What we know about MSG toxicity and where it is hidden in food comes from discussions with researchers and food technologists; reading food encyclopedias, books, food company brochures, and published articles; attending food industry meetings; and from MSG-sensitive people and the health care professionals who work so valiantly to help them.
In addition to research documenting adverse reactions to MSG, there is evidence from consumers who report that their adverse reactions ameliorate/disappear when they clean MSG out of their diets.
Following are selected comments from consumers:
“If it weren't for your website, I would be headed to the hospital yet again”
Dear Mr. Samuels,
If it weren't for your website, I would be headed to the hospital yet again.
Long story short, I appear to be extremely sensitive to MSG now - it has gotten much worse over the last couple of years. The headaches are so bad that even on IV pain med and anti nausea med in the hosptial I am still vomiting while only 1/2 conscious (I do not remember this at all - but my poor husband does).
The neurologist, in an effort to keep me out of the hospital has give me vicodin and promethezine. They don't work too well. Even on both, I vomitted for 24 hours until I got past the worst of this last headache - I have to keep moving, rocking, forcing my head into hard things - if I lay back the pain shoots through my entire head and I immediately vomit again. It starts in my neck and takes over my head. I am not light or sound sensitive during these headaches, but am extremely dizzy and disoriented. My hands and feet tingle and my eyes have a hard time with discerning colors. It is terrible. So - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! We are going to do everything we can to keep me out of the hospital. It won't be easy, but we are going to try.
My biggest concern is bread - I understand malted barley (in most even fresh baked breads) has msg - is that really true? What can I eat? I'm already under weight and have a mitochondrial disorder to boot - so this is complicated.
Blessings sir for all your tireless efforts - my family thanks you!!! (ESPECIALLY MY HUSBAND!!)
“I suffer from Migraines”
Hi and thanks for your web info on MSG and related names. I am requesting.....the list for additional ingredients that appear to cause MSG reactions in ACUTELY sensitive people. A list is available by request.
I do suffer from Migraines and would greatly appreciate the list to avoid these in the future. Thanks so much!!!
“Since I eliminated more items I have no sign of a headache at all”
I've heard alot of people complain about Trader Joe's. But mostly they want to shop there anyway. I got rid of every speck of MSG after reading the lists on the website and books. Got rid of the low fat milk with additives. For five years I was getting up every day with a headache and would get a migraine once or twice a month. Since I eliminated more items I have no sign of a headache at all. I hope it lasts.
“My 9 y.o. daughter has suffered from "migraine headaches" (always preceeded by nausea and violent vomiting) for about 18 months now.”
First of all, there isn't enough sentiment in "thank you" to properly thank you. My 9 y.o. daughter has suffered from "migraine headaches" (always preceeded by nausea and violent vomiting) for about 18 months now. I have journaled in search of a pattern, visited a variety of useless doctors, theorized, and thought several times that we "solved it" and knew what to avoid. My poor daughter has missed out on birthday parties that were at noisy places like arcades, movie theaters, bowling alleys. She has avoided some of her favorite foods. We thought it was the "lights and sounds", combined w/ diet containing cheese, nitrites and/or chocolate.
After discovering your website and eliminating foods containing MSG, and diosodium guanylate and disodium inosinate it seems we may have found our answer. Your website taught me that not only is MSG a culprit but there are SO MANY OTHER HIDDEN SOURCES that create MSG during processing. I have memorized your list!
Long story short, although we lead a fairly healthy, predominantly organic life, my children are 9 and 11 and there is reality. They find themselves in fast food restaurants, other people's homes and parties and it is so helpful that we now know better what to avoid (thanks to your website)!! For the last year, my poor daughter has been scraping the cheese off the pizza served to her at b'day parties (because the neurologist said cheese can trigger migraines). Turns out it's all the preservatives in the crust of bowling alley or movie theater pizza that is full of chemicals. The Italian restaurant freshly made pizzas are just fine and my daughter has been eating them now, w/ extra cheese (her favorite!) w/ zero side effects.
Because of your website, I believe that my daughter doesn't suffer from migraines at all...I believe she has suffered horrible allergic reactions to PROCESSED FREE GLUTAMIC ACIDS. Additional proof of this is, since infancy, she has been plagued w/ large patches of annoying white bumps (like tiny hard pimples) on her cheeks and upper arms. In the last two weeks, they have virtually DISAPPEARED. Dermatologists, prescriptions, scrubs, nothing worked. We even visited a psychologist a year ago because of her shame of having "zits" at such a young age. She was privately "picking" at them, creating scabs and scars and then feeling shame. It was horrible. This was no strange skin condition...this was another form of her allergic reaction!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!
