MSG Intolerance

MSG Intolerance: Overview

There is debate and controversy over whether or not monosodium glutamate (MSG) is safe to eat.  Some people report serious allergic symptoms when they ingest it.

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Whether this flavor enhancer does indeed cause adverse effects is still a hot topic of discussion.  While some claim that it is a harmless natural food additive, others claim that it is just another one of many toxins, pollutants and carcinogens poured into our food.

Many dismiss "The MSG Syndrome" as a manifestation of allergy, claiming that any health hazards are limited to those unfortunate folks with an obvious reaction.  Others claim that MSG is recognized as a neurotoxin and that we now know that it acts on the body like a drug.

Detractors of MSG claim that reactions to MSG are essentially dose-related drug reactions, and that everyone will react to it at some dose.  Thus, whether we recognize it or not, an MSG-contaminated food supply is a health problem that impacts every one of us.  They estimate that about 25-30% of the world's population experience at least unpleasant symptoms from ingesting MSG.

Signs and Symptoms

Adverse reactions, known as MSG symptom complex, are said to include:

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Facial pressure or tightness
  • Numbness, tingling or burning in face, neck and other areas
  • Rapid, fluttering heartbeats (heart palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Weakness

However, no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and these symptoms has been found.  Researchers acknowledge, however, that a small percentage of people may have short-term reactions to MSG.  Symptoms are usually mild and don't require treatment.

Diagnosis and Tests

Identifying MSG sensitivity is extremely difficult.

Treatment and Prevention

The only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid foods containing MSG.  MSG is commonly found in food products such as soups, processed meats, sauces, gravies, mixes and snack foods, as well as many others.  It is very popular in Asian (especially Chinese) cuisine.

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MSG Intolerance:

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