No, I’m not talking about those movie-star-like, satiny black shades you slip over your eyes before getting beneath the covers.

Rather, I’m referring to a group of vegetables belonging to a family of plants called Solanaceae. Nightshade foods include sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, potatoes, eggplant, spices like cayenne and paprika, and hot condiments like Tabasco sauce. Most of these foods contain steroid alkaloid compounds which act as a built-in defense system. Essentially, these alkaloids are a natural pesticide for the plant.


While we are encouraged to include an abundance of colourful fresh vegetables in our diet, some of us may need to navigate the vegetable patch more carefully.  Why?

These steroid alkaloids may have an adverse effect on the nervous system and on joint health in some individuals. Cholinesterase is a nerve cell enzyme that is necessary for muscle movement. Studies have shown that the alkaloid substances found in some nightshade vegetables inhibit cholinesterase (notably, to a small degree), thus having a potentially adverse effect on nerve-muscle activity, like twitching or trembling.

But these effects are negligible and not commonly seen amongst us.

However, what you may have stumbled across in magazines or on television is the relationship between nightshade vegetables and joint inflammation. Indeed, some research shows that nightshade alkaloids can contribute to loss of calcium from bone and the deposit of calcium in soft tissue. Consequently, some doctors and nutritionists recommend avoiding nightshade plants to patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other joint problems, like gout.

You say TO-MAY-TO, I say TO-MAH-TO

Well, how do you feel after eating tomatoes? Potatoes?

Cooked Potatoes on Cookie Sheet-1

Have you been diagnosed with some form of arthritis? Do you regularly feel aches and pains in your joints? And…does your diet include a routine consumption of nightshade vegetables (i.e. eating some of these foods at least a few days each week)?

If you’ve answered yes to some of these questions, you may want to experiment with removing nightshades from your diet for a spell. Do this for about a month, and log how you feel. Is there an improvement in joint soreness?

Then bring one of the nightshades back into your diet and eat a fair amount of it for three days. For example, reintroduce the tomato and enjoy it in different ways over those three days – as salsa, in a sauce, sliced with avocado, and in salads. Write down how you feel. Now bring in the potato, and so on.

If you find you feel unwell – achy, inflamed – you likely have a sensitivity to these foods.

And so…you may want to consider eliminating (or at the very least, limiting) your consumption of nightshade foods.

Let’s call the whole thing off


Note: One of my most important messages that I will continue to deliver is that you must, must, must pay attention to your body. Listen to it. How do you feel after you eat a certain food? Take a break from that food…how do you feel after a few days? Now, re-introduce it… how do you feel?

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