“After I have soy milk with protein drink in 2 hours I get a headache”
I want to thank you for your article. I have been allergic to MSG for years and I thought I knew what to say away from. I get migraines. I make most of my meals from scratch and use very little box or can foods. I use fresh vegetables from Mexico (it is grown right here in the fields) , some times frozen, and eat a lot of chicken. The older I get the worse and though I am allergic to more foods. Then reading your article I realize all the things I have to cut out is on your list. I was shocked to read soy milk has msg. It makes sense after I have soy milk with protein drink in 2 hours I get a headache. Here I thought I was eating healthily and realizing I was putting more MSG in my system.
Thanks for solving my puzzle.
“We ALWAYS get headaches within an hour or so of consumption”
Both my wife and are are extremely sensitive to MSG..We ALWAYS know that it is present because we ALWAYS get headaches within an hour or so of consumption..(it's been suggested by my Dr. and by others that we're probably imagining the MSG allergy…Ha!)..today we purchased a bag of Garden of Eatin' Baked Crunchitos..made with Organic Corn and Cheese..we did a quick scan to check for MSG..there was none..we split the bag..within an hour we both had pounding headaches…I then noticed that the product contained MALTODEXTRIN… I googled.." Is Maltodextrin the same as MSG?."...I was lead to your website and learned that Maltodextrin is closely related and that manufacturers use it so they won't have to use' red-flag' MSG as an ingredient……the product also contains disodium phosphate and autolyzed yeast extract all of which are listed as related to MSG…..we bought the product because of being organic, no hydrogenated oil, blah, blah, blah….Thanks to your list we will be much more careful when reading ingredients.
"For the past two years I have been healthy! I have no vertigo today; it is completely gone!"
Dear Jack and Adrienne Samuels,
I just wanted to give you an update on my case:
I wrote to you a little over 2 years ago about my history with extremed episodes of dizziness. I had been diagnosed with Meniere's disease and had had severe vertiginous episodes for ten years, from age 29 to 39. I lost significant hearing in my left ear. I saw ENT specialists to no avail. I tried everything: steriods, antihistomines, mastoid bone removal, accupunction, chiropractic, EVERYTHING you could think of. My dizzy episodes included vomiting, diarreha, and could only be stopped though heavy medication that made me just want to go to bed. These episodes, near the end, would occur as often as 2-3 times a week.
Once I started looking at labels, and after reviewing your tremendous web site with all the "alternative" names that food companies can label MSG as, I decided to cook all my food from scratch, buy local, organic food, and to preserve my own summer garden produce.
For the past two years I have been healthy! I have no vertigo today; it is completely gone! I have tested myself over the past two years, introducing MSG on the weekends when I don't have to work, and every time I have a reaction to it that manifests itself through dizziness. I have discovered that I am extremely sensitive even to the smallest amount.
Today I feel like a completely new person. I have the liberty to travel without worry, and I can focus more on living life to the fullest.
I wish you all the best in your endeavors. Keep fighting the good fight!
"We thought [petit mal seizures] had something to do with his Diabetes...until I discovered your website"
"We thought [petit mal seizures] had something to do with his Diabetes...until I discovered your website" My 17 year old son suffers from Type I Diabetes. For the past year or so, he has been suffering from petit mal seizures. We thought it had something to do with his Diabetes. This past Memorial Day weekend, as usual, we had stocked up on Diet Sodas. Then, to unknowingly make matters worse, we ate at a Chinese Restaurant on Memorial Day. Our son's seizures increased drastically! We had to drive him home from school on Tuesday, inasmuch as we did not trust that he would be able to drive without having a seizure.
The doctor was stymied. All Matt's bloodwork and MRI came back normal. We had an appt. w/a neurologist, until I discovered your website. We have eliminated, as much as possible, the MSG, and absolutely have eliminated all aspartame from his diet. What concerns me now is the 'hidden' names for MSG. My son is obviously acutely sensitive to it and I really need to eliminate it from our lives completely! He no longer is having seizures, but he still is getting pretty intense headaches each day, which tells me we are somehow still serving him MSG-laced food. Will you please be able to send me an up-to-date list of alternative names for MSG/and products that are blatantly using it. I'm in the mood for a good letter writing campaign!!
Your website was a God-send...I have spread the word like wildfire and will continue doing so.
"2 weeks and no rash! I am so much happier and relieved... THANK YOU!!!"
I am from Sydney Australia, 22 years of age. I've suffered from a severe rash on my face for the past two-and-a half years I've been to doctors, naturopaths, skin specialists none have yet helped! I have researched MSG and your website and am glad to report 2 weeks and no rash! I am so much happier and relieved... THANK YOU!!!
"...I need a list of foods that don't contain MSG."
I need your help..I suffer from migraine headaches...this i have found to be linked with MSG and i need a list of foods that don't contain MSG. i am in a lot of pain and yes ok Chinese is my fav food but to the point of vomiting and need to change the things i eat please if u have any kind of ideas or food list with no MSG i need you now to write back to me...
