Are Nightshades Shady?

Ah…nightshades. If you’re at all plugged into the health world as Health Coaches and wannabe Health Coaches surely are then you’ve no doubt heard some shady stuff about nightshades causing inflammatory responses such as joint pain, headaches, muscle tension, stiffness, heartburn and skin rashes among other things.

Since the nightshade dilemma is something you are bound to come across with many clients asking if it’s something they should eat or eliminate from their diets, we thought we’d help put some basics in order so you can decide for yourself what’s true for you and help your clients decide for themselves what’s true for them too.

First, what are nightshades?

They’re vegetables or fruit from a family of over 2000 plants called Solanaceae, many of which are inedible and poisonous like the “the deadly nightshade,” which refers to a plant called Belladonna—a staple Homeopathic remedy—said to have been used as a poison in ancient times.

Some say they’re called nightshades because the little green “elf-like cap” on top of the veggie looks like a…nightcap. Edible nightshades in our diets today are: potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and hot peppers—to name a few.

Shortlist of possible nightshade sensitivity symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Stiffness upon waking or sitting for a long time
  • Muscle tension
  • Skin rashes
  • Digestive issues
  • Heartburn

What makes nightshades toxic to some people?

Nightshades contain alkaloids, which are natural chemicals in many plants and also act as a natural insect repellent. Alkaloids are used extensively in pharmaceuticals touted for their pain-fighting properties. Alkaloids are used a lot in herbal medicine like they are in homeopathy as mentioned before.

Alkaloids react differently in different people’s systems. For some, they are notorious for causing inflammation, especially for people with autoimmune diseases or food allergies. For others they are harmless.

Alkaloids found in nightshades are:

  • Solanine

Solanine is found in eggplants and potatoes—especially once a potato turns green or gets sprouts. That means it’s time to throw it in the compost.

  • Capsaicin

This alkaloid is what makes hot peppers hot. Capsaicin is inflammatory in some people’s systems and anti-inflammatory in others. Only you’ll know how it works for you.

  • Nicotine

All nightshades contain nicotine—in way smaller doses than tobacco—but still enough to affect some people that them and enough to make them addictive to some.

Aside from alkaloids, nightshades contain tons of antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals. Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C, biotin, vitamin K, copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E and phosphorus. Whoa!

Eggplant contains dietary fiber, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate, manganese, vitamin K and phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid.

Potatoes are loaded with vitamin B6, potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, phytonutrients and pantothenic acid.

And peppers are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, molybdenum, vitamin E, dietary fiber, vitamin B2, pantothenic acid, niacin and potassium.

So on whether to eat them or not, only you will know judging by how in touch you are with any symptoms that arise within hours or days of consumption. The best way to know if you or your client is suffering from nightshade related symptoms is to try a little experiment:

Completely eliminate nightshades for six to 12 weeks and slowly introduce them back into your or your client’s diet one by one (re-introduce one nightshade twice a day for three days and then stop and assess how the body reacts) all the while becoming aware of any symptoms that arise along the way

Like with any food intolerances, AWARENESS is key to making any changes. So love your nightshades or leave ‘em but the choice is ultimately in your hands alone.

Leave a comment below! What’s your take on the nightshade dilemma? How does your system react to these creatures? 

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