Friday, November 21, 2008

Migraines and MSG

I have been a migraine sufferer for over 15 years. The disease lands me in bed for hours, even days with cold packs over my eyes. I must have the lights off, and no sound. The slightest sound makes me want to crawl out of my skin. Bright lights make me want to tear my eyeballs out, and smells make me physically want to throw up.

Most days I try to "buck up" and get through it, but lately, that has been becoming more an more difficult to do. After a terribly bad spell last week I went to refill my Imitrex prescription only to be told it would cost me $220. I can not afford $220 for 9 tablets. That is insane! And the meds only work for me some of the time. Often, I am taking 3-4 pills per episode. I suffer from migraines every 3-5 weeks or so with varying degrees of severity and functionability.

Migraine is disease, a headache is only a symptom - A MIGRAINE IS NOT JUST A BAD HEADACHE. Migraine pain is caused by vasodilation in the cranial blood vessels (expansion of the blood vessels), while headache pain is caused by vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels). During a migraine, inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain, i.e., neurogenic inflammation, exacerbates the pain.

Unlike a headache, the Migraine disease has many symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, auras (light spots), sensitivity to light and sound, numbness, difficulty in speech, and severe semihemispherical head pain. One Migraine attack alone can last for eight hours, several days, or even weeks.


A Migraine is induced by various controllable and uncontrollable triggers. Uncontrollable triggers include weather patterns and menstrual cycles, and controllable triggers include bright light, MSG, aspartame, and alcohol. The severity and frequency of Migraines for one person depends upon how many triggers an individual must experience before a Migraine is induced. The combination of triggers is different for each person.

Remember, Migraine is a disease that involves a heightening of one's senses, all of one's senses. A Migraineur is more sensitive to his or her surroundings, including light, sound, smells, taste (chemicals in foods), and touch (including the touch of the atmospheric pressure on one's body). Awareness of one's environment is critical for a Migraineur.

I have begun tracking my migraines in hopes to link them to direct triggers. Since I can not afford the medication prescribed to me, I can at least try to prevent the attacks from occuring. While many of my migraines seem unrelated to events around me, I have been able to directly link them to MSG (monosodium glutemate). I am in the process of trying to remove MSG from my diet entirely. It is beginning to look like I am now only going to be able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and organic meats. I don't think I can eat at the work cafeteria, or certainly not fast food - maybe not even sit down restaraunts.

MSG is in EVERYTHING! There is no clear labeling of foods to indicate MSG is included as it has 15 different names, and is also included in more than 30 other ingredients!!!!



The MSG-reaction is a reaction to free glutamic acid that occurs in food as a consequence of manufacture or fermentation. MSG-sensitive people do not react to protein (which contains bound glutamic acid) or any of the minute amounts of free glutamic acid that might be found in unadulterated, unfermented, food.

These ALWAYS contain MSG

Monosodium glutamate
Monopotassium glutamate
Yeast extract
(any) Hydrolyzed protein
Glutamic acid
Calcium caseinate
Sodium caseinate
Yeast food
Hydrolyzed corn gluten
Textured protein
Yeast nutrient
Autolyzed yeast
Natrium glutamate
(Latin/German for sodium)
These OFTEN contain MSG or create MSG during processing

Bouillon and Broth
Whey protein concentrate
Whey protein
Whey protein isolate
Soy sauce
Soy sauce extract
Soy protein
(any) Fortified protein
(anything) Fermented
Flavors(s) & Flavoring(s)
Natural flavor(s) & flavoring(s)
Natural pork flavoring
Natural beef flavoring
Citric acid
Natural chicken flavoring
(anything) Ultra-pasteurized
Barley malt
Protease enzymes
(anything) Enzyme modified
Enzymes (anything)
Pre-basted poultry
Malt extract
Malt flavoring
Soy protein isolate
Soy protein concentrate
Seasonings (the word "seasonings")

The not so new game is to label hydrolyzed proteins as pea protein, whey protein, corn protein, wheat protein, soy protein, etc. If a pea, for example, were whole, it would be identified as a pea. In “pea protein,” the pea has been hydrolyzed, at least in part, producing processed free glutamic acid (MSG).

Disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate are expensive food additives that work synergistically with inexpensive MSG. Their use suggests that the product has MSG in it. They would probably not be used as food additives if there were no MSG present.

MSG reactions have been reported to soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, and cosmetics, where MSG is hidden in ingredients that include the words "hydrolyzed," "amino acids," and "protein."

MSG reactions have been reported from produce (especially very large potatoes) fertilized and/or sprayed with MSG-containing products.
Low fat and no fat milk products often include milk solids that contain MSG. Low fat and no fat versions of ice cream and cheese may not be as obvious as yogurt, milk, cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc., but they are not an exception.

