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Info On Nightshade Vegetables

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I thought that this info might be of use to someone who has been having other issues that they can't quite pinpoint.

The nightshades will make me sick from joint and muscle pain to nausea and vomiting. Read the section on what it can do to the nervous system. I bet that will surprise you.

What are nightshades and in which foods are they found?

Overview - the basics about nightshade foods

Potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne, and Tabasco sauce are classified as nightshade foods. A particular group of substances in these foods, called alkaloids, can impact nerve-muscle function and digestive function in animals and humans, and may also be able to compromise joint function. Because the amount of alkaloids is very low in nightshade foods when compared with other nightshade plants, health problems from nightshade foods may only occur in individuals who are especially sensitive to these alkaloid substances. Since cooking only lowers alkaloid content of nightshade foods by about 40-50%, highly sensitive individuals may want to avoid this category of food altogether, while non-sensitive individuals may be able to eat these foods, especially in cooked form, without problem. Green and sprouted spots on potatoes usually reflect high alkaloid content, even though the green itself involves the presence of chlorophyll, not alkaloids. For this reason, sprouted areas should always be thoroughly removed before potato cooking, or the potatoes should be discarded altogether.

Nightshades - a description

Nightshades are a diverse group of foods, herbs, shrubs, and trees that have fascinated scientists, doctors, and nutritionists for centuries. "Nightshade" is actually the common name used to describe over 2,800 species of plants, many with very different properties and constituents. All of the plants, however, belong to a scientific order called Polemoniales, and to a scientific family called Solanaceae. To give you an idea of the diversity associated with this group of plants, consider the fact that tobacco, morning glory, potato, and tomato are all classified as nightshades.

Pharmaceutical nightshades

Nightshades are actually more famous as drugs than as foods. The best-known nightshades when it comes to pharmacy include mandrake (Mandragora officinum), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and belladonna, also called deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna).

What has interested scientists most about nightshades in a pharmacological sense is a group of compounds in them called alkaloids. The alkaloids found in nightshades are not only the basis for consideration of nightshades as drugs, but also for understanding adverse reactions to nightshades when they are eaten as food. Adverse reactions to nightshade alkaloids are discussed further in the health effects section of this nightshade profile.

Foods considered to be nightshades

Nightshade vegetables and fruit

The most famous food members of the nightshade family include potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum), many species of sweet and hot peppers (all species of Capsicum, including Capsicum annum), and eggplant (Solanum melongena). Less well know, but equally genuine nightshade foods include ground cherries (all species of Physalis), tomatillos (Physallis ixocapra), garden huckleberry (Solanum melanocerasum), tamarillos (Cyphomandra betacea), pepinos (Solanum muricatum), and naranjillas (Solanum quitoense). Pimentos (also called pimientos) belong to the nightshade family, and usually come from the pepper plant Capsicum annum. Pimento cheese and pimento-stuffed olives are therefore examples of foods that should be classified as containing nightshade components. Although the sweet potato, whose scientific name is Ipomoea batatas, belongs to the same plant order as the nightshades (Polemoniales), it does not belong to the Solanaceae family found in this order, but to a different plant family called Convolvulaceae.

Nightshade spices

The seasoning paprika is also derived from Capsicum annum, the common red pepper, and the seasoning cayenne comes from another nightshade, Capsicum frutenscens. Tabasco sauce, which contains large amounts of Capsicum annum, should also be considered as a nightshade food. It may be helpful to note here that black pepper, which belongs to the Piperaceae family, is not a member of the nightshade foods.

Ways in which nightshades may affect health

Alkaloids - The chemistry of nightshades

Most of the health research on nightshades has focused on a special group of substances found in all nightshades called alkaloids. In chemical terms, alkaloids are easy to identify because they all have at least one ring-like structure that contains the element nitrogen. Plants produce alkaloids as a regular part of their biochemical activity, and these alkaloids are primarily designed to help protect the plants from insects that would otherwise eat them.