(Adapted from a response by the Truth in Labeling Campaign)
There is no list of safe foods because food processors often change recipes, making a food that is safe today unsafe tomorrow. Also, since people vary in their tolerances for MSG, what one person suggests as being safe is not safe for another person. Although it is getting more and more difficult to avoid processed free glutamic acid (MSG), it is still possible. The safest produce is organic produce. It is best to make things from scratch, avoiding all processed foods.
As this is written, for breakfast, safe cereals appear to be Kashi seven puffed grains plus sesame seed (white box with purple trim), Barbara's shredded wheat, unflavored oatmeal, and cream of wheat. For snacks, Garden of Eaten plain corn chips appear to be safe (red, blue, white, and yellow corn), and Hagan Daas ice cream (vanilla and strawberry) appear to be safe. Avoid making stews or soups, or using a crock pot. (Slow cooking for a long time may cause small amounts of glutamic acid to be released from the protein in the food being slowly cooked.) Be aware that some shrimp and other shell fish may have been dipped in Trisodium phosphate, a product that can cause reactions similar to MSG reactions in MSG-sensitive people. (Farm raised shrimp are usually all right). Trisodiumphosphate may also be found in chicken parts that were not broken down from whole chickens in the store where they are purchased, and on major brand chickens such as Perdue and Tyson.
Avoid anything with aspartame or neotame. They work on the body in the same manner as does processed free glutamic acid (MSG). Avoid all processed foods that contain one or more of the ingredients listed on our website here.
If I can be of further help, do not hesitate to write again.
"My husband had to call the rescue squad, I then passed out."
I was just hospitalized for possible MSG allergy. I'm not certain because I did not save the label from the product. I had made taco's from Old El Paso complete dinner package. I was awaken to itching approx. 6 to 7 hrs later. I took benadryl, because I had the same occurrence from Chinese food that contained MSG. I got short of breath, and then was gasping. My husband had to call the rescue squad, I then passed out. Could you please let me know if these taco seasoning's contain MSG. This reaction was much worse than the first. I had nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody diarrhea. I have been reading your article, it sounds as if all foods contain MSG in some form. What is a person who is sensitive to MSG to eat, that is safe? I'm not a person who is hospitalized much, and I prefer to keep it that way. Could you guide me in the right direction. I have eaten this particular brand of taco seasoning in the past without any problems, do the sensitivities in certain products add up then you react or what exactly happens. I believe that this product is a serious health hazard and that more education needs to be publicized on it. I work in the health industry, in disease management, and I feel that this reaction that occurs can be fatal and needs more public recognition. From reading your site, has educated me some on what to look for. However, reading food labels for ingredients can be somewhat confusion at times. The FDA should make more stringent guidelines to manufacturers who use this product in their goods.
"...lawsuit would have an enormous and positive impact on the food industry"
I, too, suffer vile and painful effects from MSG.
Whenever I'm subjected to it, I lose two-to-five days of work.
In this "litigious" society of frivolous lawsuits "over nothing", MSG is an issue which is definitely worth fighting over!!! Has anyone ever suggested a class-action lawsuit against the practice of adding MSG to commercially prepared or packaged foods??? If several of the large companies were simultaneously involved in a nation-wide lawsuit, they would quickly back off from the practice of dumping MSG into their products. Considering my many days of lost wages and multiplying that by the numerous thousands of MSG sufferers, the lawsuit would have and enormous and positive impact on the food industry.
What are your thoughts?
"Four years ago I stated having dizziness, headaches and feeling slightly off balance."
Continue informing the public about MSG. I am one of those who have recently discovered that I am one who is effect by this product. Four years ago I stated having dizziness, headaches and feeling slightly off balance. At first I thought it was my eyes. But every so often these feelings returned.
After a while I realized that there was one produced that caused these symptoms. I avoided that, but because this did not happen all the time that I did not read every label. But from today on I will. Last night I eat ... Bar-B-Que potato chips two hours I was feeling of balance then at the night progressed my head felt like it was going to drop off. My stomach was queasy, my hands shaking. When I finally went to bed my head so heavy that when I moved my room appeared to be spinning. Now it is thirteen hours since I ingested this product I still feel unwell. But all night I was wondering what caused this sickness, I came downstairs to check this chip bag to find MSG.
I must go back to bed now because I am still unwell, but I felt that I should let you know and please keep this information out there.
Thank you and continue informing the public.
"So now we know that her allergies are not just allergies that they have tested her for. They're MSG."
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 headache 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.
"...she was told she could not join the Army, or any other branch of the military"
I want to share this experience with you, and if you wish, in turn you may share it with others who suffer from MSG intolerance. During the 7 or so years that my daughter and I have experienced the intolerance to MSG, your site has been a wealth of information and so much help in guiding us so we could avoid the "hidden" traps in foods.
