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Truth in Labeling Campaign> Risk> Asthma

MSG and Asthma

Asthma has been studied extensively by Allen (229-230). He explored and discussed the possible relation of monosodium glutamate to asthma, questioned possible links, and explored possible mechanisms underlying a relationship. In a single blind study using 32 subjects with asthma, some of whom had histories of severe asthma after Chinese restaurant or similar meals, he found a dose dependent reaction which in some cases was delayed up to 12 hours (230).

Moneret-Vautrin (231) reported finding a "...very small subset of patients with intrinsic asthma..." with an intolerance to high doses (2.5g) of monosodium glutamate.

From time to time, physicians have reported instances of adverse reactions triggered by MSG. Those reports have generally been ignored by both the glutamate industry and the FDA. But for some reason (which we now believe is tied to industry’s dedication to preventing full and clear labeling of MSG) the glutamate industry and the FDA took poorly to Allen’s report which included the fact that some of Allen’s subjects suffered asthma attacks from .5 grams or less MSG.

In the last 20 years, the glutamate industry has made every attempt to discredit the work of Dr. Allen. Moreover, although the Truth in Labeling Campaign receives letters from persons who claim that they have cleared their asthma problems by avoiding all forms of MSG, there has been little or nothing in the medical literature recently on the subject. We attribute the lack of publication to industry pressure not to publish material describing adverse reactions to MSG.

More on the subject will be found in The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A study in Suppression of Information. Accountability in Research.1999(6):259-310; by A. Samuels.

Letters from consumers to the Truth in Labeling Campaign include the following:
Subj: letter

Our granddaughter has been visiting us for the past month and we made a very large discovery. In the past year she has been having many headaches and was diagnosed by her doctor as having migraines and asthma.

Well, she has been eating barbecue chips and Chef Boyardee canned foods and her headaches have been terrific. Well we went to a Chinese restaurant in Olympia Wa. and she really pigged out. Before we got to the next store, she had a massive h4eadache, and we took her home. As I talked to her after she awoke, she said every day after school she ate barbecue chips and immediately got a headache. So now we know that her allergies are not just allergies that they have tested her for, but MSG. I think her doctor has tested her for the wrong allergens.

Thanks to your link I hope she takes copies to her doctor. Since I took her off all MSG products she has had no headaches. Thank you so much.

Subj: MSG

Hi, I checked out your website on MSG for the first time today. I have been sick for years and I know that I am sensitive to even the smallest amounts of MSG. I have experienced many of the symptoms you have listed and I have been to many doctors explaining them.

They have also done many tests on me and I have been diagnosed with everything from allergies to anxiety. I have had severe asthma since I was able to understand it was hard to breathe but was not diagnosed until I was at a much later age. It seems even when I was young I was pumped with antibiotics because I was always thought to be sick. Having severe asthma, I was constantly taking all kinds of medication which seemed to make my body more and more dependent on them to be able to breathe. Besides all of that, I always had heart palpitations and many other problems.

When I realized that MSG and aspartame affected me in similar ways, I started to read labels. Then I did some more research on natural forms of MSG because I am very sensitive to tomato sauce. As the years went on I stopped taking things I thought were making me ill and an interesting thing happened, I started getting better. Aside from stopping all medication, I began watching everything I ate and what affect it had on my body. You were right about it taking hours sometimes to get a reaction, this made it harder to determine what the exact thing I ate or medicine I took, that caused a reaction. I do not take any more asthma medication because I think I may have cured myself. I exercise every day to keep my lung capacity good but still have food problems and I'm running out of things I can eat.

In reading your website, I had to wonder if you were a doctor. I am an electronic engineer and I try to find logic in anything that operates and what makes it tick. I never thought I would have to find a logical solution to what makes my own body tick when there are so many intelligent people out there that study the human body. You would think they could have the answer. It would be interesting to try and figure out what I can eat and feel better every day instead of guessing. It's funny how I found the website, I was looking for Olive Garden ingredients and couldn't find any. Then I wanted to see if the Government made any restaurants list MSG in the foods they serve. I was shocked to find out the FDA says MSG is safe! I get very ill every time I eat at certain restaurants, so I add them to my list of places not to eat. The Olive Garden seemed to have a great reputation but I've tried different dishes and always the same result, I get sick hours later.

It gets frustrating when you want to go out to dinner and enjoy yourself, then hours later you think you're having a heart attack, you can't sleep, so you just have to let it get out of your system. I drink lots of water when I feel it coming on but sometimes it's just too much MSG and you feel miserable. You suffer and so does anyone close to you because they can't even imagine what you're going through. They want to take you to the hospital but you know if you go, the doctors may make you sicker. I have been in shock many times and I know many times I have been close to death. Since I was young, I've been going through this and somehow I get through the "spells". When they get really bad, you kind of think you're not going to make it through it. Like I said, I read all the labels but when they don't tell you something, it's frustrating because then you suffer. Hopefully regulations will be put into place if enough people get ill. The more MSG they put into products, the more people will get sick. I'm just afraid that the children that are sensitive to it don't die because KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, etc., all have processed foods that contain MSG.

I found your website very educating, and I think more people should be aware of this danger.

Thank you

Subj: MSG

While on a road trip from MI to VT, I had a sudden crash in mood followed by a swooshing sound and a severe headache. As the headache arrived, the mood stabilized. I was used to mood problems since I have been treated for years with antidepressants (and now with mood stabilizers), but this came on very suddenly. This occurred a few times, mostly when we were on the road. Then I started having problems all the time.

I went to the doctor for migraine medications and cried when they gave me a little box good for a total of three migraines. I explained that I was getting them 2-3 times a week. They did not believe me at first, but then gave me more (to shut me up?) Relax. What was worse was that I was feeling really suicidal. It would come and go, often very suddenly. After several blind tests (eat it and see... THEN read the label) I concluded that it was msg... Finally. I studied your site for all of the names of the poison and have worked very hard to keep it out of my diet. I have not had a relapse for over a year now. Occasionally I will have a sudden attack of hopelessness and find myself wondering why people bother to live. Then the swooshing starts and I am relieved to know that it was something I ate.

Interestingly enough, I have a history of SEVERE asthma. I was steroid dependent for five years. I am much better now. A great benefit I got from quitting msg... I lost 30 pounds and it is staying off!

Thank you so much for the service you do.

229. Allen, D.J., and Baker, G.J. Chinese-restaurant asthma. N Engl J Med 305: 1154-1155, 1981.

230. Allen, D.H., Delohery, J., & Baker, G.J. Monosodium L-glutamate-induced asthma. Journal of Allergy and ClinicalImmunology 80: No 4, 530-537, 1987.

231. Moneret-Vautrin, D.A. Monosodium glutamate - induced asthma: Study of the potential risk in 30 asthmatics and review of the literature. Allergic et Immunologie 19: No 1, 29-35, 1987.


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