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    Natracure Blog — Nightshade vegetables

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    Will Eliminating Nightshades Help Your Arthritis?

    Potatoes and tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and chili-based spices – yum! We love our potatoes fried, mashed and baked. Tomatoes, peppers and hot spices are part of our pizza and pasta sauces, tacos, and other daily foods. They make up a large part of the American diet. These are all foods in the nightshade family. Not many people are familiar with the term nightshades, and you may be surprised to learn that consuming foods from this plant group can contribute to your pain and inflammation. Read on to find out what nightshades are, and a simple test to see if they are contributing to your arthritis pain. Will Eliminating Nightshades Help Your Arthritis? [caption id="attachment_467" align="alignright" width="300"]Nightshades come from a species of plants that are grown in the shade of night. Nightshades come from a species of plants that are grown in the shade of night.[/caption] What are nightshades? Nightshades come from a species of plants that are grown in the shade of night. The Latin name for this family of plants is Solanaceae, because they produce an alkaloid compound called solanine. Solanine is part of these plants’ natural defense system, acting as a nerve poison on insects that try to eat them. There are more than two thousand plant species in the nightshade family. The vast majority of them are inedible, and many are highly poisonous. However, many are also some our most popular foods: potatoes, tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, paprika, cayenne peppers and eggplant. Tomatillos, tamarillos, pepinos, pimentos, and hot sauces made from these peppers are considered nightshades. Ground cherries, garden huckleberry, Goji berries and even tobacco are also considered nightshades. Note: sweet potatoes, yams, and black pepper are not nightshades. Overdosing on our favorite foods [caption id="attachment_468" align="alignright" width="300"]Tomatoes were called “love apples” when they were first introduced to North America. Tomatoes were called “love apples” when they were first introduced to North America.[/caption] If you love to eat, it’s extremely easy to overdose on nightshades in our culture.  Just read the menu of any restaurant to see how potatoes, tomatoes and peppers are in almost every dish, from soups to salads to main courses. For example, you may flavor your breakfast eggs with salsa, have fries, potato salad or pizza at lunch, and eggplant with peppers along with other spicy dishes at dinner. Eating nightshades three times per day, in multiple combinations, can be very hard on your system if you’re sensitive to these foods. 5 Interesting facts about nightshades 1. Solanine, a nerve toxin, is concentrated in the leaves and stems of plants, which is why we don’t eat those parts of potatoes and tomatoes. 2. You may have heard that potatoes with sprouting eyes are poisonous. That’s because potatoes that have started to sprout or have developed a greenish tint to their skins are often higher in solanine, so it’s best to avoid them. 3. Tomatoes were called “love apples” when they were first introduced to North America in the early eighteenth century. They were grown as ornamental plants because they were pretty. People didn’t eat them because they thought tomatoes were poisonous, and in fact, the leaves of the nightshade family are poisonous. 4. An old saying in New Hampshire in 1719 was that white potatoes shortened people’s lives. In a 1782 famine in Scotland, highlanders complained of dropsy (often associated with congestive heart failure) when they ate abundant amounts of potatoes, and Russian prisoners of World War II returned with advanced cases of dropsy, which was blamed on heavy potato consumption. 5. Eggplant was also first grown as a decorative plant and was not eaten until relatively recently in North America. According to Dr. Norman Childers, author of The Arthritis Diet, people in the Mediterranean area previously believed that eggplant would cause insanity if it was eaten daily for a month, and nicknamed it “mad apple.” How many foods would you eat with a reputation like that? What’s the problem with nightshades? In Why Cut Out Nightshade Vegetables? Jenny Sansouci, a health coach writing for Dr. Frank Lipman, explains: “The nightshade veggies contain alkaloids, which act as natural pesticides, and can cause adverse reactions in some people. Some people are more sensitive to nightshades than others – particularly those who are experiencing arthritis, joint pain, GERD or other digestive issues. Removing nightshade vegetables from the diet has been known to greatly reduce inflammation and joint pain.” In The Link Between Nightshades, Chronic Pain and Inflammation, Norman F. Childers, PhD, founder of the Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation stated: "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 Solanaceae family (nightshades) are an important causative factor in arthritis in sensitive people.” Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, author of The Paleo Approach, Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, says that in addition to alkaloids, nightshades contain lectins and saponins. Tomato lectin in particular can contribute to leaky gut syndrome, which is connected to autoimmune disease. Saponins are believed to rev up the immune response. When this happens, the immune system attacks normal healthy cells in the body, leading to autoimmunity. Are nightshades causing your pain? Are you wondering if eliminating nightshades can help your arthritis pain? Dr. Garrett L. Smith, naturopathic physician asks: “Are you sensitive to weather changes? This can be an indication of nightshade sensitivity. If you suffer from inflammation or joint pain and cracking, avoiding nightshades will lessen your pain, whether or not the nightshades are the true source of the pain. Muscle pain and tightness, morning stiffness, poor healing, arthritis, insomnia and gall bladder problems—these can all be caused by nightshades.” In fact, Elisha McFarland, Doctor of Naturopathy, Master Herbalist, suggests that: “Some researchers believe that arthritis is often misdiagnosed in people who may in fact be experiencing severe side effects of nightshade consumption.” Try a Nightshade Party Day [caption id="attachment_470" align="alignright" width="300"]Try a nightshade party to see if you are sensitive to nightshade vegetables. Try a nightshade party to see if you are sensitive to nightshade vegetables.[/caption] Would you like to try a simple test that costs nothing, and could immediately reduce your arthritis pain? In Problems from these Popular Foods Exposed to the Light of Day, Dr. Garrett L. Smith suggests you try eliminating these foods to see how they affect your arthritis pain: “For many, no relief comes until the diet is totally clear of all these nightshades for at least six weeks. Many people notice an improvement in their pain; sometimes it goes away completely.” He suggests that after strictly avoiding all nightshades for six weeks, you do a “nightshade party day: eat salsa and eggs for breakfast, pizza, tomato and eggplant for lunch, potatoes for dinner—just have it all. Eat as much as you can in one day and then watch for symptoms over the next two days. Often there is a delayed onset reaction. Here’s what a reader on a popular arthritis blog wrote about the experience: “After reading about nightshades I did a very simple test to see if it was affecting my arthritis. I completely eliminated them from my diet for a week and my arthritis went away completely. Then I ate lots of them and it flared. (This test cost me $0.) It was not that easy to eliminate them from my diet but it was a whole lot better than living with arthritis.” In Problems from these Popular Foods Exposed to the Light of Day, Dr. Garrett L. Smith suggests you try eliminating these foods to see how they affect your arthritis pain: “For many, no relief comes until the diet is totally clear of all these nightshades for at least six weeks. Many people notice an improvement in their pain; sometimes it goes away completely.” He suggests that after strictly avoiding all nightshades for six weeks, you do a “nightshade party day: eat salsa and eggs for breakfast, pizza, tomato and eggplant for lunch, potatoes for dinner—just have it all. Eat as much as you can in one day and then watch for symptoms over the next two days. Often there is a delayed onset reaction. Here’s what a reader on a popular arthritis blog wrote about the experience: “After reading about nightshades I did a very simple test to see if it was affecting my arthritis. I completely eliminated them from my diet for a week and my arthritis went away completely. Then I ate lots of them and it flared. (This test cost me $0.) It was not that easy to eliminate them from my diet but it was a whole lot better than living with arthritis.”