How To Heal Your Immunity With Nightshade Foods


Published:

Where do we stand on nightshades for your health? Are they dangerous, or are they helpful? Did you know that the same phytotoxin found in nightshades can also be found in non-nightshade foods, like blueberries, apples, and beets? Read on so we can work together to get a comprehensive understanding of nightshades.

What’s your experience with nightshades?

For some of you, you may have cut out nightshades entirely – and you might be attributing this development to your overall autoimmune recovery. That is great to hear, and I commend you for being able to take that step.

Many might be wondering if you have to stay off nightshades forever, or if you can start to incorporate them into your diet. The vast majority of people have started coming to me and asking if there is something inherently wrong with nightshades – or wondering if there is something in them that is inherently problematic for our bodies.

Do we need to avoid nightshades entirely, and is there evidence to suggest this? Today, I want to look into the science so that we can build some solid recommendations out of the data that exists. First, though, we will need an introduction to the world of nightshades.

What are nightshades?

If you have been sitting here wondering, “well, what are nightshades?” Nightshades are plants, and there are food versions and non-food versions of them. There are lots of them, and nightshades include:

  • Potatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Tobacco
  • Belladonna
  • Jimsonweed
  • Datura

Of these, some of them have very dark berries that come from them. Especially the non-food varieties of nightshades, like the last few I mentioned,  are known to have toxins. Plainly stated, they will kill you if you consume them in great quantities.

Humans have always been interested in figuring out what we can and cannot eat, some non-food nightshades have dark berries which are high in poisonous alkaloids – which gives them the ominous name of nightshade.

How are nightshades “poisonous?”

When we compare nightshades with being poisonous, or having toxins, we are referring to the fact that these types of plants are quite high in alkaloids. Alkaloids are plant metabolites which are essentially very active chemicals. Even in small concentrations, these active chemicals can have a great effect on both humans and animals. Nightshades themselves have several different kinds of alkaloids at work within them. These include:

Tropanes: Tropanes can be found in many non-food nightshade plants, but they are not found in nightshade plants that are used for food. Atropa, which is a strong anticholinergic, has been used in drugs in order to reverse poisoning from pesticides or biological weapons, dilate the pupils or to stop allergies.

We can find tropanes in:

  • Atropa
  • Mandrake
  • Belladonna
  • Stramonium

None of these plants are used as foods or even as non-prescription herbal medicines. All have been recognized since earliest writings as plants with powerful medicinal actions.

Nicotine: As I previously mentioned, one of the non-food nightshades that we can find is tobacco – which, of course, has nicotine in it. Believe it or not, nicotine can also be found in eggplants! But the results are so microscopic, you would need thousands and thousands of them to get even a few milligrams of nicotine.

Nicotine is an insecticide that plants make in order to keep insects away – and to ward off other things that might destroy them.

Capsaicin: When it comes to things that have heat, or are spicy, it can come back to this type of alkaloid. Beyond being “too spicy” for some, capsaicin is pretty well harmless. In most cases, it is good for you. It can:

  • Kill low-grade infections
  • Boost metabolism
  • Help our immune system
  • Reverse leaky gut

There are no real fears or concerns when it comes to capsaicin, and we can find them in the pepper versions of nightshades specifically.

Solanine: All of the concerns around nightshade food plants really revolve around solanine – one might say that it is the sole culprit! We can find solanine in:

  • Goji berries are one of the foods containing solanine.White potatoes (not sweet potatoes)
  • Eggplant
  • Paprika
  • Peppers
  • Goji berries
  • Tomatillos

You might have noticed one nightshade that is missing from that list: tomatoes. Tomatoes are often categorized as nightshades, which they are, but they do not contain solanine.

I used to think that tomato leaves were toxic, since reading more I’ve learned they are not and are high in antioxidants and were used in many historical Asian recipes1. Tomatoes contain tomatine, which has been shown to lower the risk of certain cancers and improve cholesterol levels2.

Goji berries, tomatillos, and peppers merely have trace amounts – none that would be particularly relevant. This leaves us with two: potatoes and eggplants.

Potatoes and Eggplants

When we think about solanine, we need to think about chlorophyll production. This means that the more green something is, the more solanine you can have in it – potato leaves being potentially the worst offender that we can find of this rule. Potato leaves are green, have a fair amount of chlorophyll, and also a fair amount of solanine.

Some types of eggplant commonly produce solanine, such as the European eggplant (the more stout version of eggplant). Funnily enough, the Asian eggplant (the longer form) does not produce solanine. What you might notice when you cut open a European eggplant, that there is a thin layer of green – this is the solanine.

