Do nightshades cause joint pain?

Could nightshades be causing your pain and inflammation?

If you’ve never heard of nightshades, you shouldn’t worry – you’re not alone. The term is used to describe Solanaceae, a plant family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant and tobacco and may contribute to pain and inflammation in some people. This pain and inflammation might be especially noticeable in winter, a season notorious for increasing swelling and pain in joints.


Why can nightshades cause inflammation?

While most people don’t have a problem consuming nightshades, they can spark problems for people with sensitivities. This is because, in addition to fantastic levels of antioxidants, plants in the nightshade family can be quite high in chemicals called alkaloids, which are linked to inflammation and stress. The alkaloid solanine, in particular, has been shown to inhibit an important enzyme in nerve cells called cholinesterase, which may result in stiffness and joint pain[1].


The most commonly consumed nightshades …

While the vast majority of nightshades (like belladonna) are highly toxic, edible varieties include:

  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • capsicums/peppers(including cayenne, bell, hot and pimento, paprika and tabasco sauce)
  • eggplant
  • tobacco
  • goji berries
  • withania/ashwaganda (medicinal herbs)


When do nightshades become a problem?

Symptoms of nightshade intolerance can include:

  • skin rashes, including welts and hives
  • nausea, diarrhoea and other digestive issues
  • dizziness, headaches and fatigue
  • arthritis or stiff and aching muscles.

However, the amount that people with sensitivities can consume before experiencing symptoms varies. Some people, especially those with arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and headaches, find that their symptoms reduce if they limit or avoid nightshades completely. Others can learn their threshold amount or may benefit from limiting the solanine build up in the foods they consume. For instance, solanine levels can be reduced in potatoes if they’re:

  • stored in a cool, dark place – light speeds up solanine production
  • discarded within three weeks – pay particular attention to potatoes that have sprouted or have greenish skin, which can indicate higher levels of solanine
  • cooked before they’re consumed – which can reduce alkaloid content


Reduce your reactions to nightshades, naturally

At Health & Wellness Australia & New Zealand (HWA), we use a technique called muscle testing (or kinesiology) to help identify people’s sensitivities to alkalines. Following testing, you can work with your practitioner to address these sensitivities using a natural allergy treatment called Positive Association Technique (PAT).

PAT is a non-invasive holistic therapy, which:

  • draws on acupressure and kinesiology techniques
  • aims to re-train your body
  • aims to reduce your body’s reactions to nightshades and other food and environmental triggers

Some cases can be complex, so our naturopaths may also recommend supplements and herbs, and provide lifestyle advice (such as a diet high in essential vitamins and minerals, or a diet low in nightshade foods), to help you achieve the best long-term results.

Send our PAT practitioners a question HERE or request a FREE PAT Information E-PACK HERE


[1] Thacker. E. (2012) Fighting Arthritis Naturally. Hartville, Ohio James, Direct Inc.

Please note this blog contains general information only. Always consult your health care professional before making changes to your diet or lifestyle.

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