MSG- revisited

Are you at risk from exposure to MSG?

MSG-sensitivity is a term used by people who react adversely to “monosodium glutamate” and/or any other ingredient that contains processed free glutamic acid (MSG).

As used here, an “adverse reaction” is an unpleasant reaction that can be seen or felt by the affected person or an observer.  Skin rash, nausea, migraine headache, heart irregularities, seizures, and depression are examples of adverse reactions that have been reported following ingestion of MSG. Each is a visible or observable reaction. When caused by MSG, each can be traced back to recent exposure to MSG.

Gross obesity, stunted growth, reproductive disorders, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, and retinal degeneration (possibly leading to blindness) are not classified as “adverse reactions.”  When caused by MSG, their roots lie in the destruction of brain cells, possibly years before gross obesity, stunted growth, reproductive disorders, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, and/or retinal degeneration are first observed.  Research confirming that MSG consumed by laboratory animals causes brain lesions in the area of the hypothalamus has been replicated many times. Similarly, researchers have confirmed that when MSG is consumed by infant animals, neonates, and even fetuses, the brain lesions are followed by neuroendocrine disorders such as obesity, stunted growth, and reproductive disorders. (Research that has claimed to find that MSG is “safe” has always been seriously flawed; and has always been financed, directly or indirectly, by the glutamate industry.)

A third area of concern encompasses a number of pathological conditions such as addiction, stroke, epilepsy, brain trauma, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, AIDS dementia, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). All are known to be affected by free glutamic acid. Whether ingestion of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) plays a role in causing or exacerbating these conditions is not clear.  Because glutamic acid is involved in all of them, this conglomeration of pathological conditions is often referred to as the glutamate cascade.

The following should help you understand MSG-sensitivity:

Recognizing and/or diagnosing MSG adverse reactions

Pinpointing MSG as a reaction triggerA list of reactions that might be MSG-induced adverse reactions

Letters from people who have identified sensitivities to MSG

Understanding where MSG is hidden

Understanding brain damage and endocrine disorders caused by MSG

Understanding MSG’s link to pathological conditions such as addiction, stroke, epilepsy, brain trauma, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, AIDS dementia, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

People vary in their reactions to MSG — both in the amount of MSG needed to cause an adverse reaction and in the type of reaction experienced. We know that some people react to what would seem to be incredibly small amounts of MSG, while others react only when they ingest considerably more. We know that MSG can cause the same reactions caused by drugs that affect the nervous system — reactions that are called “side effects” when related to prescription or nonprescription drugs.  But we know very little about the mechanisms that underlie MSG-induced adverse reactions.  For those who are interested, the following may lead to a better understanding of  adverse reactions to MSG: 1) Glutamate receptors (cells that can be stimulated by ingested MSG) exist outside of the brain and central nervous system.  They are referred to as “peripheral receptors.”  Glutamate receptors, which were once thought to be present only in the central nervous system, have been found in the mouth, lungs, intestines, muscle, and other “peripheral” locations. (Gill, S.S., Mueller, R.W., McGuire, P.F., Pulido, O.M. Potential target sites in peripheral tissues for excitatory neuro transmission and excitotoxicity. Toxicologic Pathology 28(2):277-284, 2000.)2) Ingestion of MSG causes adverse reactions in susceptible individuals. Those reactions are diverse, but no more diverse than reactions to other neurotropic drugs such as Valium. The fairly recent discovery of glutamate receptors in many locations outside of the central nervous system suggests that the readily observable toxic effects of MSG, referred to as adverse reactions, are facilitated by glutamate receptors in the mouth, lungs, intestines, and muscle, for example; and that the fate of ingested MSG is not to come to rest in the plasma as elevated plasma glutamate and from there to be excreted by the liver. Rather, it would appear that the fate of ingested MSG is to move with dispatch to any glutamate receptors available to it; and to create an adverse or toxic reaction if any one of those peripheral glutamate receptors is weak, crippled, diseased, or otherwise unhealthy.

3) The adverse effects of MSG ingestion may be cumulative. People have reported eating products containing small amounts of MSG once a week without experiencing reactions, while having reactions when those same products were consumed two or three days in a row.  In one well done 2002 study, no retinal damage was observed when MSG was fed to laboratory animals for a short period of time (a month), but as time during which MSG was fed to those animals increased to 3 months and 6 months, there was observable damage. (Ohguro et al. A high dietary intake of sodium glutamate as flavoring (Ajinomoto) causes gross changes in retinal morphology and function. Experimental Eye Research 75:(3),2002)

4) It has been suggested (possibly by Dr. Russel Blaylock) that while a dose of MSG below a person’s tolerance level may not produce an observable adverse reaction the first time the sub-liminal does of MSG is ingested, it stimulates or damages vulnerable glutamate receptors, making them more sensitive to subsequent ingestion of MSG. That would explain why the same amount of MSG ingested at a later time or on a second day might, that second time, cause an observable MSG-reaction that was not seen before.  Think of a sub-liminal dose of MSG as a drill with a dull bit being used on a piece of hard wood.  The first time the drill is applied, you make a dent in the board you are working on, but you don’t make a hole (a reaction).  The second time the drill is applied, you either make a larger dent or actually make a hole (a reaction).

5) Relevant to the toxic effects of MSG on the elderly (whose weakened blood-brain barriers would be less able to keep excess amounts of MSG from getting into the brain), there is sound science that suggests that the glutamic acid in MSG may act as a “slow neurotoxin,” not resulting in observable damage such as dementia until years after the MSG was ingested.  The work of Dr. Peter Spencer is particularly relevant.   Mercury, for example, is a slow neurotoxin — manifesting its toxic effects years after being ingested. It is entirely possible that the concept of a “slow neurotoxin” may be relevant to the production of human adverse reactions.



~ by sunil khemaney on November 6, 2008.

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