Sensitive to MSG? Guess What… You’re Not!

Sensitive to MSG?  Guess What… You’re Not!
  • Dr. Taylor Wallace
  • September 24, 2018

I can’t keep count of how many people have casually told me “I’m actually really sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG).”  News breaker… you’re not.  I know you think you are… and you really want to tell me all about your symptoms… and that you’re the special one… but I promise, you’re not.

That being said you probably could cut back on the fried rice and General Tsao’s chicken.  I mean you did just complain about being bloated…

Let’s walk through the science.

What is MSG?

MSG is a flavor enhancer which has been used effectively for nearly a century to help bring out the best flavors in foods.  MSG can be used in many savory dishes including meat, fish, poultry, many vegetables and in sauces, soups and marinades.  It harmonizes well with salty and sour tastes but contributes little or nothing to sweet or bitter foods.

MSG is the sodium salt of the common amino acid glutamic acid (or glutamate), which is naturally found in most foods and in your body (remember – amino acids are the building blocks for proteins).  It occurs naturally at high levels in many foods such as tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, and the glutamate in commercially produced MSG is chemically indistinguishable from the glutamate naturally present in food.  Our bodies handle both sources of glutamate in the exact same way. Breast milk actually contains high levels of glutamate that’s produced naturally by the human body.

The average adult consumes about 13 grams of glutamate each day from the protein in food, while intake of added MSG is around 0.5 grams.  Want to taste the best scrambled egg on earth?  Add a pinch of MSG.  Try it… you won’t regret it.

How is MSG created?

In 1908 a Japanese scientist, Kikunae Ikeda was able to extract glutamate from seaweed broth and show that it provided the savory taste to the soup.  Today, instead of extracting MSG from seaweed broth, it is created by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses. This process is the same used to make other common food products such as soy sauce, vinegar and yogurt.

Is MSG safe?

Absolutely. Scientists have not been able to confirm MSG causes any of the reported effects (e.g., headache, nausea, etc).  There is no limitation for use of MSG in foods because international scientific and regulatory bodies have failed again and again to identify any harm from consumption of MSG.

In 1968, an American doctor wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine claiming to have experience symptoms of numbness in the back of neck and a feeling of pressure in the fact and upper chest muscles, which he coined as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.”  He suggested this was caused by MSG because of its widespread use in Chinese restaurants, without any study, data or proof.  While the term Chinese Restaurant Syndrome caught on in the U.S., study after study has failed to show any consistent effects among individuals who claim to be “MSG-sensitive” when blindly exposed to fairly high levels of MSG.

How much sodium is in MSG?

MSG has a low sodium content.  It contains about 12% sodium while salt contains 39%.  MSG is used at levels much lower than salt.  Using low levels of MSG allows food scientists to effectively reduce the sodium content of foods, like ready-to-eat soups by up to 40%, without sacrificing flavor.  Take out salt, add a pinch of MSG, and cheers to your health.

Don’t get me wrong, you are a very special person… just not one that’s sensitive to MSG.

For additional information see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Questions and Answers on Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)” consumer information website.

214 thoughts on “Sensitive to MSG? Guess What… You’re Not!

    1. Gives me diarrhea within 15 minutes. Everytime so avoid it. Often on lettuce in salads. So never order a salad if lettuce came in a bag to the restaurant.

    2. Funny….i have diarrhea within 20 minutes of eating. That the only time this happens! I then walk around in a daze fir 24 hours.

    1. SALT..mono SODIUM… do you see where I’m going? Or do you need it explained in words of two syllables or less?

    2. I agree with you about your blood pressure. I’m dealing with the effects of it right now (12/22/2019) (194/118) after eating Korean tacos from one of the mail order food services. Before that my blood pressure was normal for me. This came out of nowhere and I am just short of going to the Emergency room.

      Make no mistake that MSG in some people will cause your BP to skyrocket. I’ve known others that have dealt with the food industries’ lies about its effects.

      This is obviously nothing more than another case where special interests (MSG manufacturers) are paying to have those that are tasked to protect its citizens to ignore the truth.

      I guess because of your expertise in the kitchen with your Grandma, we should all rest easier.

    3. I have similar allergic symptoms to some of your commentors, but was able to isolate my actual allergy to soy. Perhaps it isn’t the MSG, but the soy protein making people sick. I found this website while trying to find a link between MSG and soy. So far I see no reason why I can’t have MSG.

      1. That doesn’t mean msg caused the problem. After all, MSG is in nearly all raw natural foods. Why aren’t you ALWAYS sick?

          1. Most of these brain deds, who suffere from MSG sensitivity, have terrible diets, don’t drink water, and probably have underlying health issues that already got from bad habits. That is the simple truth.

            Funny thing though. Asian countries like Korea, Japan, China, South East Asia, use tons of MSG….. they are far more healthy than westerners. Only to recently start developing more health issues after introducing western food practices and ingredients.

            FFS. People just can’t accept that they don’t know better, and need to blame something to feel it isn’t their fault. Just cook your own meals if take out is causing you problems. It isn’t, your just unhealthy.

        1. This is NOT DEBUNKED! I believe it is the amount that matters or the way that it is processed. I don’t think naturally occurring MSG is what most people react to. I am personally so allergic to added MSG that it has put me in the hospital because my mouth and throat started swelling shut. I immediately break out in extreme hives and need to be put on prednisone for a week. Happens every time! I have a coworker that also gets hives when he has MSG though he didn’t know what he was reacting to until process of elimination made it clear. I think it is just a hard allergy for people to pin point.

      2. How do any of you geniuses even know it’s msg that is doing this to you? Are you eating spoonfuls of it by itself?!? My favorite is the guy that said “I ate a bunch of tacos and I feel lazy” without a hint of irony lol.

    4. I totally understand what you’re saying. I ended up in the hospital for two day’s after what turned out to be a migraine. After 3 months of studying my diet and routine I found that headaches always occurred after eating. The only thing these foods had in common were MSG.

      1. If I eat msg I get a migraine. I’ve tested this by eating a box of pringles then I had a migraine and after I recovered a few weeks latter I tried them again to see if it was the msg doing it. I had another migraine.

        1. I had this Friday’s potato skins chips and lays stax loaded potato flavor chips today with my lunch. Now I’m lying in bed and can’t sleep with a terrible headache. Even after taking 4 low dose aspirin and drinking water to try to flush it out of my system my head’s still hurting. Needless to say I’m avoiding these snacks in the future! I’m just hoping and praying it lets up so I can sleep.

          1. pringles dont have msg if they are plain. I can only eat plain chips. The only plain chips that cause me migraines are munchos.

    5. Exactly I feel the same way! I ate soup with it yesterday and my body is so fatigued I can’t get out of bed.

  1. About 6 months ago my boyfriend started getting migraines on a fairly regular basis after only having one or two his entire life. I love Asian food and always want to eat it when we dine out. He finally realized that he only got migraines after we ate Asian food. I found a “cure” for the headaches that takes some time to work but eventually reduces the migraine to a bearable state and neutralizes the effects of the MSG. Your article does nothing to address allergic reactions to MSG and stigmatizes people who claim to be sensitive to it. Further, it provides no proof that it can’t make people ill.

    1. Disagree. My heart rate skyrockets and I feel I’m hyperventilating after having MSG. After my heart rate finally settles, I’m exhausted.
      And I think its dangerous to tell people they’re not allergic or hypersensitive to MSG without proper testing ??

    2. Kathe you hit the nail on the head. I came close to dying several times before an allergist tested me for allergies. I am highly allergic to MSG and having anaphylactic attacks are no trip to disneyland. My poor kids were carrying me to the car, and into the doctor’s office while I gasped for air and threw up all over the nurse and hall way into the emergency room. The doctor gave me six bee sting antidotes and a shot of oxygen to bring me back from dying. The doctor pronounced me dead but my husband didn’t give up on me and told me to breathe tiny bubble out and as soon as I took a breath, he had the doctor give me the oxygen. Something from scuba diving and my husband saved me.
      Dr. Taylor Wallace you must not have ever had an anaphylactic reaction or you would never say that.
      Sensitive to MSG? Guess What… I AM FOR SURE! Many people have saved my life and can vouch for it including an ambulance crew.
      Cheri Saeger, here to tell you all about it.