Today, MSG has taken a terrible toll on our family. My daughter who is bright, intelligent and lovely, had made a commitment to join the Army, both as an opportunity to continue her education and possibly to be able to travel to Europe. She was up every morning, walking 2 miles at 5:30 a.m., doing her push-up, sit-ups and other exercises, working on loosing the few pounds she needed to loose and looking forward to her new career. Then the bad news came, the military uses packaged, processed foods, loaded with chemicals, including MSG, BHT/BHA and the rest of the nasty little names. After a discussion with her recruiter and an assessment of the effects she suffers from ingesting these chemicals, she was told she could not join the Army, or any other branch of the military.
I sit here this evening, watching my once bright and happy daughter fight her way through depression, knowing there's not a d--n thing I can do, knowing there's nothing that will counteract this savage little beast. So what now? That's the next question we have to answer. Thanks to greedy food processing companies, lives are shattered, but as angry as I am, I know that our lives mean nothing to them, only the almighty dollar matters. This has made my resolve even stronger to fight this, maybe my one little contribution won't create a tidal wave, but even if I can get one other human being to realize how destructive this garbage is, at least it will be a start. Thanks for listening.
"I have been able to get my migraines from 10 a month town to three or four a month by eliminating MSG, my problem is I don't know all of the ways it is hidden."
Put me on the list of people affected by MSG.
I have been able to get my migraines from 10 a month town to three or four a month by eliminating MSG, my problem is I don't know all of the ways it is hidden.
"I have been following your advice to avoid MSG and processed foods and my attacks of tachycardia (severe heart racing and feinting) have not occurred in a month! Thank you thank you thank you!"
Thank you so much for the reply to my email. I have been following your advice to avoid MSG and processed foods and my attacks of tachycardia (severe heart racing and feinting) have not occurred in a month! Thank you thank you thank you!
PS Is there anything I can do do help the campaign to get food labeled properly?
REPLY In your letter to the Truth in Labeling Campaign, you asked if there was anything you could do to help the campaign to get food labeled properly. The answer is yes. For the only hope we have in the present industrial/political climate is to raise the levels of awareness of everyone who values their own health and the health of their children, and ask them, also, to let others know that processed free glutamic acid kills brain cells, is an endocrine disrupter, causes behavior and learning disorders, and causes adverse reactions like migraine headache, skin rash, seizures, and tachycardia.
The answer lies in helping one person at a time understand the processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is harmful and recognize where it is hidden in cosmetics, drugs, and food. Ask your grocer for food without processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in it or on it. Ask your wine merchant for wine made from grapes that have not been treated with fertilizers, pesticides, etc that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG). Talk to you doctors and dentists and any other health care professionals with whom you come in contact. Don't forget emergency room physicians and paramedics. They may do nothing -- but you will have made one more person aware that someone thinks that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is a problem. If you're asking, ask over and over again. If you're talking, keep talking.
You can always help by identifying deceptive and misleading labels and passing them on to the Truth in Labeling Campaign so we can share them with others. We have a few listed on our Web page. And if you find any other sort of thing that is helpful to you, pass it along to us, also.
Good luck. Stay in touch.
"I have always felt there is a connection between MSG toxicity, Hypoglycemia, and my Fibromyalgia symptoms."
I think I have discovered something important at least from my stand-point. You see I have always felt there is a connection between MSG toxicity, Hypoglycemia, and my Fibromyalgia symptoms. Since Fibromyalgia seems to be on the rise I thought you might find this interesting.
I have noticed that I have severe pain throughout my joints and muscles shortly after experiencing a severe hypoglycemic reaction. However, my hypoglycemic reactions are only severe once in awhile. Usually I have a time frame of approximately 15-30 minutes to get something to eat before anything serious occurs. But when I have accidentally consumed MSG the day prior, I notice that my time frame for a hypoglycemic reaction is shortened to a few minutes (not usually enough time to grab something to eat). When this occurs I get my usual MSG reactions, combined with low blood sugar symptoms. The symptoms go away as soon as I eat but the typical Fibromyalgia syndrome sets in shortly after. I think the main reason the Fibromyalgia comes out at this time is because it feels like all my muscles have been exhausted of energy. I have noticed that I can have MSG reactions without Hypoglycemia, and Hypoglycemia without MSG and not result in Fibromyalgia. I also believe the MSG causes my blood sugar to drop 10 + milligrams within minutes, resulting in hypoglycemic reactions that are more severe than if MSG were not present.
I find it very interesting that Dr. Blaylock mentions in his book (don't know the page number--someone else has my book) that as the blood sugar decreases, glutamate toxicity increases. I think this might be the case with most toxins.
Just wanted to share what I found to be fascinating...
"After so many years of seeing literally hundreds of different doctors and hundreds of different types of medications, we have come to find out now that this terrible monster called "MSG" is to blame."
I would greatly appreciate the list of ingredients that contain MSG. My husband is very sensitive to it and it has made his life a living hell! He is 48 yrs. old and has not been able to enjoy a normal, lifestyle for over 20 yrs. now due to poor health which we are now beginning to understand that "MSG" is to blame. After so many years of seeing literally hundreds of different doctors and hundreds of different types of medications, we have come to find out now that this terrible monster called "MSG" is to blame.
"Add this to your list of adverse reactions to MSG"
I think it's very important that you know this, and add it to your list of adverse reactions to MSG. If you want more information, please contact me. My main concern is that this potential effect of MSG become known to people who have suffered as I have, and their doctors.
I suffered (and suffered is the right word!) from pancreatitis in 1990 (the result of a blocked duct, not from too much alcohol). On occasions after that, I would suffer very painful bouts of "mini-pancreatitis" -- same symptoms, but not quite as severe and lasting "only" a couple of days. My doctor decided these must be ulcers, and gave me the usual list of things to avoid. Then one day it happened again after I had eaten a very bland meal. The meal, CHINESE FOOD, was notable for its blandness. That's when it hit me that it must be MSG causing this. I traced back in my mind the previous incidents, and realized that on many of those occasions I had eaten something likely to have contained MSG. (What's worse, I also realized that while I was recovering from the MSG the clear broth that was all I could eat was also laced with MSG, which would explain why I always felt horrible pain after eating and took so very long to recover.)
I have had no recurrence of those symptoms since I started watching very carefully for MSG, except in cases where I was not wary enough (e.g., pasta sauce in a restaurant). Since you almost never know what it's going to be in, this reaction has very severely curtailed my dining at restaurants and any adventurous traveling.
"When I consume MSG I frequently go to the bathroom."
I am a college student and my dining hall has some foods with pre packaged seasoning and salad dressings contain MSG. When I consume MSG I frequently go to the bathroom. Just wanted to tell you this.
"My 5 year old son's sudden onset of chronic hives..."
My 5 year old son's sudden onset of chronic hives has led me to your web site regarding MSG. We are at the early state of testing, but the Specialist did not mention MSG as a potential problem, I discovered it through word of mouth inquiries. I think it is a food trigger for him, and since it doesn't seem to be related to one "family" of foods, I became suspicious of what was in those food that set off the hives. My concern is that the "specialists" are willing to write off the hives as just a chronic case of hives, may last 2 years, and may never know what is causing them.
My questions, if you could direct me: can MSG reactions begin at any age, any time when they were not present before, can we medically determine MSG as the culprit, and why hasn't it been mentioned to me by the doctors? Thank you for your time and information.
1) Can MSG reactions begin at any age?
Yes. We know of infants whose adverse reactions abated when they were taken off MSG-containing formula
2) Can MSG reactions begin any time when they were not present before?
Yes. Dr. Russell Blaylock has a fairly sophisticated book on the effects of neurotoxic amino acids (glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and L-cysteine). It's called Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills. It's published by Health Press. He discusses the events that can precipitate MSG and aspartame reactions -- examples are a blow to the head, high fever, and ingestion of MSG by an infant or child with an undeveloped blood-brain-barrier (which fully develops as late as the time of puberty). There are others.
3) Can we medically determine MSG as the culprit?
Because the MSG reaction in not IgE mediated, scratch tests and blood tests will not detect MSG as the culprit. The best way to determine whether or not MSG is a trigger is to maintain a diet free of all processed foods (milk, bread, and butter are processed), and see if the reaction isn't abated. Then add one food at a time back into your diet every other day. I recommend that you read Dr. William Walsh's new book: Food Allergies: The Complete Guide to Understanding and Relieving you Food Allergies, published by John Wiley.
4) Why hasn't it been mentioned to me by the doctors?
The "glutes" spare no expense to flood health care professionals with propaganda that claims that MSG is safe. The same is true of those who promote aspartame. I like to think that because so many health-care professionals are overworked they don't have time (or the habit) of checking on what they are told by industry. It has also occurred to me that doctors might think that they wouldn't have nearly as much business if they PREVENTED reactions instead of being paid to cure them. But to answer your question, I really don't know.
There is a physician who is (or was) at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis who is a hive specialist. Some years ago, he found that aspartame causes hives. I will try to come up with his name and forward it on to you.
"My head used to spin..."
Ii used to use MSG in my diet n my head used to spin i.e. i had a feeling of drowsiness for 2 days same effect as artificial sweeteners. you guys are doing a great job by informing the people of the harmful effects of MSG. keep it up.
