Nightshades: I've recently come across information... - PMRGCAuk


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ChrisinNam profile image

I've recently come across information that nightshades, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet peppers, etc, COULD be a cause of inflammation. Does anyone know if there's any real information about this? Over the past couple of years, way before PMR began, I started eating a lot more salads, including tomatoes and sweet peppers, and have been wondering if I've brought this thing on myself.

53 Replies
DorsetLady profile image
DorsetLadyPMRGCAuk volunteer

Highly unlikely - This is about foods and inflammation - albeit arthritis, not specifically PMR or GCA -

I ate loads of tomatoes and peppers (not green) through my GCA journey....can’t say they had a detrimental affect.

Another link -

PMRpro profile image

There are people who say that, and other people who say there is no evidence at all for the claim.

The truth is that everyone is different and there are foods that cause problems for some people but not for others. I didn't eat nightshade vegetables for a time - made no difference at all except for making my diet far less interesting and colourful. Nor did it make a difference when I went back to eating them. It is never a good idea to make a blanket decision to leave out all members of a food group from your diet indefinitely, If you keep a food diary with pred dose, activities and symptoms you may notice links - tomatoes might appear to be a problem but not peppers for example. Or vice versa. Then you can try altering that - without depriving yourself unnecessarily.

But diet is very very unlikely to be the cause of your PMR.

ChrisinNam profile image
ChrisinNam in reply to PMRpro

Thanks for your sensible advice.

Hurray!!! 😁

nickmits profile image
nickmits in reply to PMRpro always the PMRpro always has great information to help us all .,thanks again! NICK

Hopefully not. I’ve eaten (really) vast amounts of nightshades over my lifetime - ratatouille being a particular favourite (and chillis) but everything in the nightshade family including physalis, which everyone forgets is also a nightshade, and didn’t develop PMR till last year when I was 61 ... I’m still guzzling them all now and hoping you’re wrong 😁🤞

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Lookingforideas

Haven't made ratatouille for AGES ... Very partial I am!

Me too! I’ve eaten them in abundance for decades and didn’t develop PMR until 60. I made ratatouille the other day so I have a big pot on the go just now. Didn’t realise physalis was a nightshade. I became a fan last year during lockdown when one of the supermarket delivery companies I used had them.

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Highlandtiger

Can't say I can summon up much love for physallis ,,,

Highlandtiger profile image
Highlandtiger in reply to PMRpro

Oddly I couldn’t either as I remember them as being fairly tasteless with an unpleasant dry texture but these were much larger and very juicy. It was a revelation to me!

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Highlandtiger

Exactly. Maybe I need to look - but I don't know I have ever seen them in the shops here.only decorating a dessert in a restaurant.

Highlandtiger profile image
Highlandtiger in reply to PMRpro

Yes I remember those wee decorative ones as being rather disgusting. These ones were much bigger - think size and shape of a large beef tomato... It was Iceland which stocked them which rather surprised me as generally their range of fruit is quite limited compared to other supermarkets.

Oh I’ve never seen big ones - only the small ones like yellow/orange cherry tomato size 😊

That sounds more like a persimmon 🤔

Oh! 😳 In that case I apologise to all for my misleading post! Explains a lot though!

No worries. 😊 it just sounded like a persimmon from your description, they are the size of a beef tomato 🍅. Doesn’t make me right tho does it. ☺️ The link that pmr pro has put up shows the two together. Interesting facts on them 🤗

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Carrollee

Not the most helpful image of a physalis though ... Wiki is better

It’s my sister who loves them - I only occasionally eat them when she buys them 😂😂😂

I had to look up physallis, and the picture makes me think we know them as ground cherries, They are grown decoratively as "chinese lanterns" and are related to tomatilloes, which we grew one year for fun. I remember long ago looking at ground cherries in the small garden centre of our supermarket and a man walking by said, don't plant those, they will take over.... So I didn't! I'd only thought they'd make a nice autumn feature in the garden, along with silver dollar plant (lunaria). At that time I didn't know they were edible.

That’s them. Also sometimes called cape gooseberries in UK.

Rattatuille, now theres an idea I haven't thought about for a very long time . . . . .

