Ask anyone if MSG is dangerous, and you’ll get a myriad of responses. Some of the more scientifically-minded among us will scoff at the notion that MSG is dangerous or poses real health risks. Sure, they’ll allow, there are a few sensitive people who get headaches or migraines when they eat it, but MSG doesn’t actually harm the rest of us.
Or does it?
Are you one of the many who don’t believe that MSG is dangerous? Or do you, like me, believe that because it is a newfangled substance invented in 1908, we should inherently distrust it as a food additive and seriously question its safety?
And, if you are like me, what scientific research do you use to convince the doubters among your circle of family and friends? The good news is the science proving MSG is dangerous is out there, and I’ve collected a lot of here for you.
Research on the dangers of MSG continues to mount, albeit slowly. Some contend that funding for such projects is inevitably sparse. After all, why would the food industry (which funds most of these sorts of research ventures) want to spend money proving the detrimental effects of one of its chief money makers?
There are a growing number of people who report immediate, adverse reactions within minutes eating MSG. Perhaps you’re one of those people? Or, maybe you know someone who is sensitive?
Typical MSG complaints include:
- burning sensations of the mouth, head and neck, (1)
- weakness of the arms or legs, (1)
- headaches, (1)
- upset stomach, (1)
- hives or other allergic-type reactions with the skin.(2)
Wait! You say. I call foul. How do they know that what these people experienced was actually because of eating MSG? How were these experiments controlled? Were they double-blind? That’s the only real way to do epidemiological research like this.
It’s true that when people self-report what they’re eating or how they’re feeling their own bias tends to get in the way. They misremember exactly what they ate. They make associations between what they ate and how they think they ought to feel.
But double blind studies on the effects of MSG have been done. These are studies where neither the participants nor the ones administering the study know who consumed MSG. Everything’s randomized and controlled by researchers a step removed from the process.
And, guess what? Even these double blind studies also found that MSG exposure caused muscle tightness, fatigue, numbness or tingling, and flushing in sensitive people.(3)
But what if you’re not one of these people? What if MSG causes no noticeable or immediate reaction in you?
Should you still consider MSG a dangerous food additive?
That’s because the effects of MSG are cumulative. Just because you don’t react to MSG now, doesn’t mean you won’t later. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, who wrote a book on the subject called Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, sensitivity to MSG builds up in our bodies until we reach what he calls our “threshold of sensitivity.”
That’s because MSG overstimulates our nervous system — exciting our nerves and causing an inflammatory response. With time, these repetitive inflammatory responses cause our nerves to start producing more and more nerve cells that are sensitive to this kind of stimulation. The more overly-sensitive nerve cells we have, the stronger our immediate response to MSG will be.(4)
That said, you still may be scratching your head about MSG.
If the worst that can happen is a migraine headache or some hives, why worry about eating it now, when it causes no reaction in you?
Way back in 1957, a team researchers decided to see if glutamate could help repair a diseased retina. Remember, glutamate is a common and necessary amino acid in our diet (arguably the most common neurotransmitter in the brain), so this presupposition isn’t so far fetched. The researchers fed rats MSG and were shocked by their results.
Rather than repairing the disease, the MSG destroyed the retinal cells that allow vision!
A decade later, the neuroscientist Dr. John Olney used their method of destroying retinal cells so that he could study visual pathways to the brain. He found that MSG not only destroyed retinal vision cells, but also parts of the brain. This brain damage was done as neurons became over excited, virtually exciting themselves to death. He called this “excitotoxicity,” and that has led subsequent researchers to describe MSG as an “excitotoxin.”
While the naturally occurring glutamates in food aren’t dangerous, processed free glutamic acids like MSG are.
Not only do they cause brain damage and lead to nervous disorders, but they also cause radical hormone fluctuations. Mice injected with MSG become rapidly obese, inactive, and have other hormonal issues.(5)
Wait! You say. Those are mice and rats. We’re people. We’re bigger, biologically different. Surely it won’t affect us the same way.
Unfortunately, that argument doesn’t hold much weight. Humans are 20 times more sensitive to MSG than monkeys, 5 times more sensitive than rats.(6) We have glutamate receptors on every major organ, hard-wired into our brains, and even on the tip of our tongue! That means that one fifth the level of MSG used to cause obvious brain damage to a rat will do the same to you.
And what about growing babies? It turns out that MSG is especially harmful to pregnant or nursing mothers because infants and young children are four times more sensitive to MSG than adults!(7) Dr. Blaylock elaborates:
Many studies have shown that glutamate plays a major role in how the brain is formed during development. There is a programmed rise and fall in brain glutamate levels during brain formation, which occurs in humans not only during intrauterine life, but until the age of 27.
This oscillation in brain glutamate is very critical, and any disruption in glutamate levels has dire consequences. It has been shown that during pregnancy, a diet high in MSG increases the developing baby’s glutamate levels to those twice as high as the mother’s. This can significantly alter how the baby’s brain forms and functions.
Very high MSG intake (of any excitotoxin) can cause abnormal learning, addiction risk, and behavioral, emotional control, and endocrine problems later in the baby’s life.
We now know, for instance, that glutamate is the main control neurotransmitter for the hypothalamus. This section of the brain controls most of your hormones, eating behavior, temperature control, pain regulation, and sleep habits, as well as the autonomic control of your heart, GI tract, lungs, and bladder. When animals are fed MSG early in life, they develop severe abnormalities, which include a short stature, small endocrine organs (pituitary, adrenal glands, thyroid, ovaries, testes and pancreas), and a high risk of seizures and impaired learning. (8)
I don’t know about you, but this is enough to raise alarm bells.
Not only is MSG not a traditional food, not only are many people immediately sensitive to it, but it can also interrupt the hormonal and biological development of my children!
Lest you think this is all fanciful, it’s important to remember that a number of studies have found that the effects of MSG can occur cumulatively over time with subsequent exposure. For example, a study done with animals found that MSG exposure over a period of 3-6 months led to significant risk for damage to the retinas of the eyes.(9) Initially, there was no visible damage, but multiple exposure over a period of time led to the irreparable injury.
It’s simply not worth the risk.
So, if you want to avoid MSG, how can you do it?
Turns out, it’s harder than it looks.
If all you had to do was read food product labels and put anything that said “monosodium glutamate” back on the shelf, you could maybe handle it without much difficulty. Or, if you could trust a food manufacturer’s claim that there is “No MSG added” to their food, that would be relatively simple too.
But, MSG hides in more than 40 other FDA-approved ingredients. Because the manufacturer didn’t add an ingredient called “monosodium glutamate,” they can “truthfully” claim “No MSG added” on their label. Yet, nothing is stopping them from adding ingredients that contain MSG. In that case, the manufacturer only has to list the name of the actual ingredient added, not the ingredients within those ingredients.
So, they can say a food includes “spices” or “flavorings” when that spice mix includes MSG. They can say the food includes “yeast extract” or “hydrolized soy protein” without telling you that the process of creating those ingredients also creates processed free glutamic acids (also known as MSG).
For more on where MSG may be hiding in your food labels, I’ve created a handy, downloadable, easy-to-print guide for you.
(photo by punkjr)
I don’t think I will ever understand why these kinds of substances are allowed in our food. It makes no sense.
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Lisa McKenzie says
I can tell you in 2 words, why these substances are allowed in our food: campaign contributions, or should I say 1 word: bribes? These companies give huge amounts of money to the crooks in our gov’t and in exchange, the gov’t allows these poisons to be put in our food and then go on national TV and day they are safe. If they didn’t, they would run out of money. The companies would pull their donations left and right from their campaigns. They don’t want to stop the flow of money, so what do they do? Go and lie on national TV.
MSG is a naturally occurring substance found in tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, and a number of other vegetables and fruits so it technically did not start as an additive. Yes someone made it into an additive, but odds are you’ve been ingesting MSG for many years.
Marty B says
MSG is found only in tomatoes when a growth enhancer, such as AuxiGro, is used on the product. You imply that MSG is naturally there in the tomato from seed, earth, sunshine, rain and nutrients. MSG is NOT found in tomatoes you grow in your back yard, but it may be found in ‘organic’ tomatoes that companies produce. I am sure it is the same with mushrooms and potatoes. This is because MSG is not natural. It is not a nutrient, vitamin, or mineral. The odds are we have, indeed, been ingesting it for years. To learn more search for “MSG Mark Gold”.
Mono sodium glutamate is naturally present in dairy, proteins and vegetables, including the aforementioned tomato. It is also found in breast milk! L-Glutamate or glutamic acid is one of the essential amino acids and IS PRODUCED IN THE HUMAN BODY!!! The single component of sodium (mono sodium) is added to give it a physical salt form so it can be sprinkled as an ingredient to food. There has been no accredited conclusive study to show MSG is bad for you.
How can you be so well educated on this and so stupid as to think the moon landings were faked?
jane dough says
sorry, but devin is correct. it IS naturally occuring in the foods he mentioned.. and more. BTW, i have a bachelor of science degree in horticulture and have studied the chemical makeup of MANY plants.
please educate yourself instead of spreading woo.
You’re my favorite person ever.
Haha it’s made from salt and seaweed extract . Get your facts straight before saying that its not naturally occurring
Glutamate DOES NOT cross blood-brain barrier (BBB)… So dietary glutamate can barely change the glutamate level in your brain. The study shows glutamate injection caused retinal cell death in mice used immature mice that don’t have fully developed BBB… Make sure you understand the researches before you cite them and stop spreading rumors…. MSG was firstly isolated from seaweed by Japanese, so IT IS naturally occuring in food.
“While the naturally occurring glutamates in food aren’t dangerous, processed free glutamic acids like MSG are…” Can you please explain the difference between ” naturally occurring glutamates” and MSG? The answer is there is NO difference because MSG is mono sodium glutamate and glutamate is naturally occurring!!!