"I suspected MSG, in fact, but there were so many times I was stricken without having had MSG (or so I thought) that I discounted it. It wasn't until I learned the many guises of MSG from your web site that it all finally came together and I found relief."
Dear Jack and Adrienne,
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for producing your MSG website at www.truthinlabeling.org. My wife found it a year or so ago and thought it might be an explanation for the mysterious malady I'd been suffering from for years and years, and it was like a godsend. With the information you've presented I've been able to identify that my illness was indeed due to MSG and I've been able to avoid it almost completely for over a year now.
Ever since my mid-twenties (I'm 45 now), I had been suffering continuously from what I called "attacks". They were like an awful combination of a hangover and an allergic reaction: headache, sinus congestion, watery eyes, upset stomach, bowel disorder, aching muscles in the neck and shoulders, facial puffiness, general malaise and depression, irritability and anger. This would last from six to 18 hours, relentlessly. There was almost nothing I could do about them, except sometimes a combination of pseudoephedrine and aspirin would help a little. These attacks would strike unpredictably, sometimes as long as a month apart but sometimes three times in a week.
I suspected dozens of causes and tried at least as many remedies. I saw doctors and specialists and went through batteries of tests, and nothing came of it. I suspected MSG, in fact, but there were so many times I was stricken without having had MSG (or so I thought) that I discounted it. It wasn't until I learned the many guises of MSG from your website that it all finally came together and I found relief.
My particular sensitivity to MSG seems to be this: it takes at least six hours for the reaction to begin, and I also seem to be able to tolerate some small amounts of it. This has made isolating the problem extremely difficult. Now that I'm careful to avoid all the code words for MSG which you point out on your website, I am almost completely free from the attacks. There are still occasional times when I'll get the reaction, sometimes I suspect due to MSG from a restaurant or dinner at friends' houses. And I also think there are certain combinations of food which can somehow aggravate my response. For example, I can drink wine OR eat chocolate without problems, but on at least five separate occasions I've been able to identify an attack associated with wine AND chocolate (and no other known MSG). Very complicated!
Anyway, I wanted to share my particular relationship with MSG but most of all to thank you for providing the key to finally escaping this awful cycle. I know it must be a lot of work to compile and present all the information that you have, and to keep as active as you do in the cause, and I want you to know how much it has meant to me. It has literally turned my life around, and I am very grateful. I am also sending a contribution to TLC at the address in your website, to help in a small way.
With Deepest Gratitude
When we receive e-mails such as yours, it makes us feel that our work over the past 12 years has been worthwhile. We are very pleased to know that our Web site helped you.
You mentioned that you have suffered MSG-type attacks from alcohol on some occasions. Although all alcohol, fermented products, contain small amounts of processed free glutamic acid (MSG), it is likely that you may be able to tolerate some alcoholic drinks because of the fact that you have some tolerance for MSG. I would think, however, that beer, especially domestic beer, may cause you a problem.
When you reacted to wine, I strongly suspect that you had ingested a small amount of MSG, possibly an amount that would not ordinarily have caused a reaction if ingested in the absence of alcohol. Any amount of alcohol ingested with a meal that contains processed free glutamic acid (MSG) causes many people to react to lower amounts of MSG than usual, and to often cause a more serious attack than usual. Extreme physical exertion, jogging, for example, just before or just following ingestion of MSG will act similarly.
Please send a copy of your outstanding letter to your congressperson and senators in Washington along with a short explanation. Ask that they force the FDA to require that all processed foods be measured for free glutamic acid, post production, and that if free glutamic acid is found to be present that it be disclosed on the food labels as "MSG," with the amounts present stated in milligrams.
"The makers...told me that it does not contain MSG, but the ingredients include whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate as well as 'natural flavors.'"
I have had these MSG symptoms for 2 months and before I go to the doctor, I am going to go on a diet that contains no MSG type foods. Can you tell me if homemade yogurt made from whole milk and cream and nothing else would contain MSG? I would like to eat yogurt for the next couple of days to see if my symptoms go away, but cannot find anything that tells me if whole milk is all right to use. I think my problem is a whey protein powder that I bought a few months ago and which I use to make muffins and other baked goods. The makers(EAS Products) told me that it does not contain MSG, but the ingredients include whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate as well as "natural flavors".
I have been eating about 12 other things on your lists such as citric acid, yeast, Parmesan cheese and gelatin. I believe after reading your information that I am full of MSG. I had stopped eating Chinese food 6 years ago because the MSG caused cranial pressure and head "fog" for days. I just recently started eating the protein powder and Parmesan cheese .Thanks for your help. I am always amazed at the people that allow MSG and Nutrasweet on the market when it is obvious that these products cause a lot of pain and suffering for the masses. Too much greed.