I’ve just had some for lunch... 😉

Back when I was first diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and later before the PMR diagnosis which at the time I thought was worsening OA, I tried several times to give up nightshade foods, making no discernable difference. Recently, however, I ate a lot more tomatoes than usual (generally just have a small amount in a salad, this time I was also eating a tomato-based pasta sauce for a couple of consecutive main meals). I noticed afterwards that I developed sores in my mouth, even bleeding when I brushed my teeth, which is not something which commonly happens to me. They cleared up a couple of days after the tomato overload. So, who knows?

Even if they are not a cause of PMR, nightshades could for some people be a source of additional inflammation.

I was told this when I first started pred and have tried to cut back on tomatoes etc although I still eat them. I understand that they contain solanine which causes inflammation. Solanine, also called glycoalkaloid, is a type of steroid alkaloid. It seems that some studies have been done on Crohn’s and IBS and it seems it is better to avoid them in those cases.

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to piglette

The link I put in at the top disputes the solanine theory.

piglette profile image
piglette in reply to PMRpro

People with Crohn’s say it is true. Who are we to argue? Having said that I still eat nightshades.

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to piglette

Oh yes - not arguing they don't tolerate nightshades, but it doesn't apply to joints in the same way. There must be direct contact between the foods and the gut in Crohns though.

piglette profile image
piglette in reply to PMRpro

I think it probably is gut type problems as IBS seems to react too.

Grandma said it best:

Everything in moderation, including abstinence.

My favourite phrase!!!! 😁

I do love what I learn on this forum. I had never heard of the family name Nightshades, other than deadly nightshade, until I read this yesterday. I then spent a while reading up on them. Seems that, as said here, the jury is still out on whether they do or don't increase inflammation. I do remember when I was diagnosed with Gout about 40 years ago I was, advised to give up eating tomatoes. After a few years the Gout, if I ever had it, disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived. We don't eat peppers now as they definitely have an adverse effect on my OH's IBS ( part of her Fibro), she also has problems with too many tomatoes.

I don’t eat potatoes generally as they give me knuckle pain. An occasional one is fine. Tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants are ok.

When i first started to have PMR, i convinced myself it was because i was using sweetners in my tea ! i stopped them straight away ! I think its a natural thing to wonder if you maybe have done/ eaten something ! Good luck , think you sound to be having a healthy diet !

IVe heard that too especially if you have thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism which I do have. I recently had severe gastritis and stopped eating nightshades completely. The gastritis did stop but I think it may have been down to getting off prednisolone and all post hip surgery medication rather than the nightshades. I am however eating fewer nightshades and so far my inflammatory markers are in normal range. My niece who has MS swears by an anti inflammatory diet and so far it has helped her enormously.

Yes they can cause inflammation on the body because they are high in histamine foods- look up low histamine and high histamine diet. It does include citrus foods and also some foods and drinks (like spinach, tea, coffee, alcohol etc) lower or can block DAO which you need in your body to tolerate and absorb histamine. Antihistamines can help some people and for others they don’t help. There’s lots of information on this subject x


It’s great to see such useful and diverse advice on here! For me, (and has been pointed out everyone is different) the nightshade family does affect me considerably. Not as a cause, but maybe as as a contributor?

The autumn I started suffering from PMR, we had a glut of tomatoes (roasted with garlic, fresh herbs, sea salt and olive oil- yum!), I worked out we were eating nearly a kilo a day - stupid. So this highly inflammatory diet, plus bereavement, plus serious injury, plus tooth infection, plus excess stress, plus antibiotics, plus cold/damp weather, plus, plus, plus ... enter PMR.

I now add the nightshades occasionally, but try limit them. But again, we are all very different.

Thank you for your thought-provoking post.

I learned a long time ago that it is said that 'family' of plants has a common substance to which some people's systems are intolerant. I don't think I've read that it amounts to an allergy, but, if it does, I guess that could be considered 'inflammation'. A long time after I first read about this, I realised that my system didn't like tomatoes - and I loved them - often ate them like other 'fruit'. Nowadays, I generally don't eat them and on the rare occasions I cannot resist the urge to add them (usually tinned chopped tomatoes) to something I'm cooking, I suffer a minor upset in my digestive system which has me running to the loo at the appropriate time. I haven't done 'personal' research on potatoes, aubergine and peppers, but I rarely eat them.

My (non-medically qualified in any way) view is that that the way we experience the 'intolerance' to any foods, is the visible sign of a 'stress' on the immune system which has summoned a defence against the 'enemy' substance.

