Dr. Lisa Raskin
Note from Dr. Raskin: I want to be clear that this was just a short review of the literature on the negative effects of eating
nightshades. Vaidya Mishra asked me to find some western knowledge that backed up the traditional knowledge from
Vaidya's Shaka Vansya lineage. If you do reproduce this article, I ask that you do not remove, add or change anything.
We know according to Vaidya's tradition, that the nightshades tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers and eggplant affect the vibrational and physical channels in very negative ways.
It turns out that they are part of a very huge family of plants containing about 2000 species. The main culprit seems to be a type of chemical compound called alkaloids. There is one type of alkaloid that causes the most trouble and that is called Solanine. Solanine is a neurotoxin. Nightshades contain at least 6 OTHER neurotoxins, including atropine and nicotine. One of them is scopolamine which depresses the central nervous system and is used as a sedative, and in the famous 'date-rape' drugs.
Each of the neurotoxins in the nightshades affects humans differently. We know through Vaidya how awful nicotine is, because it shrinks the vibrational channels and its connection to cancer is well-known. Science has found that nicotine causes a short-term increase in blood pressure, heart rate and the flow of blood from the heart. And it also causes the arteries to narrow. Nicotine is extremely addictive. Another neurotoxin in nightshades is atropine, a blocker preventing nerve transmission. The other three are powerful acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors that prevent the breakdown of neurotransmitters needed for proper nerve function. Which means the neurotransmitters get stuck in the synapse, preventing nerve transmission and function.
These alkaloids that are found in nightshades help protect them from insects, so they are basically pesticides! Some potatoes are actually bred just to make pesticides....they are made into dust and spread over plants.
A little bit about the strange history of how nightshades became foods. Most are actually more famous as drug-type substances than as foods. The best-known are mandrake (which were thought to contain evil spirits), tobacco, and belladonna, which is also known as 'deadly nightshade'. Tomatoes, green peppers, eggplant and potatoes were only ornamentals and not thought of as edibles until the 1800's. Tomatoes had their beginnings in South America and were actually eaten by the ancient Aztecs, but weren't introduced to Europe until the 1800's. So that means that Italy didn't have pasta sauce until the 1800's!
Now, before potatoes were introduced as a food, the peasant classes actually identified them as being poisonous. It was easy for them to tell because the flowers of the Deadly Nightshade (belladonna) plant and the flowers of the potato plant are so similar. Legend has it that Sir Walter Raleigh gave the potato plant to Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) as a gift. And then some aristocrats were invited to a huge banquet that featured potatoes in every course. The cooks, who had never seen potatoes before, discarded the potatoes and boiled the highly poisonous stems and leaves, which quickly made everyone very ill. The potatoes were banned from court, and given to the Irish!
Eggplant was actually called "The Mad Apple". In the Mediterranean area eggplant was thought to cause insanity if eaten daily for a month. A few spoonfuls of eggplant contain the same amount of nicotine as sitting in a closed room with a light smoker for three hours!
Now I'm going to tell you a little bit of what happens in the body when we eat nightshade veggies. There seems to be two types of nightshade poisoning, acute and chronic. Acute poisoning can happen from green or sprouted potatoes and tomatoes because they have so much more solanine. The symptoms can be cramps, diarrhea, dizziness and sleepiness. For many people these short term effects are even more intense, such as chronic migraine headaches, dizziness, intestinal disturbance, and 'food poisoning' like symptoms, which many people don't connect with nightshade plants such as potatoes.
But it's the chronic, slow onset symptoms that are even worse, because the effects of chronic solanine poisoning can be anything from IBS, joint pain, appendicitis, birth defects (including spina bifida), depression, endocrine suppression, especially thyroid, arthritis in all its forms, increased intestinal permeability, migraines, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, and interference in the absorption of calcium (up to 80%), iron, and vitamin D.
How does this happen? Solanine has been found to do some very powerful things that disrupt the biochemistry of the body.
