The Nightshade Nightmare

By John Roth
PeeingI am a male over 60 and have [or had] a serious health problem that I tried to ignore for the last three years. I tried every holistic treatment, supplement, vitamin and herb under the sun.

During that period my gastrointestinal tract quit working three times. I had a lot of trouble breathing and although I had the urge nothing would come out of my body. You get the picture.

[Disclaimer: The following is not a medical article]

Since I consider the hospital a dangerous place I refused to go to the Emergency Room. Not only do I avoid the Hospital like the plague I don’t go to doctors. When I was a kid, before modern medicine and “specialists,” our doctor, Abe Greenberg, carried a black bag and took an oath, Primum non nocere, “First, do no harm”). Doctor Greenberg in 1950, 10 years before iatrogenic disease became a reality [Appendix A], had this to say about the sick:

  • 95% of the people who are sick will get better by themselves.
  • 2.5% will get better with very little help.
  • The rest you can’t help anyway so leave them alone.

For Dr. Greenberg to be “politically and medically correct” he would have said:

  • 95% of the people who are sick, and who never went to a doctor and were never exposed to an epidemic or pandemic [Appendix B], will get better by themselves.
  • 2.5% will get better with very little help.
  • The rest you can’t help anyway so leave them alone.

I have been around doctors and hospitals my entire life. 50% of my male cousins are doctors. My father wanted to be a doctor. My mother wanted me to be a doctor and my sister almost married two doctors. I grew up working in the hospital owned by my father and his brother who was … you guessed it, a doctor. I watched the doctors kill my grandfather and brother in the name of health care progress, and finally I started a company with one of my doctor cousins that is a leading physician group practice company focused on the delivery of hospitalist medicine (Inpatient care) and related facility-based services, including acute, sub-acute and long-term care settings.

The story of my three-year gastrointestinal adventure is coming soon but I want to raise awareness about one issue right away just in case what I found about Nightshade plants can help you.

After I survived the first gastrointestinal shut down, I was forced to see a doctor, actually a number of doctors. Because modern medicine is about specialists when the first one could not find out what was wrong he referred me to another, and another and another. I had just about every non-invasive blood, urine, breath and stool test modern medicine has to offer. They were all negative so the conclusion is that I must have the “cancer.”

“Let us find out if you have stomach, prostrate, or kidney cancer … or all three.”

My response:

You are not allowed to test me for cancer because even if I have cancer, and I doubt it, I don’t want to know about it. The knowledge of having cancer can be worse than the cancer disease itself. Besides everyone has cancer cells, either your body can fight them or it can’t. And your body can’t do any fighting if it’s trying to recover from surgery, chemo, radiation ‘therapy’ … or the notorious toxicity of your cancer “fighting” drugs.

If you are a cancer survivor, then you survived the cancer and the treatment.

Trouble Urinating?

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night (or waking up at night to urinate, sometimes referred to as nocturia; often with only a small amount of urine)
  • Difficulty starting urination, holding back urine or the sensation of not being able to urinate easily or completely (or feeling that you have to urinate but only a few drops of urine come out)
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • You feel like you have to urinate often, but not much urine comes out when you do.
  • Your belly feels tender or heavy.
  • Your urine is cloudy or smells bad.
  • You have pain on one side of your back under your ribs (This is where your kidneys are).

Until three years ago I had absolutely no issues with my kidneys or bladder. During the last three years I have experienced every one of the symptoms above. It didn’t matter if I drank or didn’t drink before I went to sleep: a good night was when I only got up three or four times.

During that time the color, density and smell of my urine changed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I remember needing to pee so bad I had to pay a restaurant to let me use their men’s room.

I repeat all of the tests were negative: the doctors had no idea what was wrong and wanted me to submit to a Colonoscopy, MRI and/or a CT Scan.

I refused and kept cleansing, fasting and looking for an herb, supplement, vitamin, leaf or powder. Sporadically I eliminated dairy, gluten and carbonated beverages from my diet and sent away to Australia for a $60 jar of Manuka Honey.

Nothing was working and then Monday night (2/6/2012) my gastrointestinal tract shut down again. 24-hours later I was ambulatory but boy was I weak. When I get really sick my only option is to quit eating. I drank Vitamin energy water from Tuesday morning until Sunday (2/12/2012) when I got in touch with a Health Coach who knew about Nightshade plants and Atropine.

Urination and Atropine

The parasympathetic nervous system triggers urination by two methods. It stimulates the muscle in the urinary bladder wall to contract, which causes urine to be pushed out of the bladder. In addition, the parasympathetic system affects the sphincter muscle that surrounds the passageway which transports urine out of the bladder. When the sphincter muscle contracts, the passageway is closed and the bladder is able to fill with urine. The parasympathetic nervous system causes the sphincter muscle to relax, allowing urination to occur. Since atropine inhibits the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system it reduces urination. Atropine also inhibits spasms of the urinary bladder.

Never heard about Nightshades? Well neither had I and what is even more interesting is that: not one of the doctors I consulted or anything I found while researching my symptoms on the Web ever suggested a diet without Nightshade Plants:

Tomatoes, white [and red] potatoes, red, yellow, cherry and green bell peppers, the “hot” peppers such as chili and Paprika, Cayenne pepper (capsicum), Pimento, Chili peppers, Hot peppers (long & red, red cluster) as well as eggplant belong to the Nightshade Family, a botanical genus called Solanaceae species. This species also includes tobacco, poisonous belladonna, and the toxic plants henbane, mandrake, and jimson weeds. [1]

According to nutritional researcher, author and Professor Emeritus at the University of Florida, Norman F. Childers in his The Nightshades and Health, the origin of the word “nightshade” is not clear. He explains that old English writings described these plants as Nightshades because of their “evil and loving” nature of the night.

Modern Medicine does not recognize the toxicity of Nightshade plants. [2]

I am not saying that eating the common Nightshade vegetables will send you to the emergency room: What I am saying is that the Nightshades were the cause of my urinary dysfunction and are related to my other problems. Last night was the third night in a row that I didn’t have to get up to pee. One of the nights I actually had to pee but for the first time in years I was able to ignore the urge and go back to sleep. [3]

I believe my rapid recovery and dramatic results are related to fasting for 5 days on Vitamin water; however, there is no doubt in my mind that during the last three years my symptoms were aggravated and abated by a diet which randomly included and excluded Nightshades. [4]

The story of how Nightshades, shellfish, gluten and carbonated drinks almost killed me is coming soon. In the meantime why not try a diet without Nightshades; what do you have to lose?

Click here to read All about nightshades: explore the hidden hazards of your favorite food with macrobiotic nutritionist Lino Stanchich

Click here to read more about people who are sensitive to nightshade plants.

P.S. Yes someone wrote the 4 myths about nightshade vegetables. Feel free to read Rhea Seymour’s dietary disinformation but make sure you check out the comments.


[1] EXCEPTIONS: Sweet Potatoes (high in Vitamin A), and Yams (not high in Vitamin A), and Black and white pepper do not fall into this category. Avocados are also OK (in fact, Avocados are high in essential, preferred amino acids, and healthy fats). I have found spicy tasty “Miso” (soy) products without nightshade.

[2] Why are nightshades legal? If the nightshade foods were to be introduced to the Western diet today, under current Novel Foods regulations they would have to be tested for safety. It is unlikely that they would be permitted to enter the food supply, solely because of their nicotine (solanine) content. However, like cigarettes, they slipped into our diet despite some voices in opposition and have assumed a major role in our nutrition and health, a role that, in a free society, should be accepted.

However, moderation in all things is a worthy principle and it could be argued that, in our diet we have perhaps gone too far down the road of nightshade acceptance.

[3] I started eating a diet without Nightshades the afternoon of 2/12/2012. 2/14/2012 was the first night I realized my nocturia (the need to urinate frequently) had gone away.

[4] Disclaimer: According to the Mayo Clinic, allergy to Nightshade vegetables is uncommon. Obviously not everyone is sensitive to the alkaloid compounds in the nightshade family of plants. Why not try a diet without Nightshades and see if your overall health improves.

