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The MSG Report: The Flavor of Disease

compiled by Matt Marchant

     You’ve heard of MSG right, but what is it, and what’s the problem with it? It’s only put into certain types of food right? Well, it is a big problem for the body and brain and unfortunately its being put into just about everything. MSG is being used in such abundance, because the flavoring of food has become more valuable to us than the functioning our bodies. I would even add that the monetary profits for food manufactures has become more important than the health of their customers.

     Many people believe that they are not eating anything with MSG, but I would like to expose the facts, and help show you that MSG is in far more things than you realize. I invite you to consider that what you are eating may be leading you right into a disease, even death. Sound to far fetched, keep reading.

What is MSG?

     MSG is short for monosodium glutamate. MSG is not a nutrient and it is not necessary for the human body. MSG is the salt from glutamic acid, an amino acid. Glutamic acid may be bound (naturally occurring), or free (processed). For our purposes, it is the free glutamic acid that is in question.

     MSG is on the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) list of the FDA. It is not considered a food additive, but an unregulated seasoning classed by the FDA as a flavor enhancer. Section 101.22 of the Federal Code of Regulations Part H(5) requires MSG to be listed on the food label, but the same regulations allow “natural flavoring” and hydrolyzed proteins to be defined in such a way, that MSG can be hidden from the consumer. This means many people may unexpectedly be consuming MSG.

     MSG is a neurotoxin. This means that it is toxic to the human nervous system. It over-excites the nerves in both the brain and stomach to the point of nerve death. This action is called excitotoxicity.

How does MSG work?

     Taste relies primarily on the perception of stimuli through the taste buds located in the small depressions on the tongue. When stimulated, these taste buds transmit electrical signals to the brain which interpret the variety of signals, and form an overall impression. The brain is like a television set receiving a variety of signals. Eventually an image is formed which is perceived as “taste”. MSG placed on the tongue stimulates these electrical discharges, making the “picture” more intense.

The History of MSG:

     MSG was first developed in 1908 by chemist Dr. Kikkunae Ikeda. The Japanese had been using a type of seaweed named “kombu” as seasoning for the last thousand years, and Dr. Ikeda wanted to find out what it was in the seaweed that made it such a good flavor-enhancing substance. His work was inspired by and dependent upon the work of German chemists Rittenhausen and Wolff in the 1860s. They did work with animal proteins and amino acids, particularly glutamic acid, but they were pure scientists and had no interest or knowledge of cooking or flavor-enhancing. Their goal was to identify the chemical properties of these various protein substances.

     Dr. Ikeda went to Germany in 1889 to learn more from the two chemists, and in 1890, glutamic acid was synthesized. After several years of learning the chemical techniques of identification and synthesis he went back to Japan where he began to investigate seaweed. He discovered that the active extract of the flavorful seaweed had the characteristics of glutamic acid, and that this active substance was monosodium glutamate (MSG), the sodium salt of glutamic acid.

     He knew that he discovered something profitable and that it had many possible applications, so he secured a patent in 1909. Dr. Ikeda teamed up with former pharmacist Saburosuke Suzuki, and the two created “Ajinomoto”, the brand name for MSG. Ajinomoto was also their trademark and later the name of the company that would first produce MSG. Ajinomoto translates to mean “At the Origin of Flavor”.

     Ajinomoto did not find easy acceptance in the U.S, but by 1933, Japanese production of MSG had reached ten million pounds per year, and became the most important flavoring in Asia. In 1925, James E. Larrowe owner of a milling company contacted the Suzuki Spice Company for the help in the profitable disposal of “waste water”, which is a residue of the processing of sugar from sugar beets which contains a substantive amount of glutamic acid. He had tried almost every possible use for his waste water including anti-freeze for automobiles, but was finally advised by chemist Dr. Elmer McCollum, to begin manufacturing glutamate (MSG) with this waste product.

     The Amino Products Corporation, created by Larrowe, started the manufacture of MSG in the U.S., but it was still not an accepted ingredient in American food. Ironically, the Japanese’s use of Ajinomoto (MSG) in military rations where eventually noticed by the U.S. soldiers during World War II. After the war conferences where held to discuss use of this flavoring agent particularly in prepared foods for the army field rations, as well as for the newly created frozen food industry. The canned food industry, which started to take off after the war, was also in need of flavor enhancement for the the “tin” taste attributed to its products.

