What Are Nightshade Plants?

The words Nightshade Plant draw up images of mysterious workings within the dark of night, the creation of magic potions or poisonous concoctions, of witches and of medicine men silently creating their wares.

Well the images and ideals surrounding Nightshade Plants may not be that far off from the truth. Many of these sprouts, herbs, and vegetables contain ingredients that are used within modern and herbal medicines. Although these plants and their chemical components are generally used to promote good health some of their properties can indeed be toxic when consumed in large quantities or when given to people who have a food sensitivity or autoimmune disorder.

Nightshade plants are more common than one might first presume. Many people do not realize that some of the foods growing in their garden fall under this category and may not be all that healthy for some members of their family to consume.

Nightshades are plants which have developed a means of self defence against predators who may wish to consume them. These predators generally being small creatures such as bugs or insects but may also include larger creatures such as grazing animals and we humans.

The deadly nightshade plants are fortunately really not as scary as the term sounds unless you are an insect that is. They produce a toxic substance to protect themselves from being eaten but this poison is in small amounts so usually only extremely harmful to very small creatures. Unfortunately the toxins within these plants can be sufficient enough to cause a reaction in sensitive individuals so they are indeed a food source which it is wise for some people to avoid.
Is tobacco a nightshade plant?
The answer is: (Yes)

Are white potatoes a nightshade plant?
The answer is: (Yes)

Are tomatoes a nightshade plant?
The answer is: (Yes)

Are green peppers a nightshade plant?
The answer is: (Yes)

Are red peppers a nightshade plant?
The answer is: (Yes)

Is an eggplant a nightshade plant?
The answer once again is yes.

All of these very common plants, fruit, and vegetables are indeed classified within this family and there are others. What these nightshades have in common is that they contain a protective toxin within them to prevent bugs, insects, and small animals from consuming them. When you consume these plants you also consume that toxic substance.

Most of us know that the tobacco plant is not good for us because it contains a little chemical that we all know by the name of nicotine. What most people do not realize is that other nightshade plants such as eggplant and tomato also contain this same chemical. These toxic compositions are why most allergies to this food group occurs. 

This plant species have developed a protective defence mechanism to keep insects from consuming them. They produce alkaloids, a nitrogen containing structure that is designed to poison the offending insect and keep it from feeding on the plant.

Nightshade plants that are known to cause an intolerance within people are generally the white potato, tomato, eggplant, green, yellow or red bell pepper, hot pepper, tobacco, mandrake, belladonna and morning glory. It is important to note that nightshade food products are sometimes hidden within other foods or fall under the guise of a seasoning or spice. This includes such foods as Pimentos, Paprika, Cayenne pepper, and Tabasco sauce.

Plant Alkaloids and Why They Can Cause a Food Sensitivity

There are four types of alkaloids distinct to the nightshade family of plants, steroid alkaloids, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, indole alkaloids, and tropane alkaloids. Health effects from the consumption of these can result in joint or nervous system disorders, digestive problems, loss of calcium in bone or increase of calcium in soft tissue, as well as other health related problems.

This is why sensitivities to the nightshade family of plants are quite common. The people who ingest members of the nightshade family consume the very alkaloids that the plant produces to ward off offending insects. They eat the very poisons that these sprouts produce to keep itself from being consumed.

List of Nightshade Vegetables, Plants, Herbs and Foods

There are over 2800 species of nightshade plants all of which fall into the classification of Polemoniales or Solanaceae. These nightshade plants come in many forms and can be foods, herbs, shrubs, or trees. Some of these being so common that we might never have considered them to be a member of this distinct family.

Some of the most common nightshade plants are the white potato, tomato, eggplant, green, yellow or red bell pepper, hot peppers, and the tobacco plant. Other less common nightshade plants include the mandrake, belladonna, tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, ground cherries (Physalis), garden huckleberry (Solanum melanocerasum), and Morning Glory. Common seasonings or spices that are derived from nightshade plants are Tabasco sauce, Paprika, and Cayenne pepper.

It is important to know which plants fall under the category of a nightshade plant because quite a number of people suffer from ill health reactions when they come in contact with these plants. P
eople with existing health problems may have no idea that their current illness could be caused by an allergy to nightshade plants. It is recommended that individuals who suffer from an inflammatory based illness such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Gout, Lupus, or other forms of inflammatory based arthritis should be careful in their consumption of nightshade plants.

1) It is especially important to never consume nightshade vegetables raw. Cooking these plants can reduce the strength of the harmful alkaloids by as much as forty or fifty percent.

2) Do not store potatoes in a lighted area as this will increase their alkaloid content.

3) Do not consume green or sprouted potatoes as they contain a higher alkaloid content.

4. Yams, sweet potato, or cauliflower can replace white potatoes. Safeguard your health.

People experiencing an allergy or sensitivity to one or more food products is quite common. About 75 percent of people have an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to one or more foods that they consume. Symptoms of an intolerance to a specific food might include difficulty breathing, cough, fatigue, headache, migraine, flush, rash, swelling, or gastrointestinal difficulties such as gas, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and abdominal pain.

Knowing the correct foods to consume for your specific health needs can greatly improve your quality of life. There are foods which can increase inflammation just as there are foods which can alleviate it. Knowing the correct foods to consume for your specific health needs can greatly improve your quality of life. There are foods which can increase inflammation just as there are foods which can alleviate it.

A food sensitivity can display itself as a simple mild case of gastrointestinal discomfort, or they may be severe enough to actually initiate a chronic immune system response. In the severest case a food allergy can even result in the death of the individual. 
Food sensitivities should always be taken very seriously. They are a warning from your body that it is not able to tolerate what you are feeding it.

What a lot of people may not realize is that a food intolerance can be triggered by the foods that you were raised on and have always considered safe. There are many common foods that you would never suspect to be harmful to your health but unfortunately they are, and nightshade plants are one of the foods which fall into this group. Many of these Nightshade plants are such common food plants that you would not suspect that these vegetables are the reason for your current health issues, that is until an allergy test comes back proving that they are indeed the culprit. Eat well. Live well. Stay safe. Stay strong. 

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