As part of a new “Well Care” series on, we’ve asked our health writers to write about ingredients commonly used in every day products,that should be avoided in order to maintain optimal health and wellness.  We hope to have a new ingredient or product featured on a regular basis.  This week Liz explores the health effects of monosodium glutamate (MSG).

MSG and Its Impact on Health
-By Liz, Guest Columnist

Do you have Headaches? Does your body ache? Most of us just chalk these symptoms up to just part of life or getting older. But is it? Could these symptoms be related to what we are eating? They could be caused by monosodium glutamate or MSG!

What are the possible health effects of MSG? There are many symptoms of a sensitivity. They range from mild to severe. Some of the mild reactions would be headaches and flushing of the skin. Other more severe reactions linked to MSG consumption include: depression, rage, mood swings, hormone changes, memory loss, obesity, stunted growth, infertility, asthma attacks, paranoia, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s and Alzheimer’s disease.  Research has also shown that behavioral problems and learning disabilities in children are associated with MSG. People that are most vulnerable to the effects of MSG are elderly, children, infants and the unborn.

MSG is a food additive and is used to enhance the flavor of foods. Behind salt and pepper, it is the most commonly used flavor enhancer today. It comes from the amino acid glutamic. It has been used for decades and has become a staple in the food industry. It is found in all processed foods, Chinese food, canned vegetables, and soups. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), MSG as a food ingredient is “generally recognized as safe.” Even though the FDA takes this stance, the use of MSG remains controversial and therefore the FDA requires that it be listed on labels.

So, if MSG is a food additive that makes our food taste better, then why should we be concerned? According to the book, “In Bad Taste, The MSG Symptom Complex“, written by George R. Schwartz “The answer is plain and simple – MSG is a drug added to our food that causes wide spread toxicity.” The book cites case studies of MSG sensitive individuals and tells us where, how, and why it is being hidden in our food! Dr. Schwartz says his book will help people learn to identify reactions, and then how to avoid eating it. He adds, “Knowing how to avoid this flavor enhancer can dramatically change lives.”

Trying to eliminate MSG from your diet would be extremely hard if not impossible.  It is difficult to identify which foods contain this commonly used flavor enhancer because the manufacturers try to hide it. A label that reads “no MSG,” may not mean  it’s a MSG-free product. In certain cases, the manufacturer simply did not add MSG! Also, there are hidden names for monosodium glutamate. Some of the hidden names include: Gelatin, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP), Autolyzed Plant Protein, and Sodium Caseinate.

As a busy mother, I want to ensure the best possible food is used for all of our meals. I want to feel confident that my family is not going to be harmed in any way! So, the next time you go to the grocery store, please make sure you are checking the labels for MSG! Know what you are buying and how it could affect your loved ones.

~Results may vary from patient to patient. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If pregnant or nursing, ask a health professional before use. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek advice of physician.