Nightshades: Tomatoes, white [and red] potatoes, red, yellow, cherry and green bell peppers, the “hot” peppers such as chili and Paprika, Cayenne pepper (capsicum), Pimento, Chili peppers, Hot peppers (long & red, red cluster) as well as eggplant belong to the Nightshade Family, a botanical genus called Solanaceae species. This species also includes tobacco, poisonous belladonna, and the toxic plants henbane, mandrake, and jimson weeds.

Appendix A

i·at·ro·gen·ic/īˌatrəˈjenik/ is also defined as: induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures. [From Iatrogenic Illness: A Primer for Nurses]

The term “iatrogenic illness” was first coined by Bleuler in his 1924 Textbook of Psychiatry (see Bleuler, 1936). At that time he used it to refer to a patient’s psychological distress brought on by a physician’s incorrect diagnosis. In Bleuler’s scenario, the poor patient is literally “worried sick” by an early and incorrect dire prognosis. In the years following World War II, the use of the term became more widespread and its meaning broadened. As the pace of medical progress accelerated, increasing numbers of diagnostic and therapeutic tools were added to the therapeutic armamentarium. However, medicine’s growing sophistication and complexity also opened the door to increased numbers of errors and unanticipated sequaele. One reaction to the mounting numbers of medically induced ills was simply to shrug them off as the necessary price of progress. Authors referred to iatrogenic ills as the price paid for medical progress (Barr, 1956; Moser, 1956). During the 1950s, II was implicitly taken to refer to recently introduced therapies, and there was the assumption that “tried and true” therapies, properly administered, were unlikely to cause harm.

In the early 1960s, the definition of iatrogenic disease began to broaden appreciably. “Tried and true” as well as new therapies, and minor as well as major harms, were also gradually subsumed under the iatrogenic heading. However, by the mid-`60s, the definition of the term widened to increase not only the negative sequel of sound and sanctioned treatment, but complications resulting due to faulty or contraindicated care (Sharpe & Faden, 1998). In the `70s and `80s, the increased emphasis on patients’ rights and the necessity for informed consent reinforced the trend to include all preventable adverse events (AEs) as iatrogenic illnesses.

Table Of Iatrogenic Deaths In The United States

Appendix B

“epidemic or pandemic:” Smallpox, Spanish flu (the Great Influenza or the flu of 1918), The Black Death, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Cholera, AIDS, Yellow Fever, Typhus, Polio [From 10 Worst Epidemics]

Few words in the English language encapsulate as much horror, misery and doom as “plague.” After all, infectious diseases have inflicted a great deal of damage throughout the centuries. They’ve decimated whole populations, ended blood lines, claimed higher casualties than wars and played pivotal roles in charting the course of history.

Early humans were no strangers to disease. They encountered the microbes that cause illness in drinking water, food and the environment. Occasionally an outbreak might decimate a small group, but they never encountered anything close to the widespread illnesses of the ages to follow.

It wasn’t until humans began gathering in larger populations that contagious diseases had the opportunity to spread to epidemic proportions. An epidemic occurs when a disease affects a disproportionally large number of people within a given population, such as a city or geographic region. If it affects even greater numbers and a wider area, these outbreaks become pandemics.

Humans also opened themselves up to new and deadlier diseases by domesticating animals that boast their own microbes. By putting themselves in regular, close contact with formerly wild animals, early farmers gave these microbes a chance to adapt to human hosts.

As humans expanded their territory, they came into closer contact with microbes they might otherwise have never encountered. By storing food, humans attracted scavenging creatures such as rats and mice, which brought more microbes. Human expansion also resulted in the construction of more wells and ditches, which provided more standing water for disease-carrying mosquitoes. As technology allowed for wider travel and trade, new microbes could easily spread from one highly populated area to another.

Ironically, many of the pillars of modern human society paved the way for one of its greatest threats. And just as we continue to grow, so too microbes continue to evolve. In this article, we’ll take a look at 10 of the worst epidemics to ever plague mankind and how each disease works.