Counseling Sheet

Rationale for the Nightshade-Free Diet

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

The nightshade family of plants is a very large one that includes several of our most useful vegetables, as well as some extremely poisonous herbs. The most common nightshade vegetables are tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers. Even though they are excellent foods, they may create a problem for some people.

Dr. Norman Childers of Rutgers University has been experimenting for 20 years or more with the nightshade-free diet in individuals with arthritis and other forms of skeletal pain.

It is his theory that the alkaloids naturally present in these foods such as solanine and tomatine cause sensitivities in certain individuals that cause not only long term joint pain, but eventually promote deformities in the joints because of overgrowth of the soft tissues or bone.

We have discovered many people whose arthritis was entirely cured in a matter of 4 or 5 weeks on a nightshade-free diet. Dr. Childers states that perhaps 10% of the population may be sensitive to nightshade alkaloids. He has found that 50 to 60% of arthritis sufferers may be substantially helped by omitting all nightshades.

The length of time for the nightshade-free diet should be approximately 3 months; during which time not a tiny speck of nightshades should be eaten. (Tobacco is also a nightshade, the alkaloid being nicotine.) Dr. Childers stresses the importance of avoiding even tiny amounts of these foods. If one sticks one little finger in mashed potatoes, shakes it vigorously to remove as much as possible, touches it to the tongue, and then spits it out, in sensitive individuals even that tiny quantity can be enough to cause painful joints. The use of a little paprika (a pepper) dusted on as a garnish has also been enough to cause trouble in others. If one has conscientiously followed the diet for 3 months without appreciable benefit, he can generally assume that it did not help.

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Seale, Alabama 36875