Nightshades get a lot of buzz in the autoimmune community. This class of plant (known scientifically as Solanaceae) often includes most people’s favorite vegetables, but they can cause a range of health problems, from itchiness to leaky gut and even arthritis*.


The problem seems to be related to glycoalkaloids. These act as natural bug repellants in the soil, but in the systems of sensitive individuals, the antinutrients wreak havoc. On the gentler end of the spectrum, symptoms mainly consist of some GI discomfort. In some people, however, nightshades exacerbate autoimmune conditions like celiac and lupus. In the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), which is specifically designed to remove inflammatory foods from the diet, nightshades aren’t allowed at all because they tend to be so difficult for autoimmune folks to tolerate.


Wondering if you have a nightshade sensitivity? Here is the list of indication, from Paleo Hacks:

  • Irritable bowels
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Nerve problems
  • Joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Acid reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Itching
  • Leaky gut
  • Autoimmunity or chronic conditions
  • Trouble breathing (rare, but serious)
  • Mouth swelling (rare, but serious)


The rest of the article, 14 Signs of Nightshade Sensitivity (and what to do about it) fills in a lot of detail and some of the science. It’s a thorough piece, but remember that a person can be sensitive to one nightshade without being sensitive to all nightshades. Remember, too, that nightshade vegetables are a good source of vitamins C and B, in addition to minerals and antioxidants. If you’re thinking of giving up nightshades, do be sure you’ve identified other sources of these valuable nutrients.


*For more information, have a look at the research:

Potato glycoalkaloids adversely affect intestinal permeability and aggravate inflammatory bowel disease

Naturally occurring glycoalkaloids in potatoes aggravate intestinal inflammation in two mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease

An Apparent Relation of Nightshades (Solanaceae) to Arthritis