Four basic types of alkaloids are found in nightshade plants. These types are: (1) the steroid alkaloids, which contain a fairly complicated fused ring structure and are found in most food nightshades including potato and tomato; (to compare the value of one of the most notable steroid alkaloid -solanine-in the foods in which it is most concentrated, please refer to Table 1)(2) the tropane alkaloids, all originating from the simple amino acid ornithine and found in fewer of the overall nightshades, but more extensively researched due to their strong drug-like properties; (3) the pyrrolizidine alkaloid and (4) the indole alkaloids, both important groups from a drug standpoint.

Table 1

Vegetable Solanine contentmilligrams per 100 gram serving

Common peppers 7.7-9.2

Eggplant 6.1-11.33

Potatoes 2-13

Effect of steroid alkaloids on the nervous system

The steroid alkaloids in potato - primarily solanine and chaonine - have been studied for their health effects in two areas. First is their ability to block activity of an enzyme in nerve cells called cholintesterase. Many of the alkaloids found in nightshades possess this kind of activity, called cholinesterase inhibition. If the activity of cholinesterase is too strongly blocked, the nervous system control of muscle movement becomes disrupted, and muscle twitching, trembling, paralyzed breathing, or convulsions can result. The steroid alkaloids found in potato have clearly been shown to block cholinesterase activity, but this block does not usually appear strong enough to produce nerve-muscle disruptions like twitching or trembling.

Effect of steroid alkaloids on joint health

A second type of problem potentially related to the potato alkaloids involves damage to the joints caused by inflammation and altered mineral status. Whether alkaloids can contribute to joint damage of this kind is not clear from current levels of research. Some researchers have speculated that nightshade alkaloids can contribute to excessive loss of calcium from bone and excessive depositing of calcium in soft tissue. For this reason, these researchers have recommended elimination of nightshade foods from the meal plans of all individuals with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other joint problems like gout.

Effect of nicotine alkaloid on health

Just as there is no firm research evidence for the impact of the steroid alkaloids in nightshade foods on the nervous system or joints, there is also no solid research evidence for impact of the more drug-like alkaloids in nightshade foods on body systems. But to the surprise of many people, nightshade foods do contain very small amounts of drug-like alkaloids that have long been fascinating to medical and drug researchers.

Consider, for example, the most famous of the one-ring type alkaloids (monocyclic alkaloids) found in the highest concentrations in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum): nicotine. This alkaloid is found not only in non-food nightshades like tobacco, but also in the food nightshades including eggplant and tomato.

But there is one important difference here: while alkaloids like nicotine are definitely found in nightshade foods, the amount involved is dramatically less. Even in the case of eggplant, which is the food nightshade that appears to have the highest nicotine content after tobacco, the amount of nicotine is far lower than the amount found in tobacco. In the case of green tomatoes, which also contain nicotine, the amount is even less. The levels of nicotine in all nightshade foods are so low that most healthcare practitioners have simply ignored the presence of nicotine in these foods as a potential compromising factor in our health. At the World's Healthiest Foods, we both agree and disagree with this conclusion. While we agree that the amount of nicotine in nightshade foods is very, very small, it still seems possible to us that some individuals might be particularly sensitive to the alkaloids found in nightshades, and that even very small amounts might compromise function in the bodies of these individuals.

Increased alkaloid content of green and sprouting potatoes

It's important to point out that green spots on potatoes, or sprouting on potatoes, usually correspond to an increased alkaloid content, and this increased alkaloid content is one of the main reasons for avoiding consumption of green or sprouted potatoes. (The green color itself is chlorophyll, and helpful to our health, but unfortunately, it's also accompanied by the increased alkaloids that we can't see). Interestingly, in one study conducted with hamsters who were fed the sprouted portions of potatoes, increased alkaloid content did not seem to impact the nerves or joints nearly as much as the digestive system itself. The researchers focused on damage to the stomach and intestines when trying to understand the problems caused by ingestion of potato sprout material, and concluded that there were reasons to avoid this material based on digestive system evidence alone. A bitter taste in potatoes after the potatoes have been cooked is usually a good indication that excessive amounts of alkaloids are present.

