Thursday, January 11, 2018

It's about those pesky nightshades

Photo courtesy of George Hodan

"Fibro? Yeah, my sister-in-law has that. You know what you should do? Avoid eating..."

"Arthritis? My mother's doctor told her to take..."

"You think you have bad joints? I could barely walk until..."

We've all heard it, right? Everyone has an opinion on what will help ease your pain. That is, unless you're one of the lucky ones who don't suffer from fibro or arthritis or any of the other body pain-related ailments. 

I've suffered from EBVS (Epstein Barr Virus Syndrome) since before it even had a name. I was 16 when the first episode hit and it landed me in bed for months. The only good thing about it was that I was excused from gym class for an entire year.

Later, fibromyalgia was added to the mix of the pain cocktail I was living with. Fun times. 

As a young mom, I was pretty much useless when it came to caring for my kids. I couldn't lift them and I often fell asleep while they were playing at my feet. It was scary time. Eventually, we discovered that the main trigger for the EBVS flare-ups was chemical-related. Once I started eliminating chemicals from my life, I got better. Unfortunately, it took years for me to figure out that cleaning and laundry chemicals were some of the biggest culprits. These days, I have fewer bouts with the disease, although the fibro continues to plague me with joint pain and weakness.

That said, I'm going to join in with the well-meaning folks I quoted in the beginning of this post and offer some advice on what has helped me. Keep in mind, not everything works for everybody. Our bodies are different and respond differently to nearly everything.

Two things that really help me are:
1) Organic bone broth
2) Turmeric (supplements and the spice). I've found the most relief taking Organic India's Turmeric Formula.

Most recently, I've discovered the advantage of avoiding nightshade vegetables. I'd been told about this a few years ago, but ignored the advice, mostly because I didn't want to give up something I enjoyed eating. Then, about 6 months ago, I stumbled upon a Facebook posting about it and decided it was worth trying. 

It meant giving up nightshades, which included potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. It also meant the end of using paprika, one of my favorite spices. I was pretty convinced it wouldn't work, so I gave it a try. And guess what? It worked. The pain level was significantly decreased. As a matter of fact, for the first time in years, I was pain-free at times. Until you've lived with chronic pain, you can't possibly understand what a miracle that is!

You probably have a couple of questions. First, what's a nightshade?

Collectively, this species of botanical plants (known as Solanaceae) number close to 2,500. While most are not to be consumed at all, others are so common in our diet that it really is difficult to eliminate them (like the ones mentioned above). Click here for a full list of nightshades, along with warnings about homeopathic medications and OTC and prescription drugs, as nightshades could be used as fillers, etc.

Second, what's the problem with them?

Most research points to the alkaloids in nightshades. Alkaloids can produce inflammation; thus joint pain and swelling.

For some, consumption of nightshades is linked to chronic pain. Perhaps there is an allergic reaction involved, because not all people who consume nightshades experience joint stiffness, swelling, and debilitating pain that others live with. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, every body is different. But that doesn't mean that eating potatoes or tomatoes isn't the source of your pain. It well might be. 

For me, potatoes seem to be the worst trigger. I avoid raw tomatoes, but cooked sauce doesn't seem to bother me. It's all about experimenting and finding out what works best for you.

If you're seeking a reason why your pain flares at certain times, perhaps keeping a food diary would be a good idea. Or try avoiding nightshades for two or three months and see what happens. The difference it made for me was dramatic and quick. 

Maybe you've already done your own experiments and discovered your own triggers. Dairy? Gluten? A combination? Share your story below in the comments. Maybe your personal experience will help someone else ease their own suffering.

I'd love to hear your stories!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The above is simply an observation I have made based on my own experience. Always seek the advice of your physician.

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