But for me, that would have been only a tiny, tin contribution to the mass of mental stress that I had been under for the couple of years immediately before PMR shouted at me!'

Your post has made me think a little bit more about my intolerance to cow's milk - which I figured out only a few years ago. That manifested itself in mouth ulcers throughout my life which were stressful in themselves. I self-diagnosed it only when I developed some mouth ulcers after a random 'feast' of cow's milk yoghurt. Since I've changed to goat's milk yoghurt - no problem.

Apologies for the length of this reply - I can't resist seeing links in these things.

PS I know nothing about physalis - and have only ever eaten three or four!

Kath567 profile image
Kath567 in reply to Hildalew

I agree. I limit some nightshades because of acid reflux and never eat white potatoes but love my 95% dark chocolate. Nightshades can also be very nutritious so I still eat cooked tomatoes and the odd pepper. Stress is a trigger for my autoimmune conditions, maybe some people process stress differently which triggers autoimmune conditions. Lactose makes my GI symptoms worse but don’t know if it affects PMR. There is so much research on our microbiome and autoimmunity so I am hopeful they will find cures.

Rachmaninov2 profile image
Rachmaninov2 in reply to Kath567

Stress is a major cause of my acid reflux and inflammatory arthritis. I used to love tomatoes but don’t eat them any more, and I can remember that as a child my mouth would itch if I ate a tomato. 🙂

It can be a problem for some people and there is a lot of information out there. And it's not just about nightshades, other foods too. Some people will poo-poo the idea, because maybe they aren't sensitive to these foods, or they don't understand the mechanisms involved.

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Miss_Diagnose

I don't think any of us are poo-pooing the concept - what we are saying is that everyone is different and you shouldn't accept that a particular veggy is "out" just because, for example, it is a nightshade. Try it and see - and that applies to everything, not just nightshades.

If Pmr is an auto-immune disease then I don't think what we eat makes much difference in causing inflammation. Surely the problem lies with our confused immune system attacking ourselves. I have heard people say that Nightshades make their arthritis worse though so I don't know! I've recently remembered the joys of Aubergine parmesan and mmm, yum!

HeronNS profile image
HeronNS in reply to Blossom20

From my limited experience I'd say nightshades may affect osteoarthritis, and perhaps some other inflammatory ailments, but I don't think they have much if any effect on the disease we call PMR.

I read a similar post a few years ago , I had never heard of ‘ nightshade veg etc. ‘ The only nightshade I knew was the Deadly Nightshade which is a weed. I don’t think it was established that Nightshades caused PMR.

Are you taking any statin drugs for high cholesterol?

I tried a thorough, clinically constructed, exclusion diet before going down the steroid route. The diet made no difference. The steroids did.

I have found that since PMR I have become more sensitive to certain foods..strawberries for instance now produce quite a strong ( PMR) reaction..I immediately take an anti histamine tablet and all symptoms miraculously disappear.Generally I do avoid them now.

Interesting.., years ago I consulted a nutritionist for allergies various ( and I’d always had osteoarthritis, since age 20 ) who told me to avoid all the nightshade family ( also mushrooms). ( Mind you, she also said the only alcohol I should drink was champagne ...) This was many years before my recently acquired GCA ...I agree that a good variety is probably best... the “colourful plate” is the thing now, isn’t it? Of food, not ceramics...

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Frewen1

A good variety of bubbly I assume? ;)

Frewen1 profile image
Frewen1 in reply to PMRpro

Obviously! 🤦🏼‍♀️🎉

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Frewen1

Bit disappointed she was so biased - I much prefer Sekt (German) or prosecco (Italian) ...

Frewen1 profile image
Frewen1 in reply to PMRpro

Ah, you see I love Crémant! Also like some Cava, not keen on Prosecco and can’t explain why ... listen to us and our first world preoccupations! x

PMRpro profile image
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Frewen1


Mind you - there is as much variety amongst good prosecco as in champers and I have had some disgusting champers! Years ago I went on a tour of a Mainz Sekt cellar (Kupferberg) culminating with a tasting. The German produced stuff was really nice - but the company has a vineyard in the Champagne region and we got to try it too. Bleugh!!!!!

It was an accompanying persons programme at a science meeting - there were a lot of escapees from the meeting!

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