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I didn't think I was reactive to nightshades but to error on the side of caution I removed them from my diet for 2 months. When the two months were up, I ate rice smothered in marinara sauce --- LOTS of marinara! I was on my 5th HUGE bite when I began projectile vomiting the marinara back up in the kitchen of my home. I actually felt my stomach squeeze shut, squeezing and ejecting all of the contents back up my esophagus and out my mouth. A week later, I tried to eat tomatoes again and although I didn't vomit, I developed horrible stomach cramps for 2 hours after eating them. I've never had stomach cramps in my life. The next day, I was one of the crabbiest people ever. Now I have learned: I act like I'm on gluten (mood-wise) anytime I eat tomatoes or potatoes. My joints also become sore. I now avoid ALL nightshades. I use sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. And I make cashew basil pestos instead of marinara sauce.

I would never have known that I was nightshade intolerant if I had not avoided them for 2 months and allowed my body to readjust to a nightshade-free diet. I highly recommend Celiacs trying this. :)

Thank you for posting this!

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This info has been really handy, thank you. I am beginning to come round to the idea that I need to try going nightshade free for awhile. Tomatoes and bell peppers are my two main vegetables :-( My joints ache constantly and have done nearly my whole life. I remember the doctor "diagnosing" (I say that because I don't think he really had any idea what to say) with what he called "viral arthritis" when I was a kid, basically, I ached and he thought maybe the arthritis was triggered by a virus since it came and went.

I think going off gluten helped with some of the joint pain, but I definately felt much worse when I got glutened, but general stiffness, soreness and achy-ness is just a general fact of life for me. But I also thought a lot of other things were and going gluten free showed me I was suffering unncessarily so here goes with more experimenting. I need to lose weight and I think it would really help if I didn't ache all over all the time, I'd actually want to exercise.

A question for those nightshade free - how do you react if you get a tiny bit? Because I really don't know if I'm up for removing them ENTIRELY from my diet. I mean, I can give up potatoes, eggplant, paprika etc, tomatoes (sob) and bell peppers (sobs harder) but what about the teeny amount of tomato in shop made guacamole? I already have to watch FODMAPs, I feel like there isn't going to be anything left :-(

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Thanks for this info, it is very useful.

Back in mid October when I first became very ill the first thing I suspected was a nightshade intolerance. I had eaten homemade french fries and became ill.

Long story short I figured out that I had a wheat intolerance (histamine reactions). Since then I can easily tell that it is both because I have two distinct reactions. So far tested are tomatoes, potatoes hot peppers and baby salad greens. I get nausea with them within minutes. The more I eat the more nausea with cramps and once vomiting. It happens within minutes.

I was hoping that it is a sensitivity and eventually I will be able to tolerate them again someday. Maybe it's denial :) but it is such a restricted diet I don't even want to think about it right now, enough to deal with the wheat issue right now.

Good news is both my kids have finally agreed to being tested. Yay.

Son swears for years now he has IBS, doc says it's nerves. Daughter diagnosed Type 2 diabetes, depression and ADD when very young, and was a cutter in her early teens. She swears to this day she is not ADD and type 2 diabetic and told off both doctors. She wants her and her boyfriend to go gluten free. He has mild Aspergers and takes allergy pills by the hand full.

Charlotte

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....

A question for those nightshade free - how do you react if you get a tiny bit? Because I really don't know if I'm up for removing them ENTIRELY from my diet. I mean, I can give up potatoes, eggplant, paprika etc, tomatoes (sob) and bell peppers (sobs harder) but what about the teeny amount of tomato in shop made guacamole? I already have to watch FODMAPs, I feel like there isn't going to be anything left :-(

It is very easy to make guacamole yourself. And it is better for you than what you buy at stores. It is really just smashed up avocadoes with whatever extras you want to put in it. Garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, sometimes I add canned salmon too. It only takes a couple minutes to make some fresh. Tomatoes are a no go of course because they are nightshades.

