I found a comprehensive article about Nightshade Plant allergies in a newsletter in Medical News Today titled Nightshade Allergy: Symptoms, Allergies, and Intolerances, written by Charlotte Lillis. Please go to the Research tab on my website to read the entire article. I’ve included some highlights below.
What are Nightshade Plants?
Chances are you have been eating these plants for years. That was the case for our family and we didn’t know that they were contributing to the digestive, skin, inflammation symptoms, and pain that we had been experiencing for years. Foods like:
- White potatoes
- Bell peppers
- Chili peppers
- Garden huckleberries
- Gogi berries
In our Standard American Diet (SAD), Americans consume the top two listed foods in vast quantities. The thought of not eating these foods can be more than a little overwhelming. Think of all the Italian dishes, takeout foods, and the vast number of dishes using the beloved russet potato.
Why Are We Allergic to Nightshade Plants?
Let’s look a little deeper into why these plants can cause an allergy. Nightshade plants are a family of flowering plants called Solanaceae, comprising almost 3,000 species. You might be familiar with the nightshade belladonna, also known as “deadly nightshade.”
Nightshade plants contain a group of chemical compounds known as alkaloids and are toxic. Alkaloids include solanine, nicotine, and capsaicin. Alkaloids are found within the plant stems, leaves, or the unripe fruits or tubers. For example, eating green potatoes can cause solanine toxicity in some people.
Nightshade symptoms: Allergy vs. Intolerance
It’s important to be tested by your provider to determine whether you have a reaction to nightshade plants and, if you do, whether you have an allergy or intolerance.
Nightshade Allergy Symptoms
If you are allergic to nightshade plants, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms after eating them:
- Hives and skin rashes
- Excessive mucus production
- Achy muscles and joints
Nightshade Intolerance Symptoms
Food intolerances are usually less severe than food allergies and usually affect only the digestive system. The lack of enzymes needed to digest these foods causes nightshade intolerances.
Nightshade intolerance symptoms include:
- Bloating and gas
Severe Nightshade symptoms = Seek Emergency Services
- Swelling of the face, mouth, or throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Low pulse
What Can You Do?
If you suspect you have a nightshade allergy or intolerance, try the following suggestions:
- Keep a daily food diary and record whatever symptoms you experience after eating a suspected food. Avoid the suspected food for at least 4 weeks, then reintroduce them back into your diet for 1-2 days to see if symptoms return. Do not reintroduce any foods that give you a severe reaction.
- See your provider to determine a diagnosis. There are diagnostic tests available, such as a skin prick test and/or a blood test, such as RAST or ELISA.
- Consider food substitutions.
Suggested Food Substitutions
|Food Trigger||Food Substitution Suggestion|
|white potatoes||sweet potatoes, cauliflower|
|tomatoes||beets, carrots, grapes|
|eggplant||mushroom (shiitake or portobello)|
|bell peppers||celery, radishes, zucchini|
|cayenne pepper||ground black pepper, ground white pepper|
|gogi berries||cranberries, raisins|
Now that you know a little more about what Nightshade plants are and how they can affect some people, examine your diet if you suspect any of these foods might make you sick. From personal experience, I know how challenging it can be to eliminate so many foods, but I feel so much better since I have.
My goal with my website is to give you options with your food choices and food substitutions that won’t make you feel you must give up everything you love eating.
For me, information is power. Understanding what is happening is half the battle. Healthy living is so important long term. An acupuncturist once shared that our DNA determines how long we live. It’s how we live those years that determine the quality of those years. Sound advice.
You can read the Medical News Today article I have referenced by clicking on the link I have included in the Research tab on my website. For more information about Solanine, please go to the link to Wikipedia Solanine, also found in the Research tab.