Potatoes are the same way. When potatoes are really old, they start to get green – and they start sprouting. In those cases, they can have solanine in them. They can also have amounts which could be a concern for you and your health.

In theory, you could take some green, sprouted, nasty potatoes and consume four to six pounds of them raw. This would result in a dangerous dose of solanine in your system, there is no debate about that.

Where else can we find solanine?

This is the strange thing about solanine. There are many non-nightshade foods that contain solanine. If one was concerned that their dietary intake of solanine could be harmful, it would be good to know that it is found in many foods not thought of as nightshades. These include:

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Beets
  • Okra
  • Artichokes
  • Huckleberries

These are foods most consider to be safe, yet if solanine was dangerous, these foods would be also. Some may see this as one of the inconsistencies with the arguments against nightshades.

Solanine Symptoms

So, what’s the deal with solanine? The first symptom that people connected with solanine was arthritis3. This has now been studied in greater detail, and there really is no published research that links these two together – it just does not exist. What happens with solanine is that it is often badly absorbed, your body is not equipped to absorb it effectively. Most solanine gets broken down by the intestinal tract. This means even a little bit, or a moderate amount, of solanine is not likely to enter your bloodstream in great quantities – simply because of the body’s relative inability to absorb it with great efficacy.

There is concern with megadoses of solanine in your system, to where it could become an issue. This would be in great quantities, and echoes my previous point that you should avoid eating potato leaves! Potato leaves are a no-go, but potato flesh has shown non-detectable levels of solanine. This means that they are perfectly fine to consume, even if you are worried about solanine. This is true for new potatoes, russet potatoes, yellow skin potatoes, and a bunch of different versions. Avoid the sprouts, but do not worry about the flesh.

Understanding Plant Toxins

Everything we have talked about to this point, is part of a larger conversation about phytotoxins (plant toxins). Phytotoxins themselves are odd, simply because they can be found in the same categories as plants that have phytonutrients. We see a huge number of different chemicals which are found in plant foods, and many of them are known to have beneficial effects.

What we have learned from this discussion around phytotoxins and phytonutrients is that the difference between a medicine and a poison is all in the dose4. The same way that you can drink too much water, you can have too many phytochemicals to the point where you can endanger your good health.

The main takeaway here is that phytochemicals can all be toxic at high levels, but all have been shown to have health-promoting properties in levels commonly associated with produce. These include:

  • Phenolics (both phenolic acids and flavonoids)
  • Glycoalkaloids (which include nightshades)
  • Carotenoids

Where do we find these chemicals?

Here’s a quick breakdown of where we can find these different chemicals:

We can find phenolic acids in:

  • Apples
  • Potatoes
  • Grape seeds
  • Oats
  • Coffee
  • Kiwis
  • Cinnamon
  • Plums
  • Cherries

Strawberries and lemons contain flavonoids.We can find flavonoids in:

  • Onions
  • Bananas
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chili peppers
  • Lemons
  • Parsley
  • Strawberries
  • Cabbage

We can find carotenoids in:

  • Carrots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kale (and other dark, leafy greens)

All of these are phytotoxins, make no doubt about it. They are chemically associated to those same alkaloids found in nightshades. They are all toxins, but the trick is all in the dose. If you get a lot of them at once, you are in for trouble. But, a little bit at a time can benefit your body. Not because they support our bodies, though, it is because they stress our bodies and challenge them to do better.

Big Idea: Nightshades, Alkaloids, and Solanine

Could solanine be good for us? There have been some studies done which suggest that solanine could provide a positive benefit to our bodies5,6. Test tube and animal studies suggest that solanine can inhibit many types of cancer, such as:

  • Breast
  • Lung
  • Esophageal
  • Prostate

These studies have shown improved immune responses that could lower the risks of autoimmunity and chronic inflammation.These positive results in lower-level test tube studies have some intriguing results. When studied in food-like quantities, chaconine and solanine from potatoes both have been shown to act as anti-inflammatories and immune regulators (in test tube and animal studies).

The Verdict On Nightshades

If avoiding nightshades has worked for you, and has helped you feel better, please feel free to continue avoiding them. At the same time, you may reconsider and you may introduce them when it works for you and your health. Ultimately, cutting out nightshades means cutting out plenty of other plants that can do your body good. It is about identifying where we can find solanine, and avoiding things like eating sprouted potatoes or eating them in great quantities.

This article was republished from DrChristianson.com.

Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet. Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, reverse diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest at drchristianson.com.