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It is very easy to make guacamole yourself. And it is better for you than what you buy at stores. It is really just smashed up avocadoes with whatever extras you want to put in it. Garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, sometimes I add canned salmon too. It only takes a couple minutes to make some fresh. Tomatoes are a no go of course because they are nightshades.

I wouldn't have thought to add salmon but that sounds good - makes it a more filling meal. Thanks for the recipe.

My problem is that the mexican place I like to eat at (similar to Chiptole) puts tomato in the guac. I'm really not thrilled at the idea of losing that eating out option, but it won't kill me to trial it.

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Thanks TPG! Hope you're doing well! :D Still on the road?

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I wouldn't have thought to add salmon but that sounds good - makes it a more filling meal. Thanks for the recipe.

My problem is that the mexican place I like to eat at (similar to Chiptole) puts tomato in the guac. I'm really not thrilled at the idea of losing that eating out option, but it won't kill me to trial it.

You could bring your own guac, or ask them to sub mayo for the guac. But the mayo would have soy in it 99% of the time, so that might not work.

Forgot to say, to cut the avocadoes, just stick a big knife in all the way to the pit, and follow the cut around the outside to finish it. Twist the halves apart. Then whack the big knife into the pit and twist the knife sideways to rip the avocadoe's bleeding, still beating pit right out. Wait a minute that was a vampire movie. Anyway, you get the idear. Twist the knife sideways to loosen the pit. Then a big spoon will get the flesh out easy if it is a ripe avocadoe at least.

Hmm,maybe they could sub hummus for the guac? might work ok. Yep, the salmon tastes pretty good, and it adds a lot of protein to the guac which is helpful sometimes. Drain the can first or the guac will get runny from all the water.

Another thing that works is sliced olives in Gauc. I would use the ones without pimentos though as they are nightshades. Chopped onions are good too. Sometimes I add some pysillium husks to thicken it and add fiber if I accidentally put in too much liquid. Olive oil is ok in it too. And lemon or lime juice adds flavor and keeps it form getting brown so fast. Raw avocadoes have an enzyme in them that breaks them down pretty quickly, but the acid in the lemon juice helps slow that process. And a tight lid in the refrig.

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All of this information is so interesting and thought provoking. One of the things that I have seen here is the if you react immediately, it's more of an indication that you have a wheat allergy. I always know within 15 minutes of ingesting gluten that I have been zapped so the statement that immediate reaction is a sign of wheat allergy would seem to fit. However, I have many many symptoms that fall into the Celiac, most notably that I am a type one diabetic and also that most of my father's side of the family, from my grandfather down to my grandchildren all seem to react to gluten. So which is it? Am I just super sensitive to gluten, or do I have a wheat allergy in addition to the celiac, and is that even possible?

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All of this information is so interesting and thought provoking. One of the things that I have seen here is the if you react immediately, it's more of an indication that you have a wheat allergy. I always know within 15 minutes of ingesting gluten that I have been zapped so the statement that immediate reaction is a sign of wheat allergy would seem to fit. However, I have many many symptoms that fall into the Celiac, most notably that I am a type one diabetic and also that most of my father's side of the family, from my grandfather down to my grandchildren all seem to react to gluten. So which is it? Am I just super sensitive to gluten, or do I have a wheat allergy in addition to the celiac, and is that even possible?

I think you have a good feeling for what's what. It may very well be that you have an intolerance to gluten at some level, as well as a gluten allergy.

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Forgot to say, to cut the avocadoes, just stick a big knife in all the way to the pit, and follow the cut around the outside to finish it. Twist the halves apart. Then whack the big knife into the pit and twist the knife sideways to rip the avocadoe's bleeding, still beating pit right out. Wait a minute that was a vampire movie. Anyway, you get the idear. Twist the knife sideways to loosen the pit. Then a big spoon will get the flesh out easy if it is a ripe avocadoe at least.

I made guacamole this morning and I thought of your post as I murdered my avocado! It made chuckle.

And the guac was delicious - thank you!

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