“Everyone’s different.” How many times have you heard that when investigating the cause of your MSG-sensitivity? Perhaps it has to do with genetics. But others in your family aren’t affected. Why you?
Everyone is sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the manufactured free glutamic acid (MfG) in MSG if they get enough of it. To be toxic, it must either target glutamate receptors that have become weakened or vulnerable to its attack, or be in such strong concentrations that no glutamate receptor can resist it.
may be caused by:
cells that are unprotected by a blood-brain barrier (BBB)
brain damage or damage to the BBB, possibly from a stroke, a blow to the head,
or previously consuming a large quantity of MfG at one sitting
damage done to cells that host glutamate receptors – making them vulnerable. In
asthmatics, for example, certain cells in the lungs may have previously become
enough MfG at one sitting to trigger glutamate receptors on vulnerable cells;
or eating enough to trigger glutamate receptors on cells that had not
previously been damaged
stores of glutamate In the body
When you react to glutamate, you’re reacting to excess free glutamate. Of course, what is an excess for you will not necessarily be excess for me. While excess might be defined as “more than is needed for normal body function,” that doesn’t seem to be the case with glutamate-sensitivity. Rather, excess seems to be related to any amount of glutamate that will damage or kill your vulnerable glutamate receptors. (And as a side note, glutamate is classified as a non-essential amino acid, meaning that there is no need for a human to ingest glutamate as the body will produce what it needs from other available amino acids).
Understanding glutamate receptors
receptors receive the glutamate sent to them by glutamate neurotransmitters. Although
glutamic acid (glutamate) is essential to normal body function, when present in excess outside of intact protein it becomes excitotoxic, firing repeatedly
and causing cell death and/or damage to targeted cells.
If cells are
protected from excess glutamate, as the brain may be protected at least in part
by a robust BBB, a little excess glutamate sent their way may not harm them.
But if the BBB can’t do its job, targeted cells die. Outside of the brain and
central nervous system, glutamate-receptors may have no protective shield from
excitotoxins at all.
researchers discovered glutamate-receptors outside the brain and central
nervous system. These include, but are
not limited to peripheral receptors in the stomach, heart, lungs,
kidney, liver, immune system, spleen, and
cells associated with each may be damaged or killed if glutamate sent from
glutamate neurotransmitters reaches them. It’s possible that these peripheral
receptors may have some type of protection system, but if so, scientists have
not yet identified it.
ago we had thought it remarkable that glutamate-toxicity worked through the
brain – since glutamate could produce an immediate migraine headache. Glutamate
eaten – brain triggered – headache happened within seconds. Today we know that glutamate
can move directly to peripheral receptors without traveling through the brain.
It appears that
cells that host glutamate receptors can be damaged
if exposed to a little glutamate, but not enough to kill them outright. There
might be times when one ingests enough MfG to damage a cell, but not enough to
kill it, or damage some of the cells in a group that control a particular
function but not enough to knock out all of them. Ingest more glutamate on a
second occasion, however, and those cells may die. Some MfG-sensitive people
report that they can knowingly ingest MfG in a favorite food on one occasion
without noticing a reaction, but react when that same food is consumed several
days in a row.
What would make your glutamate-receptors
One reason, of
course, is damage to the BBB. We know that lack of blood-brain barrier
development in the fetus and infant make them extremely vulnerable to exposure
to MfG passed through their mothers’ diets.
Damage done to
the BBBs of mature humans through use of drugs, from seizures, stroke, head trauma,
hypoglycemia, hypertension, extreme physical stress, high fever, and the normal
process of aging, can render them more vulnerable
sensitivity may also be related to the integrity of cells or groups of cells
that control a particular function. A person who has experienced heart problems
might very well be predisposed to having glutamate receptors in the heart
vulnerable to insult by glutamate. A person with asthma, is likely predisposed
to having an asthma attack after consuming glutamate.
consumers tell us that intensity or severity of reactions appear to be affected
by alcohol ingestion and/or exercise just prior to, or immediately following
MSG ingestion, and some women report variations in their reactions at different
times in their menstrual cycles.
If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. And if you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, we’ll put them up on Facebook. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling