Anti-inflammatory Diet & Nightshades

If you have osteo-arthritis or an inflammatory disease (Fibromyalgia, IBS, etc), listen up: There are ways to alter your diet that will help decrease your pain! It’s also very helpful when you want to reduce inflammation after an injury.

1) Avoid sugar. This includes soda* and high-glycemic foods that will break down quickly into sugars. White bread, pasta, and starches will all contribute to inflammation.
2) Avoid fried foods. Enough said.
3) Grain-fed red meat is a problem for some people. Grass-fed meat is less inflammatory, since the fat structure is different.
4) You can counteract pain by eating ANTI-inflammatory foods. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach will help a lot. Berries (except for goji and blueberries), turmeric, garlic, celery, pineapple, cocoa, ginger, and foods containing good fats (extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, salmon, nuts) are great, too. If you are sensitive to oxalates, however, be careful not to overdose on the dark leafy greens.

5) Foods your body doesn’t like. Some people are sensitive to dairy or wheat, for example. If you know you react badly to something, avoid it when you are in pain.

6) The Nightshade (Solanaceae) plants contain a small amount of an alkaloid toxin called solanine. Some people aren’t bothered by it. Other people, especially those with auto-immune issues & arthritis, tend to be sensitive to this family of plants. Most are unaware of the pain they are causing themselves, because they eat them so often, and because the inflammation & ache are delayed up to 24 hrs.

Tomatoes
Potatoes (Sweet potatoes and yams are ok)
Peppers, including spicy, chili, and bell peppers, and paprika (Black, white, and green pepper is ok- it’s actually a peppercorn. Long pepper is ok, too.)
Eggplant
Tobacco

Although less well known, Goji berries are nightshades, too.

Note: Blueberries, huckleberries, artichokes, and okra are not in the Nightshade family, but they also contain solanine.

The good news: It’s very easy to find out if you are Nightshade sensitive. Simply remove all of them from your diet for two weeks (Note: You’ll have to read labels carefully. “Spices” may contain paprika, and lots of prepared foods like shredded cheese can contain potato flour). Then have a big dose of tomatoes, potatoes, or drink a V8. See how you feel that evening and the next day. If within 24 hrs your pain is worse, you are Nightshade-sensitive. Wherever you have inflammation, that’s where it will show up. If not, congrats – you can go back to all the tomatoes you want.

The alkaloid is degraded by heat. Raw Nightshades are more toxic than cooked, and the extreme heat of deep-frying is even better … but fried foods are inflammatory for other reasons, so don’t get too excited. I will eat a small amount of potato chips on a special occasion because they are fried all the way through, but not french fries, since they are still squishy in the middle.

The combination of Nightshades and sugar is a doozy. I can get away with a small amount of tomato paste, but even a tiny squirt of ketchup will make my hands ache the next day.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is a relatively simple way to decrease your pain and make a real difference in your quality of life. Some people have inflammatory reactions to dairy or wheat, and that may be worth testing the same way as the Nightshades. You don’t have to be perfect all the time – just pick your battles, okay?

Spicy food junkies: Fear not! You can still enjoy horseradish, onion, garlic, ginger, and all the peppercorns, including long pepper.

Here’s a nightshade-free curry recipe and one for NonNightshade Mexican. Substitute either cauliflower or sweet potatoes for regular potatoes. Pizza and pasta are great with pesto sauce. There’s even a “No-Mato” marinara sauce I found online (OMG SO GOOD!!!! I used the higher levels of spice for everything and loved it! If you use all regular beets it’s purple. If you use 50% regular beets and 50% golden beets, you’ll get a red sauce with a less “beety” taste. Freezes well, too!).

Like to eat out? Free restaurant cards are here. 

UPDATE 4/29/16: Now that I’ve been Nightshade-free for a decade, I’ve found that I can get away with cheating once in a while. There seems to be a cumulative effect. By staying away 99% of the time, and preventing a build-up of inflammation, I can enjoy the occasional indiscretion. 