     In 1948, the first symposium in the U.S. on MSG was held in Chicago and was presided over by the Chief Quartermaster of the Armed Forces. Some of the companies and agencies represented where: Campbell Foods, Nestles, Borden, Pillsbury Oscar-Mayer, United Airline Food Service, National Live-Stock and Meat Board, and the Food Acceptance Branch of the Quartermaster Food and Container Institute of the Armed Forces. Some of the qualities attributed to MSG during this symposium where: “suppresses undesirable flavors”, “increases flavor and odor appeal”, “suppresses bitterness and sourness”, and “enhances acceptability”. The most interesting statement made about MSG, was by Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, who said that glutamates might be able to “raise the I.Q. of feeble minded people”, based upon current experiments.

     MSG had discovered America, and the United States food industry responded with open arms. This meeting marked an American revolution in food with consequences for millions and millions of people for many years to come. We are still living through the consequences.

Why is MSG used?

MSG has two uses: First, it is a flavor enhancer, and second it prevents food from tasting old or stale even after it has expired or sat out too long.

MSG has one reason for its use: Money. It is cheap and there is no shortage in production. Rather than adding expensive herbs or seasoning, MSG and MSG-related products can “enhance” flavor at a fraction of the cost. It helps to improve the sale of food that has sat out too long or food that has no flavor to begin with. The history and growth of the human race, with the exception of the last one hundred years, has followed this simple rule in regards to food: things that taste sweet or salty have nutrients within. This has been programmed within us for our survival. When we eat something that is sweet or salty due to artificial or chemical flavors, and there are no nutrients to back up the taste, our brain says eat more because we have not gotten to the nutrients yet. The problem is that we will never get those nutrients, we are unable to absorb them or in many cases, they do not exist in food products containing
MSG. This is why we tend to overeat processed foods - the body is looking for substance and continues to eat until it is found.

What are the reactions to ingesting MSG?

     Reactions to MSG show a wide range of problems from mild annoyances that can be socially disabling, to severe symptoms that can be life threatening. Dr. Roger Williams, in his book, Biochemical Individuality, profoundly said that “We are all biochemically unique and need to be dealt with as such”. It is therefore very important for us to understand our own bodies and how toxins effect us personally, not necessarily how they effect others around us or those in a research study.

“It is now well known that significant biochemical diversity occurs in such physiological functions
as the ability of the individual to detoxify both exogenous and endogenous substances [toxins]... These
are all examples of how nutritional status can influence disease patterns based upon biochemical
individuality.” - Dr. Roger Williams 1956

Translation: What you eat will affect you, whether positive or negative. Your unique genetic makeup
can be negatively affected in different ways than in others. Those negative affects may be disease
and/or death.

A list of a few of the first research studies on MSG:

  • 1968: Dr. Ho Man Kwok, New England Journal of Medicine - “The most prominent symptoms are numbness at the back of the neck gradually radiating to both arms and the back, and general weakness and palpitation.”
  • 1969: Dr. Herbert Schaumberg, Science, the official Journal of the American Academy of Science - “MSG can produce undesirable effects in the amounts used in the preparation of widely consumed foods”. They discovered that one bowl of soup (6-7 oz.) could precipitate symptoms in an MSG-sensitive person, and this occurred at a dose of 3 grams, which is less than the amount commonly used for flavor enhancement.
  • 1976: Dr. Liane Reif-Lehrer, New England Journal of Medicine - reported a case that involved a 16 month old child who developed what where described as “shivers”. The symptoms disappeared when her diet was changed to eliminate MSG. Also, a 14 year old boy who experienced intense headaches and vomiting, whose symptoms where traced back MSG, and the episodes where controlled after eliminating MSG.
  • 1977: Dr Liane Reif-Lehrer, Federation Proceedings (called to testify on glutamate before the Federation of American Societies for the Experimental Biology Select Committee on GRAS [Generally Recognized As Safe] substances) - “...it would seem the better part of our wisdom not to have unrestricted use of this material until further research has been done concerning possible subtle and long range effects of this amino acid [free glutamic acid] in humans.”
  • 1977: Dr. Deitmar Gann, Southern Medical Journal - “MSG can produce not only the feeling of chest pressure and pain, but it can cause serious heart irregularities in susceptible individuals.”

There are also anecdotal studies:

  • 1978: Dr. Arthur Coleman, who began collecting data after he detected two dramatic cases of reactions to MSG. He made the connection of MSG and depression and concluded “There are obvious neurochemical clinical and social implications of this psychiatric syndrome”.

There are of course thousands more research studies and anecdotal case studies on MSG to read through for those interested.