Protein powders contain glutamic acid (processed free glutamic acid--MSG). Glutamic acid is not always named on labels of protein powders.

Drinks, candy, and chewing gum are potential sources of hidden MSG and of aspartame and/or neotame. Aspartic acid, found in neotame and aspartame (NutraSweet), ordinarily causes MSG type reactions in MSG sensitive people. Aspartame is found in some medications, including children's medications. Neotame is relatively new and we have not yet seen it used widely. Check with your pharmacist.

Binders and fillers for medications, nutrients, and supplements, both prescription and non-prescription, enteral feeding materials, and some fluids administered intravenously in hospitals, may contain MSG.
According to the manufacturer, Varivax–Merck chicken pox vaccine (Varicella Virus Live), contains L-monosodium glutamate and hydrolyzed gelatin both of which contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG) which causes brain lesions in young laboratory animals, and causes endocrine disturbances like OBESITY and REPRODUCTIVE disorders later in life. It would appear that most, if not all, live virus vaccines contain MSG.

Some people react to even very small amounts of MSG. MSG-induced reactions may occur immediately after ingestion or after as much as 48 hours.

By FDA definition, all MSG is "naturally occurring." "Natural" doesn't mean "safe." "Natural" only means that the ingredient started out in nature.

There are additional ingredients that appear to cause MSG reactions in ACUTELY sensitive people. A list, called the ADDENDUM, is available by request.

In beginning to research MSG, it appears that there has been controversy over the additive since the 1960'6. Check out this 60 minutes video from 1991

So, MSG triggers migraines in some people, so what, you say. . . Check out the list of other adverse reactions caused by MSG:


Atrial fibrillation
..Rapid heartbeat
Slow heartbeat
Extreme rise or drop blood pressure




Stomach cramps
Irritable bowel
Swelling of hemorrhoids and/or anus area
Rectal bleeding


Flu-like achiness
Joint pain


Mood swings
Rage reactions
Migraine headache
Loss of balance
Mental confusion
Panic attacks
Behavioral problems children
Attention deficit ..disorders
Numbness or paralysis Seizures
Slurred speech
Chills and shakes


Blurred vision
Difficulty focusing
Pressure around eyes


Shortness of breath
Chest pain
Tightness in the chest
Runny nose

Urological / Genital

Bladder pain (with frequency)
Swelling of the prostate
Swelling of the vagina
Vaginal spotting
Frequent urination


Hives (may be both ..internal and external)
Mouth lesions
Temporary tightness or
..partial paralysis
..(numbness or tingling)
..of the skin
Extreme dryness of
..the mouth / thirst
Face swelling
Tongue swelling
Bags under eyes


Processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is a toxic substance. A reaction to MSG is a reaction to a toxin/poison. A reaction to MSG is not an allergic reaction. Traditional "allergy tests" will not identify people who are sensitive to a toxin/poison.
The ingredient that causes MSG reactions in MSG-sensitive people is manufactured/processed free glutamic acid.(1) Manufactured/processed free glutamic acid is found in processed foods (9) -- but it is not found in unprocessed or unadulterated meat, fish, or vegetables (including soybeans, mushrooms, and tomatoes.).(3) Only meat, fish, or vegetables that have been subjected to some sort of manufacturing or fermenting process will cause MSG reactions in MSG-sensitive people who ingest amounts that exceed their tolerances for MSG.(1) Dairy products, also, may cause MSG reactions in MSG-sensitive people because some dairy products are ultra-pasteurized, some are fermented, and many contain food additives such as carrageenan that are problematic for MSG-sensitive people.(1) All manufactured/processed free glutamic acid contains contaminants (D-glutamic acid, pyroglutamic acid, and others) (12,13), while the glutamic acid found in intact/unadulterated protein contains no contaminants.(3) Some manufactured/processed free glutamic acid contains carcinogenic mono and dichloro propanols.(12)
With one exception, aspartame and processed free glutamic acid (MSG) cause identical adverse reactions in people who are sensitive to them.(2) In addition, the free glutamic acid found in MSG and the free aspartic acid found in aspartame both have been shown to kill brain cells and cause subsequent endocrine disorders in laboratory animals.(4) (We don't do such experiments on humans.)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appears to be more interested in protecting the profits of big business than in safeguarding the health of consumers.
When a manufacturer tells you there is no processed free glutamic acid in a product that made you ill, ask the manufacturer to back up his claim by providing you with a "free amino acid" assay. If there is any free glutamic acid found, you can assume that the product contains MSG.

When a manufacturer tells you that any MSG in his product couldn't possibly harm you because it is "naturally occurring," inform the manufacturer that both arsenic and hydrochloric acid are "naturally occurring," too.

If MSG wasn't harmful, it wouldn't be hidden.

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