Nightshade Food Avoidance

The Solanaceae Family has been highly cultivated for food over the years. This group includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet peppers, chili peppers (but not black pepper), paprika, tobacco and petunias. Some plants of this family have medicinal value, while some, like deadly nightshade (belladonna) are quite poisonous.

The good news is that the risk of becoming seriously ill from eating potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant or peppers is relatively small. Yet for susceptible individuals, the symptoms produced make it worthwhile to avoid these foods. Some people feel better when they give up all foods in the nightshade family completely. Others are more tolerant, only becoming effected when larger quantities are eaten or specific members of the family are consumed.

The nightshade family can be tricky. After eating a tomato, it can take as long as 48 hours before a reaction occurs. And it can actually take as long as six months for all reactions to stop. This means if you want to test for nightshades you may need to completely give up every member of this family for six months. Some respond in a few days, but to know for sure, avoidance may need to continue for a long time. You must carefully check all labels. Prepared foods often have potato starch or tomato paste. Relish may contain peppers or paprika. Anytime you see “spices” listed under ingredients, the food may contain paprika or pepper.


Nightshade Food Avoidance can help with the following


Rheumatoid Arthritis

Elimination of nightshade family foods does not help all people with arthritis, but people who respond are usually helped a great deal.

According to a study conducted in 1993 by Childers, eating nightshade foods results in “a buildup of cholinesterase inhibiting glycoalkaloids and steroids …and may cause inflammation, muscle spasms, pain, and stiffness.” The less cholinesterase the body produces as it ages, the less agile the body will be. Therefore, anything that additionally inhibits cholinersterase will add to joint deterioration and stiffness. Cholinesterase inhibitors such as nightshade foods affect mostly rheumatoid-type arthritis.



Rigid omission of nightshade foods, with other minor diet adjustments, has resulted in positive to marked improvement in arthritis and general health. In general Childers reports that “We have got around 70% positive results in reducing arthritic problems if the cooperator can stay rigidly with the (elimination) diet from here on in. People truly rigid may get 94% freedom from arthritis in surveys we have made. This included many forms of arthritis, all of which seem to be affected by the nightshades.”

Researchers are quick to point out that when these people accidentally ate one of the foods or tried to go back to their former diet, their symptoms would return. The worse the initial problem, the longer it will take to see any signs of improvement. It could take several weeks or months to notice any benefits to dietary changes. [Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medical Surgery, 1993 article by Childers]

There may be a link between osteoarthritis and vitamin D3, which is produced by the nightshade foods. The researchers concluded that “osteoarthritis appears to be a result of long-term consumption of the nightshade foods, which naturally contain the active metabolite vitamin D3, and in excess causes crippling and early disability.



Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Elimination of nightshade family foods may help a small percentage of those with juvenile arthritis.


May do some good
Likely to help

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