Common Foods May Be Causing You Pain & Disease

April 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Health Blog, Healthy Lifestyle

I have seen a number of new cases lately of people with acute arthritic symptoms in their hands, knees, backs and other areas of their body. When I ask them if they have been eating more tomatoes, eggplants and/or capsicums, the answer is often “Yes”.

This time of year these foods are in abundance in backyards all around the country and we have a large variety of them to choose from in the shops. Potatoes are also a regular part of many people’s diet but unfortunately these can also cause problems, especially if they have green patches or have started to sprout.

A problem for many people is that their body cannot metabolize (break down) a particular substance called solanine, which is a glycoalkaloid found within certain foods. The solanine then builds up in the major organs, including the thyroid gland and skeletal muscles and can causes all sorts of problems. This can result in an inflammatory response and different people have various levels of sensitivity, depending on genetics, your nutritional status or other factors.

Foods from the Nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae) all contain the chemical solanine, which is a naturally-occurring toxin found in a number of different plants. For example, Tomatoes contain tomatine; eggplants contain alpha-solanine; capsicums and chillies contain solanadine and potatoes (not sweet potatoes) possess solanine. Solanine chemicals can also be found in Goji berries, cayenne pepper, paprika and the herb ashwagandha. Other things to watch for are potato starch, which is used in many food products including thickening agents; homoeopathic medicines that contain belladonna and natural ointments for pain and inflammation that contain capsicum (cayenne). Pharmaceutical medications that contain potato starch as a filler (such as certain sleeping pills, muscle relaxants) may also contain solanine. Atropine and Scopolamine, commonly used in sleeping pills contain solanine. In addition, artichokes, okra and blueberries can also contain various levels of solanine but probably not enough to cause any problems. However, if you are going to try and identify a solanine sensitivity via an avoidance diet, you would need to eliminate all of these foods and substances in order to have clear results.

Overcome Pain & Inflammation Naturally

If you have a sensitivity to solanine, this could be the cause of some of your health problems. The following symptoms may be due to a solanine intolerance:

  • Arthritic symptoms such as joint pain, inflammation and swelling
  • Muscle aches and pain, stiffness, muscle weakness
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Tendonitis, Bursitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Hypothyroid conditions (as solanine can disrupt the endocrine system)
  • Osteoporosis (due to the ability to remove calcium from the bones)
  • Arteriosclerosis (from depositing calcium in the blood vessels)
  • Heart disease (Due to hardening of the arteries. Refer above)
  • Vitamin D and calcium deficiency – despite supplementation (due to reducing or preventing the absorption of these nutrients)
  • Digestive problems such as IBS, nausea, diarrhoea, “Leaky gut”, or other gastrointestinal issues
  • Depression (due to the effects of solanine on the nervous system)
  • Chronic inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, scleroderma
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Gout
  • Appendicitis
  • Birth defects including spina bifida
  • Persistent and unexplained numbness or tingling (seek medical advice to ensure these symptoms are not an impending heart attack).


Eliminating Solanine

If you are sensitive to the Solanaceae food group, you may find a lot of benefit in avoiding them completely and monitoring your body’s response. Clinical research has shown that it can take 6 months or more to clear these chemicals from the body so just eliminating them for a few weeks may not provide a clear enough indication. I would suggest keeping a journal of your symptoms while you totally avoid these foods for a minimum of 6 months. If you don’t feel you could be 100% dedicated to eliminating these foods from your diet for at least 6 months and/or you want to know for sure if you have a sensitivity to solanine – contact our centre to organize an affordable food sensitivity test (which can be done via a non-invasive hair test or a blood test). You would then be tested for a large number of foods to identify any sensitivities you may have and you would be provided with comprehensive information regarding which foods you needed to avoid in order to really achieve optimum wellbeing.

If you are one of those people who is sensitive to the solanine chemicals and you totally avoid them in your diet, you may find a reduction or elimination of the inflammatory symptoms you might have been suffering from including joint pain and swelling; muscle aches, muscle stiffness, eczema or psoriasis, heartburn and other signs of inflammation within the body. Although there are a number of other common substances in our daily diet that can be responsible for inflammation, it may be worth identifying a Solanine sensitivity first – to either confirm or rule out this substance being the cause of your symptoms.

However, if you are already taking naturopathic anti-inflammatory treatments or pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory medications for your symptoms, please discuss this matter with your naturopath or doctor first, to determine whether you should try a solanine-elimination diet.

You never know, a pain-free life might be just a step away!

Note: Check with your healthcare practitioner before making any dietary changes.

Yours In Great Health,

Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons), MATMS, MNHAA, MHATO

Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner, Lecturer, Researcher 

Earth Medicine TM


Email: [email protected]


Helping you achieve optimal wellness, hormonal balance and disease prevention with personalised, professional naturopathic health care, clinical pathology testing and high-quality herbal medicines and supplements 

Sar Rooney is a Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner specialising in Anxiety and Depression |Women’s Health| Hormonal Imbalances | Thyroid Disorders | Digestive Health | Genetic Polymorphisms (MTHFR/Pyroluria) | Nutritional Medicine | Optimal Wellness & Disease Prevention 

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Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. Please note: I am not a medical practitioner.


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