Potatoes and Solanine Poisoning

A year or so ago I gave up eating potatoes, white rice, and other high carb foods at the suggestion of my doctor. He felt that too high a carb intake might have been at the root of some issues I was having. It was easy for me to do and I followed that advice, though it seemed to have little effect, if any, on the issues at hand.

Two months ago I was in the hospital for several days and the specialists there found other underlying causes for several things that had been effecting me. They changed some medications and made some adjustments to my dietary considerations. Among the changes was a loosening of the carbohydrate restrictions. This allowed me to once again eat potatoes and other carb-based foods.

Three weeks ago we had baked potatoes for the first time since the earlier restriction. They were so good that we bought more potatoes, and over the course of this three week period I probably ate between six and eight baked potatoes. My wife had three or so during the same time frame.

It was also about three weeks ago that we both began to experience intestinal distresses outside of what one would consider normal. Bloating, gas, rumbling stomach and intestines, and having to go the bathroom several times a day. It hit me more than my wife, and we figured it was a stomach bug of some sort, though we weren’t sick otherwise, nor feverish.

Four or five days ago we were both suffering more than usual with the problems when my wife observed that the only food we had eaten in common during that time frame on a consistent level was the potatoes, and wondered if they could be involved.

After a few minutes on the internet I found out that potatoes, a member of the deadly nightshade family of plants, can indeed poison the body and cause every symptom that we had been experiencing. Not only the digestive issues, but other things that we hadn’t put together can be caused from eating potatoes. We both, during the same time frame, had been experiencing stuffy noses, excess sinus drainage, small water blisters on our legs, ankles, and hands, general lethargy and listlessness, etc. All symptoms of potato toxins in the body.

We haven’t had potatoes since then and some or most of the symptoms are improving or have already disappeared.

Potatoes contain the alkaloid, solanine which is extremely toxic. The ingestion of the potato can produce gastrointestinal pain and symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, headache, and dizziness. Solanine in potatoes can also cause hallucinations, loss of feeling and/or tingling in the body’s extremities, heart and liver damage, and small, itchy blisters on the skin. As the body metabolizes solanine from potatoes, it can produce amilic alcohol, which is a very toxic substance.

Some people have potato toxicity misidentified as “I B S” ( Irritable Bowel Syndrome), as they both have common manifestations of the effects on the gut. Some cases of potato toxicity have even been diagnosed as Crohn’s disease.

When potato is digested, traces of the toxins enter the bloodstream, so that any part of the body sensitive to the toxin will react, producing symptoms localized to that part of the body. For example if the skin is sensitized, eczema may appear, if the joints are sensitized they can become inflamed, or the nervous system will react with emotional or behavioral effects. This is why sufferers referred to a specialist clinic for the organ or system affected may find that the consultant does not know that food intolerance can cause problems in his or her field of speciality.

Potato toxicity explained other symptoms we were having without knowing that they were even symptomatic. We both had been experiencing some amount of mood disorder not typical to us, and had been experiencing joint pain that we attributed to other causes, as well as a general lack of energy and mental concentration.

I also discovered that quite a large number of people have found that peeling, scraping, or even touching potatoes causes itchy hands and skin reactions. Scraping potatoes produces a very fine spray of juice which can cause itching of nose or eyes, and sometimes asthma outbreaks. These people are probably allergic to potato and the allergy might become more extensive, so avoidance is sensible.

There were many reports of all manner of effects on the nervous system, especially depression, anxiety, migraine or feeling confused and lethargic. Some children had gross misbehavior, dyslexia, and learning difficulties which disappeared when potatoes were avoided, only to recur if being exposed to potatoes.

4 comments on “Potatoes and Solanine Poisoning

  1. KC says:

    Interesting article. You failed to mention that one should avoid eating potatoes that shows any green on the skin or just underneath. The potato is unripe and the green skin is highly concentrated Solanine.

    • bhypes says:

      Thank you for mentioning the green skin issue, but I sort of felt it was redundant, since I would no longer eat a potato no matter what color the skin. But you are right about the higher concentration of solanine in potatoes that turn green. Better just not to eat any potatoes from what I’ve learned recently.


  2. Peter Hedges says:

    I have experienced intestinal disorder which was traced to eating potatoes that were green. My wife is now very careful to avoid any green parts of potatoes when preparing them. This has improved things considerably.

    I was also interested in the comments about mood disorders, lethargy, poor concentration and tingling of the extremities which I also experience. I have had numerous tests which have failed to find any cause. Perhaps I should avoid potatoes altogether.

    • bhypes says:

      I haven’t eaten a potato since I posted the article, and have not any of the symptoms I was experiencing at that time. While it is true that green potatoes have higher concentrations of the toxins, any potato has some of them.

      I ate potatoes all my life and never noticed any particular problems until the last couple of years, so I think some people develop sensitivity to the toxins over a period of years. I also think that some of the effects may also be due to the growing and storage techniques used today versus years ago, and possibly some of the hybridizing of the potato plant may also have increased the effects in at least some people.

      Hope you beat the problem. I know finding this info sure has helped me.


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