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Dr. Norman F. Childers, Ph.D.
(at 85 years, now almost 95!)
Emeritus, University of Florida
Retired, Rutgers University

The Nightshades

You are beginning to hear about "The Nightshades" and may wonder what they are. The author, actually a horticulturist professionally, discovered back in the 1950's that his diverticulitis was caused by frequent drinking of a cold glass of a popular "claimed healthful" canned tomato/paprika/other vegetables drink.  Rudolph Matfred, M.D. in New Brunswick, NJ (deceased) suggested the problem might have been caused by "hot foods" which means those containing red pepper. I began avoiding tomato and hot pepper, but I was still eating the other nightshades, white potato and eggplant. I realized that these are all members of the Solanaceae family of plants, historically referred to as "nightshades". It is thought the name originated among the Romans who ground up a so-called deadly black nightshade and put it in an alcoholic drink intended for an enemy. The shade came down for a long night: they died. The botanical name for the black nightshade is Atropa belladonna L. Tobacco is also a member of this family of drug plants, which includes tomato, potato, eggplant, and peppers of all kinds (except black pepper).  We know what tobacco can do to our health by comparing smokers to non-smokers.

Around my early 50's I began to experience achy, hurting knee and ankle joints and wondered if the problem was being caused by potato and eggplant, so I stopped eating them. The problem disappeared. Secretaries on the Rutgers campus began avoiding these foods and tobacco. Their pains also disappeared. Eventually they asked, "why don't you do something about this to help other sufferers?" So we did, by recruiting many other people across the country in small ads. In 1977 one of my students, Gerald M. Russo, and I published a book. This was the first edition of The Nightshades and Health and 5,000 copies sold in three years, helped by the Rodale Research staff in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. 

So, this is when the word "nightshades" began to be discussed again all over the world; mainly in connection with the foods tomato, potato, eggplant, tobacco, and peppers. Take note that black pepper is not an arthritic problem. Nor are sweet potato, boniato, or members of the cabbage family, onion family, bean family, squash family, and many other vegetables.  Also, please be advised that even after your arthritis improves, any nightshade slip in your diet will cause your arthritis symptoms to reoccur.

We have found, working with our Foundation, The Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation (founded 1980), that arthritis is only a symptom of other health problems developing in the body and caused mainly by nightshades. In other words, back in the 1950's and 60's we started the Childers' "No Nightshades" or "Diet."  We would estimate by now there are over 500,000 people around the world avoiding these crops in order to rid themselves of their aches and pains, particularly the severe problems such as those described in our 6th edition book Childers' Diet That Stops Arthritis. There are dozens of other nutritious vegetables and fruits to eat while permanently avoiding the nightshades. Our books, including a new cookbook of 250 recipes by two experienced Dieters, Joan Vogel in New Mexico and Patricia Claudio in Virginia, are sold mainly through mail order from the foundation.  If you get your books from us, you will be placed on the mailing list to receive our free annual Newsletter. This will bring you up-to-date on recent developments with the Diet and help you to live longer with adjunct hints.