If you are in pain, you should give a nightshade-free challenge a try.

Wed Oct 14, 2020

If you are in pain, you should give a nightshade-free challenge a try.The symptoms of arthritis and other inflammation-related illnesses – such as lupus, rheumatism, fibromyalgia, and musculoskeletal pain disorders – often find relief with a nightshade-free diet.

Members of the nightshade (or Solanaceae) family of contain a number of potentially problematic compounds, including glycoalkaloids and steroid alkaloids. These compounds inhibit acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for the flexibility of muscle movement. Not all people are sensitive to nightshades to the same degree, but, when an inflammatory condition exists, eating nightshades can compound the problem.

And for sensitive people, consuming these foods can cause the stiffness and joint pain we call arthritis.

Take the Nightshade-Free Challenge

If you want to determine if nightshades could be a cause of pain, stiffness or chronic inflammation, you should consider taking a nightshade-free challenge. For three weeks, avoid all nightshade family foods including:

  • Potatoes, all varieties (NOTE: sweet potatoes and yams are not nightshades.)
  • Peppers, all varieties (red, green, yellow, orange, jalapeno, chili, cayenne, pimento. NOTE: Peppercorns are not nightshades)
  • Tomatoes, all varieties (including Tomatillos)
  • Paprika
  • Eggplant
  • Pepino melon
  • Goji berries
  • Cape gooseberries
  • Ground cherries
  • Garden huckleberries
  • Ashwaganda

It’s also important to avoid foods that contain solanine (one of the steroid alkaloids). These include:

  • Blueberries
  • Huckleberries
  • Okra
  • Artichokes

Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs, homeopathics and other consumables also contain nightshades or solanine. Be sure to read labels and watch for:

  • Belladonna (the deadly nightshade often found in homeopathics)
  • Potato starch in medications and many packaged products
  • Edible flowers including petunia, chalice vine, day jasmine, angel and devil’s trumpets
  • Atropine and Scopolamine (compounds used in sleep aids)
  • Topical capsaicin creams (derived from cayenne)
  • Potato-based vodka

After three weeks, begin to reintroduce nightshades to your diet, one at a time. As you reintroduce these foods, be sure to keep a journal with notes about your symptoms and their severity, including energy levels, pain and stiffness, headaches, etc. Obviously, if you notice an increase in symptoms or severity upon reintroduction of these foods, it is likely that you are sensitive to nightshades and these foods should be avoided.

As the adage goes: “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” If you are suffering from a pain-related illness, consider a nightshade-free challenge diet. Like many others, you may find a big improvement in your quality of life and a decrease in pain!


1. Smith, Garrett, ND. Nightshades. Problems from these Popular Foods Exposed to the Light of Day. Weston A. Price Foundation. March 30, 2010
2. N.F. Childers, Ph.D., M.S. Margoles, M.D. An Apparent Relation of Nightshades (Solanaceae) to Arthritis. Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medical Surgery (1993) 12:227-231
3. Childers NF. Arthritis-Childer’s Diet to Stop It. Nightshades, Aging, and Ill Health, 4th ed. Florida: Horticultural Publications, 1993; 19-21.
4. Patel B, et al. Potato glycoalkaloids adversely affect intestinal permeability and aggravate inflammatory bowel disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2002 Sep;8(5):340-6. PubMed ID: 124796498.
5. Childers N.F., Russo G.M. The nightshades and health (extensive literature). New Jersey (Somerville) and Florida (3906 NW 31 Pl., Gainesville 32606): Hortic Pub, 1977
6. D’Arcy WG. Solanaceae: biology and systemics. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985

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