What are Nightshades and Do They Cause Inflammation?

How to know if you’re sensitive to nightshades

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
3-minute read
Episode #154

Do Nightshades Cause Joint Pain?

Because nightshades are only a problem for a small number of people, it’s overkill to suggest that everyone should avoid them.

People with arthritis are sometimes advised to avoid all nightshade plants because they are said to cause inflammation.  But this advice really only applies to people who have a sensitivity to solanine.  For these folks, eating nightshade plants causes an inflammatory reaction—including joint pain. 

Because most people are not sensitive to solanine, however, I think it’s  misleading to characterize nightshade plants as “inflammatory,” and it’s certainly overkill to suggest that everyone with arthritis should avoid them—especially because they have so much going for them nutritionally.

Nightshade plants are high in antioxidants, which actually help reduce inflammation.  And chili peppers also contain capsaicin, a strongly anti-inflammatory compound. So, if you’re an arthritis sufferer, I’d think these would be foods you’d want to eat more of—unless, of course, you are among the minority that is sensitive to them.

See also: Foods that Fight Inflammation

How to Tell if You’re Sensitive to Nightshades

If you have joint pain—and tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and/or eggplant are a regular part of your diet—try eliminating all nightshades from your diet for at least two weeks and see if you notice any difference in your symptoms. If you see an improvement, you might be among those who are sensitive to solanine. For you, avoiding nightshades might help reduce joint pain or other symptoms of inflammation. If you don't notice a difference, chances are that nightshades are not a problem for you and you can feel free to enjoy these otherwise nutritious foods.

Have you had success beating arthritis with diet changes? Post your story below in Comments.

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Potato image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.