Pick your poison

The Glutamate Association recommends that using monosodium glutamate “can help to reduce the sodium content of recipes.” There’s even a “review paper” by the International Glutamate Technical Committee called “Glutamate Contributes to the Reduction of Dietary Sodium Intake.” Certainly reducing salt in food has become very popular. But since there’s a great similarity between arsenic and MSG, and arsenic doesn’t contain any sodium, perhaps arsenic would be a better choice.

Both arsenic and monosodium glutamate can be toxic when taken in large doses, or when taken in small does over long periods of time. Arsenic can also have the appearance of a white powder. Like MSG (before a big PR campaign rebranded it as umami), arsenic is tasteless, odorless, and ingesting it can cause damage throughout the body along with a wide variety of symptoms.

Pick your poison.

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

#truthinlabelingcampaign #MSG #MfG #excitotoxins #umami #MSGdanger #MSGreactions #salt #arsenic #lowsodium

MSG reactions aren’t allergies!

Reactions to MSG and other sources of manufactured free glutamate (MfG) are reactions to poison. They’re not allergic reactions, and the rules for allergies don’t apply.

You may hear people refer to an “MSG allergy,” but that’s incorrect. And allergists aren’t the ones to ask about your reactions to MSG.

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

Cutting through industry’s maze of lies about monosodium glutamate (MSG): Seven essential truths

1: MSG is manufactured. It isn’t found naturally in anything. https://bit.ly/31Euddc

2: The toxic ingredient contained in MSG is manufactured glutamic acid — glutamic acid that is mass-produced in chemical plants. https://bit.ly/2VBV0mZ

3: The same toxic free glutamic acid found in MSG is also found in some 40-plus other ingredients. https://bit.ly/2U0gkAU

4: Glutamic acid becomes excitotoxic (killing cells throughout the body) when present in amounts that exceed what’s needed for normal body function. https://bit.ly/2VoGZwN

5: The average American diet of processed food (all kinds, not just “junk food”), contains more than enough free glutamic acid to cause glutamate to become excitotoxic. https://bit.ly/2U0gkAU / https://bit.ly/2iGqNli

6: When glutamate becomes excitotoxic, four types of abnormalities can follow:

7: The dose needed to cause these reactions varies widely from person to person. https://bit.ly/2UXwR9i

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

How does the FDA know MSG is safe? The Glutes tell them so!

The first record of FDA collusion with industry that we have is from September, 1969. At that time, then-FDA Commissioner Herbert Ley presented evidence to the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Health, that, he alleged, demonstrated MSG was safe.  Of the four studies presented, two were incomplete and two did not even exist.

Before that time there had been no need for the FDA to have such a cozy relationship with industry in regard to MSG. It was not until 1969 (12 years after the method for MSG manufacture had changed to one of bacterial fermentation), that the first evidence showing monosodium glutamate caused brain lesions and endocrine disorders in experimental animals was published in the journal Science (1).

History buffs can read the sordid history of FDA/industry cooperation here. There are many similar accounts of FDA collusion involving Monsanto (glyphosate and GMOs), the artificial sweetener aspartame, cigarettes, and vaccines.

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

1 Olney JW. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate. Science. 1969;164:719-721.

A snake in the GRAS

When you hear that the FDA considers monosodium glutamate GRAS – or, generally recognized as safe – what does that mean? It’s certainly one of the “selling points” that industry likes to toss around a lot as evidence that monosodium glutamate is harmless.

But that GRAS designation is inherently deceiving.

Sixty-one years ago, following passage of the Food Additives Amendment of 1958, the FDA grandfathered monosodium glutamate into a category of additives called GRAS. There was no testing done or even reviewed by the FDA to determine if monosodium glutamate was indeed safe. The GRAS classification was solely based on monosodium glutamate having been in use without objection prior to 1958. The actual safety of pre-1958 monosodium glutamate was not then, and never has been, established.

But to make using a GRAS label for monosodium glutamate even more farfetched, is the fact that the monosodium glutamate in use in the U.S. today is not even the same as the monosodium glutamate that was grandfathered as GRAS in 1958. From 1920 until 1956, the process underlying production of glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate in Japan had been one of extraction, a slow and costly method (1). Then, around 1956, Ajinomoto Co., Inc. succeeded in producing glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate using genetically modified bacteria to secrete the glutamic acid used in monosodium glutamate through their cell walls, and cost saving, large-scale production of glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate through fermentation began (2,3).

Approximately 10 years later, the first published report of an adverse reaction to monosodium glutamate appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (4), and a study demonstrating that monosodium glutamate was excitotoxic, causing brain damage, endocrine disorders and behavior disorders, was published in the journal Science in 1969 (5). Of interest to note is the fact that by the time 10 years had gone by, grocery shelves were overflowing with processed foods loaded with monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed protein products, autolyzed yeasts and lots of other ingredients that contained the same toxic free glutamic acid found in monosodium glutamate.

If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. If you have hints for others on how to avoid exposure to MfG, send them along, too, and we’ll put them up on Facebook. Or you can reach us at questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling.

REFERENCES

  1. Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia. 6th ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983:1211-2.
  2. Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. 3rd ed. Vol 2. New York: Wiley, 1978:410-21.
  3. Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. 4th ed. New York: Wiley, 1992:571-9.
  4. Kwok RHM. The Chinese restaurant syndrome. Letter to the editor. N Engl J Med. 1968;278(14):796.
  5. Olney JW. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate. Science. 1969;164:719-721.

Why you and not me? Why me and not you?

“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?

Vulnerability

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. 

Vulnerability may be caused by:

  • Brain cells that are unprotected by a blood-brain barrier (BBB)
  • Preexisting 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
  • Preexisting damage done to cells that host glutamate receptors – making them vulnerable. In asthmatics, for example, certain cells in the lungs may have previously become vulnerable.
  • Eating 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
  • Accumulating 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

Glutamate 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.

Relatively recently, 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 testis. 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.

Years 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 more vulnerable?

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 than others.

Individual 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.

Reports from 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 questionsaboutmsg@gmail.com and follow us on Twitter @truthlabeling