It is interesting and concerning that the many negative effects of MSG have been documented for
decades, but the FDA still regards it as a “Generally Recognized As Safe” substance.

Symptoms of MSG Reactivity:

Gastrointestinal:

  • cramps
  • diarrhea
  • nausea

General and Chest:

  • tightness around face
  • tingling/burning in face and chest
  • tightness in chest, chest pain
  • weakness and fatigue
  • dizziness

Eye Symptoms:

  • blurring of vision
  • burning eyes
  • seeing shinning lights
  • sensitive to lights and colors
  • difficulty focusing
  • tingling around eyes
  • pressure on eyes

Other Symptoms:

  • chills, shakes
  • anxiety and tenseness
  • numbness of face
  • water retention
  • speech slurred
  • thirst
  • muscle aches, muscle/joint stiffness - may be mistaken as arthritis and tendonitis
  • sleepiness
  • asthma
  • heaviness of arms and legs
  • excessive perspiration
  • insomnia
  • balance problems and staggering
  • PMS-like symptoms - PMS itself may be worsened or possibly even initiated by the use of MSG.

Children’s Symptoms:

  • behavioral problems - hyperactivity for example.
  • stomach cramps
  • chest discomfort
  • thirst
  • headache
  • stomachache
  • tiredness, depression
  • loss of bowel or bladder control - bed wetting or during the day.
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • throat symptoms
  • epileptic-like symptoms

Children are not little versions of adults. Children’s bodies and minds are not fully developed and are extremely sensitive to toxins. Since the FDA has not determined a safe level of MSG for adults, the consumption of MSG by infants and children then, can be much more dangerous.

Allergic-like Symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Asthma, shortness of breath - Asthma may be precipitated by MSG, as reported by Drs. Allen and Baker in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in October, 1987. According to government statistics, the overall death rate from asthma increased 23% between 1980 and 1985. The rise “astonishes medical professional,” according to the Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, February 18, 1987, pg. 29).
  • Sneezing
  • Running nose

Peripheral Nervous System Symptoms:

  • Flushing
  • Jaw tightness
  • Headache
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest tightening
  • Diarrhea, stomach cramps

Central Nervous System Symptoms:

  • Depression - Depression is a subtle psychological symptom in its earliest form. Symptoms may vary, but all depressive conditions share certain features: sadness, slowed motor activity, less self-confidence, and what is considered the cardinal symptom - anhedonia, which is the absence of pleasure. Put simply, anhedonic people fail to experience the usual satisfaction from their life and activities. This is becoming increasingly concerning as we find more people becoming depressed at much younger ages. With the tendency of children and teens to eat processed foods at home and at fast food restaurants, their dose of MSG is ever increasing. Since depression has been seen clinically for hundreds of years, it is obvious that it has causes other than MSG. Yet, from research and case studies, the conclusion is inevitable that some of the of increasing depression in our society is, in fact, caused and proliferated by increasing and continuing dosages of MSG.
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia

     Obviously, any of these symptoms can be present without the use of MSG, but these are the reported symptoms from both research and case studies. Symptoms give us a signal that “something” is not right within the body. No one can argue that these are normal or desirable. So when these symptoms are present, it would be advised to carefully look at what you or the patient is consuming first, as a opposed to prescribing medication for said symptoms.

Deal with the cause, do not just treat the symptom.

Diseases and disorders associated with MSG:

  • All neurological disorders including - Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or Stroke.
  • Cancer - stomach, brain, kidney, or liver.
  • Brain and eye disorder - retina degeneration, Huntington's chorea, dementia, or Alzheimer's.

Can I just be allergic to MSG?

     It is very important for us to come to an understanding of the difference between allergy and toxicity. First let’s discuss a food allergy. A food allergy is an immune system reaction to a specific food that would normally for others, not be harmful. This is based upon your unique genetic make-up. You are born with food allergy, you do not develop one. A food allergy may be provoked by just touching a food.

     Toxicity refers to the adverse effects of chemical and/or physical agents on all living organisms. These are unwanted reactions and the term adverse can range from injury to death. Chemical agents can either be manufactured like MSG, or naturally occurring like bacteria or fungus. Physical agents refer to things like temperature or noise, which are not the focus of this report. These adverse effects can often be overlooked and reduce the quality of life aspects such as impaired judgement or slowed response time. Both of which can lead to serious physical injury or emotional dysfunction.

