I knew Andrew Weil was a famous but very ignorant MD, living on his reputation instead of clinical skills. But I never realized till now how silly and ignorant he is.

He claims that solanine, a poison in some of the food plants of the nightshade family, does not harm.

He’s wrong: dangerously and stupidly wrong. He’s clearly too ill-read and too underperforming as a clinician to have become aware of the tremendous bad effects that can be caused

He says: solanine is a significant toxin, but you are unlikely to run into trouble with it in our part of the world, because we grow potato varieties that do not produce much of it. A 200-pound person would have to eat two pounds of fully green potatoes in a single day to consume a toxic level of solanine.

I say: nuts to that. He’s talking classic toxicology levels and completely ignores the issue of biological variation. With any toxin, there are people who can tolerate huge amounts of it (Rasputin survived a cyanide dose that would have killed a dozen people or more), and others who are made desperately sick by just small traces.

Toxicologists talk about the “half lethal” dose, meaning the amount to kill half the population sample (typically rats and other laboratory animals). That’s their measure of how bad the toxin it. But here I am not talking about death, just serious health consequences, which for some people can come from very small amounts indeed.

Weil says there hasn’t been a single case of solanine poisoning due to eating potatoes in the United States for more than 50 years. That’s bunk. There may not have been a death but I say, as an off-the-wall figure, there are more like 250,000 people a day make sick by solanine in potato.

I know what to look for; Weil doesn’t. He just Googles his “data”, instead of knowing the clinical perspective, which I have learned over many years.

While this attitude of “no problem” persists, even among suppose holistic doctors, then many patients are going to be denied their rightful health, through ignorance and prejudice.

Symptoms of serous solanine overload include abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness, mental confusion, shortness of breath, weak and rapid pulse, and, eventually, respiratory failure. But that’s the extreme case. I know people who have lost all their skin due to potato, had more than 20 years of severe depression from eating potato daily, ended up on a murder charge due to potato reaction and being unable to breathe through the nose for most of a lifetime, all due to potato and solanine.

So much for Weil’s estimate of not a single case.

In actuality, the nightshade family, to which potatoes belong, are a pretty toxic bunch. We can only tolerate them because we cook them well (raw foodists beware). This family also includes tomato, chilli, eggplant (aubergine), peppers and, of course, deadly nightshade or belladonna, a deadly poison from the berries.

And—if you need telling, which I doubt—don’t eat green potatoes. You’ll get bellyache for sure and possibly much worse.