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

October 20, 2017

A trio of planets in early Scorpio, comprised of Jupiter, Mercury and the Moon, fans flames of hope today. The intrepid threesome is nicely aligned with mystical Neptune. Spiritual, as well as altruistic and artistic leanings are brilliantly served…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

October 2017

Learn Reiki — revitalizing self-care and healing in the palm of your hands. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (master teacher.) This one-day class covers the...

Cost: $125

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

With Barbara Blanchard Headaches are a common clinical condition that can benefit from acupuncture and acupressure treatment. This workshop will study the different types of headaches as defined...

Cost: $125 students, $175 professionals

Where:
Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts
317 North Main Street
Natick, MA  01760
View map »


Sponsor: Eastern Medicinal Therapies Education Center
Telephone: 617-435-3586
Contact Name: Lauren Paap
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

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

All-day retreat, including meal, movement, morning and afternoon experiential sessions. Limited spots, pre-registration required. Email Kyle@PortalCrystalGallery.com or visit...

Where:
Portal Crystal Gallery
489 Mass Ave.
Arlington, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Crystal Concentrics
Contact Name: Kyle Russell
Website »

More information

Guided loving kindness meditation every Sunday at HeartSong Spiritual Wellness. No charge to attend. Donations are appreciated to help support this non-profit wellness center. Read more:...

Cost: Free

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong
Contact Name: Jacki Rose
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

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

The Daoist Benevolent Association offers free classes on traditional Wudang style tai chi. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Brown School
42 Milk St Newburyport
Newburyport, MA  01950
View map »


Sponsor: Daoist Benevolent Association
Telephone: 978-462-4617
Contact Name: Barbara
Website »

More information

Nancy's therapeutic and healing nature stems from her own personal journey through health struggles. Her style is open to everyone, no matter physical or mental challenges, or age....

Cost: $15 drop in or $12 with 10 class bundle

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

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

Come join Mary Budrose on October 17, November 14, December 14, from 7-8pm to learn more about the The Budrose Center For Spiritual Growth healing program and experience a chakra balancing...

Where:
Budrose Center for Spiritual Growth (Blossom Healings)
54 Main Street
Topsfield, MA  01983
View map »


Telephone: 978-561-1687
Contact Name: Mary Budrose
Website »

More information

The Daoist Benevolent Association offers free classes on traditional Wudang style tai chi. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Brown School
42 Milk St Newburyport
Newburyport, MA  01950
View map »


Sponsor: Daoist Benevolent Association
Telephone: 978-462-4617
Contact Name: Barbara
Website »

More information

One-of-a-kind, life changing holistic health education program again being offered free of charge Local business owner shares groundbreaking mind-body-spirit course to combat obesity epidemic...

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

Beginner Kripalu Yoga with Lisa Davidson Brand new to yoga or returning after a break, this class is kind and challenging for your body, relaxing and destressing for your mind, and will help you...

Cost: $113 for 7 weeks

Where:
A Yoga Leaf
@ Whimsy
686 Worcester Rd.
Framingham, MA  01702
View map »


Sponsor: Lisa Davidson
Contact Name: Lisa Davidson
Website »

More information

A unique divine healing meditation, lead by Bhavna, to help you in your life; with your relationships, money, work and family. Also, the meditation helps with letting go to release...

Cost: $10

Where:
Bhavna’s Wellness Group
512 Main St.
Penthouse Suite
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
View map »


Sponsor: Bhavna’s Wellness Group
Telephone: 508-970-5620
Contact Name: Krista Bennett
Website »

More information

Daoist Priest Zhou Xuanyun teaches traditional Wudang style kung fu.

Cost: $110/month

Where:
Boston Ultimate Fitness
72 Beach Street (4th Floor)
Boston, MA  02111
View map »


Sponsor: Daoist Gate Wudang Arts
Telephone: 508-245-8305
Contact Name: Zhou Xuanyun
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

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

Christopher Penczak discusses how you can call upon Michael for aid in your own life and to help the planet. Explore the lore and magick of this beloved figure who crosses many cultures and...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Telephone: 978-474-8010
Website »

More information

October 18 - 20, 2017  With Renée Starr Ladies, reclaim your sacredness, awaken your devotion, and become the magic you seek. Details at www.goddesspriestesswitch.com. ...

