Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Day 136 - Potatoes

“Traditionally potatoes were kept in paper sacks and sold unwashed. This practice protected them from direct sunlight. The modern practice of washing potatoes and packing them in plastic bags allows light to affect the potato and stimulate its production of solanine, the nightshade alkaloid that, in nature, sickens animals that might dig up potatoes for food.

The solanine in potatoes is 4 times greater in the skin than in the rest of the potato. The fatal dose of solanine for an adult is 200-250 mg depending on body weight. Potatoes should not contain more than 20 mg of solanine per 100g, so it would take at least 1 Kg of potatoes (2.2 lbs) to be fatal. Potato peels have been found to contain up to 180 mg of solanine per 100g, so a person consuming 150-200g of deep fried potato peels with a high solanine content could be at considerable risk.

Interestingly, in one study conducted with hamsters who were fed the sprouted portions of potatoes, increased alkaloid content did not seem to impact the nerves or joints nearly as much as the digestive system itself.

The researchers focused on damage to the stomach and intestines when trying to understand the problems caused by ingestion of potato sprout material, and concluded that there were reasons to avoid this material based on digestive system evidence alone.

A bitter taste in potatoes after the potatoes have been cooked is usually a good indication that excessive amounts of alkaloids are present.”*


I got my MRI brain scan results: all clear. I am somewhat relieved, although still worried as no one seems to know what is causing the headache.

In the meantime, I have been avoiding potatoes, as well as other nightshades (see Day 124 - Nightshade Foods), avec rigeur for the past few days, and have thereby completely eliminated my intake of alkaloids (any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds of plant origin that have pronounced physiological actions on humans*).

I have replaced my normal intake of potatoes with sweet potatoes, which are not classified as nightshade foods, rather fall under the “morning glory” category.

I have thus discovered the huge health benefits associated with sweet potatoes. The Centre for Science in the Public Interest ranks sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables.

Despite the change of diet, the unfathomable headache is still present. On Saturday night I had a really strong attack. I couldn’t sleep all night. I thought my head was going to explode. It pounded on both sides, with an indescribable intensity that I genuinely thought it was going to burst.

I had to sit up in bed to try and alleviate the pain a bit (it slightly diminishes when sitting upright or standing).

As I now know, no painkillers make the pain subside. The only form of consolation was to give vent to the pain and vexation burning inside me through wretched tears.

*Apple dictionary definition


  1. You should try an elimination diet. I did and that is how I discovered tuna fish (packed in soy) and potatoes were giving me a constant headache. I also do get migraines, but at least I eliminated the constant headache. I assumed it was the high sugar content of the potatoes but now thinking it is the solanine as I did eat the skin.

  2. I did a food diary...I found that I have latent allergies..wheat will give me a headache the next day, potatoes a migraine with in 6 hours and citrus,wheat,strawberries will give me excema and corn will make my face go red and make my lips feel chapped and burnt. I would never have found all this out with out writing down everything that I put in my mouth and watching what happened the next day