But there is a huge difference between naturally occurred msg and the synthetic source. They are not the same thing.
Darren Withers says
What utter nonsense. It’s exactly the same thing.
There is no chemical difference between “natural” and “artificial” versions of the same chemical, ‘tater.
it all comes down to money and how much industry can make by replacing good ingredients with cheap alternatives that fools your brain and taste buds.. Maybe they even have a contract with pharmaceutical companies “we make people sick, you sell them pills to make them all better again” who knows. That’s today’s world we live in and new generation is like zombies brainwashed by technology….
Charlie Miles says
I am rolling my eyes so hard at your response.
That’s because you believe the bullshit that is fed to us. If you really research MSG, you’ll find the FDA has classified it as safe. This whole story of MSG and Chinese food came from a letter written in the 60’s, claiming adverse reactions to eating Chinese food with MSG. That alarmed the public and all of a sudden people were complaining about symptoms from eating MSG. There is no evidence that they were connected to MSG. Salt and an amino acid, that’s what it is. And glutamate is naturally occurring in a lot of food, plus in the human body. This fallacy is still fooling people today.
The FDA has also classified brominated vegetable oil as safe, which you can find in sodas like Mt Dew. However, it’s been banned in Europe and Japan. Just because the FDA classifies something as safe, it doesn’t mean we should ingest it. They’re a guide, but they have their own agenda too.
Whether MSG is safe or not is still yet to be determined. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that says it can cause issues in people sensitive to it. To say something is wrong, like this article, is showing your ignorance, since very few things are black and white.
The reverse is ALSO true. Just because a country BANS something for economic or popular opinion reasons, doesn’t make it actually dangerous.
For example, all the right-wing nutball religious countries that ban homosexuality don’t make being gay ACTUALLY dangerous.
Jaclyn cherro says
That’s why the mayo clinic states everyone should avoid it. Open you eyes!
What about trans fat? Totally safe, according to the FDA. At least until recently, when they discovered it’s extremely dangerous to human health! And now, despite acknowledging how dangerous it is, they allow a loophole, so that any food containing 0.5g or less per serving is allowed to claim it contains “no trans fat”. All you need to look for is “hydrogenated” on the label to find it everywhere.
MSG is just as suspect as “trans fat”. It was invented in the 20th century (like trans fat) and is NOT naturally occurring.
Whole lotta industry shills in this thread.
Because there’s nothing wrong with MSG. This is total garbage.
Critical Thinker says
This author’s information about MSG being detrimental to humans comes predominantly from a quack: Russell L Blaylock (born 1945) is an alternative health promoting physician who lives in Jackson, Miss. Blaylock has appeared all over the food-related advocacy space and has been around the voodoo health claims circuit.
Among his earlier campaigns Blaylock opposed food additives like aspartame and MSG. He had a wagon-full of junk science claims in his book regarding ‘excitotoxins’–a term he helped coin that is found in several homeopathic and alternative health snake oil sales sites.  Blaylock also promotes chemtrail conspiracies alleging cancer-causing nanoparticles as being purposefully released into the atmosphere in a government-corporate scheme. Skeptic’s Dictionary and QuackWatch call him an anti-vaxxer  while selling his own line of “Brain Repair Formula” supplements. He has been called “quack of the day” by The Vaccine Conspiracy Theorist.
She is acting as nothing more than an unsuspecting shill for Blaylock; her heart is in the right place, but she relies on information easily found on the internet, without any critical thinking or medical/scientific training of her own.
“Intake of aspartame was directly associated with risk of NHL and multiple myeloma and suggestively associated with leukemia in men, although not in women.”
MSG is proven dangerous for our brain for a long term use. It does not even taste really good, in my opinion. So I prefer plays around salt and sugar when I cook.
I also like to play around with homemade broth. You can boil it down to concentrate it and make the MOST amazing sauces just by adding in a splash of wine or lemon or honey or herbs, etc. It’s so incredibly flavorful, and it’s how we *used* to get that umami flavor in our food before MSG was invented.
did you even read your sources?http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8282275
The present study led to the conclusion that ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ is an anecdote applied to a variety of postprandial illnesses; rigorous and realistic scientific evidence linking the syndrome to MSG could not be found.
A cooking sho ran a test, they divided a restaurant in half and told people on the right that their food contained MSG but it didn’t and those on the left were told that their food didn’t contain MSG but it did. Surprisingly, many people on the right became sick as soon as they started eating and only one person on the left complained that he had a headache. I think it’s all in the people’s head. It was hilarious seeing the reaction of those that complained about all kinds of problems and they didn’t even ingest MSG. As I mentioned a minute ago, it’s all in their head.
Michelle B says
It’s not in my head. I trigger whether I know I’m being poisoned or not. For instance I can drink Coke not Pepsi. I ordered a Coke at a restaurant with about 13 friends. They all heard me order Coke and the waiter went to fulfill the drink order. What he brought me back was pretty watered down. I took about 5 sips and started going blind. We asked the waiter if it was Coke or Pepsi, the food couldn’t have poisoned me, it hadn’t even arrived. The waiter said it was Pepsi, and that he told me that they did not have Pepsi when I ordered the Coke. I had a table of witnesses on my side. I spent the rest of the evening in the car in excruciating pain until the dinner was over. I was out of work a day that time.
Then there was the time I tried Planters Honey Roast Peanuts. The ingredients looked simple enough. Peanuts, corn syrup, salt etc, I had 10 peanuts and was blind in 5 minutes. I was out of work for 2 days. I wrote Planters, they admitted it was in their corn syrup.
After going organic (even low fat and no fat organic often triggers me), I have been cured of headaches, migraines, seizures, strokes, IBS and gluten intolerance. My daughter was cured of life threatening asthma. My husband was cured of extreme acid reflux and milk intolerance. What is allowed in the food currently is poison. Many people have had cures after just a couple weeks of clean food. Give it a try.
Nelly Bell says
Totally agree with you. One of the best natural flavor enhancers is LEMON! The rest you mention are excellent also, but LEMON is king.
mossy druid says
You realize that making homemade broth is literally concentrating natural sources of glutamates? What a nutter. If you really were concerned about MSG, you’d stop eating meat, onions, mushrooms, seaweed, potatoes, shrimp and any hard cheeses.
You do realise this article is absolute non-sense right?
Show one proper study that proves it is dangerous for our brains long term.
Never heard such rubbish in all my life
Jason Dorweiler says
I am more eager to agree with Ashley, however I used to avoid using MSG in the restaurants I work in an still do because I believe the taste can be achieved by a natural process. David Chang actually brings up a good argument about the role of MSG in popular culture. It’s a video, kind of like a Ted Talk, but don’t expect the best public speaker.
Lab Rat says
Your post is scientifically based…yes??. I’m quite impressed with your scientific explanations..
Thank you, Ashley. I’m honestly sick and tired of this mom-sience that is based on hearsay and paranoia. Please, if you think something is harmful in the normal manner consumed by people, conduct thorough research and cite a reputable scientific paper that proves your point. Otherwise, please stop fear-mongering.
Edwin S Anthony says
So you think that dangers don’t exist until a study had been done of it, or enough studies had been done of it?
You really think that is sensible?
Truth Bomber says
It just exemplifies the fact that they don’t teach critical thinking anymore.
So people’s personal experiences are meaningless? People are too stupid to know how they feel after eating and should blindly trust a corrupt government to protect them from harm? Where was the gov’t when trans fat was blindly allowed as a food additive?
Studies don’t get done without money, and money usually comes from big industries trying to prove or disprove something that will benefit their bottom line. Science is completely corrupt. And industry shills are all over this post like flies on sh*t.
Jack Beamish says
MSG when injected directly into the brains of mice caused harm. Gee. Who would have thought? Idiots here talking about how they don’t like its taste (hint: it’s tasteless) confirm what I’ve long thought: you are delusional. It does NOT cause harm to the vast majority of people. There are some with allergies to it. There are some with allergies to just about everything. Doesn’t mean those things are bad. I bet most of you insist you have a gluten reaction too and make sure LOUDLY to let everyone know about it as well. Then you go enjoy your gluten filled micro beers without a second thought.
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are real. Just because some people think “gluten free” is the new South Beach Diet, that doesn’t change the fact that a great many people cannot tolerate gluten. It’s also true that gluten and wheat foods have changed dramatically over the 20th century, continuing to today. Levels of gluten in common foods have risen dramatically, because it’s convenient to food producers to have more of it. However, there are indications that the seeming rise in gluten intolerance is directly related to the rise of high-gluten wheat products, which our ancestors did not eat.
So it’s not farfetched that many people would be sensitive to these new high-gluten foods that we did not evolve to eat.
Thank you so much for this article. I really appreciate all the work that went into writing this. I have been trying to convince my husband and your “but wait” comment about the mice sounds just like him 🙂 This helps tremendously.
I’m assuming you think we faked the moon landings too. What a nonsense article. i buy MSG in bulk and use it all the time.
MSG is great…. but we did fake the moon landings.
We faked the moon landings and the Earth is flat, right, DC?
You’re a shill. Be quiet.
I love your blog and I am firmly against the processed industrial foods that MSG hides in, inducing food addiction, but the idea that MSG causes brain damage is not supported by legitimate science. The science is not in on this matter- it’s been misinterpreted by alarmists like Blaylock. I encourage people to delve into the primary literature and look up #3 for example, which was not able to be replicated. Or consider the context of #5, which involved injecting it into mice, not eating it in food. Or the low level of the journal #9 is published in and the fact it is a study on a certain strain of rats consuming very high levels that you wouldn’t get even with a diet of restaurant Chinese food.