Where:
ZuZu's Healing Arts
122 West Emerson
Melrose, MA  02176
View map »


Telephone: 781-665-8844
Website »

More information

This gentle yoga class is good for all skill levels. Scheduled perfectly in the middle of your week; the movements will be a welcome respite to your usual morning routine.

Cost: $10

Where:
Bhavna’s Wellness Group
512 Main St.
Penthouse Suite
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
View map »


Sponsor: Bhavna’s Wellness Group
Telephone: 508-970-5620
Contact Name: Krista Bennett
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

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


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

With Lisa Rockenmacher and Kristan Bishop Looking for a deeper connection with bliss? Seeking practical ways to increase wellness and health in all aspect of your life? Do you desire a...

Cost: $100

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-969-8968
Contact Name: Brian Serven
Website »

More information

Are you ready to embrace more self-compassion and nurturing into your life? Take the plunge now! This 6 week group will weave yoga, creative arts, meditation, journaling and...

Cost: $180

Where:
Integrated Psychotherapy
31 Hastings Street
Mendon, MA  01756
View map »


Telephone: 508-335-6732
Contact Name: Sherri Snyder, MA, LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

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

​One Night Only in Portland! Enlightened Spiritual Teacher Dave Oshana! Experience the transformational miracles of the enlightenment transmission. Enjoy the freedom to be your true self!...

Cost: Free, donations accepted.

Where:
Z Dance Club
1844 Forest Avenue
Portland, ME  04103
View map »


Sponsor: Enlightenment Transmission Foundation
Telephone: 207-443-7001
Contact Name: Maryanna Bock
Website »

More information

What are smudge fans, and what are they used for? Smudging is probably best known as a Native American ritual, although smudging has been used since ancient times by many people as a ceremony of...

Cost: $25

Where:
YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
189 Main Street
4th floor
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
Telephone: 508-478-3333
Contact Name: Barbara Hickson
Website »

More information

In this 220-hour, one-year program with lead trainer Hari Kaur, you will become an instructor and learn the fundamental principles and practices of Kundalini Yoga.

Where:
Yoga At The Ashram
368 Village Street
Millis, MA
View map »


Telephone: 508-376-4525
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

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

People get ready! We are going to stir it up! One time only! Join Chuck Raffoni (Relax and Recharge with Chuck) for a night of Broga® Yoga, Bob Marley and Brews at Western Ave. Studios in...

Cost: $25

Where:
Western Ave Studios
122 Western Ave
Lowell, MA  01851
View map »


Sponsor: Relax and Recharge with Chuck
Contact Name: Chuck
Website »

More information

Certification in Core Energetics with directors Karyne Wilner, PsyD and Charles Corley, Med. For heart-centered psychotherapists and body-mind healers. Training begins October 20.

Where:
Middletown, RI


Telephone: 401-316-7401
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

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


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Daoist Priest Zhou Xuanyun teaches traditional Wudang style kung fu.

Cost: $110/month

Where:
Boston Ultimate Fitness
72 Beach Street (4th Floor)
Boston, MA  02111
View map »


Sponsor: Daoist Gate Wudang Arts
Telephone: 508-245-8305
Contact Name: Zhou Xuanyun
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

October 21 - 22, 2017 A two-day training facilitated by Reiki Shihan (Master-Teacher), Lou Orsan This two-day Level II training enhances your knowledge and practice of traditional Japanese...

Cost: $190

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Do you desire more connection and nourishing touch?  Do you find it hard to ask for what you really would like in life and in the bedroom? Do you want to improve your confidence and...

Cost: $97

Where:
Watertown Center for Healing Arts
17 Spring St
Watertown, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Conscious Intimacy
Telephone: 415-244-1652
Contact Name: Brynn Bishop
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

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

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