    3. MSG does not produce an allergic reaction, because it does not trigger the body’s production of IgE, which is the chemical associated with allergic reactions.

      Allergies and sensitivities are different. This is straight, proved science. They are treated differently.

  2. Dr Wallace, please explain why after eating a food w MSG in it, that u think I’m not allergic to it when it gives me diarrhea. I can tolerate sm amts apparently, but I get severe stomach pain, feel faint, have to have bowel movement that ends up w severe diarrhea.
    I just ate a fried egg w mayo sandwich w 2 slices of crumbled fried bacon-Gwaltney.The MSG had to be in:Sodium Phosphates, S. Erythorbate or S.Nitrite, 2 % or less listed on bacon pkg.

    1. It could be many things… I just tried one of those food sensitivity tests and am awaiting the results. It’s likely another ingredient or food sensitivity vs. anything related to MSG.

      1. This is such bullshit. My wife is from Thailand and introduced me into eating more Asian food. I’ve never had more severe headache he’s and it went away for a while then came back the minute I ate instant ramen that is packed with msg. It also gets really bad when I eat out at Thai restaurants. She even tells me it happens to people all over Thailand but they still eat it because the taste is so good to food. Just because you May have read an article that said otherwise you clearly cannot take feedback from people who leave comments on your page. Gets your facts straight.

      2. Nope sorry to tell you doc but the MSG reaction is real. I get it from even the smallest amounts whether I knew it was in the food or not. The reaction is very distinctive. Just because we havent found the answer yet, doesnt make it unreal. What I have found is that it’s likely the glutimate in it. I have attempted to take glutimate and bam severe reaction, similar if not worse to MSG. I dont go near either, ever. So, your attempt to minimize others experiences to it when there are so many, is not scientific. You need to ask why and then go find the answer instead of dismissing ALL of us.

  3. If you are so certain, why is that when I forget to request “no MSG” with my favourite dish at the Chinese restaurant, I have difficulty sleeping, and are dragging the next day. Yet when made without MSG I sleep well and the following day is productive.

    Note I also am sensitive to other food additives, and stabilizers in processed food and keg beer.

    My credentials? Advanced chemistry degree, and a career of identifying root cause for problems.

    1. I just have the same symptoms as you do when I eat food with MSG. The author of the article sounds inexperienced or innocent or not smart- sorry for being rude.

  4. This is very false. MSG causes a sensitivity in some people, a sensitivity which is poorly understood. It differs from a true allergy, but symptoms can be similar.
    It does not lead to death the way a peanut or shellfish allergy can but the symptoms are disconcerting.
    My sensitivity began with severe headaches when I would eat at chinese restaurants as a child. Now at fifity, I never have had headaches like that in my life.
    I realised I was sensitive to it and would always avoid it. The last time I accidently had it the symptoms progressed to a shortness of breath. I exused myself from the table and went to the restroom. I felt faint and my chest turned blotchy red. The symptoms lasted for about ten or fifteen minutes. We were at a chinese restaurnt in Berkeley CA and I had asked to have my food made without MSG.
    When I returned to the table to question the waitress she said there was MSG in the soup, which was communual to the table, I had just eaten the soup and that is what made me sick.
    Ever since I only eat at restaurants that do not use MSG and I am vigilant.
    My third similar reaction was at a restaurant that it turns out had it in the sauce.
    Knowing it is not a true deadly allergy is helpful, as I have learned it lacks the ige response. However the symptoms are unpleasant enough for me and many others which is why we avoid it.
    Every single person I know that avoids it has personally had the physical responses similar to me, they are not just afraid it is bad for you for no reason, they have personally experienced it.
    As we all know Dr Wallace medical science is replete with illnesses mediical science is ignorant of so please don’t speak as the definitive word on all and dismiss people’s symptoms just because you do not understand them.

    1. Wrong.

      There are actually babies with MSG allergies that have allergic reactions to breast milk.

      You can’t cherry pick information to back an article. Poor researching.

    2. The reaction is immediate and horrendous. So much so that you will change your lifestyle to avoid it.

      I have learned to absolutely demands no msg. No problems.

      And I can tell instantly when I’ve been lied to because my body reacts right there.

    3. Newsflash, it is an ABSOULTE trigger to a migraine for me. When I go back through my week, I realize if one or more item I ingested had it in it, it explains why I got it. Sulfates and Nitrates also trigger migraines. MSG adds flavor and shelf life. The food industry is actually poisoning us withe these unecessary ingredients. Sorry Dr. Whoever you are not accurate on this one.

  5. I suffer from migraines only after I ingest MSG. Once I thought that this was debunked because I hadn’t accidentally had it. Then I found out that the flu shot I had just received uses MSG as a stabilizer.

    Although my experience is only one data point, I can assure you that every time I have a migraine it has been directly traced to MSG I accidentally consumed.

    My mother used to put MSG on everything I ate. I didn’t used to have any migraines. This only started when I was about 35. I suspect there is some limit that my body reached.

    You cannot universally say that people aren’t sensitive.

    1. I am the same way. I was about 35 when I had my 1st migraine. Almost every migraine since then has been brought on by MSG. I just ate a few bites of canned cabbage and as soon as I felt the onset, I knew it had to have MSG. And it does.

    2. I had my first migraine when I was 8 years old – following haven ate a McDonald’s cheeseburger. We didn’t eat fast food prior. I threw up all day and couldn’t move and had to go to the hospital where I underwent spinal taps, ivs etc. I’ll never forget it as it was a nightmare from hell. I continued to have them because then it was almost impossible to avoid and my mother didn’t make the connection for some years later. I’m 39 now and have had so many ER trips for unbearable migraines it makes me sick to think about. I’ve since started eating keto and changed my diet as I have highly inflammatory conditions and other allergies- a LOT of people do, so yes this article is dangerous and close minded. I only found this site because I made a casserole 2 days ago and used a sauce I didn’t know had msg and have not been able to get out of bed, first migraine I’ve had in months, fatigued for no apparent reason and extreme pain and tightness in the back of my neck. It’s the first processed item I’ve used in 2 months as I’ve mostly been eating proteins and roasted veggies I prepare myself. So I KNOW it’s msg

  6. Whenever I ingest a meal that contains msg I get a serious stomach spasm by the following day. It has been happening to me from I was a teenager (13/14???) and now I am 60 and just been able to pinpoint it

  7. Does it help to report the restrant that uses MSG which has made a dozen or more people I know sick? Sweet Tomatoes is basicly a vegetarian Restrant, but it also serves soups and breads. I always thought that MSG was used to fill people up, so the restrants don’t lose money on the larger portion eaters? Not as a flavor enhancement. I honestly believe this is what its intended for. Or there is that something else being used to make people feel fuller? Wish I knew what it was. Should be unlawful. Gives so many people I know headaches and diarea. Something needs to be done. This restrant doesn’t even post there using MSG.

    1. I agree..i always feel full, bloated & sleepy after eating msg foods. I get a reaction from any outside food resulting in migraines, heart palpitations, feet swelling & allergic reaction…His document is so full of bull to say ppl don’t have a reaction. Maybe he needs to his homework or actual clinical studys

  8. Another person here who gets serious migraines, the kind that mess with my vision, when exposed to msg. It took me many years to figure this out. The migraines didn’t start until my 20’s. Like clockwork if I ate anything with msg I’d get a migraine within a day and never immediately. The exact same foods that were prepared without msg (the ones I could do that for) produced no migraine. Your article makes me wonder because as far as I can tell the migraines are only triggered by added msg, i.e. tomatoes and parmesan don’t trigger which based on what you say should be impossible. But it doesn’t have to be Chinese food, many times I’ve eaten something I thought was safe, gotten a migraine and then looked at the label and have seen msg listed. I hadn’t had any migraines for many years and thought I had aged out (my mother had a similar experience of migraines from 20’s-30’s) until tonight. Turns out I ate some food with added msg last night. Then I went online to see if anyone had done more research since last time I looked many years ago, to find your article calling it a myth. I don’t think there is anything else common to the foods other than msg. It is very frustrating to still not have a handle on this and then be told it is in my head.

