Nicotine / Solanine / Tomatine – acetylcholinesterase inhibitors – and an active ingredient, an alkaloid… in all members of the nightshade vegetable family. All nightshade foods contain solanine, a strong acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Solanine is a glyco-alkoid poison found in the leaves, fruits, berries and roots or tubers of potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants – and a few other foods. It is one of the plants’ natural defences.
Plants have no defence against being eaten. I don’t think we, the humans, are necessarily the only enemy. Rather it’s all the herbivores, rodents, beetles, bugs and other vermin that eye plants as lunch as well. The best example of eloquent plant inborn protection, in my mind, is the green hull of the black walnut. While the black walnut is maturing and ripening inside it’s hull high up in the walnut tree, it also grows an outer membrane around that hull that is green, spiky and poisonous and instinctively repels any smart-assed squirrel that wants a head-start on it’s foraging and hoarding. That poisonous green outer hull is used for making fine tinctures, by the way, to help us expel parasites! Once the walnut is ripe and ready for consumption, it falls to the ground and the green hull is no longer poisonous and quickly discolours. These plant protectors are also called lectins.
Sprouts have a similar protection – the fragile tender new shoots are protected with internal poisons (also a form of lectin) until it is mature… warding off foragers (except for humans who don’t seem to mind).
Acetylcholine is the chemical that transmits nerve impulses from one nerve ending to the next. Once it has fired, it is redundant and broken down by an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase and is recycled. Here follows what makes excessive consumption of nightshade foods unsuitable for many of us. Nicotines, solanines and tomatines slows the production of this acetylcholinesterase, so the acetylcholine from these foods mentioned above, isn’t broken down as fast as it is being produced. Therefore, slowly, acetylcholine builds up, causing an inevitable “traffic jam” of over-stimulation around the receptor’s nerve’s endings. A tiny bit is mildly pleasurable – even slightly addictive – and a lot can be harmful.
When there has been neuronal-gial cell healing and already some irregular cellular terrain exists, then this imbalance adds to the burden and with exaggeration can lead to myasthenia when the docking sites for the nerve chemical acetylcholine (ACh) are destroyed or less of the enzyme is made.
We get used to these substances as our bodies’ resistance increases. And much like psycho-drugs / pharmaceuticals, we need more and more to deliver the effects we have become accustomed to and feel over time. People can actually become addicted to potatoes and tomatoes.
Over stimulation, however, can backfire and can lead to muscle pain, muscle twitching and hypertension (due to heart muscle stimulation), gut contractions, gastric disturbances and increased secretions of tear, sweat and saliva glands.
And to add insult to injury… certain man-made pesticides, particularly the organophosphates add a further burden. Think back to World War II, when organophosphates were used as deadly nerve gasses. Carbamates, another pesticide, also works in our bodies as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. So the safest and easiest approach to staying healthy is to avoid all nightshade vegetables and to eat all of your other vegetables as organically grown as possible.
Organophosphate pesticides were also used by livestock farmers in their feed in the past decades as growth-promoters. The pesticides interfered with the nervous system of animals and allowed for a mechanism whereby they caused muscle weakness and increased secretions of digestive fluids – causing the medicated animals to exercise less and eat more, thereby fattening them up more quickly. This continued, unregulated, until these organophosphate pesticides were replaced by more powerful hormones and antibiotics. Now we get to eat one or the other or all of them as a by-product from unclean mass-produced meats.
Why do we love our nightshades?
What makes tobacco so addictive? Why is it that sometimes we ‘salivate’ for chips, or dreaming for a pizza-night or a bowl og chili?
Nicotine, in small quantities, inhibits some of the breakdown of acetylcholine (which stimulates increased activity of the acetylcholine receptors) which leads to the increased flow of stimulants and includes adrenaline. This increases the heart rate, which in turn ups the blood pressure and this leads also to increased blood glucose levels. Thus a mild increase in energy is created, along with a reduced nervous sensitivity; producing a combination of calmness and stimulation – and it’s not even illegal!
In the longer term it puts a strain on the adrenals and nervous system as the receptors are being increasingly over-stimulated.
The above are the basics. Below a bit more on specific vegetables in the nightshade family. Much more detail offered by researchers/doctors such as Sally K Norton – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pjYw5gn2ZQ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQB1KPY-e44.
Eating tobacco – and why it was a ‘special occasions’ plant by our indigenous people?
The leaves of all of the nightshade plants contain much higher levels of nicotine than their fruits or tubers. One could, in a pinch, smoke potato or tomato leaves. A potent insecticide can be made with just tomato leaves. However, like cigarettes, these tricky foods have slipped into our diets despite some lone protesting voices arguing against them.