Or the fact that Blaylock promotes his msg stuff among laymen, not publishing it in journals where it would be ripped apart, and sells expensive supplements that contain ingredients that can easily be seen as just as dangerous as MSG if you dig through studies in this way. It’s also worth remembering that a neurosurgeon is not a scientist, no matter how prestigious their title is. As far as individuals who have reacted to it, are beef or shrimp also bad because some people are allergic to those foods? It’s telling that the only documented cases of excitotoxicity from food in the medical literature are from contaminated shellfish ingestion.
MSG is an ingredient used in a lot of bad processed foods. However, if you travel in Asia or eat with Asians from a local immigrant community, it is often added into good homemade foods, which is too bad since the evidence is fairly good that it can induce over-eating, but there is no evidence it causes brain damage from “excitotoxins.” In fact, Asian kids from countries where MSG is in EVERYTHING, consistently out-perform kids in the USA in academics. I’d rather have my kid eating Korean bone broths with some MSG in them than the garbage non-food we feed kids in this country.
MSG is not dangerous, it’s industrial and in many processed foods that are bad for you. I’m not going to worry about an occasional dab of it, especially considering I use a lot of high glutamate traditional foods in my own kitchen such as fermented seafood pastes and stocks. It should be noted that scientists like Olney who have written about the dangers of excitotoxins in developing children also recognize these traditional high-glutamate foods could be dangerous. I doubt it, but I will refrain from injecting them into the brains of my offspring though.
I wouldn’t say there’s NO science supporting that free glutamates like MSG can cause neural or brain damage, just that it’s limited and mounting slowly.
When researching this for my book, I cam across quite a few scholarly papers and studies that point to this connection.
This one, for example, hypothesized that glutamate excitotoxicity could play a role in brain damage caused by ischemia:
This one shows how it leads to neuronal death:
Olney, as you mentioned, has written quite a bit about how it can lead to neuropsychiatric problems:
Others have shown that it can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases (like Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s):
It’s been shown that removing excitotoxins like MSG from the diet has offered relief for brain/neural diseases like fibromyalgia:
Also, while it’s true that Blaylock pointed to studies that injected MSG directly into rodents, many researchers also seem to administer it orally to cause damage, too.
In this study, it was administered orally in low doses over a prolonged period of time and caused liver damage:
It was also administered orally in this study, which found significant adverse reactions in brain development of infant mice:
I found quite a few studies where it was administered orally to mice in various stages of pregnancy to induce fetal damage — including both obesity and neural/brain damage.
And yes, I get that this isn’t the same thing as having a double-blind study on eating foods containing MSG on the long-term effects of it’s excitotoxicity. That study, to my knowledge, has never been done. But, there’s enough here to give a concerned person pause.
Plus, there’s enough evidence conclusively pointing to it’s other (well-documented) adverse effects — like inducing hormonal imbalances, obesity, or causing liver damage — that I’m comfortable saying that the science coming in shows that MSG really is dangerous.
Excitotoxic glutamate damage are usually triggered by brain injury caused by something else, not dietary glutamate. And the mice pregnancy studies used very high levels and I’d if you used similar levels of glutamate from bone broth, you’d get similar results.
“Also, while it’s true that Blaylock pointed to studies that injected MSG directly into rodents, many researchers also seem to administer it orally to cause damage, too. ” I can’t find anything in that study about administering it orally.
I really think Blaylock has done a massive disservice confusing the excitotoxin-induced brain injury with dietary intake of glutamate, of which there is no connection.
And it’s worth remembering that you can find studies showing damage in some of these genetically engineered rats for all kinds of foods, including those real foodies enjoy like garlic and peppers.
Sure, those are some studies you linked to, but the amount of studies that show the opposite conclusions is twice as long.
I would second this whole “MSG isn’t going to kill you” trend. Definitely, there’s evidence for really high levels or injection studies in mice = excitotoxicity, but that doesn’t happen in humans.
Note the part where the safety evaluation stated that voluntary ingestion of MSG cannot possibly exceed 60mg/kg dose whereas 500mg/kg was required to cause lesions in the mice due to excitotoxicity. “Intake levels associated with the use of MSG as a food additive and natural levels of glutamic acid in foods, therefore, do not raise toxicologic concerns even at high peak levels of intake because the mechanism of toxicity appears to be related to the peak plasma level achieved rather than the area under the curve”.
Also: “a subsequent study (Fernstrom et al. 1996) using equivalent (pharmacologic) doses of MSG rather than the free acid failed to demonstrate any effect on plasma prolactin, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisol, thyroid-stimulating hormone or thyroid hormones despite an 11-fold increase in plasma glutamate levels”
So overall not too bad!
I think this blog is not really scientific. Its more like fanaticism.
thank you. Yes it is important to not thougtessly extrapolate from studies where a substance was injected and caused damage to assuming the same potential damage from oral ingestion. if we inject NaCl or KCl into a persons veins they would die at a certain dose—yet these are common salts that we eat everyday. The route of administration and dose are important. That being said, more studies need to be done to flesh out how MSG impacts us. but we can’t say that because MSG was injected and lead to cell death we should eat it.
jane dough says
sorry, but melissa is correct… most of your sources are junk science.
i suppose you still believe wakefield that vaccines cause autism, too…
if you want to cut “msg” out of your diet, then you’d better cut out most or all of the “umami” foods… tomatoes, soy sauce, mushrooms, etc because they all contain your nemesis. i suggest you google “umami foods” to make sure you cut them ALL out of your diet.
BTW, as i commented above, i hold a bachelor of science in horticulture, so i know whereof i speak.
and one last comment… i really wish you would cut them out of YOUR diet and stop trying to cut them out of everyone else’s. there are lots of people out there who easily fall for conspiracy theories and IMHO, you’re preying on them, making them scared of all sorts of things (yeast extracts? really?) that they needn’t stress about.
Ruth S. says
I love your well thought out response.
I also question that one Melissa that MSG is used in most of the foods in all the countries of Asia. A lot of people grow up on it but how affected by it are they really? I try to avoid it at all costs living in asia myself and the only way to do that is by cooking myself. Otherwise, it’s in most of the foods you find in the restaurants, even the ones that claim they don’t use it… it’s in all the sauces and condiments added to the foods. I’m also surprised that one of the more common reactions to msg wasn’t included above, that being blisters appearing on and inside the mouth. It shows up like cold sores but isn’t cold sores.
Sarah L says
If gelatin is listed in the “always contains MSG” category, what about the Great Lakes Kosher Beef Gelatin I use all the time? Advice?
Great Lakes actually takes great care to process their gelatin so it produces no processed free glutamic acids. They’ve got a whole page about it, and the testing done to their products, on their website here:
Dawn @ peelingbacktheonionlayers.com says
How funny Kristen, I just wrote a post on glutamates today! Great minds. 🙂
Cindy Stephens says
I wish every mom had this information. I did not know any of this when my kids were small. It took us two years to dig deep and find this culprit. Your article explains why my youngest son didn’t show the effects until he was five years old – they are cumulative. The tingling and agitation just drives him crazy. We are still trying to detox his system. And as mentioned above, msg is hidden under other names. If he eats it, he has a reaction that is so frustrating for him. It is sad because he feels like something is wrong with him. What’s a kid to do? What is a parent to do? We live on a farm now. We homeschool and eat almost exclusively at home. I cook most of our food. But this is not an option for many people. How many kids are out there moody and agitated and can’t control it? With every meal, their system is filled with more msg and the cycle continues. They feel miserable and they don’t know why. Moms are exasperated and feel they can’t get a grip on their child’s behavior. Thank you for posting this much needed information.
Nelly Bell says
Sugars can also be blamed for hyperactivity and I believe can be remedied by replacing with proper fats.
Pete R. says
Great article!! Your articles are very informative. Reading the list of ingredients containing MSG, I couldn’t help but notice many of the “low fat” or “skim” milk dairy products contain some MSG. While I don’t over consume dairy products, is it the “lesser” of two evils (so to speak) to just consume whole milk, whole yogurt and whole cheese as opposed to the much more altered low fat and skim choices? Thank you.
I *always* opt for full-fat everything, and I don’t think it’s a lesser evil. I think it’s a greater good.
You have raised a concern about supplements. Due to leaky gut I am try desperately to heal but noticed that MSG is found in the enzymes that I use on a daily basis. Scd calls for gelatin consumption. Any thoughts?
Nope, sorry. 🙁 Maybe another reader in your shoes? Personally, I’d go ask a GAPS or SCD practitioner their opinion.
I can relate. I’ve got severe gut issues – can only tolerate three foods. I’ve tried both GAPS and SCD, as well as supplementation with glutamine, and got worse on both of them. But, this is due in part to my methylation issues (see my post)…I say “in part,” because it’s a chicken and egg situation. It took me seven years to get to this point, after consuming tons of high sulfate, high histamine foods, and high glutamate foods (broth) and supplements.
You don’t mention what enzymes you’re taking, but any gut supplement that contains MSG should be removed from the market, IMO. I’ve never seen that listed on a digestive enzyme, but I haven’t been around the world, either. 🙂
Sorry – seven years to get to the point of realizing the glutamate and methylation connection.
Michelle B says
I had IBS and a gluten intolerance. The IBS was from MSG, the gluten intolerance came later after a long run on low level antibiotics. I was able to heal when I went organic, cut out low fat and fat free foods, and avoided most protein drinks. I was only able to tolerate Nutirbiotic protein drink. It breaks down the proteins into easily digestible protein with enzymes, not chemicals. To fix the gluten intolerance I took Probiotic Pearls for about 6 months. After 6 months I was able to eat bread again. After going organic (or at least minimally processed, less ingredients) I have also been cured of headaches, migraines, seizures and strokes. It might not work for you completely but I’m sure it will help. My husband had acid reflux so bad he had to sleep sitting up and also what appeared to be lactose intolerance. Within moments of eating cereal he would be regretting his food choice and running. When he went organic those conditions went away as well. He loves his cereal and milk now.