"I believe I have figured out what has been happening to me..."
I just wanted to tell you that I believe I have figured out what has been happening to me during the course of several months: I am a 49 year old mother of two children, happily married with a minimum of stress in my life. Several months ago I began to experience tingling in my hands and feet, which occasionally was quite painful. I also had headaches to which I attributed the use of caffeine as the culprit. I occasionally have a metallic taste in my mouth. I underwent an MRI fearing that I had MS. The neurologists ruled this out and have requested that I return if any symptoms resume.
Two nights ago I prepared and ate "Lipton Alfredo Noodles," a prepackaged processed food. Prior to going to sleep around 10 p.m. that night I had want felt like a sledge hammer hit me in the right side of the head. The tingling in the extremities returned and a violent headache were still with me in the morning and now 48 hours later are just beginning to subside. I knew that the type of headache I was experiencing was much like the ones I get with Chinese food (which I now avoid). I searched on the internet and found that the additive in the packaged food was called sodium caseinate and the information led me to you. I think that I might have to hire a nutritional counselor to guide me in dealing with this problem. I wondered if you have any other advise and what I might do for myself in the future. I'm displeased about this, as I have always been a healthy and strong person. Thanks for your assistance.
"I have blurred vision, extreme tightness of legs and feet (almost feeling as if my skin will burst) and numbness and tingling of most of my extremities, in particular my feet and legs, as well as severe edema (my toes look like shiny sausages!)"
I am currently experiencing a severe reaction to MSG. I mistakenly had some salad dressing without checking the label. I have blurred vision, extreme tightness of legs and feet (almost feeling as if my skin will burst) and numbness and tingling of most of my extremities, in particular my feet and legs, as well as severe edema (my toes look like shiny sausages!) I have just this past week began taking eye drops for increased eye pressure, possibly Glaucoma. After discovering your web site, I was horrified to read all of my symptoms being displayed, one after another. I would very much like to receive the list mentioned on your site (provided upon request), of additional ingredients that may contain MSG . My symptoms have become more severe with each new instance of MSG ingestion, and I am becoming increasingly alarmed and want to take every precaution to avoid any further exposure.
"The soaked corn had spent 18 hours fermenting - generating MSG"
A true story; it may be of interest to you.
We went to a picnic hosted by my wife's brother. He cooked everything, a real break for us. (Seems like we're cooking all the time.)
"Grilled chicken?" he offered. I verified there were no spices, then passed it over to my son. Light grilling does make amines at a low level, but my son can handle these. "Corn, hot off the grill?" he continued. My son is ok with salicylates, so again I said yes. He ate two ears, then some salad, and some safe cookies that we brought from home. Later that evening I overheard her brother, talking to friends. "Yeah, I soaked the corn over night. That's why it stayed nice and moist; didn't get dried out on the grill."
Oh my God! I didn't even think to ask. Grains soaked in water at room temperature or above are the worst! The corn spent 18 hours fermenting - generating MSG. I knew the next day would be terrible. Sure enough, we had to pick up my son from school before lunch. The only good news is, I'm finally able to predict his reactions in advance, (if I am given all the information), and those predictions usually come true. Managing my son's disorder is slowly becoming a science, and less of a mysterious black art.
Other huge reactors for my son are the alternative yeast-free breads, slow-rising, that ferment for hours. This is no surprise to you, but should probably be listed on your site. Many of us are afraid of yeast, often without cause, or we may come from a background of candida, so we naturally gravitate towards these breads. Besides, how else can we get breads without part h soy oil? But these "natural" breads are *real* bad! We definitely see the reaction to malt, which was not anticipated by the failsafe group. Your site is definitely more comprehensive, with regard to MSG, than any other.
“The doctors diagnosed me with Vertigo”
A few years ago I had to go to emergency room and the doctors diagnosed me with Vertigo....I hope my story can help others discover if they have similar reactions to MSG. I also wouldn't be surprised if statistically there are many people unaware they suffer from MSG because its so hard to pinpoint.
I wish you all the best in your endeavors. Keep fighting the good fight!
“I was feeling really suicidal”
What was worse was that I was feeling really suicidal. It would come and go, often very suddenly....[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.
Thank you so much for the service you do.
"I have been allergic to MSG for years and I thought I knew what to stay away from”
I have been allergic to MSG for years and I thought I knew what to stay away from. I get migraines. Thanks for solving my puzzle.
"...my daughter doesn't suffer from migraines at all”
...my daughter doesn't suffer from migraines at all...I believe she has suffered horrible allergic reactions to PROCESSED FREE GLUTAMIC ACIDS... Thank you, thank you.
“For over 30 years I have searched to discover my triggers”
Thank you Truth in Labeling campaign for being my most reliable source the past few years for tracking down my migraine triggers. For over 30 years I have searched to discover my triggers. With your help I have been able to significantly reduce the number of migraines I have.
