Making the Nightshades Less Deadly

July 15, 2011

Someone recently asked about the nightshade family of foods that I talk about in Module One of Completement Now!: Ancestral Diet. She says she has loved and used potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers a lot all her life, yet would be willing to do without them if they are as dangerous as some claim.

I told her that potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne, and Tabasco sauce are all from the nightshade family and contain alkaloids reputed to cause pain in the small joints of the hands and feet of certain individuals. Trouble is, there isn’t a test to say who will be affected and who won’t.

I’ve gotten a touch of finger pain when I’ve eaten way too many tomatoes from my garden so I know I’m sensitive. But I still enjoy tomatoes and occasional potatoes and some Tabasco sauce.

If you suspect you have a problem I think the trick is to rotate this family (so you don’t eat them every day), cook them when you can (which reduces the alkaloids about 50%) and enjoy the heck out of them when you eat them (it’s no good if you eat them and feel guilty or worry that you are doing yourself harm).

But if a client of mine has small joint arthritis (fingers, wrists, toes), I advise that they cut out all nightshades and see if that makes a difference in symptoms. It usually does!

Once I narrowed down the cause of a mime’s finger pain—which really got in the way of his art—to paprika! (he’s Polish).

You can also rub on magnesium oil or magnesium cream to treat finger pain. Some people soak a cloth in magnesium oil and wrap their fingers at night and get great relief.

After the arthritis clears, sometimes you can rotate some of the nightshades without problems. And by-the-way, it’s not arthritis at all but inflammation of the joints caused by the body attacking the foods it doesn’t want!

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Dr. Carolyn Dean, The Doctor of the FutureCarolyn Dean M.D. ND, Basic Author

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