I have also recently read an article though that contributed leaky gut to artificial colors and preservatives. If this is the case going organic will also help.
Thanks for this fantastic post! I linked to it from my blog as “A Must Read.” The truth in labeling link was particularly eye opening.
Rebecca Miller says
Anyone have any thoughts on detoxing it out of our bodies. Oh my did I have a time eating all the MSG I could back in the SAD days. I have payed a price and would love thoughts on getting it out once it’s in. And I never comment here but since I am now thank you for this blog and the time and effort you put into providing quality and trustworthy info. I truely appreciate it!
Michelle B says
When my daughter stopped eating MSG her life threatening asthma resolved in two weeks. From her reaction I would guess most of it would be out of the system in a couple weeks, or at least enough to make a noticeable improvement. I am more sensitive than my step daughter, my improvement was immediate.
This study suggests curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, can help protect the brain from the effects of MSG. Curcumin is enhanced by the addition of black pepper, so it’s recommended to take both turmeric and black pepper together for the neuroprotective effect. Many Indian dishes contain both spices (and are delicious!). Curcumin has also been studied as a preventative of dementia. I also personally use it as a very effective anti-inflammatory for the intestines (I just drink a teaspoon of turmeric in water when I have gas or other digestive distress from accidentally eating gluten or dairy and it stops the pain and gas really quickly).
Jen Miller says
Thank you for writing this article! It was very timely for me.
Vanessa Hill says
Great article, Kristen. I just eat real, unprocessed foods. That solves it all
Yes, it does.
No it doesn’t.
It’s actually the other way round…
L-glutamate is in every living being on Earth and in the oceans. Therefore, if you want real glutamate-free food, you have to process it very thoroughly with really beefy chemicals…
BTW, L-glutamate is responsible for a good part of neural/axone/dendrite communication/regeneration in the brain. The question is more: are having enough L-G?
I LOVE this post. I read Blaylock’s book a while back, and was astounded at all the ways MSG can be hidden in products. I am extremely sensitive to it, so I can attest to the fact that labels such as ‘natural flavors’ are in fact highly suspect. I am super wary of products such as NuNaturals stevia for that very reason. I am so happy to see another blogger bringing this to light!!
As far as the argument above, I do believe we need glutamine for muscle repair/growth, intestinal issues, etcetera, but it’s when the cells become saturated that problems start to occur. Glutamine becomes toxic (just as other nutrients do) when taken in excessive amounts, which is probably happening frequently among people given the numerous ways it can be hidden.
Great article! Have you spoken to John Bandy (http://www.austinholistichealth.com/ahhJBandy.htm), since you’re in the Austin area? My entire family has been to see him and other practitioners at Austin Holistic Health. He found that my younger brother, who has been diagnosed as on the autism spectrum since he was a child, has a major sensitivity to MSG. My family went off of MSG around 10 years ago and the difference has been dramatic. As a scientist, I have some pretty serious problems with the notion that a diet can “cure” autism, especially as what symptoms exactly can be categorized as autism is an extremely fluid category and may change without intervention as a child grows. That being said, certain features of my brother’s autism change dramatically when he is off MSG. He has facial ticks that almost completely disappear, his focus on school work is better, and his speech is more comfortable and fluid. He’s never going to be a completely neurotypical person (and he wouldn’t be the person he is today if he were), but a diet free of MSG gives him pretty visible improvements. As for me, I’ve been on the natural foods bandwagon my whole life and MSG-free when at my parents’ homes since I was 14. I’m now 24 and eat a mostly whole foods diet. Even without a particular MSG sensitivity, so much time on a completely artificial glutamate-free diet (even free glutamaic acids are a problem for my brother) has left me very sensitive to its effects. My husband and I recently joined some friends for dim sum (which I love but only from restaurants that don’t use lots of MSG), and I ended up passed out with a migraine for 4 hours after eating. Needless to say, we’ve since avoided that restaurant and learned how to make Asian food at home.
Such a fantastic article – thank you for helping to spread the awareness.
There is a portion of the population for which MSG and any high glutamate foods (and glutamine supplements) are especially dangerous, and those are individuals with genetic methylation issues such as MTHFR, etc. (An estimated 40% of the population, and many people live a lifetime without ever even knowing they have the related SNPs.) This includes homemade broths for a lot of these folks (even if meat is simmered for just one hour).
Additionally, If your children are on the autism spectrum, run like crazy from MSG and any high glutamate foods and glutamine supplements. You can learn more by Googling Dr. Amy Yasko and reading her book on her site.
I agree! I think this stuff is very bad. I try to avoid it if at all possible. I can tell when a processed food has it without even reading the ingredients too. If I eat the particular product and it tastes sooo good to me that I can’t get enough of it……to me that is a sure sign that it has MSG. It causes the brain to think the food is better tasting than it really is….truly a drug.
Tom Gibson says
When you start making claims early on that MSG was invented then you show me that you are intellectully very lazy and not to be trusted. MSG is a naturally occuring substance that has been synthesized because people think it tastes good. Every other thing else said might be true but I don’t trust the author because their prejudice was apparently more important than accurately reporting this story.
But it was invented. Naturally occurring glutamates have been in food forever, but processed free glutamic acids (MSG)were discovered/derived in Japanese laboratories in 1908.
For more on the history and creation of MSG, please read this.
Unfortunately derived means just that, not invented (which implies that it did not exist naturally previously and only exists synthetically). I would like to point out that MSG exists naturally in ALL proteins, i.e. meat, fish, eggs, cheese, etc. It’s also found in a high concentration in tomatoes and in seaweed (which is where it was originally derived from).
Natural and artificial MSG by definition have the exact same chemical structure. They are no different. As with most things, moderation is key (not that a lot of those studies gave it to the rodents in quantities that would never ever be given to humans).
I also want to point out that the neurotoxicity studies are ongoing.
This is the result of 2 hours of procrastination on the internet so is by no means watertight BUT to provide some studies of my own
aaand a whole bunch here just read them (some are for and some against MSG but the overwhelming majority are for)
(ignore the fact that that’s a wiki link, I focused on the studies the wiki article linked to)
there are lots of other refutements that I have but Melissa has covered a lot of them buuut if people have specific counter-studies I’d be interested to read them
Michelle B says
I do not react to natural glutamate. I react very seriously to man made, or derived, MSG. Perhaps it is the manufacturing process. After trying several protein drinks, I only found one can drink one protein drink called Nutribiotic. The protein is broken down with enzymes not chemicals and it doesn’t bother me at all. (It doesn’t taste great but it doesn’t land me in the ER either, it’s a compromise.) As a layman I do not know why my body knows the difference but it does.
“they can say a food includes “spices” or “flavorings” when….etc.” The thing I don’t get is how anybody thinks that they can eat healthy by reading the labels anyway! The “foods” with labels on them that I would eat are few and far between. As far as “spices” and “flavorings” etc. go, I will add my own, thank you. It is like playing Russian roulette with your health. As always, another excellent article.
I wish MSG would be banned. It would make life so much easier for me. MSG definitely gives me migraines. If I could eat without worrying that a food I eat out at a restaurant has MSG (which it probably does) it would be great!
And MSG is in VACCINES people!!! Vaccines are given to most people, including PREGNANT women. Hello! But they don’t tell you it’s in there… You have to go to the ingredients lists & look for it yourself. Ugh. Makes me SO angry. Here’s a starter link directly from the CDC itself, & you can go research specifically which ones after that: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm
Tom Edgar says
The question is surely “Why do you NEED M S G at all?”.
In my “Club” I recently ordered a steak and was asked. “What kind of sauce,(gravy) mushroom, pepper, or onion?” My answer was “If the steak is perfect it shouldn’t need dressing up, ” and it was.
Food, generally, if it is fresh, of good quality, and presented perfectly needs no additives. Like kissing a non smoker. Taste the difference.
So true. The MSG is there only to convince use to get more food in when we are full already. More consumption = more business for the producer.
I love the title “the science is in.”
Yeah except your claims are pretty much all wrong. A 10 min read on the wiki article for MSG would be a good start on the actual science of MSG. As much as I don’t like food industry and am passionate about similar things in food culture, this is just fear mongering and WRONG. Please refrain from publishing bad science. Thanks.
Truth Bomber says
Wiki is hardly the bastion of ‘good science’ and that is why it is prohibited by universities to cite as a source.
But anyone who seriously considers themselves a truth-seeker already knows this.
You lost all credibility when you said MSG was “newfangled substance invented in 1908.” Glutamate, is a fundamental component of virtually all the proteins in your body, it has been a necessary component of life for literally billions of years.
The double blind study you cited is terrible. I can’t get access to the full article without paying for it, but just from the abstract alone you can discover that their study used only 61 patients who already declared a supposed glutamate intolerance. And of those 61 a full 34.4% responded to the placebo whereas 45.9% responded to the glutamate. If you know anything about statistics you’ll see that these percentages are way too close with such a small sample size to say anything conclusively. This is compounded even further by the fact that the researches don’t even know how to conduct a proper double blind study. You aren’t supposed to give both the placebo AND the actual glutamate to the same group of people!
In the end glutamate is an essential component for the synthesis of all your proteins. It’s a natural compound that your body makes as part of normal metabolism, and your body is perfectly capable of regulating MSG concentrations through normal biochemical pathways.
Judging by the quality of this article I’m guessing you have no background in biochemistry but if you google image search glutamic acid pathway and look in the image section you can find plenty of good examples of how glutamate is synthesized and regulated and also it’s relation to the krebs cycle.
I know im late to the discussian but as a child of ten who had never even heard the name msg, I knew something was wrong with chinese food because of how sick I became . I ate it once or twice more and then avoided it for years. years later whrn I learned about msg I decided to try it again at a restraunt that didnt use it. Low and behold I didnt get sick. I can actually get sick just from smelling it in high amounts. If a restraunt uses it alot I can tell right away. I was unaware it could be hiding in other ingredients so thank you. hopefully I can remove any other items from my diet that may be making me sick without knowing the trigger.
