Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is notorious for causing headaches, allergy symptoms, and other unsettling health problems.1
MSG is a so-called “flavor enhancer.” It’s added to some processed foods and Asian fast food.
For decades, food manufacturers have denied that it causes any problems. But the ill effects are so common that they even have a name. They are called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.2
Besides the symptoms mentioned above, sufferers report muscle tightness, weakness, numbness, flushing, and asthma attacks. Research shows that eating MSG is also linked to weight gain. 3
Now, a new study finds that it may trigger another health issue: chronic pain.
Scientists from American University, Michigan University, and Meru University of Science and Technology in Kenya collaborated on the research.4
The goal was to test whether cutting MSG out of your diet would relieve chronic pain. Researchers recruited 30 people who had suffered chronic pain for three months or more.
They found that an MSG-free diet had about the same pain-relieving effect as taking acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Dr. Daniel J. Clauw is a pain researcher at the University of Michigan. He was one of the authors of the study. “This would be incredible if we could impact chronic pain simply by making slight modifications to diet,” he said.
The study was published in the journal Nutrition.
Researchers don’t know exactly how MSG causes pain. But there are clues…
Glutamate is a chemical neurotransmitter. This means it is used by nerve cells to send signals to other cells. But when there is too much glutamate, it leads to a condition called excitotoxicity.5
This is when nerve cells become over-stimulated. They can become damaged or die, causing the health problems linked to MSG.6
The simple solution is to stop eating MSG. But that’s not as easy as it sounds.
Because of MSG’s horrible reputation, food makers hide it in ingredient lists under different names.
21 Ingredients That Mean One Thing: MSG
When used as an additive, you might see MSG labeled as:7
- Glutamic Acid
- Monopotassium Glutamate
- Calcium Glutamate
- Monoammonium Glutamate
- Magnesium Glutamate
- Natrium Glutamate
- Yeast Extract
- Anything “hydrolyzed”
- Calcium Caseinate
- Sodium Caseinate
- Yeast Food
- Yeast Nutrient
- Autolyzed Yeast
- Textured Protein
- Soy Protein
- Soy Protein Concentrate
- Soy Protein Isolate
Chronic pain can be hard to deal with. Cutting MSG out of your diet is a great way to relieve it while improving your overall health.
When you eat at an Asian restaurant, ask that your food not be prepared with MSG. And when grocery shopping, look closely at food labels for MSG aliases.
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