    1. I believe you, BB. I had a Portillo’s beef sandwich the other night (I should have known better.. ) and it put me in the ER yesterday. After a CT scan and a bunch of tests turns out I had a hemiplegic migraine- I thought I was having a stroke. Whole left side of my body became paralyzed for 10 minutes, and the aura symptoms lasted for 6 hours. I get migraines, but never that bad. The beef sandwiches, turns out, are loaded with MSG. I usually dont eat them, but the restaurant gave it to me on accident and let me keep it. I will never eat one again.

    2. I too get migraines that I have “linked” back to msg- vision loss sever numbness in hands, face. What’s odd is I don’t always get them after eating Chinese (I didn’t even know you could ask to have it made wo ?‍♀️) however when I was questioning wheat as my problem I traced my headaches directly (several times) to a local jerky store. When I asked for the ingredients the ONLY thing different then my normal cooking spices was msg. I hadn’t bought it in months- but I admit I think it’s the best jerky around, and last night I picked some up and ate it. This morning I woke up to the typical HORRIBLE migraine that hasn’t happened in many many weeks since I’ve been cooking at home and eating Whole Foods….. and I began my research all over again.

  9. OK. Glad you cleared that up. But since feeling like I’m on fire isn’t fun, I think I’ll skip it all the same.

  10. I am in Japan and having bad react ions to the food – like a severe bloating water retention it may be MSG or other ingredients used- i was concerned for anaphylaxis as it usually manifests in lower extremities but last night involved my hands i could not make a fist- i did then take a antihistamine doxylamine i use for sleep and it is better this am started diuresing and its almost all gone. Does anyone know if not MSG what other ingeedient may cause this effect? Is DIPHENIHDRAMIBE USED FOR ANAPHYLAXIS EQUIVALENT TO OTHER ANTIHISTAMIBNES SUCH AS DOXYLAMINE?
    I AM ALSO LOOkING FOR CONFIRMATION ABOUT MSG REACTIONS NOT CREATING ANAPHYLASIX because now im worried since its travelled up my body lower extremities to upper if it can continue to laryngeal edema and cause obstruction ?

    1. I know what you mean..MSG is an Excitotoxin and excited the central nervous system in sensitive people. The reason that diphenhydramine helps is not because of anaphylaxis but because diphenhydramine has central nervous system depressant properties and helps with the symptoms.. when I ingest msg by accident I get all of the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis..and usually a migraine the next day..it’s terrible!

  11. This Wallace person obviously doesn’t have MSG sensitivity, and since he firmly believes in the FDA he assumes it must be safe. I get a terrible reaction to MSG. Usually super tired right after meal, followed by very specific unpleasant sensation all over my body (searing tingles that make me twitch and short of breath), followed by being tired the next day.

  12. MSG or Mono Sodium Glutamate is just a sodium salt of Glutamic Acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring amino acids. The protein in your body is literally made of it. It occurs naturally in high levels in tomatoes, grapes, cheese, mushrooms and other foods. It is present in your brain and functions as a neurotransmitter. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/130/4/901S/4686606

    It is possible that your mind associates MSG with a previous bad food experience. If you had vomiting and diarrhea from under-cooked or contaminated food that also contained high levels of MSG your mind can be programmed to associate MSG with this bad food experience. The worse the bad food experience the more likely this is too happen. There are cases of severe food poisoning where a person will feel nauseous years later just by smelling the offending dish.

    Another possibility is that you have a “leaky brain” or faulty blood brain barrier. This can be caused by inflammation, head injury, and degenerative diseases. Even so, these headaches should quickly subside as your gut scavenges free glutamate and turns it into energy.

