Nightshades are a specific group of plants belonging to the Solanaceae family which includes over 2,000 species. They are also some of the most popular foods consumed today; they include tomatoes, potatoes, all types of peppers, and eggplant. Not truly a nightshade member but containing the same inflammation-inducing alkaloids are blueberries, huckleberries, goji berries and ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng).
The theory suggests that nightshades induce inflammation through a specific chemical known as solanine. Researchers now believe this chemical may actually irritate the gastrointestinaltract. When it’s absorbed into the bloodstream, it can cause the destruction of the oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
Solanine is known as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor – it acts to prevent the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh), leading to an excessive build-up of ACh in nerve receptor sites. This action allows for constant over-stimulation of Ach receptors, especially within the nervous system as it’s responsible for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. (source)
One of the major problems attributed to nightshades is arthritis. In fact, some researchers believe that arthritis is often misdiagnosed in people who may in fact only be experiencing the effects of nightshade consumption while having a nightshade sensitivity.
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