     MSG creates a toxicity within the body. This is much different than what a food allergy is. A toxin has an affect on all human organisms. The response may be completely different due to two factors: 1. the size of dose, and 2. the size of the person ingesting it. It is the lack of symptoms that confuse us into thinking that MSG is an allergic reaction, when it is a toxic response. A toxin is toxic whether or not your body immediately reacts to it. Not all reactions are “felt”, but if ingested enough you will most likely come to know about it.

How does MSG get into the body?

     Most MSG finds its way into the body through our mouth by what we eat and drink. It is in more than just processed foods. Many restaurants use MSG-related products in their food. A healthy piece of fish can be glazed with artificial and chemical additives. It is safe to say that all fast food restaurants use MSG in some form. Basically, the more processed a food, meaning further away from its natural state, the greater the chance of it containing MSG or having MSG used in its processing. Many medications and nutritional supplements contain them as well. MSG is also used in the IV fluid given at hospitals.

     A lessor known method of transport is through the skin. The skin absorbs 60% of what you put on. Many beauty and skin care products contain MSG. Currant label laws do not require cosmetic companies to list every ingredient.

Which ingredients are MSG-related?

These ingredients Always contain processed free glutamic acid:

Ingredient Code Notes
Glutamic acid (E 620)2 X A * Non-essential amino acid; source of hidden MSG when used singly and out of balance with other amino acids as a result of food manufacturing; may be genetically modified. Glutamic acid found in unadulterated protein does not cause adverse. To cause adverse reactions, the glutamates acid must have been processed/manufactured or come from protein that has been fermented. Europe labels glutamic acid as: (E 620)2
Glutamate (E 620) X A Is an important chemical that relays electrical signals between nerve cells and other cells: too much can excite brain cells to death; may be genetically modified. Europe labels glutamate as: (E 620).
Glutamic acid hydrochloride X A * See Glutamate
Monosodium glutamate (E 621) X A * See Glutamate. Used as a flavor enhancer.
Monopotassium glutamate (E 622) X A * See Glutamate. May cause nausea & gastrointestinal upset. Also: potassium glutamate. Used as a flavor enhancer.
Calcium glutamate (E 623) N/A See Glutamate
Monoammonium glutamate (E 624) X A * See Glutamate. Used as a flavor enhancer.
Magnesium glutamate (E 625) N/A See Glutamate
Natrium glutamate X A See Glutamate
Yeast extract X A Used as a flavor enhancer. Maxarome Select is a “new technology” yeast extract that is intended to replace MSG; can be listed on labels as “yeast extract”. Produced by DSM, one of the largest biotech companies in Europe. The company claims it is all natural but does not define “new technology”.
Anything “hydrolyzed” X A Examples: Hydrolyzed corn gluten & Hydrolyzed vegetable starch, which most likely may be genetically modified. May contain up to 20% MSG.
Any “hydrolyzed protein” X A Examples: Hydrolyzed plant, pea, wheat, whey, corn or vegetable protein, which most likely may be genetically modified. May cause brain and nervous system disorders in INFANTS; high salt and glutamic acid content; may be corn, soy, or wheat based. At present there is an FDA requirement to include the protein source when listing hydrolyzed protein products on labels of processed food. If a tomato, for example, where whole, it would be identified as “tomato”. Calling an ingredient “tomato protein” indicates that the tomato has been hydrolyzed, at least in part, and that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is present. May be listed on products as HPP or HVP in order to hide as a MSG source. May contain up to 20% MSG.
Calcium caseinate X A Used as a texturizer.
Sodium caseinate X A * Used as a texturizer.
Yeast food, yeast nutrient X A See Glutamate
Yeast - malt sprout extract X A See Glutamate. Used as a flavor enhancer.
Autolyzed yeast X A See Glutamate
Gelatin X A * Hydrolyzed collagen protein; contains MSG; may contain sulfur dioxide (inadequate evidence to classify sulfur dioxide as a carcinoagen, IARC Group 3; on the EPA Extremely Hazardous Substances list)
Gelatine X A see Gelatin
Textured protein X A Examples: Textured soy (TSP) & vegetable (TVP) protein. Made from soy which most likely may be genetically modified; chemically processed at very high heat; may be contaminated with carcinogenic and mutagenic heterocyclic amines; may be contaminated with aluminum; contains high levels of phylates which bind minerals and make them unavailable to your body. Used as a filler.
Vetsin N/A The Chinese version of MSG
Ajinomoto X A The “Original” MSG from Japan
Accent X A Another brand name for MSG

These ingredients OFTEN contain processed free glutamic acid:

