What is MSG and where does it come from? MSG is a sodium salt of glutamic acid, a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid (1). It is made by fermenting certain carbohydrates in addition to using certain bacterial and yeast species. MSG functions as a food additive and has been marketed to enhance the taste of certain foods. When we generally think of MSG, we think of East Asian cuisine. Why should Migraine sufferers stay away from foods that contain MSG?
Why is MSG bad for those of us with migraines
Most migraine sufferers are led to believe that they are susceptible to many things, including: weather, food, lack of sleep, changes in the environment etc. Researchers at the University of Oxford in England have found what they believe to be the migraine gene (2). Every person has a gene called “TRESK” which controls the sensitivity of pain nerves in the brain. For those of us with migraines, TRESK is hypersensitive. This means that we are more susceptible to triggers that activate TRESK. Glutamate is an agent that triggers TRESK. In other words,
people who suffer from migraines and who eat foods containing MSG are activating TRESK, thereby directly causing a migraine.
The reason why migraine sufferers have a problem with glutamate is that our stomachs are more sensitive. The migraine acts as the manifestation of this sensitivity. Our bodies are telling us that something we ate, did not agree with us. As our society becomes more health conscious, there continues to be a push to remove natural salts and sugars from our diets in order to lose weight and lower cholesterol. This could mean that we will see more MSG type additives replacing natural ingredients. It also means that migraine sufferers will have to become even more vigilant in controlling our diets to make sure that glutamates do not find their way into our bodies.
I am not fond of recommending any types of medicines for migraine relief, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Medicines that block glutamates that could activate this gene should be used if a migraine sufferer feels a migraine coming on and has consumed food containing glutamates. This explains why Ibuprofen can help since it blocks glutamates from activating the TRESK gene. Ultimately, you should keep detailed food diaries, removing any potential foods that might contain MSG.
ALSO AVOID THE FOLLOWING THAT CONtain HIGH CONCENTRATIONS OF MSG
- Monopotassium glutamate
- Glutamic Acid
- Vegetable Protein Extract
- Yeast food or nutrient
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
- Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP)
- Autolyzed Plant Protein
- Sodium Caseinate
- Autolyzed Yeast
- Calcium Caseinate
- Textured Protein
- Yeast Extract
(1) www.wikipedia.org ”Monosodium Glutamate” Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate
(2) www.emaxhealth.com “Gene Called TRESK Causes Migraine, Controls Pain” http://www.emaxhealth.com/1275/gene-called-tresk-causes-migraine-controls-pain
Unfortunately, the US (and Britain) does not require glutamate products to be labeled as such. They are completely unregulated, and are found not only in our diet but in our medicines/vaccines, pesticides, animal feed, ( where it settles in the muscles, which we then eat) and even things like shampoos. We can’t even avoid it by eating what we’ve been duped to thinking is an all natural diet.
Glutamates may (and often are) simply be lumped under the vague label “natural flavorings” or “spices”. The reason it is used in animal feed is to stimulate appetite – it is also used in obesity studies on rats. Have you noticed your pets are much fatter now than they were 20 years ago? Brilliant way to sell pet food – load it down with an additive that makes the animal crave more product.
The FDA and the USDA are both under contract with Ajinomoto, the company that introduced us to MSG and produces over 1/3 of the world’s supply. Do not confuse naturally occurring glutamate (and aspartic acid, which you know as aspartame) with the manufactured additives. Both are excito-toxin and neuro-toxin, but naturally occurring amino acids aren’t delivered to brain cells in the massive quantities the additives are ( even essentials like water and oxygen kill in large enough doses). I’ve had people ask me to ‘prove’ glutamate additives are harmful. There’s plenty of proof in the simple fact that the latest category of pharmaceuticals are glutamate blockers. They are used for all the neurological and mental disorders that began to increase (or first showed up in some cases) after MSG was introduced to the US in 1948. This new category of drugs is being used or is in the testing/experimental stage for a wide range of neurological disorders, from AHD to Alzheimer’s and everything in between, including ALS, autism, parkinsons, MS, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia, and even some heart conditions.
Producers constantly change the labels, and they also constantly change the mineral they add to glutamate. In case you try to avoid monosodium glutamate, potassium glutamate is added, or perhaps magnesium glutamate…And, they’re also experimenting with other amino acids. So you may exclude MSG from your diet and still get migraines and decide it wasn’t the MSG after all. Perhaps your migraines subside, but you develop thyroid problems and then arrhythmia, which oddly, evolves into Alzheimer’s.
Both MSGtruth and truthinlabeling have more information (my knowledge largely comes from reading studies done through the NIH, but I trust both these organizations). Demand honest labeling. Insist on knowing with what your food is sprayed (fresh and even organic fruits and veggies included).