Thursday, April 11, 2019


Nightshades are a plant family that include - tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant. These plants contain alkaloids that are toxic to some people. Eating a nightshade free diet seems fairly simple at first…until you realize where they are hidden. This is where you're going to need some assistance.

If you are eliminating nightshades to test yourself for an sensitivity, it will be difficult to detect if you are still getting low levels of nightshades from hidden sources. This is why it took me 11 years to figure out my intolerance after I first tried to eliminate nightshades. It wasn't until I treated nightshades like a celiac treats gluten; that is when I finally found relief.

You really need to eliminate ALL sources of nightshades to feel complete relief. Detecting this intolerance takes time, you really need to be careful – and READ EVERY LABEL.

It may also be difficult to feel great on a nightshade free diet if you have other food intolerances you have not identified. It’s recommended to start a complete elimination diet and remove all inflammation foods that could be causing you any pain, fatigue, GI problems, sleep disturbances, etc.

The most popular elimination diet that removes nightshades is called Auto-Immune Paleo or AIP. AIP eliminates just about every food, spice, or seed that may be trouble for someone with an auto-immune disease or many chronic health conditions. The Carnivore diet is another inflammation free diet. If AIP or Carnivore is too drastic for you right now, you could try eating a Paleo diet, and removing nightshades. You could try Whole30, and remove nightshades. You can also try a nightshade free Keto. These are all popular diets you can easily find books, blogs, support groups, and recipes on Pinterest. 

Common Nightshades

  •         Tomatoes
  •         Potatoes
  •         Peppers
  •         Eggplant
  •         Tobacco 
  •         Goji Berries
  •        Tomatillos
  •         Cape Gooseberries (not normal gooseberries)
  •         Ashwagandha

PLUS….all of the….


  • ·        Paprika (may also be used for coloring in natural products)
  • ·        Cayenne
  • ·        Red Pepper
  •       Capsicum
  • ·        Seasoning Salts
  • ·        Many Seasoning Mixes
  • ·        Any food or beverage label that just says “Spices” or “Natural Flavors”
Black pepper and Szechwan are not nightshades and perfectly safe to consume on a nightshade free diet (except when following AIP).

Starches & Food Additives (not a complete list

With the exception of potato starch, the other food additives may or may not contain nightshades. The only way to find out is to write the manufacturer. Manufacturers can hide a lot of nightshades and other junk under "Natural Flavors". Sometimes they will tell you if their natural flavors contain nightshades, and some will not.  
  •         Potato Starch
  •         Modified Food Starch
  •         Starch
  •         Vitamin A Palmitate
  •         Maltodextrin
  •         Dextrin
  •         Dextrose
  •         Some yeast
  •         Some baking powders
  •         Natural flavors
  •      Natural Colors (paprika, eggplant, and goji berries can be used for coloring)
  •      Artificial Coloring (most have modified food starch)
  •      Thautamin II


  •         Marinades
  •         Dressings
  •         Most Condiments (even mayo, mustard, and pickles can have nightshades)

Vitamins & Supplements

  •         Some types of Vitamin A
  •         Some types of Vitamin C
  •         Magnesium Stearate (may or may not have nightshades)
  •         Lycopene
  •         Ashwaganda
  •         Food based vitamins/Multi-Vitamins
  •         Starch is added to some vitamins, especially chewables.
  •         Superfoods or wheatgrass products may have tomato, bell pepper, or goji berries.
  •         Some protein powders and drinks.
  •      Homeopathics with Belladonna

Some vitamins you can read through the label and easily find nightshades – for example, the food based vitamin companies usually have tomato, pepper, or potato listed. Most vitamin labels are not as obvious. Unfortunately, we have to reach out to the manufacturer to confirm if their vitamins are nightshade free. Unless your vitamins are nightshade free, don't take them while you are testing yourself for an intolerance. 


Starch is often used in medications as an inactive ingredient.

There are many medications that are made from nightshade plants or that can affect the cholinergic system in the body.

