The tomato as medicine

Tomato is a nightshade plant and is therefore seen in a bad light by many naturopaths. That is partly correct; a relatively small number of people cannot tolerate nightshade plants very well. Nevertheless, we can generally say that the tomato is a healthy vegetable. People who have autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, lupus and Crohn’s disease would do well to avoid tomatoes and other nightshade vegetables such as eggplant, potato, bell pepper and red pepper. Goji berries also fall under the nightshade plants. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Tomatoes / Source: Hedwig Storch, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)


  • When should you avoid nightshade vegetables?
  • Avoid nightshade vegetables with these diseases
  • Traditional use
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Intolerant to tomatoes?
  • Alternatives to Lycopene
  • Lycopene prevents cancer
  • Tomato, good for the blood
  • Diseases that tomatoes help with
  • Tomato, eat it cooked
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

When should you avoid nightshade vegetables?

The table below shows a large number of autoimmune diseases. If a doctor has diagnosed you with one of these diseases, you may consider following a nightshade-free diet. You follow that diet for four weeks. If the symptoms of your illness subsequently diminish, it is highly likely that it has something to do with the nightshade vegetables. You can check this as follows. After four weeks of eating nightshades free and experiencing fewer symptoms of illness, one day you start eating tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers again as you did before. If all disease symptoms return, you know that eating nightshade vegetables in your case worsens your disease, and you can choose to avoid these vegetables. Nightshade products include: tobacco, goji berries, tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, cayenne peppers, paprika powder, potatoes and eggplants.

Avoid nightshade vegetables with these diseases

With these diseases it is smart to check whether nightshade vegetables are harmful to you:

Hashimoto’s disease


Churg-Strauss syndrome

Diabetes mellitus type 1

Myasthenia gravis

Pernicious anemia

Premature ovarian failure

Addison’s disease

Celiac disease

Goodpasture’s syndrome


Primary biliary cirrhosis

Autoimmune hepatitis

Rheumatoid arthritis

Systemic lupus erythematosus

Sj√∂gren’s syndrome

Wegener’s disease


Polyarteritis nodosa

Microscopic polyangiitis

Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn’s disease

Giant cell arteritis


Polyarteritis nodosa

Takayasu arteritis

Cutaneous leucocytoclastic angiitis


Polymyalgia rheumatica

Kawasaki disease



Essential cryoglobulinemic vasculitis

Mixed connective tissue disease


Traditional use

  • In Fiji, fresh tomato juice is used to staunch bleeding wounds.
  • In Greece, tomato paste is used to treat pharynx.
  • In Italy, the tomato is used to treat scorpion bites and insect stings.
  • In Mexico, tomatoes are used to drive away fever.
  • In the Philippines, fresh tomatoes are used to treat edema in pregnant women.
  • In the United States, the tomato is used for kidney and liver problems.


In Latin, the tomato is called Solanum lycopersicum . It is not entirely clear why the Latin name is Solanum. It means ‘of the sun’. The tomato is dependent on the sun for its growth, but so are all fruits and vegetables. It has been suggested that it comes from ‘solare’ which means ‘to soften’. It is said to soothe digestion; but that’s not really a plausible assumption. It is striking that the solanum plant species, whose name most likely comes from the word ‘sun’, are called nightshade. Sun and night. Therein lies a contradiction. Perhaps it was recognized that some members of this family had bad qualities that could not tolerate daylight, such as the datura, a nightshade that can actually harm humans and take the light out of their eyes, and the positive plants that can serve as nourishment and thus let the light shine in someone’s life. Yet there is a third obvious reason to refer to this family as coming ‘from the sun’. The tomato used to not be red but yellow! It was called the pomo d’oro , the golden apple. Pomodoro is still a name for an Italian tomato. What could be more logical than naming a yellow, red fruit as the sun? Due to crossbreeding, the tomato later acquired its red shape. Since red is the color of love, from then on the tomato was not called the golden apple but the love apple.

Active substances

The fruit of the tomato plant, which we know as a vegetable, is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. The tomato contains the following important components: vitamins such as beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin A and vitamin C, minerals including potassium and GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid.

Intolerant to tomatoes?

Some people are intolerant to tomatoes. People with migraines and autoimmune diseases including rheumatic diseases may experience an exacerbation of symptoms due to the tomato. This is because the gastrointestinal tract no longer works properly in people with an autoimmune disease. Every type of fruit and vegetable contains toxins. These are normally recognized by the intestinal wall and not absorbed into the blood. In people with autoimmune diseases, this mechanism is affected; harmful non-nutrients enter the blood that can worsen some diseases. Because the tomato is a nightshade plant, it contains relatively many non-nutrients, just like other nightshade foods such as: eggplant, bell pepper, red pepper, potato and goji berries.

Alternatives to Lycopene

Lycopene is not just found in tomatoes. That is good news for people who cannot eat tomatoes due to intolerance or an autoimmune disease. The most important nutrient, lycopene, is found in many other fruits and vegetables. In addition to the

Tomato slices / Source: Scott Bauer, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Tomato contains a lot of lycopene:

  • Watermelon,
  • Red grapefruit or grapefruit,
  • Apricot,
  • Mango,
  • Papaya.

Lycopene prevents cancer

Lycopene in tomatoes captures free radicals and thus helps prevent the formation of all kinds of diseases. It prevents cancer, among other things. The antioxidant lycopene is not alone in this; selenium, zinc and vitamin E in tomato work synenergistically with lycopene; it strengthens the anti-cancer effect. There are a large number of cancer types for which science has shown that lycopene can be an important factor in inhibiting cancer: prostate, mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas and colon cancer can be prevented with it. It also helps with lung, cervical, ovarian and breast cancer. In addition, for the prostate, lycopene slows down benign prostate hypertrophy or benign prostate enlargement.

Lycopene from tomatoes is healthy, but isolated lycopene has no medicinal effect.

Tomato, good for the blood

The tomato is red; our blood is also red. According to the signature theory, the doctrine that says that the external characteristics of a plant reveal its medicinal properties for humans, tomatoes must be good for the blood. That’s right, according to modern scientific insights. Tomato is a blood thinner. It thins the blood naturally; platelet aggregation is inhibited by the fact that this vegetable-fruit contains many antioxidants. It also prevents oxycholesterol from forming and adhering to the walls of the veins. In addition, the tomato is a natural blood pressure lowerer. This is mainly because it contains potassium. In phytotherapy, eating tomatoes is recommended for:

  • Atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis,
  • High bloodpressure,
  • Heart and vascular disease.

Diseases that tomatoes help with

Because the tomato is generally very healthy and contains many carotenoids and antioxidants, it is a good vegetable to eat daily. It can be noted once again that people with autoimmune diseases should avoid tomatoes. If the tomato is used medicinally, it will almost always be in addition to taking other medicinal plants. A herbal therapist might recommend eating tomatoes to support the healing process for one of the following:

Romanatomaten / Source: Goldlocki, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)


  • Cataract or cataract,
  • Macular degeneration or vision loss due to retinal aging,
  • Asthma,
  • respiratory infections,
  • Skin diseases,
  • Infertility.

Tomato, eat it cooked

There are a number of ways to use this medicinal plant. Firstly, it is good to know that the lycopene absorption from raw tomatoes is minimal. It is important to warm the tomato. For example, add tomatoes to an omelet or fry tomatoes first before adding them to a salad. A homemade tomato soup or tomato sauce is an excellent idea. We even get more lycopene from organic ketchup than from raw tomatoes.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.