The first thing that it does, as I mentioned before, is that, like pesticides and nerve gas, it blocks the activity of an enzyme in nerve cells called acetyl cholinesterase. Without this enzyme, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine builds up in synapses, the junction between nerves, and creates a blockage of flow. This blockage of the flow of acetylcholine can have some very negative effects. In an overdose, it can affect our control of muscle movements, leading to muscle twitching, trembling, paralyzed breathing or even convulsions. Even though the solanine in one single potato isn't strong enough to cause such a huge effect, it turns out that it builds up in our tissues over time AND the body is very slow to break it down. It's not water soluble, and is not destroyed by cooking. It takes the body 1 to 2 1/2 months to get rid of the solanine from just one potato. It usually builds up in the smooth muscles and organs such as the intestines, heart, lungs, and endocrine system, mostly in the thyroid. Harmful effects may take years and years to appear. It might be the 10,000th baked potato with salsa on top that takes a person over the edge and makes them symptomatic. The good news here is that with total avoidance it only takes 4-5 months to excrete all your solanine, and symptom relief can be much faster.
OK so Solanine is a neurotoxin. But there is more.
The other thing that solanine does is that it seems to cause joint damage and inflammation. Many people experience stiff joints, painful wrists, ankles and knees. Researchers think that these nightshades cause excessive LOSS of Calcium from the bone and excessive DEPOSITS of calcium into soft tissue. Dr. Michael Liebowitz, a chiropractor who has given us many testing techniques and knowledge in the fields of dysbiosis, food and chemical sensitivities, started researching nightshades, especially solanine, when he stopped eating them and his chronic joint pain and dysbiosis improved.
Solanine is a cell disruptor (which means it causes the cell to rupture), and so it attacks the lining of the stomach and intestines as well. Many people who have been diagnosed with intestinal disorders such as celiac disease and Crohn's, and the common treatments have never worked, have become symptom free just by avoiding nightshades. It has even been shown as a cause for appendicitis.
Solanine is a true poison. Extracts of nightshades are now being used as a rat poison. When Dr. Liebowitz tried to get a sample of Solanine from a chemical supply, the company was very hesitant to sell it because it is such a strong poison. He finally paid $95.00 to receive only 5 mg which had been extracted from a potato. There was a huge skull and crossbones on the jar!
What's interesting to me is that the symptoms of solanine intake have been well known since the 1800's and we have done nothing about taking them off the market as food. Potato breeders have tried to keep the solanine content of potatoes low. But no studies have been done that determine safe levels of nightshade plants. None. People eat them and are not made IMMEDIATELY sick, so it was assumed, and still is, that nightshades are safe. They do not look at the chronic effects. And to make things worse, the solanine content in potatoes increases under light. Under grocery store lights, the amount of solanine can exceed the safe limits by 9 times within 24 hours. Potatoes used to be sold in burlap bags to keep them from being exposed to light, but now they are out in the open in supermarkets, or in transparent plastic bags.
There has been a popular belief, approved by the FDA, that the antioxidants in tomatoes can prevent prostate cancer. But the most recent study not only failed to prove this, they found that the men who had high blood levels of beta carotenes (those who might have eaten lots of tomato products) had the MOST AGGRESSIVE form of prostate cancer!
Dr. Childers is convinced that the poisonous effects of nightshades are far more extensive than joint and gut problems. He feels their negative effects are systemic and all-inclusive and could be causing such afflictions as Alzheimer's and Cancer. The tomato used to be called 'the cancer apple'. He says "The nightshade plants, when found in pastures, are ruinous to livestock. If a cow were to graze in a field of nightshades, in a short time they wouldn't be able to walk anymore. Farmers have known this for over 100 years and today those plants are…. destroyed before they can cause any harm to the animals. The nightshades are subtly and eventually ruinous to us...and we die ten to 30 or more years early."
What is so amazing to me that Vaidya's tradition, thousands of years ago, knew these vegetables were poisonous. We are truly so fortunate to be students of this tradition.