Many vaccines are now being made using nightshade plants because it's cheaper and faster. The COVID vaccines are made from nicotiana benthamiana, a sister to the tobacco plant. The influenza vaccine is in the process of switching to nicotiana benthamiana. It's cheaper and faster than chicken eggs. They've also used potato and tomato plants in vaccines.

Getting your eyes dilated, scopolamine comes from nightshades. 


Sweet Potato Products

Sweet potatoes are NOT nightshades and they are perfectly safe when you prepare them yourself. But we have found, many sweet potato products are cross-contaminated with potato. Sweet potato chips can made on the same equipment as potato chips. Sweet potato snacks made from sweet potato starch almost always trigger a reaction - including the organic products. 

Sweet potato fries are only safe, if they are not cooked in the same oil as regular french fries. Sweet potato fries can also be coated with potato starch.


Pre-shredded cheese, or pre-crumbled cheeses need to be checked for potato starch - it's used as an anti-caking agent. If you have chosen to continue dairy on your nightshade free diet, you might want to avoid cheese all together because the potato starch they use on shredded cheese, can cross-contaminate the cheese slices and cheese blocks.

All lowfat/non-fat dairy products need to be avoided. When they remove the fat, they remove the vitamins. Then they add vitamins back in, that may come from nightshades. If you do drink milk or eat yogurt, stick to Whole Milk and full fat yogurt.

Many ice-creams and yogurts can have starches added to them...I've also been nightshaded by the "natural flavors" in vanilla ice-cream.

Non-Dairy Products

Almost all non-dairy cheese has potato starch or potato flour. Nut-milks use some of those same vitamins they use in lowfat milks.

It’s really hard to find any vegan or vegetarian products that are nightshade free.


Beverages are probably another place you forget to check the labels. Paprika can be used for coloring in teas and sodas. Dr. Pepper has nightshades, Rootbeer is also a problem. Alcoholic beverages, such as vodka can be made from potato. 


Most processed meats will have some form a nightshades. Some have paprika or other nightshade seasonings, dextrose, but many meats also have added potato starch.

Potato starch is often added to chicken, including rotisserie chicken and lunch meats. Unless it's raw, unseasoned, and you cook it yourself, it's likely to have nightshades.

Bacon and sausages have to be checked for "spices" and most patties (salmon, turkey, hamburgers) all have to be checked for spices and potato starch. There are a few safe brands out there.

Hotdogs have paprika, buns have potato starch.

If you order a burger, most buns have potato starch. 

Nightshades in Body Products

We have found potato starch in lotion and lipstick – and yes it has caused the same painful reaction. We have also encountered lotion that didn't have anything obvious on the label - but after reacting to it, I wrote the manufacturer and found out the natural coloring comes from eggplant.

There may be a lot of ingredients made from potato. We don't know. We recommend buying organic products. The labels and ingredient lists are much easier to read and understand. There is such a thing as organic potato starch - so be careful. Just because it's organic, doesn't mean it's a free pass.

Household Products

Envelope glue - I’ve personally never encountered this, but I don’t do a lot of snail mail.

Laundry starch used for ironing can be made from potato. We have reacted to a very starchy book bag.

Nightshades in Your Yard

Wear gloves if you are doing yard work. Some nightshades are weeds and might be hiding with your flowers in garden beds. Or some nightshades are ornamentals, like petunias.

Pesticides & Herbicides

Eat organic. If you have a nightshade sensitivity, then it’s possible you also have a sensitivity to cholinesterase inhibitors (CIs). What are CIs? Pesticides, herbicides, nerve agents, and nightshades. 

You need to eat organic on your nightshade free diet. If you would like to learn more about cholinesterase inhibitors, please visit Anne Wright's blog on this topic.

Also avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides around your home and yard.


The problem with GMO products, they have had their DNA changed with DNA from another plant or living organism. Nightshades have a natural pesticide in them which is why they are cholinesterase inhibitors. So what happens when you take the DNA of petunia and put it in soy? You have GMO SOY which then gets sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. It's best to avoid.