Jennifer C-K says
If you have time, please update the Wikipedia page on this. The last time I looked it, it was very MSG positive. Thank you!
Hi! I am super sensitive to msg from zig-zag vision to sensitivity to light and sound to stomach upset. My whole life this has happened and I figured out early on it was from school lunches and have avoided it as much as possible. Ethnic food is loaded with it from chinese to thai, indian and mexican which super sucks…
Anyway, is there a place where I can report my reactions. To some ongoing study group or something? Somewhere where it will help to get this substance banned?!
I wish that I could sound more unsympathetic. It is your wish that a substance that you “think” is bad for your health be banned for everyone? I rather like various ethnic cuisines–in fact–over 400 restaurants will deliver to my house here in Chicago near Wrigley Field. Additionally, there are thousands of restaurants within a 30 minute drive.
When I cook I will actually add pure MSG to many dishes or I will use its natural substitutes like anchovy or tomato paste to build layers of flavor. My 96 y.o. father had no food allergies whatsoever all his life until he went into nursing care. Suddenly, he could not eat MSG, gluten, dairy, canola oil, etc. He would grill the poor waitress when I took him out to dinner and be a real horror. At the end of the meal I always had the waitress ask if she could bring him some pie and one really smart girl replied, “a la mode, OK?”, when he said yes.
Please get a real medical evaluation of your condition “super sensitive to msg from zig-zag vision to sensitivity to light and sound to stomach upset” can be caused by things other than what you eat…
Gary N. says
“Please get a real medical evaluation of your condition “super sensitive to msg from zig-zag vision to sensitivity to light and sound to stomach upset” can be caused by things other than what you eat…”
The problem is that doctors, in Canada anyway, do not recognise MSG as being a problem, Health Canada says it is harmless even in large doses. So with a few years of declining health such as high BP, wheezy asthma, blurry vision and night glare, assorted aches and pains, cramps, muscle and tendon soreness and stiffness, chronic scalp flaking, I figured I’m just aging early (only 58 when it all started going downhill. However, after a Shake and Bake meal one night, I awoke with tthe most incredible pain in my back/chest/arms, sweating, chills, vomiting, mental confusion and brain freezes, emotional swings from weeping to uphoria, hot patches on scalp, ears, nostrils, just a wreck. During almost 4 days of tossing and turning and great pain, it occured to me that I had had similar but much less severe synptoms many times over a few years, and never being able to figure out what was up, the MSG thing popped into my head. When I started to recover, about 4 days before I could keep anything down, I avoided all MSG, totally, and within 8 days, MY BP was nrmal, eyesight much improved, astham much reduced, and scalp completely smooth and soft.
After a month I felt 10 years younger, just a miracle as far as I am concerned, but accidentally ingesting even small amounts of MSG (or similar excitoxins) will spike my BP from 140/80 to 180/1110 for between 4 and 7 days, then come back down slowly to 140.
So maybe not everyone suffers from MSG sensitivity, and it may be that blood type has something to do with it. A friend who also had many health issues went on a blood type diet and he too is feeling better than he has in years, a clue I believe.
So now it’s cooking from scrath, no eating out, no candies, chips (Kettle Sea salt chips now and then, seems OK), canned, packet or jar sauces, soups, etc. A big lifestyle change, but worth it absolutely.
Rob L says
Thank you for this post.
I have had a dry-mouth (I call it cotton-mouth, because it feels like the inside of my mouth is lined with cotton wool) along with an unslakeable thirst and, worst of all, terrible heart palpitations whenever I eat anything containing MSG, Hydrolysed Protein, Hydrolysed Starch, Modified this, that or the other, or any of the telephone-book sized list of ingredients made from or containing free glutamic acid.
I now have to avoid most processed foods, and eating out is a lottery (I want to Japan earlier this year and resigned myself to having MSG reaction every night)
I have managed to avoid reaction most of the time, with careful planning and preparation, but it is tiring when you can’t just “grab something out of the freezer” without having prepared it carefully yourself.
I wish Manufacturers would at least give us a choice, but they don’t. I cannot buy a single pre-prepared broth/bouillon/stock concentrate or powder that doesn’t set me off. Massel used to be OK, but they’ve changed. Today I just made another batch of my homemade beef stock cubes. It takes a lot of time, but it’s very worth it in the end.
At least I know it’s not just me. 🙂
The science on MSG is a bit weird because it is allowed but unhealthy for you – something is totally off with our food system these days
Joie Valdez via Facebook says
In Asian markets they label it agi, also. I get migraines when i have it. Hate the taste and avoid it at all costs.
That’s a brilliant work of misinformation, well done.
The (really scientific) experiments have proven you don’t overdose glutamate because it’s hydrosoluble (unless you inject it, but it’s not really a normal way for food intake), none of these effects have been seen when the MSG comes in food (combined with water); when you get the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”, you better measure the sulphides in the drinks (headache guaranteed…) than the L-glutamate in the food…
It’s made by fermentation since the mid-70s (mainly because it’s cheaper, being safe is only a side effect), so it’s strictly the same molecule as in nature and every eucaryote and most plankton (which is kinda expected for an oligo-element participating in the ribosomal activity…).
Hence, try to find a viable diet without it. How cooked do you want your stones?
Do you plan writing something about vitamins A and E, preferably suggesting it’s safe to consume them in [very] large quantities wherever you can find them (they’re liposoluble, take a wild guess)? You’ll have to suggest food you should take to be “healthy”, instead of suggesting to ban omnipresent oligo-elements with unproven adverse effects, won’t you?
Thank you for being the ONLY balanced, intelligent comment!! I’ve seen so far. its amazing to see how people feel the need to spread fear and misinformation. PEOPLE REACT TO FOODS- AND GUESS WHAT…MSG IN SOME FOOD NATURALLY. MSG is not bad in and of itself but some people may react to it. STOP SPREADING FEAR AND LIES USING ARTICLES LIKE THESE!
Holly Merrick via Facebook says
Melody Moore Pagliei, read this.
Brooke C. Arndt via Facebook says
Ugh, I forgot it actually comes in a bottle!!!!
Christopher Dobbins via Facebook says
Danielle Mein via Facebook says
Roxanne Elise via Facebook says
I get headaches too. Glad you posted this after another page about science (that I like for its actual interesting science info, but is so whacked when it comes to nutrition) just posted an article with really no valid citations claiming MSG is really totally fine. (They and several followers claim natural health is “pseudo-science!”) One guy commented, “MSG isn’t bad. All it is is a flavor enhancer.” Facepalm. It is a poison.
Recently there seems to have been a lot of sites posting the same article about how MSG is safe, but my own experience shows it is definitely not safe for me, and I have met many other people, including a pharmacist and health care workers who also suffer badly from even small amounts. It bio-accumulates for one thing, meaning it builds up in your sysyem over the years and triggers often severe reactions once a certain level builds up in the body. All I can say is that after years of odd, undiagnosed sysmptoms, 2 weeks off all MSG cleared up numerous ailments, including high blood pressure, wheezy asthma, poor eyesight, muscular aches and pains and stiffness, a chronic scalp condition, mental fogginess, and depression.
Some estimates put at 40% of the population having some adverse reactions, and maybe up to 10% having serious or even life threatening reactions, including atrial fibrilation. The stories of people having a heart attack after a big meal are true according to emergency room medics, who are trained to recognise the signs of MSG toxicity. It is definitely not safe for many people though, and there should be warnings on all MSG containing products, and not just foood, about the possible dangers to certain individuals.
Mary Light via Facebook says
It does always amaze me to see it sold in huge packets in Asian markets, and It is labelled MSG whenever I see it.
Amanda Brazee via Facebook says
You probably don’t read Bon Appetit magazine but a recipe in this month’s magazine actually called for MSG!! (I hate what Adam Rapaport has done to that magazine.)
MSG is a natural occurring amino acid. It is not bad for you. Sugar is a natural substance so is fat and so on and so on. People stop the stupidity, too much of anything is probably not going to be good for you.
Sarah Bartlett Shelton via Facebook says
All I know is that it gives me migraines from hell, and that’s the nicest thing I could say about it.
My son has mild autism, hyperactivity, o.c.d and anxiety. His symptoms were controlling our lives. I watched a wonderful Ted talks video unblind my mind by Dr. Katherine Reed. She showed a connection between hidden msg and autism
Symptoms. I didn’t really believe that such small amounts of any chemical could make such a difference, especially a naturally occurring one. I followed her advice anyway, just to see what would happen. I completely expected it to fail but it worked. I was never so happy to be wrong. Within 1 week our child who was terrified of bathing, was now happily splashing in a pool. He no longer had to do everything 4 x’s. Six months later he is making friends, catching up in school, sleeping at night, you can’t even tell he has autism. Instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, he is now just pleasantly quirky. We have had to make a lot of changes in our habits but it is so very worth it. Every so often my spouse takes him out and gets him something with “spices”, “flavorings” and even just straight msg in the ingredient list and every single time his symptoms return. His changes were so noticeable that a relative with schizophrenia asked what we were doing for him. We sent him a link to the video and he applied the information too. The voices he used to hear went from screaming to talking to not at all. His sleep improved too. It took months but now his diet controls what even years of medication could not (don’t worry, he still follows the doctors orders). I don’t need published studies or experiments with mice to realize that there certainly something to this. This is a very real problem and people need to know about this.
Tano Calvenoa's Natural Health Sciences via Facebook says
If I have any, my restless legs flare up like torture during the night. If I avoid it, I’m fine.
Lori Baker Domblesky via Facebook says
Deonna Harrell….. Share this with Donte!!