“A great tasting chip that didn't have MSG on the label!”
Am thankful that someone out there is offering this warning to the public. For years I have been getting terrible migraines that put me in bed for a day, usually once a week, and sometime twice. I'd discovered the great offender, MSG, 15 years ago, or more and have avoided it like the plague.
About 6 years ago I started getting these bad "barometric weather headaches". Could not figure it out. Then...discovery. All this time I had been eating "Sun Chips"....a great tasting chip that didn't have MSG on the label! So, re-reading the ingredients I decided to look up "hydrolyzed soy protein". Voila! And that brought me to your site. It also contains "Autolyzed yeast extract", and God knows what else man has tampered with is in their ingredients. And the laughable coup de grace, they are touting an advertisement about how they are helping to fight breast cancer! So glad they are interested in our health....
I wanted to thank you for the info on your website. My husband suffers from migraine headaches and sometimes I think he has seizures to go along with it. I didn’t realize the hidden names that MSG has. Also to think that I am giving my children food that I think has NO MSG and it does. This makes me sick to my stomach. I am doing more research on the affects of MSG and what products actually contain it. Hidden or not.
"I have been treated by 3 different neurologists for seizures”
I have been treated by 3 different neurologists for seizures, and I am currently taking three medications but still having problems. Many prayers have been prayed for an answer, and finally it seems that there may be one- MSG could be the cause of all this! So I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you for the work you do on this website! You are truly a God-send!
"I felt like I was going crazy"
About 11 years ago I totally fell apart. I felt like I was going crazy. I was moody, depressed, had anxiety and more....they told me all problems stemmed from my husband and father....I then read a book about MSG. Within 1 year I was in control of my life again except the times I ate food with MSG.
“Swelling and headaches, facial pressure, and depression”
We have many symptoms, esp the swelling and headaches, facial pressure, and depression. Both of my daughters have been prescribed meds for depression and find that when they stick with a diet low in MSG and processed foods that they do not need to take the medications.
"6 hours later, I get depressed, my skin started itching severely...”
6 hours later, I get depressed, my skin started itching severely, and shortly after, my skin breaks out again in the exact same locations as always. By the way, I now have permanent dark areas on my skin where I break out."
I would like to thank you for what information you have made available to the average layman like me.
“...he felt less “irrational”
Personally I am absolutely convinced the rise in violence among youngsters seen world-wide is a direct result of MSG consumption. I have seen it many years ago with my younger brother growing up on a diet rich in MSG. He was very emotionally irrational, turned violent for “nothing” and had general lack of focus in life – like so many kids today. I started propagating against MSG and after some time of having reduced/removed MSG from his diet, even he himself acknowledged that he felt less “irrational” and easily “aggressively irritated”. His school grades also improved.
“...urinary frequency, rapid heartbeat, inability to sleep”
The symptoms are always the same: urinary frequency, rapid heartbeat, inability to sleep, and -- really bad -- some song or poem or such as that going "round and round" in my head.
I wish MSG could be banned from food because I know for a fact that it does damage.
“Bladder pain (with frequency)”
On your list of adverse reactions, bladder pain (with frequency) should be added in the "urological" section. I am an Interstitial Cystitis sufferer and I have talked to many fellow sufferers on an IC message board. Most all of us have MSG sensitivity. Many IC sufferers have MSG sensitivity and don't know it.
“Scheduled for ablation”
My husband has been having a problem with a-fib since October. After many doctors etc., I think I have found the cause and that being MSG. He is scheduled for ablation at the end of the month but now I wonder if that is something like "treating the symptoms and not treating the cause
“...arrhythmia...and rapid heartbeat"
The loss of sleep is in itself a serious problem, but I also notice arrhythmia going on at the same time -- and rapid heartbeat, also.
I wish MSG could be banned from food because I know for a fact that it does damage.
“MSG and aspartame affected me in similar ways”
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....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.
“The surgery went well…using the alternate feeding materials”
Well -- I'm home and recovering. The surgery went well and they ended up using the alternate feeding material that was almost OK (made by Nestle as an alternative to traditional tube feeding) ... they only had me on it a couple of days but it got me through the time I needed it. I started throwing-up and the surgeon decided I would be better off without it. He was very sensitive to my needs regarding not getting MSG. Also thought I'd do better at home where I could control what I ate.
In case you are curious about my surgery, it was a Whipple. I had a tumor on my pancreas so couldn't not have the surgery. Tumor is benign so the outcome is good. Recovery is long. My surgery was 17 days ago and I was in the hospital for 10 days. Just went to see the surgeon today and got my last tube out.
Again, I really appreciate all the help you've given. I'm still struggling as you can imagine but very grateful to have the part behind me that I do.