. You may have eaten nightshades throughout your life, but not acquire the symptomatology until years later. It is also important to note that sensitivities and genetic predisposition to inflammatory conditions vary from person to person. Some people may experience pain after eating tomatoes but be okay with peppers, whereas others might become inflamed after eating potatoes but no other nightshade creates any symptoms.
Dr. Rogers has found that “over 74%-90% of the people who ache and hurt, regardless of their diagnostic label or type, have sensitivity to nightshades.” When all the nightshades are completely eliminated from the diet, many such symptoms disappear. When the nightshades are re-introduced, the inflammation and pain begins again.
Nightshades are the most abundantly consumed vegetable family in North America. Potatoes are the #1 vegetable eaten, followed by the tomato. Over 80 million people in North America suffer from arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. No doubt there is a positive correlation between the two.
If you suffer from arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, it is recommended that you do a trial elimination of all nightshades for a period of three months. After that time, try incorporating some back into the diet and see if it makes a difference in how you feel. And remember, even a little bit during your elimination trial can be too much. If you do in fact notice a difference and pain starts again, it is wise to keep all nightshades completely out of your diet indefinitely.
Finally, read the list of ingredients on everything you buy, as these foods, especially the spices, tomatoes and potatoes (including their powders and starches) are hidden in sauces, packaged foods, etc. Also watch supplements, as some contain cayenne, potato or tomato.
Nightshades are an excellent example of how powerful food can be. To learn more about how foods can turn off or on inflammation join Amy Bondar for her lecture on September 21st. Visit our Facebook Event for more details.