VNS and CAJI/IS Exclusive
From MSG to Heart Failure and Autism
By Art Smith
Imagine enjoying a meal at a restaurant when suddenly you develop heart palpitations, which worsen until you are in danger of having a heart attack. This can be caused by consuming monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is in many processed foods and restaurant meals. MSG is dangerous and we need to be well informed about it and how to avoid having a dangerous reaction and long-term health effects.
Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is a food additive used as a spice in salty, spicy or processed foods. The process that makes it taste good is also what makes it dangerous: that unique spicy taste is caused by neurons being overexcited to death. This in turn leads to loss of intelligence at best, headaches and other reactions, possibly neurodegenerative diseases, or in the worst case scenario can lead to sudden heart failure. An MSG reaction can occur immediately after consumption or as late as 48 hours later.1
MSG is suspected of causing or contributing to many diseases including autism, epilepsy, migraines, heart arrhythmias, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, eye damage, rage, anxiety or panic attacks and many others. MSG is found in many processed foods and is disguised under different names. Some of those names include gelatin, yeast, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), textured protein, glutamic acid, autolyzed yeast, soy protein, vegetable protein extract, natural flavor, artificial flavor, and spice, but these are definitely not all.2
Unfortunately it is impossible to avoid MSG completely even for the health conscious because it is now being sprayed on crops as an insecticide. It is also found in vaccines, candy, drinks, chewing gum, and various cosmetics.3,4 The average American may eat more than 4 pounds of MSG-containing food a day, which is almost two teaspoons of pure MSG.5 There are products that are almost guaranteed to contain MSG such as bouillon cubes, canned soup, and soup mixes, including many of the “natural” versions.
Factors affecting MSG reaction
According to the website MSGTruth, practically everyone is affected by MSG but in different ways and varying degrees. Some people have sudden reactions like headaches, heart palpitations or seizures, while others seem to show no effect. However, with repeated consumption, MSG can eventually lead to neurodegenerative diseases so not having a noticeable reaction doesn’t equal escape from the consequences.6
The FDA itself issued a report about the link with neurological diseases and MSG because of the amount of complaints they received. They describe an “MSG symptom complex” as consisting of one or more of the following symptoms: “burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms, and chest; numbness in the back of the neck, radiating to the arms and back; tingling, warmth and weakness in the face…facial pressure or tightness, chest pain, headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing…drowsiness, weakness..” 7
The severity of MSG reaction is related to several factors like amount of food eaten, liquid or solid form, period of time with no food afterwards, and a person’s overall health, sensitivity, or nutritional imbalances. An MSG reaction is more likely if one eats more food and also if it is consumed as a liquid. Diabetics who consume MSG may be at a higher risk of developing blindness. 8
The toxic effect of MSG is related to how much food you eat and also the period you go without eating afterwards. If you go for a while without eating following the problematic meal, you increase your chance of having a reaction. Studies have shown that 100% of people who ate MSG-containing foods and fasted overnight following that complained of headaches.9
Consumption of MSG combined with a magnesium deficiency can lead to sudden heart failure so making sure one is not deficient in that mineral can help prevent catastrophic reactions. 10
The Erb Hypothesis
Pregnant and nursing mothers should be especially concerned with MSG because of the effects it can have on the developing fetus. The Erb Hypothesis states that MSG added to food and vaccines plays a part in causing ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, and autism. This hypothesis claims that MSG causes overgrowth in some areas of the brain, thus damaging or destroying them. Genetics and the amount of MSG exposure determine whether the child will be diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s or autism. In 1940 autism was quite rare. In 1950 MSG was introduced to the food supply and at that time autism and ADHD grew considerably. The authors of the Erb Hypothesis claim that MSG consumed by the mother during pregnancy combined with a vaccine containing MSG after birth may cause tremendous harm to the developing brain.11
How to Cope with the Effects of MSG
It is impossible to completely avoid MSG due to its wide use and misleading labeling. However, there are ways to cope with exposure to MSG and try to prevent life-threatening reactions when it can’t be recognized or avoided. One way is taurine supplementation. Taurine is an amino acid that neutralizes MSG. It is best taken before the MSG-containing meal.12
Melatonin also has a protective effect and can even stop the brain damage caused by MSG. When there is a large amount of melatonin in the area of the brain where there is also MSG, MSG does not destroy brain cells.13
The website MSGTruth has compiled an analysis of different restaurant chains and foods to avoid. They advise against eating anything chicken, anything sausage, ranch dressing, parmesan items, soups, Caesar salad, soy sauce, and other items as the worst offenders. It is an invaluable resource in learning more about MSG. http://www.msgtruth.org/avoid.htm
For a list of foods approved for MSG addition, a list of ingredients containing MSG, and a list of vaccines containing MSG, refer at the appendices of The Slow Poisoning of Mankind. Keep in mind this information is from 2006.
The best ways to avoid an MSG reaction is to be informed and read ingredient lists, cook your own food as much as possible, and also research and consider supplementation and other lifestyle changes. You can keep some taurine with you when going out to eat at a fast food restaurant, a friend’s house or when traveling. Avoid factors known to exacerbate an MSG reaction like not eating for a long time afterwards. Keep in mind most if not all national fast food chains use MSG and plan accordingly. Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you and consider whether it could be having a reaction to MSG.
1) Thomas C. Corriher. “How MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is Hidden in Your Foods and Its Antidote, Taurine.”
2) Thomas C. Corriher. “How MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is Hidden in Your Foods and Its Antidote, Taurine.”
3) Thomas C. Corriher. “How MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is Hidden in Your Foods and Its Antidote, Taurine.”
4) John E. Erb, Michelle Erb. The Slow Poisoning of America. Paladins Press, 2003.
5) John E. Erb, Michelle Erb. The Slow Poisoning of America. Paladins Press, 2003.
6) MSGTruth.org http://www.msgtruth.org/
7) John E. Erb, Michelle Erb. The Slow Poisoning of America. Paladins Press, 2003.
8) John E. Erb, Michelle Erb. The Slow Poisoning of America. Paladins Press, 2003.
9) John E. Erb, Michelle Erb. The Slow Poisoning of America. Paladins Press, 2003.
10) Thomas C. Corriher. “How MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is Hidden in Your Foods and Its Antidote, Taurine.”
11) The Slow Poisoning of Mankind. A Report on the Toxic Effects of the Food Additive Monosodium Glutamate Presented by John Erb of Canada to the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives.
12) Thomas C. Corriher. “How MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is Hidden in Your Foods and Its Antidote, Taurine.”
13) John E. Erb, Michelle Erb. The Slow Poisoning of America. Paladins Press, 2003.