MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is a chemical that is used to enhance the flavor of food. If you’ve ever been to a Chinese restaurant or eaten certain brands of chips, you’ll know how difficult it can be to stop eating. This is due to the activation and excitation of your glutamate pathways in your brain. MSG could almost be classified as “speed for your appetite”.
The downside is that most of the foods that have MSG in them are also high in high-glycemic carbohydrate. High-glycemic carbs are addictive (just think of sugar). The reason why MSG is dubbed as a neuro-excitotoxin is due to the glutamate part of the molecule. Some of the symptoms that many people experience when there is too much glutamate in their brains include scalp tightness and tingling of the extremities, flushing, heart palpitations, pressure in the chest, thirst, headache, nausea, abdominal bloating and urgency to urinate.
Although these symptoms are temporary, they have even been given the name “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” in medicine, and tend to occur in a dose dependent fashion.
In order to clear glutamate from the brain, vitamin B6 is a necessary co-factor that helps the enzyme glutamate-dehydrogenase to work better. If you find that you suffer from a sensitivity to MSG, 50-100mg of Vitamin B6 taken either before that MSG-laden meal for prevention, or after it to resolve the symptoms works well.
Tune in next episode when we’ll talk about reactive hypoglycemia.
Be Well & Be Zen
Alex Audette TCMP, R.Ac.
Sauber W J., What is the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome?, Lancet 1980;1:721-722
R. Gaby., Food Additives., Nutritional Medicine (2011)., Ch. 4., pp. 11-12, ISBN13: 978-0-9828850-0-0. Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH.