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What's an MSG-sensitive person to do?

The Truth in Labeling Campaign is often asked "What can I do to relieve an MSG reaction or to protect myself from having an MSG reaction?"

Following are some, but not all, of the suggestions for an "MSG cure" suggested by people who have said they believed that MSG-sensitivity could be reversed.

It has been suggested that MSG-sensitivity is a sign of vitamin B deficiency, and that vitamin B supplementation should eliminate sensitivity. The "glutes" would like people to believe that if people consumed enough vitamin B there would be no MSG-sensitivity.

Unfortunately, there has never been research that shows that vitamin B supplementation is entirely effective.  Moreover, to our knowledge, no MSG-sensitive people have resolved their sensitivities through supplementation with vitamin B.  Still more negative, we know two MSG-sensitive physicians who took daily injections of large amounts of vitamin B to test the theory.  But the injections did not solve their MSG conditions.

It has been suggested that MSG-sensitivity is a sign of a weakened immune system.  People should build up their immune systems, and in so doing, eliminate their sensitivities to MSG.

However, many MSG-sensitive people report that when exposed to the flu or a cold, they don't get sick even though other family members do -- suggesting that they have strong immune systems. In conversation, one researcher hypothesized that MSG-sensitive people who have immune systems strong enough to fight off a virus or bacteria might have hypersensitive immune systems, i.e., that they would identify and react to a toxin (like MSG) before others with weaker immune systems do. For people with hypersensitive immune systems, a reaction to a toxin like MSG would be a warning against using that toxin.  The immune system could not, however, deal with a toxin as it might deal with a virus or bacteria.

It has been suggested that MSG sensitivity can be fought through use of digestive enzymes.

However, use of digestive enzymes has not appeared to be helpful. In fact, some people with little tolerance for MSG have reacted adversely to enzymes after taking them for a period of time. Many, if not all digestive enzymes are produced from vegetable sources, making it possible that small amounts of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) remain as contaminants in the enzymes.

It has been suggested that MSG-sensitive people should try to be desensitized.

In at least one case, a 30X homeopathic reduction of MSG was used to desensitize a highly MSG-sensitive individual. However, the treatment did not work.  Moreover, the patient suffered severe reactions to the remedy after taking it for a period of time.

It has been suggested that MSG-sensitivity is based on genetics, passed on from one family member to the other.

That may be, in some cases, but although there are often reports of MSG-sensitive people who have MSG-sensitive children, clearly not all MSG-sensitive people come from families in which others have the problem, and there is nothing in the literature to support this theory. It may be that diagnosis of MSG-sensitivity is easier within the homes of  MSG-sensitive people who are aware of the effects of MSG and how the sensitivity exhibits itself.

It has been suggested that MSG can be cleansed from the system through the use of selected supplements.

However, we have no reports of people who have been cured of their MSG sensitivities through body cleansing. Since glutamic acid is normally found in the body in large amounts, we do not know how or why you would want to remove it. Once one is sensitive to MSG, they continue to suffer adverse reactions to an amount of MSG that exceeds their tolerance for MSG, regardless of how long they have avoided MSG and have been symptom free.

Some years ago, during a lecture, Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., author of Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills (ISBN #0-929173-25-2), stated that people who are MSG-sensitive or who have family histories of neurodegenerative disease should take daily magnesium supplements. Most of the MSG sensitive people we know who follow his advice believe that magnesium supplementation has helped them, but none, including Dr. Blaylock, contend that magnesium will eliminate MSG-sensitivity. Furthermore, MSG-sensitive people with very little tolerance for MSG found that in order to avoid ingesting MSG with their magnesium, they had to find a magnesium supplement that is not in a gelatin capsule and does not contain an ingredient with the words "glutamate," "aspartate," or "citrate."

At this time, pharmaceutical companies are spending large sums of money to develop drugs that may, in the future, help reduce MSG-sensitivity, but there is no effective drug remedy at present that we are aware of. It has been determined that residual effects from neurological injuries, including stroke and traumatic spinal cord damage, may be minimized if glutamic acid that is stored in the body is kept from flooding the areas of the injury, or if the flow of released glutamic acid is reversed through use of pharmaceuticals. (The release of glutamic acid from "pools" of glutamic acid in the body to the site of the injury is common and is known to kill neurons.) Although this research is not directed to the effects of ingested processed free glutamic acid (MSG), if effective pharmaceuticals are developed, it is likely that they will also help MSG-sensitive individuals eliminate or minimize their MSG-induced adverse reactions.

So what's an MSG-sensitive person to do?  With the food industry's ever increasing use of MSG, and industry's refusal to identify MSG whenever it is present in or on food, combined with FDA, USDA, and EPA cooperation, it has become almost impossible for the individual with little tolerance for MSG to avoid having MSG-induced adverse reactions.

One answer may lie in an alternative medicine technique wherein allergies and sensitivities are seen as blockages of normal flow of energy.

All substances give off energy, and never is the energy from one substance identical to another. .In oriental medicine, it is believed that when food is ingested, the energy from that food flows through energy pathways in the body, in most people taking 24 hours to complete its course.  For some reason, be it stress, heredity, or other, energy associated with a particular substance may not flow freely through the energy pathways, i.e., the energy associated with that substance may find that it is blocked each time the body is exposed to that substance.  When blockage occurs, the brain responds by causing an adverse reaction -- a reaction that we often refer to as a sensitivity or an allergic reaction. Putting it another way, the brain, identifying a problem with the offending substance, encourages us to stay away from the offending substance by causing an adverse reaction in the body each time the offending substance is used or ingested.

The technique for eliminating blockages for individual substances is known as NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique).  By chance, two acutely sensitive MSG-sensitive consumers began treatment with NAET to resolve our MSG sensitivities without the knowledge of one another. One went to Dr. Devi Nambudripad, a chiropractor who is also a registered nurse, a licensed acupuncturist, and a graduate of a school of oriental medicine.  The other went to a health practitioner trained by Dr. Nambudripad. Each had great success.

The NAET program is best described in a book entitled Say Goodbye to Illness (ISBN #0-9658242-1-7) authored by Dr. Nambudripad, D.C., L.Ac., R.N., Ph.D., M.D.(graduate)  It is discussed in some detail on Dr. Nambudripad's Web site:  http://www.naet.com

There are two basic elements: diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis is accomplished through kinesiology (the study of muscles and human motion).  Kinesiology is used to tell whether a person is allergic/sensitive to a particular substance or combination of substances (be it inhaled, ingested, or in contact with the skin); and, following treatment, kinesiology is used to check to see if the treatment has been successful. Testing is done while the person holds the offending substance or a test tube that contains the energy of the substance for which the patient is being tested or treated.

Once an offending substance has been identified, the blockage created by that offending substance, i.e., the blockage to the unencumbered flow of energy throughout the body, is treated.  The energy pathways are opened up using a "massage" of the energy pathways on either side of the spinal column and acupuncture or acupressure.  This phase of the treatment program takes several minutes. Next, acupuncture needles are inserted in six precise locations, corresponding to body organs. (Some practitioners use stimulation [acupressure] instead of needles and, because of greater energy in children, needles are not used on children.)  This phase of treatment takes about  20 minutes, with the offending substance energy tube being held throughout the treatment, or, in the case of children, being placed in one of their socks. Acupuncture needles, if inserted, are removed, and the subject is retested.

Following treatment, patients are sent home with instructions not to eat, smell, or touch anything related to the substance for which they were treated for a minimum of 25 hours. Following the 25 hours, and preferably within a week, the patient returns for retesting. If the patient fails the kinesiology retest for the offending substance, the procedure is repeated until treatment succeeds. Once the patient passes the kinesiology retest, the patient should be able to use or eat the offending substance without suffering an adverse reaction.

Typically, 10 to 15 basic treatments must be completed before being treated for a specific substance, such as "MSG" or "nonessential amino acids." Only one treatment should be done in a 25 hour period. Sometimes, but not often, more than one treatment may be needed to clear the blockage for a particular substance.

Our personal experience (the experience of both Jack and Adrienne Samuels) has been to experience results nothing short of miraculous. Based on our experience, several other MSG-sensitive individuals enlisted the aid of practitioners trained by Dr. Devi Nambudripad.  They had similar results. The number of people who have experienced relief from their MSG sensitivities is not large enough to claim that this alternative medical procedure will help all MSG-sensitive people.  We feel, however, that it is certainly is worth consideration. We, therefore, feel that we should make MSG-sensitive people aware of this treatment program.

Be warned: NAET deviates from traditional western medicine to such a great degree, and the success stories reported in the book are so wondrous, that most people will question what you read in the Dr. Nambudripad's book. Most people, like ourselves, will question the NAET program, but we, and others, will tell you that it relieves MSG-induced sensitivity reactions such as skin rash, migraine headache, and atrial fibrillation. I have seen it used to alleviate conditions caused by allergenic substances that are IgE mediated, and I have seen it used to alleviate sensitivity reactions (reactions to toxic substances or poisons).  I have seen it alleviate reactions that were said to have been hereditary. I have personally seen autistic children, including those diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder, who were found to have many allergies, improve in their behavior and performance following treatment with NAET.

Be warned: There are limitations to what can be accomplished with NAET.  NAET does not profess to be 100 per cent effective. If the patient's problem is MSG, for example, the patient should not expect to never again suffer a reaction. Remember that NAET is based, in part, on the theory that each substance has a distinctly different energy pattern. Therefore, if an MSG-sensitive person is treated for common domestic cheeses, that person will generally find that from that point forward, he or she can eat most common domestic cheese without a problem. However, if  a cheese dissimilar from those  included in the treatment package was ingested, the patient who ate it might experience an adverse reaction -- which  would likely be less severe than would have been experienced prior to treatment. (The patient could, of course, be treated for any specific cheese should he choose to do so.)

Be warned: The neurotoxicity of glutamic acid is well documented in the literature. NAET treatments, if successful, will eliminate most, if not all MSG reactions including, for example, headache.  But treatments will not eliminate the toxic effects of MSG. If treatment for an MSG sensitivity is undertaken, it should be realized that, to the extent possible, MSG should still be avoided.

What is the history of NAET? Dr. Nambudripad has been the victim of numerous allergies and sensitivities throughout her life, including being sensitive to processed free glutamic acid (MSG). As detailed in her book, she developed NAET following a chance experience that she had with a food to which she was allergic some 20 years ago. Since that time, she has continued to refine and improve the program. Her success with NAET has been so great, she bravely determined that she would share the technique with others through training programs, in spite of concerns of friends that she might be criticized by those in the health care field who refuse to accept most, if not all, forms of alternative medicine. She has now trained over 2,000 people throughout the world, although few allopathic physicians have applied for training. Individuals who have completed NAET training are listed on Dr. Nambudripad's Web site.

It must be noted that, as in all fields of health care, some practitioners are more talented than others.  In addition, some NAET trained practitioners have modified the NAET protocol that they were taught.  There are, evidently, some who do not  get the same results as those achieved by Dr. Nambudripad.

Dr. Nambudripad is located in Buena Park, California, close to Knott's Berry Farm and not far from Disneyland. Other NAET practitioners are listed on her Web site at http://www.naet.com