The nicotine content of tobacco is such that a single cigarette, if placed directly into the bloodstream, would be fatal.
Eating a single cigarette and putting that nicotine directly into the intestinal tract could cause severe illness.
And there are recorded instances of livestock poisoning where cattle or sheep have eaten the nightshade plant leaves.
Tomatoes came to Europe (Italy) from Mexico compliments of Cortez. The English regarded them as poisonous until the 1700’s. They were an ornamental garden plant in America as early as 1808, but were not consumed as they were believed to cause stomach cancer and appendicitis. The botanical name for tomatoes, lycopersicon, means ‘wolf peach’ and refers to the association between werewolves, witchcraft and nightshades.
In the US and Northern Europe they really took off as food with the introduction of canning and canned soups and then rose in popularity again with the expansion of the consumption of pizza and pasta in the past 50 years. (For example, there were no dried tomato products in the WWII rations for our soldiers.)
So how can I enjoy a nice blob of ketchup? What about all the great toppings on my pizza!
There are a whole range of foods to replace the nightshades once we start looking for them in better stores. There’s Nomato pasta sauce, Nomato ketchup, Nomato soup, and Nomato veggie chili beans. So you can have a bit of what you fancy without the nicotine alkaloids found in the tomatoes and other nightshades.
Potatoes were a God-send to help relieve famine in Paris just prior to the revolution – a peasant could be fed from much less land and less effort if they ate potatoes instead of grains. Marie Antoinette probably said “let them eat potatoes” under her breath (the French Revolution took place 4 years after the introduction of the potatoe). The Paris Commune declared potatoes ‘Revolutionary food’.
Think of the poor folks ‘enjoying’ a meal of a pot of potatoes in Van Gogh’s “Potato Eaters”.
English landlords made them a compulsory food on their Irish estates.
Traditionally potatoes were kept in paper sacks and sold unwashed – protected from direct sunlight. Modern marketing of washed potatoes and packaging in plastic bags allows light to affect the potato and stimulate its production of solanine. In 1976, not remembered today, the Department of Health in the USA, concerned about high levels of anencephaly and spina bifida, urged pregnant women to wear gloves while preparing potatoes and to toss any potatoes that showed signs of greening or blight (black streaks in the potato).
The fatal dose of solanine for an adult is 200-250 mg – depending on body weight. Potatoes contain not more than 20 mg of solanine per 100g, so it would take at least 1 Kg of high content green potatoes (2.2 lbs) to be fatal. Potatoes that have been properly stored and are from low solanine varieties will only contain 7 mg/100g. Potato peels have been found to contain up to 180 mg of solanine per 100g, so a person consuming 150-200g of potato peels that also have a high solanine content could be at considerable risk. And as a worst case everyday scenario: the solanine in potatoes is 4 times greater in the skins than in the rest of the potato. It was a fad for foodies in the 1970’s to eat just the peels because we were told that is where the nutrition was!
In 1996 the US Committee on Toxicity stated that potatoes should not be eaten if they still taste bitter after the green parts and sprouts have been removed. However, few people taste-test a raw potato once it is peeled to assess its bitterness…
Peppers and capsicums
Sweet coloured peppers and hot peppers were rare in our Western diets until the 1980’s. Chillies in Asian sauces and hot sauces replaced white and black pepper in the average Caucasian cooking line-up.
These most resemble the belladonna nightshade plant, their wild ancestor.
And all of the above poisonous attributes apply.
So we can avoid the neuro-toxic potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers altogether; we can eat the rest of our vegetables from organic sources; and we can avoid animal protein that has been infused with growth hormones and organophosphate pesticides.
Do this for a month, mindfully, and see if you notice a difference and if the bloating, IBS, sore joints and gut pains diminish.
Occasionally a sore joint is a result of an unresolved neuro-physical issue, and that too requires specific insight for a quick resolution.
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
Merrie Bakker B.Sc, M.Arch, CN
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Merrie Bakker – Live Blood Analyst / microscopist – Health Educator – Author – Teacher – Speaker – Editor – Hands-on-Healer – Reflexologist – Dowser – Reiki Master – Nutritional Coach – a life-long student of holistic medicine and preventative health who believes with a passion that cellular disorganization can be prevented or reversed by ortho-molecular medicine, emotional healing work, environmental detoxification (many areas of concern) and nutritional and lifestyle re-balancing (many possibilities). Combined with vigilance, monitoring and team work, clients are encouraged to detox, rebuild, re-nourish, resolve and re-educate.