March 1, 2009

By johnmac

MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a very common food additive used to enhance the flavour of a wide variety of canned, packaged and processed foods.

Although it has GRAS status (Generally Regarded As Safe), research studies have linked the consumption of MSG to numerous health issues, including: impaired cognitive development/performance, mood disorders, neurological system disorders, Juvenile Diabetes, Type II Diabetes and insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, hormonal imbalances, cancer, eye diseases and degenerative brain diseases. (Source: Health and Nutrition Secrets that Can Save your Life, Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., Health Press, Albuquerque, NM, 2002.)

When fed to test animals, MSG destroys retinal cells and neurons within the brain.

There are also many studies that show a link between MSG consumption, weight gain and obesity.  You can check this for yourself by going to the National Library of Medicine, at Type in the words “MSG Obese”. Last time I checked, this search returned 164 medical studies.

An interesting book that covers the topic of the possible health hazards associated with MSG is ‘The Slow Poisoning of America’ by John Erb. John Erb was a research assistant for the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo. His theory and supporting research, that MSG is a direct cause of obesity, diabetes, autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), is getting attention not only among consumers, but also among the scientific community.

One of the interesting discoveries John Erb made while going through scientific journals, was that in hundreds of studies around the world, scientists were creating obese mice and rats to use in diet or diabetes test studies. No strain of rat or mice is naturally obese, so the scientists have to create them. They do so by injecting the new born animals with MSG. Apparently, the MSG triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates, causing the animals to become obese. It isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine that regular consumption of MSG/MSG-containing foods would have the same effect on humans.

Some individuals have almost instant adverse reactions when they consume MSG. These include:

  • severe/throbbing headaches
  • dizziness
  • numbness
  • constriction of the throat
  • nausea, diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • rashes

If you suspect you have a sensitivity to MSG (or any other food/food substance), stop eating it for 10 days and note if you feel better when you avoid it. Sometimes it is difficult to determine exactly what is causing adverse reactions. In these instances, you may wish to consider food sensitivity testing. Note that I offer this service using BioMeridian’s Meridian Stress Assessment System (to learn more, go to the ‘BioEnergetic Evaluation’ section of my website).

It isn’t easy to avoid MSG. This is due to the fact that it appears under so many alternate names, making it difficult to determine if it has indeed been added to a packaged food. According to various sources, using these alternate names is a way for manufacturers to ‘disguise’ the fact that their products contain, or create, processed free glutamic acid (MSG) during manufacturing.

In his book, “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills”, Dr. Russel Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon, gives a list of the most common names for ‘disguised’ MSG, as well as a list of additives that frequently contain MSG. These lists are as follows:

Most common names for ‘disguised’ MSG

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein
  • Hydrolyzed protein
  • Plant protein extract
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Calcium caseinate
  • Yeast extract
  • Textured protein
  • Hydrolyzed yeast
  • Hydrolyzed oat flour

Additives that may frequently contain MSG

  • Malt extract
  • Malt flavouring
  • Boullion
  • Broth stock
  • Flavouring
  • Natural flavouring
  • Natural beef or chicken flavour
  • Seasoning
  • Spices
  • Carrageenen
  • Enzymes
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Whey protein concentrate

The best way to avoid MSG is to avoid commercially prepared/packaged foods. When dining out, ask if MSG is added to the food. In some cases, a restaurant may be able to accommodate your request for MSG-free food if the menu item is not already prepared. Some restaurants claim that they do not add any MSG to their meals; however, make sure you ask if they are certain that MSG is not contained in any of the prepared foods or commercial ingredients they use.

A petition is currently underway to revoke the GRAS status of MSG. If you would like to make your voice heard regarding this issue, go to:

If you would like more information on this topic, visit the following websites:


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