Are You Afraid of the Night(shades)?

Rosemary Chicken (garnished with pico de gallo) and Rosemary Potatoes

Rosemary Chicken (garnished with pico de gallo) and Rosemary Potatoes

The nightshade family includes potatoes (not sweet potatoes or yams), tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, goji berries, and even tobacco.  Anecdotal reports indicate that consumption of these either cause or aggravate certain chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, chronic fatigue, or irritable bowel syndrome.

Georgia Ede, M.D., has an article on medical effects of nightshades at her website.  The potentially offensive chemicals in nightshades are called glycoalkaloids.  I looked into this issue when deciding whether to include potatoes in my version of the paleo diet.  (They’re included).

Dr. Ede’s writes:

As with any food sensitivity, the only way to find out is to remove nightshades from your diet for a couple of weeks or so to see if you feel better.  There are ZERO scientific articles about nightshade sensitivity, chronic pain, or arthritis in the literature, however, the internet is full of anecdotal reports of people who have found that nightshades aggravate arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other chronic pain syndromes.

I bet I could eat a couple potatoes and tomatoes every day without ill effect.  And there’s Chris Voigt, head of the Washington State Potato Commission, famous for his 60-day potato diet.  As they say, your mileage may vary.

Steve Parker, M.D.

4 responses to “Are You Afraid of the Night(shades)?

  1. I notice eggplant and baba ganoush burns my mouth when I eat it. I avoid it for this reason. I have no reaction from the other nightshade though.

  2. I have an eczema since my childhood, and I know from my personal experience, that tomatoes(but not potatoes, sweet peppers and eggplants) could be a problem, Raw tomatoes are usually fine, but tomato-based souses, tomato juice are better not to be consumed daily. In Russia, where I am from, the tomato-limitation is a standard part of anty-allergies recommendations (together with the, avoidance of citruses, strawberries, spicy foods, smoked meat and fish, strong broths and some other foods )