*Diet soda isn’t a good solution. While it doesn’t contain sugar, the artificial sweeteners cause their own problems, including triggering the body to start storing more calories as fat.

Note: Biodegradable drinking straws are becoming popular here in Portland, and some are made with potato. It’s a small enough amount it may not be a factor for you, but if you are highly sensitive, start carrying your own collapsible straw for eating out.

Detox your body and spirit

(written Jan 2012)

It seems like every January, people ask me about detoxification programs. That makes sense. We live in a pretty dirty world, in terms of chemical pollution. There are hormones and horrifying chemicals in our food. And of course our heads are full of unhealthy thoughts. How do we take an internal shower? Here are some ideas for both physical and emotional detoxing.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn detox strategies from David Eisen, the co-founder of the National Acupuncture Detox Association, while volunteering at the Portland Alternative Health Center (now Central City). After addicts got past those worst few hours of stopping drugs, they came to us. I treated people getting clean from crystal meth, heroin, PCP, and alcohol. All of these cases had one set of ear needles in common, the 5 Needle Protocol. 5NP uses points that calm agitation and to speed up the body’s process of filtering out toxins.

We can also use 5NP to clear out pollutants like mercury and pesticides. In my Pennsylvania clinic, it was shockingly effective in relieving pain for a patient who had a bad reaction to a statin drug. Here’s her story:

“I was in terrible pain due to an adverse reaction to a new prescription from my doctor. I hadn’t slept in four nights and I was taking 800 mg of Motrin every four hours to no effect. My doctor ordered blood tests and ruled out other causes and wanted to give me Percocet for the pain. I knew from experience that I would react badly to Percocet. I left the doctor’s office with no hope and a possible referral to a busy rheumatologist who could see me the following week. I knew I’d never make it. I called Sharon Rose. She made a house call and saw me that afternoon. Immediately, I was free of pain and slept that night. After 12 hours, some of the pain and swelling returned but with treatments from Sharon every other day I was soon totally off the Motrin, free of pain, free of swelling, and feeling the best I’ve felt in years.”

This same detox protocol, combined with two specific wrist points, are my smoking cessation treatment. By getting the nicotine out of the system more rapidly, it helps reduce the “jitters” and irritability, and decreases cravings. Remember that I am happy to help anyone quit smoking for free – so tell your friends if they’re still hooked. I’m here when they’re ready.

Okay  – so that’s the physical side. What about mental and emotional toxicity? Negative thought patterns, like prolonged fear and anger, will poison us just as surely as hemlock.

Take a minute to ground yourself. Ideally, you should lie down in a quiet place and consciously relax. I love to teach my patients the French Press visualization (now is when you have to pardon me for the “grounds” pun).

French Press

French Press: Filter out the bad stuff!

Imagine you’re that cylinder, with the filter at the top of your head. Slowly move it down, trapping all the bad stuff as it goes. Clear your mind… all the tension & pain is yucky black goo getting swept up by the filter. Above it, you are clear, relaxed, happy. Gradually move that filter down your body, focusing on each level. Neck, shoulders, back… with each inch, more toxins are ensnared. Finally, you will have a clean, healthy body with all the bad stuff stuck at the bottom. If the French Press doesn’t float your boat, be a tube of toothpaste and squish the goo out. I don’t care what image you use as long as it works for you. Here’s the important bit – push it out of your body through the bottoms of your feet or the tips of your toes (Note: Don’t do this with a pet sitting at your feet – they are sensitive to energy work).  Repeat as necessary.

6209734716_88e1482ece_mYou can also imagine yourself floating in a magic stream, with your head upstream. The water is flowing through you, washing away all the pain, tension, disease… all the bad stuff… it just gets swept away by the cleansing water moving through you.

The quickie version, at work or when there’s a houseful of screaming kids and bickering relatives: Go to the bathroom, shut the door, and take a deep breath. Sit down for a second and do a mini version of the filter technique. You’ll be amazed at how well it works with just a little practice.