Ingredient Code Notes
Carrageenan (E 407) C Used as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and/or thickener. Undegraded or native carrageenan has not caused cancer in test animals; inadequate information to determine carcinogenicity in humans, listed in IARC Group 3. Degraded carrageenan has caused cancer in rats; possible human carcinogen, listed in IARC Group 2B; product labels do not distinguish between degraded and undegraded carrageenan. SHOULD NOT be given to infants. **
Bouillon X Usually a hidden source of MSG.
Broth C Example: vegetable broth which may contain additives not listed on the label, usually a hidden source of MSG. Used as a flavoring agent.
Stock X Usually a hidden source of MSG.
Any “natural flavors” or “natural flavoring” X A May be chemically extracted and processed and in combination with other food additives not required on the label; any ingredient whose purpose is to add flavor to a food rather than nutritional value; may contain genetically modified ingredients. By food industry definition, all MSG is “naturally occurring”. “Natural” does not mean safe. “Natural” only means that the ingredient started out in nature, like arsenic and hydrochloric acid. Examples: natural beef, chicken or pork flavoring; natural meat tenderizer.
Any “flavors” or “flavoring” whether listed as artificial or not X A see natural flavors. May contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
Maltodextrin X A * a sugar; hydrolyzed corn starch which is most likely genetically modified.
Corn dextrin X * Hydrolyzed corn starch; most likely may be genetically modified.
Citric acid C A * Generally produced by fermentation by yeast (see Yeast) or mold; solvent extracted; may erode tooth enamel; may be corn based which most likely may be genetically modified.
Citrate (E 330) N/A  
Anything “ultra-pasteurized” X  
Barley malt C 1 tablespoon contains 6 grams of sugar. Used as a sweetener.
Pectin (E 440) C * May be commercially prepared with ammonia; may cause flatulence & bloating. Used as an emulsifier, stabilizer & thickener.
Peptones C * Partially hydrolyzed protein. Used as a stabilizer.
Protease, protease enzymes C Enzyme for protein digestion, occurs naturally in the body; when isolated and synthesized is also an exotoxin that can cause cellular damage; may be genetically modified from bacteria.
Anything “enzyme modified” C X Enzymes may be genetically modified. Examples: enzyme-modified fats & soy protein. Used as a flavoring agent.
Anything containing “enzymes” C Enzymes may be genetically modified.
Malt extract, malt flavoring, malted barely, malt syrup C See Barely Malt. Malt extract & syrup are listed as GRAS.
Soy sauce, soy sauce extract X A See Soy isolates
Anything “protein fortified”, protein powder, protein supplements X May be genetically modified. Protein powders contain glutamic acid, which, invariably, will be processed free glutamic acid. Individual amino acids are not always listed on labels of protein powders. Be cautious of protein powders that contain very high levels of glutamic acid, when compared to the other amino acids.
Anything “fermented” C Traditionally fermented foods have long been considered healthy, the fermentation process may cause free glutamates to form.
Seasonings C Contains an unknown blend of seasonings; may be irradiated.
Spices C A Generic term to protect trade secrets; may be a combination of many different spices; may be fumigated or irradiated.
Whey protein, whey protein concentrate X A * A hydrolyzed protein. May contain free glutamates. Whey should always be avoided if lactose intolerant or if you have milk allergies.
Whey protein isolate X A * May contain free glutamates. whey should always be avoided if lactose intolerant or if you have milk allergies.
Anything with added “amino acids” C Amino acids naturally occurring in nature, are always in correct proportions and accompanied by enzymes. Synthetic “amino acids” are chemically derived and the term is used as a hidden source of MSG.
Soy isolates X A * May inhibit nutrient absorption; may be contaminated with nitrates; most likely may be genetically modified
Soy concentrates X A See Soy isolates. Used as a filler.
Soy protein, protein concentrate, protein isolate X A See Hydrolyzed protein, soy isolates and soy concentrates.
Tempeh C One of three soy products with the least amount of soy toxins; most likely may be genetically modified.
Gellan gum C Produced through bacterial fermentation; contains nitrogen containing compounds; eye, skin, mucus membrane & respiratory irritant; harmful if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed; may cause diarrhea; non-toxic in rat studies but toxological properties not fully investigated.