There is also a GMO sweetener that is usually hidded as "natural flavor" on labels. It's called Thautamin II. Made from 
Nicotiana benthamiana and Thautamim. 

I’m not sure what other frankenfoods they’ve created using nightshades.

Eating Out

While you are testing yourself for a nightshade intolerance, it’s best to not eat out. If you have to eat out, you’ll need to make a card explaining all of the above in a nutshell. We have one – we'll post what we put on it and you can make your own.

Don’t bother with fast food. Look for places that have organic food and make everything from scratch. Even places that make their food fresh, may not be safe – too much of a risk with cross-contamination. I have found 2 places that can make me a nightshade free pizza. But both places have also poisoned me because of cross-contamination. :(

Also when eating out, be careful with biodegradable to-go containers and cutlery. They can have potato ingredients. We have heard of some people reacting to these.

Preparing Nightshades for Other People

If lotion can poison us, then you should wear gloves when handling nightshades or washing dishes.

Becareful with powdered nightshades such as spices, superfoods, pancake mix, etc. DON’T INHALE. Wear a mask if you have to. Yes we have inhaled them and they do cause a reaction.

Some of us can't be in a restaurant or a home where nightshades are being prepared. We have reacted to touching surfaces like a door and reacting. Also just smelling peppers being prepared can also trigger a reaction.

Other Cholinesterase Inhibitor Foods

This is a list of foods that can inhibit cholinesterase and might cause a similar reaction to nightshades. Although I don't know if they can inhibit as much as nightshades. I personally have experienced reactions from coffee, but I do okay with decaf. Recently mint has been a problem for me and tea tree oil. I have not experienced a strong reaction from any others on this list, yet. If you remove nightshades are are still having a similar reaction after eating, address the items on this list:

  • Caffeine
  • Mint
  • Blueberries
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Saffron
  • Fenugreek
  • Turmeric
  • Saffron
  • Licorice
  • Iniand/Tulsi/Holy Basil
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Ginseng
  • Aspartame
  • Tea Tree Oil (Body products or diffused)
Please in our group have also reported apples being a problem for some.

Try a Nightshade Free Diet - YOU CAN DO IT! 

We put this list together for you, so you don't have to learn the hard way, like we did. We know it's a lot and can seem overwhelming - but if you aren't feeling good, then it's worth it if it means you can feel like your old self again, right?

If you find you have a nightshade sensitivity, you will love how AWESOME you feel when you cut out all sources of nightshades.

Adding Nightshades Back In

It has taken some of us up to 2 weeks to recover from nightshades. Try to stay nightshade free for 30 days. WHY? Now that you are feeling awesome, give yourself some time to enjoy it. The longer you go without nightshades, the easier it will be to detect a problem when you try to add them back in.

Once it's time to start adding nightshades back in. You may have different reactions to the various nightshades, so don't add them in all at once. Add them in one at a time and wait 4 days in between.  Some reactions can take 24 hours or so after you ingest. So pay attention to your body. Sometimes when we don't feel good, or don't sleep well, or have a neck ache, or a back ache, we don't think about what we ate the day before. You may want to keep a journal with what you ate and how you feel. A nightshade reaction is different for everyone. Pain (anywhere, especially joints), fatigue, GI problems, rashes, congestion, anxiety, depression, brain fog, insomnia, muscle cramps, and more. If you have any one of these symptoms, it might be the nightshades.

Also some people may react to raw tomatoes, but are fine with cooked tomatoes. Try them on different days and see how you feel. Some people may react to peppers, but they do okay with paprika. These people are usually reacting to the lectins in nightshades, and not the alkaloids.

We found potato starch or modified food starch to be the most painful of all. Try that last.

Hopefully you are able to find the answers you are looking for. If you discover super spidey senses for nightshades, just like us, please join our Facebook group:

Nightshade Free and Cholinesterase Inhibitors Sensitivity Support Group.


Would you like to learn more?

Check back later for more news about nightshades. What symptoms can nightshades cause. Plus ways to reduce your symptoms if you get nightshaded.

More about nightshades

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