Shelby Snorek via Facebook says
It causes migraines and auto-immune diseases.
Here is the full abstract of Additive-Induced Urticaria: Experience with Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) at http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/4/1063S.full.pdf+html (You may not be able to access this if you don’t have a University subscription):
—— In patients with chronic urticaria, the incidence of reactions to any additives, including monosodium glutamate (MSG), is unknown. Although many studies have investigated the association of additives and urticaria, most have been poorly designed. This study sought to determine the prevalence of reactions to additives, including MSG, in patients with chronic urticaria using a rigorous protocol. We studied 65 subjects (44 women, 21 men; ages 14–67). All had urticaria for >6 wk without discernible etiology. Subjects with active urticaria were studied while they were taking the lowest effective dose of antihistamine. Screening challenges to the 11 additives most commonly associated with exacerbations of chronic idiopathic urticaria were performed in a single-blind fashion. The dose of MSG given was 2500 mg. Skin scores were obtained to determine a positive reaction in an objective manner. Subjects with a positive screening challenge were rechallenged (at least 2 wk later) with a double-blind, placebo-controlled protocol as in-patients in our General Clinical Research Center. Two subjects had positive single-blind, placebo-controlled challenges, but neither had a positive double-blind, placebo-controlled challenge. We conclude, with 95% confidence, that MSG is an unusual (<3% at most) exacerbant of chronic idiopathic urticaria. —-
So they tested 65 people who were already prone to allergic reactions (i.e looking for something in a specifically chosen sample which they hoped would find it) with 2.5g of MSG and TWO of them had a reaction which was not repeated in a follow up test. They therefore concede that less than 3% of people experience itching from MSG.
You use this study to claim that MSG makes people itch. have you read the article. basically you are lying by claiming a study shows something the opposite to what it does.
Not even bothering with the rest.
Ashley August says
Strange that Asians aren’t retarded and are the skinniest people on Earth since they put it in everything.
Hey have you heard of dihydrogen monoxide?
Ashley August says
Also glutamate is natural in about most yummy things. While you’re avoiding glutamate you’ll have to avoid human breast milk, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, sea weed and soy sauce all where it occurs naturally.
Ashley August says
Glutamate is the chemical that makes the umami taste (you could say savory). All tastes have chemical associations. Sucrose makes things sweet, sodium chloride makes them salty, citric acid makes them sour.
See, everything on Earth is made from only a handful of elements. Scientists like to give everything a big fancy name when really it’s just something normal. Sort of like dihydrogen monoxide, it’s killed people in large quantities. It’s called drowning.
I agree with you Ashley. Just because some PhD or some scientific doing some fancy research by directly injecting to poor little mice and find some deficient, there were no research for otsl intake. Who knows maybe the nice areadly have the deficient and those scientist need something to back up their study.
I love life and I love good food..I don’t care what is said in this blog or what those scientist and PhD wrote. Only God can tell me that MSG is dangerous.
This post is so bias and full of junk it’s ridiculous. I think I actually lost braincells while reading this. Or maybe it was the MSG? YOU ARE AN IDIOT.
Theresa Anne Poe says
What a wonderful article. After 29 years of getting a migraine,marching sounds in ears, after in 1981 getting samples of gum balls in the mail with the new “Equal” in it, eating Chinese food with MSG, diarrhea, lunch meat, Elkrich”, International Delight” coffee creamer, , I started eliminating everything and found out these culprits. I was amazed at the extinct of your list, and still get sick from some ordered Chinese dishes, even though it states on menu MSG-free. As a secretary/receptionist, cannot afford to run for the boarder at work. I do not go to the doctors, only once in 5 years for continued coughing from upper cold, as I talk on the phone at my job. My poor mother gets sick as well. Can’t wait to give her a copy of the list.
You get these symptoms mostly from the placebo effect.
Are there any recent sources on pubmed that have been published at least in the past 15 years?
Every time I ate, I was having symptoms of mild heart attack.
Msg is a joke till it sends you into cardiac arrest at the age of 18. I hate that they hide it. I used to nap after every meal, flush, and complain about my heart. I had no idea why till the doctors discovered my unusually intense allergy to it. And how do I stay away from it? I’m forced to live on a fruitarian diet. Anything from a package could potentially act as a sleeping pill to me. It’s so unfair. You’ll tell me when there’s dairy in my food but not msg? What about my allergy and my rights?
Nonsense. It’s a naturally occurring amino acid–tomatoes, cheese, meat, nearly all foods have some naturally occurring MSG Your references are not scientific, just raving. It’s the fifth flavor after salt, acid, bitter, sweet, and umami. If you want real science, go to the National Institutes of Health–you know, the people who gave you polio vaccine, etc. Moreover, if it’s so toxic, why aren’t millions of people in Asia sick or dead from MSG?
Lindsay gall says
Seems you might be a bit of a quack to the fact that there’s MSG in female breast milk naturally occurring as well as the fact that there is no world health organization saying it is harmful also there is limited funding for this project due to the fact that it’s been proven safe kind a like beating a dead horse
If you’re the worried about MSG, then what about children who drink breast milk? It naturally contains high levels of MSG, 10 times more than cows milk and children need high levels of glutamic acid to grow properly. If it was such the dangerous substance you say it is, we’d be seeing millions upon millions of children suffering every year, but we don’t. It’s not as bad as to think
Nearly all of these sources are over a decade old. Perhaps use more up to date scientific literature as sources. For example, until recently general concensus was low fat diet = the best. Recently, it is changing to low simple carb diet = the best.
robert martin says
I’ll stick with the Mayo clinics decision. Tks
thanks a lot! I will keep researching about it!
As a mother of three young children who have eaten some of the foods you invite us to avoid, I am wondering if there is anything to be done to reverse at least some of the damaged that may have been caused?
Kai kwon says
Thanks for spreading the good news:)
Love your work!)
I like how you say it was invented. Well technically it’s not. It’s a natural thing found in most things example tomatoes.
The man who discovered it found the taste came fromseaweed so he boiled it in broth to extract it and concentrated it with salt. Using it lowers the amount of sodium food product to give the same taste.
Ins not a chemical invention but a flavour extracted from natural plants.
But if you want to wear your tin foil hat that’s fine by me.
you said double blind studies have been conducted…..by whom? when? where’s the publication?
as with the brain lesions in rats, well, there are 2 absurd points here:
1. MSG was INJECTED to blood stream directly…… we humans DIGEST msg, not INJECT it like some heroin junkie
2. the AMOUNT which was INJECTED was huge compared to rat’s body size. compare that to the AMOUNT we INGEST
remember, INGEST, not INJECT
Jerome Stanley says
It seems most of the authority for your article is from non-scientific opinion articles from Russell Blaylock. Dr. Blaylock”s claim to fame seems to be self-promotion. The references on his Wikipedia page for his personal credentials are all links to his own web pages. Perhaps your readers would be better served if you improved the vetting process on your research.
This post immediately lost credit wuen it said that it cause new nerve cells to generate.
Anthony, BSN says
Im not defending this article because I do think it is complete bull, however, nerve cells can actually regenerate (it just takes a heck of a long time). It is brain cells specifically that do not regenerate
Om Krishna Uprety says
MSG being the widely used flavor enhancer in the food. There seems lack of adequate research in the MSG. Sporadic research from the past indicate that regular consumption of MSG is not beneficial to health. Not to the pregnant women and infant.
What effect does MSG have on people that has Celiac Disease ?
This is just fear mongering.
MSG is found naturally in all sorts of foods. It is responsible for the sensation in taste we call “savory”. Fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and potatoes come to mind.
How many of you reading this article are willing to cut these out of your diet?
Steven Starr says
Monosodium glutamate (MSG, also known as sodium glutamate) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids in the world and is a natural occurring substance in many of the food you eat on a daily bases (Almost all dairy product contain MSG). The proof of the danger’s of MSG presented above are only relevant to people who are sensitive to it just like those who are sensitive to (Lactic Acid and Gluten)
Don Palmer phD says
A false and misleading article.
MSG is glutamate, an amino acid, derived from plants. The sodium is added, table salt, in small quantities so that it doesn’t clump.
There has never been a scientific study that supports any side effects to MSG, period.
Your sources are either conspiracy theorists or a source that you note which actually comes to the conclusion that there are no side effects.
If you personally are against MSG, or milk, or gluten or meat or whatever, that is fine. Don’t eat it.
V. V. Mohan says
Very informative article. However I would like the sources from where I can get the details of the randomized experiment carried out. I would like to see if it is replicable and if possible carry out some experiments here to further propagate this information.
Thank you for writing this. I get migraines form MSG. I am now writing a report an MSG and your website has been of help. Thank you!
Clarissa Nicole McLin-Swinehart says
How can I have hope in my life if msg has already caused damage to my family and my endocrine system has essential been broken since I was born? How can I heal from this?
ater reading this, I have yet to understand what GMO is.
As someone else already stated, msg is found NATURALLY in tomatoes, potatoes and mushrooms. Yes, the ones in your backyard. It was isolated in 1908 from seaweed by some Japanese guy. Not saying this is a credible source but Wikipedia says that those double blind tests this article mentions were inconclusive.
Look up – Is msg naturally in vegetables!
You will find the truth. It’s already in our bodies too, we need it!
Justin Tyler Burns says
Honestly, I do see good in telling people about this product that’s on the market, but then to say there is no conceivable way of avoiding it? I understand education and awareness is somewhat of power, But it’s fear mongering. We are aware on many different levels of how our entire new coming generation are the lab-rats being looked down over. But what can we do to stop this? i completely expect this to not make it to a page where others might agree or disagree with me. Understandably, there is nothing we can do to fight against msg.
I’ve read this whole article and I have a question I would like to know it’s answer, so taking MSG in vast amounts is only dangerous,right? I mean of I take a little of MSG it won’t be harmful?