These ingredients are Suspected of containing or creating sufficient processed free glutamic acid to serve as MSG-reaction triggers in highly sensitive people (infants would fall into this category):

Ingredient Code Notes
Corn starch C A * May cause hay fever, eye & nose irritation, most likely is genetically modified. Used as a thickener.
Corn syrup C A * Associated with blood sugar problems, depression, fatigue, B-vitamin deficiency, hyperactivity, tooth decay, periodontal disease, indigestion; most likely may be genetically modified. Used as a sweetener & thickener.
Modified food starch C A * Processed with chemicals of questionable safety; not adequately tested; may be genetically modified. Used as an anti-caking agent, humectant & thickener.
Modified maltodextrin X A see modified food starch & maltodextrin.
Lipolyzed butter fat    
Dextrose C A * See corn syrup. may be genetically modified.
Rice syrup C See barely malt. Used as a sweetener.
Brown rice syrup S 1 tablespoon contains 5 grams of sugars. Associated with sucrose. Used as a sweetener.
Milk solids in reduced fat milk (skim/non-fat, 1%, 2%) C Low fat and non-fat milk products often contain milk solids that contain MSG and many dairy products contain carrageenean (see above), guar gum (C A *, may cause nausea, gastrointestinal upset & bloating), and/or locust bean gum (S *).
most things labeled “low fat” of “non fat” C Contain milk solids (see above). Low fat and non-fat versions of ice cream and cheese may not be as obvious as yogurt, milk, cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc., but they are not exceptions.
Milk powder N/A Contains milk solids (see above).
anything “enriched” N/A  
anything “Vitamin enriched” N/A  

These ingredients Work synergistically with MSG to enhance flavor. If they are present, so is MSG. They would probably not be used as food additives if there where no MSG present:

Ingredient Code Notes
Disodium 5’ - guanylate (E 627) X A A relatively expensive food additive that works synergistically with inexpensive MSG. Can aggravate gout, may be soy or yeast based; most likely may be genetically modified; not adequately tested.
Disodium 5’ - inosinate (E 631) X A A relatively expensive food additive that works synergistically with inexpensive MSG. Can aggravate gout, may be soy or yeast based; most likely may be genetically modified; not adequately tested.
Disodium 5’ - ribonucleotides (E 635) N/A  

Other sources that may contain MSG and/or MSG related additives:

  1. Soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners and cosmetics - MSG is hidden in ingredients with the names that include the words “hydrolyzed”, “amino acids”, and/or “protein”. The skin absorbs 60% of what you put on it. Combine that with hot water which will open your pores up even further, and many additives may enter the body topically.
  2. Sun block creams and insect repellent - see above.
  3. Drinks, candy, chewing gum - all have hidden sources of MSG, aspartame, neotame, and AminoSweet (the new name of aspartame, in order to hide its presence). Aspartic acid, found in neotame, aspartame and AminoSweet, ordinarily causes MSG-type reactions in MSG sensitive people.
  4. Binders and fillers for medications, nutrients and supplements - both prescription and non-prescription drugs, enteral feeding materials and some fluid administered intravenously in hospitals may contain MSG. Many nutritional supplements and vitamins contain binders and fillers that contain or where processed using MSG.
    • During delivery, both mother and baby may receive an I.V. containing MSG.
    • Supplements and vitamins that are designed to improve brain, kidney and liver health may contain MSG related ingredients which is toxic and puts stress directly on those organs.
  5. Vaccines - aside from the fact that vaccines contain many additives/chemical which are rarely disclosed, some do contain L-monosodium glutamate and hydrolyzed gelatin, both of which contain processed free glutamic acid. It would appear that most, if not all, live virus vaccines contain some ingredient(s) that contain MSG.

Codes:

  • C - Caution is advised. The additive may be unsafe, poorly tested, or used in foods we eat too much of.
  • A - The additive may cause allergic reactions.
  • X - The additive is unsafe or very poorly tested.
  • S - There is no known toxicity. The additive appears to be safe.
  • * - Listed on the FDA ‘s GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe)
  • N/A - not available.

Notes:

The uses below, appear on the notes of some of the additive ingredients. This is the purpose for adding it to a product and here are the kinds of products in which you might find that additive:

  1. Anti-caking agent - used in baking powder, nondairy creamer, salt, soft drink powders.
  2. Emulsifier - used in baked goods, cake mixes, candy, chocolate, dairy products, ice cream, margarine, nondairy creamer, peanut butter, pickles, processed meats, shortening, toppings.
  3. Filler - used in processed foods.
  4. Flavor enhancer - used in canned vegetables, fruit drinks, gelatin desserts, gravy, ice cream, jelly, meat products, nondairy creamer, sauces, soft drinks, soups and soup mixes.
  5. Flavoring agent - used in processed food.
  6. Humectant - used in baked goods, candy, diet food, ice cream, jelly, shredded coconut and soft drinks.
  7. Stabilizer - used in baked goods, cocoa, fruit drinks, ice cream and pudding.
  8. Sweetener - used in processed food.
  9. Texturizer - used in canned goods, frozen desserts, ice cream, and in other processed foods.
  10. Thickener - used in baby food and formula, ice cream, jelly, pudding, salad dressing, soft drinks, soup and yogurt.