See also:
A Kitchen Ecology Of Health Resilience
Eat Your Lamb’s Quarter, Don’t Weed It!

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

September 25, 2018

Following last night’s dramatic full Moon, today’s emotional tenor is less conspicuous. The Aires Moon makes an early morning opposition to Mercury, which may present lingering communication challenges at the start of the workday. Double-check messages…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

September 2018

September 23 - 25 A discipline called "Qigongology" has emerged as a result of the experimental data from modern medicine and clinical research combined into a 20 year study and...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Start date: September 23, 2018  Take your knowledge to the next level and become a holistic professional facilitating treatments with clients and/or teaching. Eight month program assists...

Cost: $1199 (Early Bird $1099)

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Hosted by members of the Reflexology Association of NH and Renu Spa Complimentary mini reflexology sessions in honor of world reflexology week. Holistic Wellness practitioners, vendors, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Renu Body Spa and Salon
583 Daniel Webster Highway
Merrimack, NH  03054
View map »


Sponsor: Reflexology Association of NH
Telephone: 603-234-5769
Contact Name: Andrea Montgomery

More information

Dates: September 23, October 20, November 17, December 8; 10am - 5pm Instructor: Linda Patterson, Clinical Herbalist & Aromatherapist Learn how essential oils work to heal the body, mind...

Cost: $500 plus $50 materials

Where:
12 Pelham Terrace
Arlington, MA  02476
View map »


Website »

More information

This transformational workshop for singles and couples will equip you with the awareness, tools and skills to create the connection and intimacy you desire. Register here: https://bit.ly/2MocBcv...

Cost: $147 per person

Where:
Watertown Center for Healing Arts
22 Mount Auburn Street
Watertown, MA  02472
View map »


Sponsor: Watertown Center for Healing Arts
Telephone: 508-340-0781
Contact Name: Brynn Bishop
Website »

More information

If you seek peace and happiness outside of yourself, this is a call to return home. What you think, you become, and what you seek is already within. This is a unique blend of practices for mind,...

Cost: $22 per class

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: SOHUM
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Break emotional patterns that keep you stuck in the pain of addictive habits. Heal mental trauma through physical practices involving movement, breath, and meditation.

Where:
Yoga at the Ashram
368 Village Street
Millis, MA  02054
View map »


Sponsor: Yoga At The Ashram
Telephone: (508) 376-4525
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

What better way to end a busy day than with a little bliss. We'll support your body right where it is today and help you to open your spine to find more movement and flexibility. Begin and end...

Cost: $18

Where:
Body Love Wellness Center
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Have you heard of natural birth control and wondered how that can be possible? Or are you trying to or planning to conceive? This session is for you! We’ll talk about the benefits of charting...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Democracy Center
45 Mt. Auburn St
Cambridge, MA  02138
View map »


Telephone: 617-899-7624
Contact Name: Anna Churchill

More information

Enjoy The Experience Of Being Fully Human And Transcendental With Enlightenment Transmission An Enlightenment Transmission happens when there is a connection between a person’s inner Self...

Cost: Free

Where:
Quaker Meeting House
1837 Forest Avenue
Portland, ME  04103
View map »


Sponsor: Enlightenment Transmission Foundation
Contact Name: Board of Directors
Website »

More information

With Jonathan Glass, Ayurvedic practitioner Presenting a 28-day program designed to initiate and maximize detoxification and nourishment of your body, mind and soul, inspiring results that can...

Where:
Zoom online class
Once you register, you will receive a link to the location of the Zoom class.
, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

With Carrie Rowan Wednesday evenings at 7pm, a 4-week introductory class that teaches quick energy medicine tools, mini meditations to help moms/dads and caregivers reduce stress and stay calm...

Where:
Fitzgerald Institute
Northboro, MA


Telephone: (508) 273-2610
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Singer/songwriter Linda Marks releases her new album “Moments” at Club Passim in Harvard Square at 8 pm. Joining her will be her seven piece band. Rick Drost opens. Tickets:...

Where:
Club Passim
Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

September 27 - 30 Led by Chuck Raffoni ( E-RYT200) this sure to be unforgettable weekend is designed to allow you to experience Vermont in the beautiful transition from summer to fall. You...

Cost: $650

Where:
Good Commons
Plymouth, VT


Sponsor: Relax and Recharge with Chuck
Telephone: 978-807-3131
Contact Name: Chuck Raffoni
Website »

More information

“Reality itself is always already the case.” In every time and place, human beings have sought to grasp the ultimate mysteries of life and death. From time to time, great...