Anthony, BSN says
Your sources are terrible. Not to mention dated.
Laughable. The one study in which there is potential evidence used already self-diagnosed MSG participants, and administered at levels more than 10 times the normal level. Getting 10 times the normal level of anything is usually not good. And finally, the article was published in 1997, 20 years ago! The other big cite you have is Dr Baylock, a neurosurgeon. “Blaylock has retired from neurosurgery and has taken up a career opposing science-based medicine and promoting pseudoscience-based medicine and supplements that he sells under the label Brain Repair Formula. ” You wouldn’t believe scientists who are funded by corporations would you? But you will believe some guy who is directly profiting by promoting fear. Stop undermining science with your wacked out notions.
Garth Denton says
My wife suffers chronic diarrhea if she consumes foods with MSG.
We avoid it like the plague.
As a result of us avoiding msg over a long period of time I have also developed an allergy toward msg.
Brian C says
Guess what, eating a half a pound of salt will kill you as well. You’ll be fine eating foods with MSG.
Kevin Reed says
That’s what I say.
Thank you. That is an interesting article. However many people are visually impaired and your light grey font is difficult to read
Peter m says
Msg which i suffered from for the last 45 years is poison….i get a 24 hour headache within 2 hours and is so bad a want to die…cant sleep…cant stay awake…burning eyes…crunchy neck…sensitive to light…sounds…smells…like there is poison in every cell of my body…weak..heart palpitations..chest pain…..if food companies are listening….stop putting this poison in food…you ruined my life…
David Savage says
Humans don’t inject MSG. This entire article and the premise behind it is self serving, contrived nonsense.
Jose K T says
Certainly I am a real victim of Ajinomoto as proven by myself through self observations for three years.I was struggling myself to propagate the dangerous damages done by ajinomoto to our nervous system.I am always ready to be an instrument myself for any kind of reserch or any kind of other studies.Individually I am unable to proceed for any research.I shall always be ready to be an experimental instrument.Within minutes after consuming ajinomotto added food reactions on my lips and other parts of the mouth .
Kevin Reed says
What a load of crap. Glutamate is a naturally occurring substance. It’s common in many foods, such as tomatoes, cheese, and soy sauce. Get a life.
Scientific method says
I see that only one of your sources is a legitimate doctor. You can’t always believe what you read in books. Especially when the authors are not using legitimate sources. You should look at those authors sources before you cite them
Your whole article is a lie. The FDA proved this isn’t true. You’re using “science” that was cherry picked and isn’t proven at all.
Bob Presley says
MSG sucks! It took years to figure out why I had Migraines, now I just have the flashing aura resembling lighting pulsing in my eyes and a sore head ! MSG is the reason I can tell as soon as I ingest the miserable poison. Ban this if you want to ban something
There are no studies to support your beliefs and MSG allows me to cut my sodium intake by using less table salt. You ban something when there is a good reason to do so, not when people simply believe there is.
This review of the scientific literature regarding MSG is so comprehensive.
This evidence-based safety review of the flavor enhancer monosodium l-glutamate (MSG) was triggered by its global use and recent studies expressing some safety concerns.
This article obtained information through search of evidence-based scientific databases, especially the US National Library of Medicine NIH.
(A) MSG is a water-soluble salt of glutamate, a non-essential amino acid, normally synthesized in the body and prevalent in protein foods. (B) MSG is utilized world-wide for its “umami” taste and flavor enhancement qualities, (C) the human body does not discriminate between glutamate present in food and that added as seasoning, (D) glutamate metabolism is compartmentalized in the human body without reported ethnic differences, (E) glutamate does not passively cross biological membranes, (F) food glutamate is completely metabolized by gut cells as energy source and serves as key substrate for other important metabolites in the liver, (G) normal food use of MSG is dose-dependent and self-limiting without elevation in plasma glutamate, (H) the recent EFSA acceptable daily intake (30mg/kg body weight/day) is not attainable when MSG is consumed at normal dietary level, (I) scientists have not been able to consistently elicit reactions in double-blind studies with ‘sensitive’ individuals using MSG or placebo in food.
Based on the above observations (A-I), high quality MSG is safe for all life-cycle stages without respect to ethnic origin or culinary background. MSG researchers are advised to employ appropriate scientific methodologies, consider glutamate metabolism and its normal food use before extrapolating pharmacological rodent studies to humans.
Sugar is harmful as well. Because it is a billion dollar business it’s not going anywhere. Thanks for the msg info. Anything with preservatives or artificial flavors is slowly killing us.
When all of those initial reports of msg “syndrome” were published it was during that oddly forgotten era in American history when Asian Americans were severely distrusted and discriminated against. Worth looking up for sure. Shoutout to Renegade.
(Unblind My Mind: What are we eating?: Dr. Katherine Reid at [email protected])
Thanks for the information. We need more people to start learning about these types of food issues…
Read Your Research says
Hey, here’s the abstract on your third source, on the double blind study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9215242
It concludes that there is no definitive link between MSG and the symptoms that those in the trial underwent were linked. If you’re going to cite something, make sure it actually supports your argument.
Stephan Sturm says
The title of this article is just as sensationalist as it is scientifically inaccurate.
The FDA has done extensive research on this topic and has dubbed it generally safe for consumption. The studies with the most repeatable, scientifically sound research methods have all come to the conslision that MSG is not harmful to nearly all individuals. Your assertation that since it was discovered only 100 years ago so it must be bad is completely lacking in basic knowledge of science. It is in line with the idea ‘that all chemicals are bad’. MSG is in tomatoes and parmasean cheese, tomatoes have existed for a pretty long time as far as I know. Isolation of a chemical does not make it bad.
People like you are misusing your platform that could be used as a genuine source of knowledge and providing a false narrative that fits your preconceived notion. You are misleading your readers whether intentionally or not.
Crazy article. Science can be dangerous when in the wrong hands.
John Wasot says
ridiculous article. MSG or monosodium glutamate is found in mushrooms, tomatoes, and all other sorts of natural foods. In fact, monosodium is aso known as oh wait, table salt. there is nothing wrong with MSG. The FDA determined all of the stated “effects” do not actually physically occur, it is simply that you imagine it and threfore it “occurs”. The placebo effect us way stronger than you think. The Science is in? what a load of crap.
shady sources: √
Ignoring evidence that MSG is very unlikely to be dangerous: √
Ignoring the fact that a high intake of nearly anything including water will kill you, while failing to describe what a high intake is in this case: √
Ignoring that MSG and Umami are present in a lot of natural food sources that don’t present people with any of the ‘symptoms’ you describe: √
Ignoring the fact that people can eat tonnes of Chinese food without ever displaying symptoms: √
Building up an article as if it were scientific, sourced and referenced, but failing to adhere to any of the other requirements for scientific research/articles – making it pseudo science: √
I suggest you use articles from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ or https://www.pedro.org.au (you should check the PEDro scale, just for kicks).
Even research.net would be a lot better, since it has actual scientists discussing topics, instead of people on a ‘mission’.
Your information is a tad bit inaccurate, the mice were INJECTED with MSG, which can cause the brain damage and other adverse affects but when INGESTED it is almost entirely broke down in the digestive system. There was also multiple double-blind studies down that shown the subjects had no adverse affects. I’m still skeptical about MSG as well but I do not think your article is completely factual and you should further review your information.
Jaclyn cherro says
Do you have a list of ingredients that also contain MSG? My son is ordered by the Mayo clinic to avoid it because of migraines. As being new to this it feels impossible. Please help!
Charlie Miles says
This is a really bad article. No, MSG isn’t dangerous, it’s just a mixture of racism and people thinking eating something that isn’t “natural” will kill you.
Charlie Miles says
No, MSG is NOT bad for you, people only say that due to a mixture of centuries of racism and xenophobia combines with the fear that anything that isn’t “natural”, (or simply anything with a science sounding acronym), will kill you.
Guess what, sugar is bad. Fat is bad. Carbohyrdrates are bad. Everything is bad in excessive quantaties. Msg, like many others, are fine when not consumed to excess. Stop fear mongering. You are the problem.
There is an urgent need to tell this to people in Asia, especially India and Indonesia. But way more short and most important: In their mother tongue. MSG is sold in huge bags of 1 to 5kg. Common amount for a normal meal is about one spoon!
Your ‘sources’ are all from books and without citations.
More like ‘Sciencerenegade’
You’re right – the science is in. MSG is perfectly safe. Your only ‘scientific proof’ is a citation of the book ‘Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills’. The author of that book believes in chemtrails and that vaccines are harmful. He’s a non-scientific, deluded conspiracy theorist. In the book, he misinterprets and cherry picks scientific papers, without actually caring about what science actually shows. He quotes some of them out of context.
It is thus unreasonable to think that MSG is bad, because there is no solid evidence to show this.
msg is a poison, it has taken a lifetime to figure out that msg was killing me with migraine sickening headaches. Now I have found another chemical that is equally as bad Disodium phosphate Avoid it or be ill.
Trilak Jaisi says
Bullshit. According to this article all asians should be brain dead.
These people who PR MSG are to be arrested and charged for chemical violence en-masse as domestic terrorists and send to a psyh ward. Stop tolerating the evil and demand answers as to why they are poisoning us and lying about it.
I don’t even know why I bother to comment on such articles, but as a professional food scientist, (PHD microbiology), I feel compelled. As is so often the case, the internet is full of Google experts who have no formal education in a field they proport to be expert in. The author of this post would seem to fall into that category, as least as far as MSG is concerned.
In a word, this article is junk science at its finest. For one thing the author bases much of her knowledge on a book called, “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills”. This book was written back in 1994, by Dr. Russell Blaylock. At the time he was a respected neurosurgeon, but in the years that followed he found it more profitable to promote whacky, unsubstantiated pseudoscientific claims, write books about the same, sell nutritional supplements and generally destroy his reputation as a respected scientist. His MSG theories were criticized as being unsubstantiated by virtually every reputable health organization in the US from the Food and Drug Administration to the American Cancer Society.
The bottom line is that MSG, is not toxic any more than gluten is toxic. Yes, some people have reported sensitivity to MSG, as they have to gluten, but that doesn’t make wheat flour toxic (source of gluten). Yes, if you consume too much MSG, there could be a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier causing some temporary neurologic effects, but for this to happen you would have to consume enormous amounts of MSG, that way exceed any reasonable dietary intake. The same can be said for alcohol, in fact alcohol has been scientifically proven, by thousands of reputable scientists, to highly toxic if over consumed. I wonder if Ms. Michaelis has ever had a glass of wine? Maybe we should label wine as toxic! Enough of the silly comparisons, I think you get the idea.
It’s a free Country and I’m sure that Ms. Michaelis is a wonderful person who cares about the world, but in my opinion if she’s going to claim that a given food product is toxic, then she better be able to back that opinion up with a sound educational foundation. You don’t get such an education from the internet. When it comes to chemistry (MSG is a chemical) and the human body, things aren’t as simple as they seem. This is truly a case where a little knowledge is dangerous.
Fortunately there are rational people like you that will take the time to post and dispel this nonsense. I find that the Anti-MSGers tend to also be Anit-vaxers, flat earthers and just generally gullible conspiracy theorists. These groups overlap a lot, and it quickly becomes evident when talking to them that there’s something in their personality that actually takes comfort in believing these things. It’s like they’re so scared of the big bad world that having identifiable threats, be it MSG, vaccines or the illuminati, gives them s sense of comfort and control. “If I just avoid (vaccines, MSG, gluten) then everything will be fine and I’ll be safe.”
The danger comes when they spread these lies and get people believing them. While maybe them avoiding MSG isn’t harming anyone else, when these ideas and tactics are ported over to the anti-vaccine community then we all end up in danger. This bad science needs stamped out where ever it grows, because ultimately it isn’t harmless.
I love foods with MSG. Love love love. Cheetos, soy sauce, Campbell’s soups, ranch, cheap ramen, etc. In my mid teens I started swelling up (hands and face) though I was a serious athlete and ended up at a division one university on full scholarship for running. That is to say I had very little body fat but an extremely swollen face most of the time. It wasn’t until grad school when I underwent my first water fast, the swelling disappeared after day 4 or 5 (7 day total) and was “clean” that I realized the swelling was an allergic reaction, and I reintroduced foods until I found the culprit was all in the MSG filled foods that I craved all the time. I do not have reactions from tomatoes, mushrooms, some seaweeds at least (I eat sushi) or I guess what you’d call natural sources, but I recently went to a new Asian restaurant and within an hour my hands (normally bones and veins easily visible) were so swollen my fingers couldn’t bend. My eyes had so much pressure behind them my vision pulsed with my heart beat. To all the people thinking this crap is made up, just know I would eat MSG filled foods in an instant if it didn’t cause this reaction. They taste great and my body craves it, but I’m thankful I’ve figured out what to avoid (at least for myself) so I can live reaction free. Even when I was running 12+ miles with 7 of it at interval pace every day with multiple workouts throughout the day my metabolism couldn’t keep up with the “poison” removal.
Can’t disclose says
Sorry mate, but your claim that msg is harmful to baby health is unfounded and a absolute lie! In fact msg is found in BREAST MILK. Another reason is that even if you are not conciously aware of eating msg your body is so based on the stigma around it it will cause you to develop these symptoms as a sort of placebo affect.
“Based on the above observations (A-I), high quality MSG is safe for all life-cycle stages without respect to ethnic origin or culinary background. MSG researchers are advised to employ appropriate scientific methodologies, consider glutamate metabolism and its normal food use before extrapolating pharmacological rodent studies to humans.”
Much of your “science” is from well known anti vaccine quack Russell Blaylock. Alarmist and conspiracy minded blogs like this are doing a disservice and causing unjustified hysteria.
I absolutely love that Kristen Michaelis endorses drinking alcohol in her profile while using “science” to provide msg terrible. What a hypocrite this author is..
Maria Raukar says
Edwin S Anthony says
Thanks for the research indeed.
I don’t need anyt double blind studies etc to prove that irr is or isn’t due to suggestion. I live in a country where the Chinese douse all their food in this rubbish. When i have it, I sometimes get a bad reaction, and sometimes I don’t, even though it is the same food but from different stores. And we all get the same reactions, thirst, excitability, stress, etc.
Many of the Chinese I know complain of sleepless nights and resort to pills. But I think that msg is a ticking time bomb where you really feel its effects when things aren’t so good in your life. Till then, it’s negative energies are basically channeled into work, etc. However, since the Chinese generally don’t question their culture and ways of doing things, whilst ignoring all others, they don’t realise that the problem might be their food. For myself, I have helped out quite a few Chinese who have these problems amongst others.
And yes, it is cumulative as well, and hence, we need to stay off their food for a while before having it again. Mental issues are also on the rise here. People could say it is the high stress Chinese dog-eat-dog environment, but I suspect that when paired with msg meals throughout the day, and from childhood, it exacerbates matters.
And another thing worthy of note is that conversations with the Chinese here are generally dull, unimaginative, and they have very short attention spans, especially in the face of new information and contradiction. That can be culturally – induced though. But I wonder if feeding their children msg-laden food from about 8, and eating it for almost all meals, has an effect. Economically they might do well, but I suppose all the energies from msg is channelled there whilst it compromises them in other respects.
For myself, after what I personally experienced myself, I’d rather err on the side of caution and minimise it.
Geraldine Chua says
Nah, I’ve been eating MSG since I was 2 years old. I am not 40. I don’t have any side effects, whatever facts given. Stop writing non sense. Research this and that doesn’t really matter. If it’s really bad for health, everyone in Asia would have BRAIN DAMAGE.
Blalock is a notorious quack. As soon as you cite him you lose all credibility.
The amount of comments on this post are amazing! I encourage further research of MSG but I was raised on it and am doing pretty damn fine. I actually purchased a bag today after many many years of removing it from our kitchen and was doing some additional reading.
I believe anything in excess has potential to harm (which so many MSG studies on animals use it to such excess- but so many others have addressed the holes in this discussion). I also believe that some people are sensitive to MSG just like some can’t process lactose, some gluten etc. etc. Like I said above, it never hurts to learn more about what we eat, but there are so many other food items we eat that worry me more than MSG at this juncture.
My biggest issue with this post is the roots of the MSG scare were inherently racist and the fact that you completely circumvent even addressing that is pretty frustrating and very typical of white foodie culture.
You mention many studies but cite none. Only a well with a for profit book. Not a study or science, but his hypothosis. There are an amazing amount of cited studies on this. Factoid. Our bodies produce MSG- if someone has developed a sensitivity to this, wouldn’t that alone cause over stimulation of their nervous system? Seems like junk science.
I put MSG in a lot of my food and it’s funny when this topic comes up in conversation and they say MSG always gives them headaches and the sweats. Yet they have been eating my food for a long time and when I asked if they liked my food they said absolutely. But now that I have told them that I add it, all of a sudden they now get sweats. It’s all in their head.
Msg is a simple amino acid that was given a bad reputation by a racist Canadian Dr who lied about deletorious health effects he concocted, along with vaccines causing autism this is one of the great medical hoaxes of late last century where one dishonest but licensed individuals lies have gained mass credence purely through belief and media proliferstion. But hey feel free to carry on, you’re obviously making good money from your bedtime stories.
Critical Thinker says
Russell L Blaylock (born 1945) is an alternative health promoting physician who lives in Jackson, Miss. Blaylock has appeared all over the food-related advocacy space and has been around the voodoo health claims circuit.
Among his earlier campaigns Blaylock opposed food additives like aspartame and MSG. He had a wagon-full of junk science claims in his book regarding ‘excitotoxins’–a term he helped coin that is found in several homeopathic and alternative health snake oil sales sites.  Blaylock also promotes chemtrail conspiracies alleging cancer-causing nanoparticles as being purposefully released into the atmosphere in a government-corporate scheme. Skeptic’s Dictionary and QuackWatch call him an anti-vaxxer  while selling his own line of “Brain Repair Formula” supplements. He has been called “quack of the day” by The Vaccine Conspiracy Theorist.
Tom Tom 408 says
There are adds MSG spices or Flavor Enhancer for Amazon right below your picture. LOL!
Quyen La says
MSG is digested and metabolized the same way that glutamate found in foods is – your body can’t tell the difference. Because chemically they are the same – a tomato (glutamate) sprinkled with salt (sodium) is chemically equivalent to MSG. It’s also made through a simple, natural fermentation process. You start with a carbohydrate source like cassava, sugar cane, or corn, ferment it, and glutamic acid is created. A sodium ion is then added to make it crystallized and stable (so that we can sprinkle it and put it to good use!).
There’s no solid scientific data to back up the fear around MSG. Its stigma is unwarranted and frankly, unjust. I’m not saying we all need to go out and buy MSG shakers (although I have one in my cupboard and it’s adorably panda-shaped) but I think we all need to get honest with ourselves about where our perceptions of MSG stem from and be open to challenging our preconceived notions. And I’ll leave you with a quote from Jeffery Steingarten, an American Food Writer, that basically sums up how I feel about MSG in a nutshell, “If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?”
This is such a great article! Informative, well written, and with all your sources cited. Thank you!
Thank you for posting this. People need to know that nutritional yeast has harmful msg. It’s very popular with vegans.
Samuel Agbonika says
Hi there. Your article is very interesting.
I tried to click on the link you posted at the end of the article about a list of MSG containing ingredients but the link was dead. Please i would like you to repost it. Thank you