You are feeling creaky and those joints in your low back were really stiff this morning. It was hard to get out of bed. Your friend tells you that it’s probably the Nightshades you ate. “Tomatoes are the worst”, she says. “Nightshades always worsen my joint pain”. Nightshades, you say? Yes, there are some vegetables by that name. A quick Google search shows you that the Nightshade plant family are the genus Solanaceae, which contain white potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes and bell peppers, cayenne peppers, and Paprika. Do you eat any of these?
Plants contain many bioactive compounds. The Solanaceae family – potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers, contain an alkaloid chemical called solanine, which may affect the joint membranes. Accordingly, these plants may create or facilitate an inflammatory response in some individuals. In other words, after an Italian spaghetti Dinner with eggplant, or even after Mexican Salsa, patients are reporting that their joints ache worse. Are the nightshades, which are not necessarily causing the problem, making it temporarily worse?
There appears to be a big division in opinions about Nightshades. The crazy thing is that many patients with joint pain seem to do better when they pay attention to the amount of Nightshades they consume. The research is technically negative – saying that inflammatory markers do not increase from Nightshade consumption. But maybe there is something more to this? It’s unknown – but maybe it involves a food sensitivity, intolerance, or an autoimmune process that is too complex to pin down. But just to illustrate, here’s a conservative World-of-Approval Arthritis article saying “there is no reason you should not eat them”. In Contrast, here’s a nice liberal Naturopathic article suggesting you cut back Nightshades . Go figure. I guess you have to see if it works for you.
Patient “P” is about 60 years old. He is in fairly good shape, but has been having hip pains. Unfortunately, P’s hip pains are spoiling his golf. He was in Portland visiting his Son-in-Law who happened to be a patient and sent him over to Blue Heron Chiropractic. P said he could not play golf, which was his favorite thing. I did a hip exam and had P go for an X-ray of both hips, which showed some degenerative arthritic changes. Not a lot, but just enough for this to make sense. P said his PCP had mentioned hip replacement to him, and this was the last thing he wanted. To be helpful, I told “P” what I had heard about these Nightshades possibly making joint pain worse. P told me the following: “Dr. D, I think you might as well kill me now if I have to give up my foods. I love that stuff. Can’t ever do that. Golf and Food, that’s my life”. Anyway, we had a good couple of treatments, helped him a little bit, and off he went back to the East Coast. A few years later, in the door walks – you guessed it – “P”. He’s wearing his golf outfit and it was clear he had been out on the Greens. We greeted and he said “I just wanted you to know – I did it. I gave up those Nightshade foods or at least I cut back – a lot. But since then I have played all the golf I have wanted to – just got off the greens at Heron Lakes as a matter of fact. I have no pain. Thank you so much!”
Maybe a lot of these things are all just based on opinions. Maybe we have to deal with this overlap of things that are hard to test and pin down – variables that are hard to isolate – and the possibility that some of this anecdotal evidence is real. Look at how it played out for P. But here is the rub: if you have recurrent joint pain the flares up and down, and you also tend to eat a lot of Nightshades – try cutting that back or doing a brief elimination diet. I would be pleased to monitor that with you.
What’s the risk? There is none. It takes a little dedication, but look how it worked for P. And by the way, P actually represents dozens and dozens of patients in my practice and in other practices all around Portland and the World. If it works, you win. If it doesn’t work for you , it does not mean it did not work for P. So we add that to the arsenal of information we have about your joints and we redirect your treatment plan with a different focus. Let’s talk about it in an appointment.
At Blue Heron Chiropractic, we are all about broad scope solutions. I love to give patients homework so they can take care of themselves and participate in their recovery while at home. But first, we are typically going to diagnose the issue to find out what kind of source this pain is emanating from. A detailed history is a good start. We will do some tests and we may take some X-rays. If it all lines up, we may prepare the joint with some pulsed therapeutic ultrasound to soothe and soften the tissues. Often massage or myofascial release is applied to local muscles. Some very gentle force with a very shallow thrust or impulse may be applied to either decompress, traction or shift the joint into a position that encourages circulation and fluid flow. We then direct therapies to soothe the tissue reactions in the area and some gentle exercises keep you moving. After discussing your diet with you we come up with a plan. We occasionally set up a foods diary and help you stay on track.
Blue Heron Chiropractic specializes in understanding and helping control both Old pain and New pain, Vitality, Motor Vehicle Accident Recovery and Work Injuries. Finally, if you have questions about how Dr. Dana Sibilla and Chiropractic can help you, or about exercise, optimal function, pain or pain management, schedule an appointment today. .