Where:
West Newton Cinema
1296 Washington Street
West Newton, MA
View map »


Telephone: (508) 650-0136
Website »

More information

The H.E.A.R.T. Program® (Health Empowerment and Real Transformation) is an innovative holistic curriculum addressing the current health crisis and epidemics of obesity, heart disease, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
Website »

More information

Grades 3-5 Instructor: Peyton Pugmire Spend September at Sorcery School! Students will be “sorted” into houses of their own design, create personalized wands, pen and cast rhyming...

Cost: $145

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 781-797-0389
Website »

More information

Daily practice for peace, healing, Christ mindedness, meditation, awakening.

Where:
Milton, MA


Telephone: 617-696-5685
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

September 28 - 30 Sheng Zhen Gong is not just a qigong practice, it is timeless wisdom that guides us to the way (dao) of life – a path to feeling liberated. It is the sacred truth of...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Special Offer - take both Simply Healing classes and save $25. Please click here to register. Many of us have some knowledge of attachments, thought forms and extraterrestrial influences....

Cost: $125

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Fundraiser for the Framingham Public Library Share in this extraordinary evening of spirit communication. Join Diane as she bridges the gap and connects to spirit delivering messages from...

Cost: $25 per person

Where:
Framingham Public Library
49 Lexington Street
Framingham, MA  01702
View map »


Sponsor: Friends Framingham Library
Telephone: 508-875-1918
Contact Name: Marsha Farmelant
Website »

More information

September 28, 12pm-7pm and September 29, 10am-6pm Experience therapeutic mini foot, hand or ear reflexology treatment. Your donations will benefit cancer patients associated with Lucy’s...

Where:
Heart and Soul Holistic Healing Center
North Easton, MA

More information

Bee Kind Music Class with Carrie Rowan inspires a love to music in little ones. 10am on Fridays for 8 weeks at Playtown Express in Southboro. To register call (508) 480-0022 or...

Where:
Playtown Express
150 Cordaville Road
Southboro, MA
View map »


Telephone: 508-273-2610
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Blue Skye Wellness Presents: Essential Oils and Aromatherapy Full Day Workshop Learn how to effectively use essential oils Practice safe use guidelines Discern how to choose which oils...

Cost: $120

Where:
Lenox Community Center
65 walker Street
PO Box 98
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Sponsor: Blue Skye Wellness, LLC
Telephone: 413-242-4069
Contact Name: Kay Judge
Website »

More information

With Ross J. Miller, psychic healer, medium, regression therapist In this unique, experiential workshop you’ll learn how to identify your guardian angels and spirit guides by name and...

Where:
Newton, MA


Sponsor: Ross J. Miller
Telephone: (617) 527-3583
Website »

More information

Prequisite – Simply Healing Part 1 Special offer - Take two classes and save $25 - see info in link. This class continues the knowledge gained in Simply Healing - Level 1 as we...

Cost: $175

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

With Katie Malloy Ramaci  Expand your connection to the angels by learning IET levels 2 and 3 certification. Truly move forward on your path. Learn Soulstar activation and release...

Cost: $1099 (Early Bird $999)

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

September 29 - October 5 7 individual days of immersion in the wisdom, healing and bliss on the life-changing Enlightenment Transmission Intensive in beautiful MidCoast, Maine, USA. In theory...

Cost: Sliding Scale $125-95/day

Where:
Damariscotta, ME


Contact Name: Board of Directors
Website »

More information

Learn basics of Tachyon and quantum physics. Sample the Tachyon healing and meditation chamber. Raffle and door prize.

Cost: $25 at the door or $20 pre-register

Where:
The Sanctuary for Celestial Empowerment
10 Grassmere Avenue
Suite #300
West Hartford, CT
View map »


Telephone: 860-586-8700
Contact Name: Celeste E Mattingly, LCSW
Website »

More information

There are few instruments like the Gong that can heal us through its purification properties of sound vibrations. In this energy field, the beginnings of removing all blocks can occur allowing you...

Cost: $35 early bird till Sept 25 ($40 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

September 28, 12pm-7pm and September 29, 10am-6pm Experience therapeutic mini foot, hand or ear reflexology treatment. Your donations will benefit cancer patients associated with Lucy’s...

Where:
Heart and Soul Holistic Healing Center
North Easton, MA

More information

September 29 - 30 We all want to feel joy, happiness, contentment — and with the tools you get at this workshop — you can. Access and sustain a higher level of consciousness.

Where:
Boston, MA


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags