Although the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has categorized monosodium glutamate or MSG, a type of food additive, as generally safe for consumption, a lot of people have reported experiencing side effects after consuming food that contains MSG. The additive is typically used to enhance the flavor of various packaged food products and in numerous meals served in restaurants.
MSG, first identified as a natural flavor enhancer in seaweed, is an neurotoxin that can overexcite your cells which can cause damage, or even cell death. They man-made version that hit the food market consist out of almost 80 percent free glutamic acid and 20 percent sodium.
Glutamic acids works as a nerve stimulant which tricks your brain in believing that something tastes more savory or protein rich than it actually is.
MSG Symptom Complex
Some unwanted side effects of MSG were first reported and published way back in 1968. These included heart palpitations, weakness, and numbness in the arms and around the nape area. Other symptoms have been reported since, and a heated debate is going on among medical professionals on the possible link to MSG.
The FASEB or the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, as commissioned by the FDA, released its findings about possible effects of MSG. These included: experiencing a burning sensation at the back of the neck, chest, and forearms, facial tightness or pressure, heart palpitation, chest pain, nausea, headache, numbness starting from the nape and radiating down to the back and arms, warmth or tingling in the upper body, weakness, and drowsiness. Collectively, these symptoms are classified by the FASEB as the MSG symptom complex.
All types of MSG (the free glutamic acid that appears in food as a result of the manufacturing process) can lead to these reactions particularly in people who are sensitive to MSG. These include the MSG found in AuxiGro (a plant growth enhancer) and those found in various other fungicides and fertilizers that have previously been approved for use on growing crops that include the so-called “organic” crops.
Symptoms Resulting from MSG Side Effects or Reactions
Various independent studies have been conducted on the food additive, and majority show that the following symptoms can result from MSG side effects or reactions:
Circulatory – swelling.
Cardiac – atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, rapid heartbeat, tachycardia, slow heartbeat, palpitations, angina, and extreme drop or rise in blood pressure.
Muscular – joint pains, flu-like aches, and stiffness.
Gastrointestinal – vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, stomach cramps, and bloating.
Visual – difficulty in focusing, blurred vision, and pressure around the eyes.
Neurological – mood swings, depression, anxiety, mental confusion, disorientation, panic attacks, behavioral problems in kids, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, sleepiness, lethargy, insomnia, seizures, paralysis or numbness, sciatica, shakes and chills, slurred speech, and shuddering.
Respiratory – shortness of breath, asthma, tightness in the chest, runny nose, chest pain, and sneezing.
Skin – rash, hives (internal, external or both), partial or temporary paralysis, mouth lesions, tingling or numbness of the skin, extreme dryness in the mouth, flushing, tongue swelling, face swelling, and bags under eyes.
Genital / Urological – prostate swelling, frequent bladder pain, vaginal spotting, vaginal swelling, nocturia, and frequent urination.
Side Effect Onset and Duration
The potential side effects that form part of the MSG symptom complex are expected to come anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes after MSG consumption, and are expected to disappear on their own in less than 2 hours. In the few instances when bouts of asthma were directly linked to the consumption of MSG-laden food, the symptoms were noted within 1 to 12 hours after consumption of the additive.
Although there were limited studies on people with chronic cases of hives, results showed that skin reactions were triggered within 1 hour to 1 day. The affected participants were apparently MSG-sensitive.
Make Sure to Read Food Labels
With all these possible side effects I think it’s clear MSG should be avoided, even if the FDA claims it to be alright. Eliminating MSG from your diet may be one of the hardest things to do as it is hiding everywhere and many alias names are used for the same substance.
Here’s a list of common ingredients that always contain MSG:
- Autolyzed yeast
- Yeast Extract
- Yeast Nutrient
- Monopotassium Glutamate
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Glutamic Acid
- Textured Protein
- Hydrolyzed Protein
- Calcium Caseinate
- Sodium Caseinate
- Yeast food
Also scan labels for these ingredients as MSG is often added or created during processing
- Flavor, flavorings, seasonings or all phrases containing one of these words
- Soy sauce
- Stock, broth
- Malt extract
- Worcestershire sauce
- Kombu extract
- Powdered milk
- Barley malt
- Anything enzyme modified
- Corn starch
- Soy Protein or soy protein isolate
- Anything ultra-pasteurized
- Anything protein fortified
The best way to avoid MSG is to avoid all processed food and opt for a clean, whole food diet. One last little tip. Add plenty of vitamin C rich foods and ginger to your diet. They have shown powerful protective effects against MSG.