IARC Classification:

     The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluates data from scientific studies to determine if there is a risk that the chemicals or mixtures are carcinogenic and classifies them into the following categories:

  • Group 1 - human carcinogen. Example: Formaldehyde (used for embalming and in animal feed).
  • Group 2A - probable human carcinogen. Examples: Nitrates & Nitrites (found in processed meats) and Dimethyl sulfate (used to manufacture “flavorings”).
  • Group 2B - possible human carcinogen. Examples: BHA, Citrus Red No. 2, and Cobalt.
  • Group 3 - cannot be classified as a human carcinogen. Examples: Sodium fluoride (rat poison) & Saccharin (sweet n low).
  • Group 4 - probably not a human carcinogen.

Is MSG safe for human consumption?

     No. MSG is toxic to everyone. As discussed earlier, it is very important to understand the difference between symptoms from TOXICITY, and symptoms from ALLERGY.

     We all react differently to the same toxin. No one can say for sure how MSG will effect you. It becomes more complicated when MSG is combined with other toxins (example: aspartame), since there are no studies to base standards on, or to hint to the synergistic symptoms.

     Toxins, like vitamins, have a cumulative effect on the body. If you took a vitamin everyday, would you expect it to work? Of course. And those vitamins do have an effect. If they didn’t, you would be wasting money and would stop taking it. This same principle works with the toxins we take in as well. If you eat MSG or any other neurotoxin, it will also produce an affect. You can’t eat or drink something everyday for years and think that the affects will somehow bypass you.

Disease is a sign that your immune system has already been compromised to a high level.

     It is wise to do your best to prevent disease in the first place through correct eating and lifestyle choices, but if you have a disease you MUST remove all toxins from your body in order to make improvements and/or a full recovery. You MUST detox yourself in a safe and controlled manner, detoxing too fast can be just as problematic. Please get advice from a qualified health care practitioner, before and while going on any detoxification program.

Since we know that MSG is toxic, why has nothing been done about its use in our food?

     To answer that question, we must look at each entity’s role in the problem: the public, the food manufactures, the restaurants, the media and the FDA.

The Public

     Who holds the power to this entire problem? You and I. As much as you do not want to hear this, we are the main source that creates, perpetuates, and has the ability to end this poisoning of our food. We always have three choices available to us in any situation: The Optimal choice, The SubOptimal choice, or to do nothing. Doing nothing is a choice and later we will look into what we can do.

The Food Manufactures

     Most of this report has focused on the food companies that either create MSG, use it in the processing of food, or directly place it into food often under a different name. Their desire to change is usually quite simple - nothing is done until they are forced to, from either their consumers or the government. Follow the money.

The Restaurants

     Unlike the food companies, most restaurants and chefs have no idea that MSG is in the products they use. Most of their foods come in big crates, depending on the restaurant or chain, and there are no ingredients listed. The same is true of hospital food. No one really knows what’s in it. Even the Registered Dietitians who work in hospitals rarely have a complete knowledge of what ingredients they are recommending to sick and diseased patients.

     Sauces tend to be some of the worst sources of MSG. White and cream sauces on average will have more MSG than oil based ones. This is really what they are selling - Taste. This is why we go to one restaurant over another. When a restaurant claims to be MSG free, what they are really saying is “We didn’t put it in there ourselves”. This absolutely goes for all fast food chains, but many other types as well, not just Chinese, major chain, or cheaper restaurants. A gourmet steak that will cost you $40 can have just as much MSG in it and on it based upon the seasonings and sauces used, as a $2 hamburger.

The Media

     The companies that produce these products are very smart. By advertising on TV, newspapers and magazines, they insure that the news doesn’t portray their products as bad. How could they, their are getting paid from these advertising dollars. The media is of no help. Again, follow the money.

The FDA

     First and foremost the FDA is a political entity. Each decision they make is calculated; there is just too much to gain or lose. The FDA follows the “dead body” rule: when there is a dead body from the direct result of MSG, and they have been shown “enough” proof, they will then start to investigate the matter. This still would not mean that they would ban MSG, only that the process of investigation would start. We must realize that those in the FDA care more about their political power and wealth, than for our personal health. Their track-record as a whole would point to that claim. They tend to follow this approach when confronted on real issues: play dumb, deny, and then when all else fails - counter accuse.

     In my opinion, there is no conspiracy or cover-up on their part. A cover-up indicates that there is some guilt associated with actions, there seems to be nothing more than a lack of concern for others. It boils down to your health vs their wealth - who is winning?

What do we do now?

     The main things that we can do now is: 1) spread the knowledge about MSG, 2) fight for tougher standards from government, and most importantly, 3) vote everyday with our dollars.

     First, everyone who learns the truth about what and where MSG is, acquires the tools to make more informed decisions on the food they eat. With this knowledge comes the responsibility of taking care of our own health. No one is going do it for you. Now that you know how MSG effects the body, it is harder to pass the responsibility of your health onto someone else, your doctor, or some food or government agency.

     Secondly, every time we let our governmental officials hear our voice through letters, e-mails, community organizations, and most important to them - our votes, we make it that much harder for them to ignore our rights of being properly informed on the additives and chemicals that they allow into our food supply.

     Lastly, everyday you purchase a food item, you have essentially cast your vote for that product and for that food company/industry. Not buying processed foods sends a message to those companies and industries, that we do not desire or approve of their products and methods of production, for ourselves and our families. They can only make money if we give them ours. This is the most important resource that we have to deal with the problems facing food quality - vote today for health with your dollar.

What can I do if I happen to eat something with MSG?

     There are ways to help “limit” the effects of MSG. I use the words “limit” very cautiously. The dose amount, the size of the individual, and the unique biochemistry of the individual may all play a role in any affect from ingesting MSG. The possible responses are:

  1. Taking either Taurine or Curcumin, they may have the potential to downgrade the effects of MSG.
  2. Taking any type of anti-oxidant, they may help limit MSG effects and symptoms.
  3. Drinking water may help expedite the process of moving toxins out of the body.

     Thank you for considering the information contained within. This is a compilation of information from the sources listed. Please feel free to agree or to disagree, but most of all to stay informed. I acknowledge and respect your journey towards health and happiness. If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts concerning MSG or any other health related topic, please free free to post it below. If you would like more help with your health and nutrition, please contact me.


Resources:

  • Blaylock, Russell L. Exictotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Santa Fe, NM: Health Press, 1997.
  • Farlow, Christine Hoza, D.C. Food Additives: A Shopper’s Guide to What’s Safe & What’s Not!.
    • Escondido, CA: KISS For Health Publishing, 2007.
  • Gershon, Michael D., M.D. The Second Brain. New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988.
  • Gilbert, Steven G. A Small Dose of Toxicology. New York, N.Y.: Informa Healthcare USA, Inc., 2008.
  • Hawthorne, Fran. Inside the FDA: The Business and Politics Behind the Drugs We Take and the Food We
    • Eat. NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2005.
  • Schwartz, George R. In Bad Taste: The MSG Syndrome. New York, NY: The Penguin Group, 1988.
  • Stitt, Paul A. Fighting The Food Giants. Manitowoc, WI: Natural Press, 1980.

** “Carrageenan increases free radicals. It is a polysaccharide made from a seaweed, the substance is known to produce intense inflammatory reactions when injected into tissues. In fact, the intense reaction is so reproducible it is used when researchers want to study inflammation. Inflammation is strongly associated with intense free-radical production within tissues. It also may promote accelerated bowel cancer growth.” Carrageenan is used as a thickener. When even small amounts of carrageenan are injected near developing tumors in animals, tumor growth, and eventual metastasis, increases dramatically.”

  • Source: Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills by Russell Blaylock M.D.

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About Matt Marchant

Matt is a student of life and enjoys laughing, learning, and loving along with his wife and two year old son. He enjoys spending time in nature where he finds peace and rejuvenation, but most of all the simplicity that the outdoors provide. When he is not working he is playing, when he is playing he is working.

Experience:

Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) & Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) Owner of Marchant Training Method, since 2001

Education & Certifications:

  • B.S. Degree in Kinesiology with a focus on Exercise Physiology from California State University at Fullerton in 2001
  • Holistic Lifestyle Coach (HLC) Level 3 from the C.H.E.K Institute
  • Exercise Coach from the C.H.E.K Institute
  • Circular Strength Training Coach (CST) from RMAX International
  • Circular Strength Training Kettlebell Specialist (CST-KS) Instructor from RMAX International
  • Holistic Coach from Journeys of Wisdom
  • PPS Success Practitioner from the C.H.E.K Institute

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