    1. MSG is the chemically derived version of glutamate. Not the same. I’m sorry but nothing man-made can be said to be exactly the same as nature. You may test and say YOU can’t tell the difference. But it is a copy, not natural. So I cannot believe science can completely understand the way our bodies respond to natural vs chemical copies.

    2. Nope! Again, dismissing the experiences of so many. Glutimate is abundant but MSG itself is an extract and is in concentrated form

    3. Anything with fermentation or msg or any processed free glutamic acid makes me severely sick. It gives me facial tension neck discomfort nausea vomiting weakness sweating and usually takes 24 to 72 hours before I feel back to normal

    4. Naturally occurring msg contains L-glutamic acid whereas manufactured msg contains a mixture of L-glutamic and D-glutamic acid. These molecules have the same chemical components but are mirror images of each other – these are called enantiomers, and it is entirely plausible that your body would react differently to different enantiomers. If you search for “msg headaches” on pub med, you will find that there is quite a lot of research supporting the existence of msg headaches. Furthermore, the main article that I found “debunking” this idea was published by a doctor associated with the national glutamate council.

      Most of the Chinese restaurants near me have signs advertising “no msg”, and I haven’t had any headaches after eating their food. I experience msg sensitivity most often in my own cooking when I forget to check if it’s in seasonings or stocks.

  13. Most of these people are saying they have issues with MSG in Chinese food, but are you just as sensitive to Doritos and other snacks which are loaded with MSG. If it’s only from Chinese food then it’s something else not MSG.

    1. I do react to Doritos and all other packaged foods with MSG. So much so that I started checking labels for it years ago. I don’t buy chips with MSG because I always have a reaction. But I can eat other chips just fine. (ie. Doritos no. Trader Joe’s nacho cheese chips yes)

    2. I was thinking the same thing because I had a MSG reaction but had NOT eaten Chinese food. I reviewed what I ate that day and it was PUFFY CHEETOS it has MSG!! Also the powder Gravy mixes I use to make at home have MSG. So it’s not just Chinese food.

    3. yes! I have to read labels and cannot have Doritos or many snack foods. I have never had a reaction to Chinese food because I am particular in the restaurants I go to. Doritos are on by big no no list and are part of how I realized I have a problem with MSG.

    4. All foods containing msg… all of them. I got my first migraine at the age of 8 after eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger for the first time… ended up in ER for the first time as well. Spinal taps, strong pain medication, hell all through childhood and teens until made the connection

  14. So why do I have a severe physical reaction to eating pho? If I eat pho and drink to much of the broth, I break out in a rash, my head neck and back skin feels like it is literally on fire, I get a migraine, and my stomach kills me, and I sweat the whole night. I don’t have any other allergies at all, only happens when I eat pho or something else with very high level of msg. But pho is when it’s the worst. I had never heard about msg sensitivity before this happened, which is why I’m looking it up now. But that is not normal or ok

    1. Hey there – you may want to try one of the food sensitivity tests or see a specialist. MSG is in almost all restaurant foods (steaks, vegetables, soups, etc) since it isn’t required to be labeled like on packaged products… so if its just a reaction to Pho… its likely something else.

      1. Hahahaha did you know Asian people use a lot of msg in their food? It’s not used like a preservative it’s actually used as a flavor enhancer so you are taking in larger quantities at one time. It only effects you if you eat large amounts of it because it’s stores in your body and takes a long time to detox from your body. Once your body has had too much that is when it gives you problems. I’ve been eating Thai food like crazy for over a year and have been fine. Started getting really bad head pressure so severe I went to the ER. Told I was fine. I changed my diet and felt better off and on but every time I eat instant ramen or fried fish cane or ate out at Asian restaurants it got really bad. I eat a lot of Asian food without msg. Not all of it has MSG.. and most of it doesn’t expect for select food items. They talk about this in Asian Countries. My wife was a Nurse in Thailand and knows all about this stuff and how msg stores in your body and causes osteoporosis. This article is debunked and so does more than half of your comments. Go to Asia and do some real test then come back and write a real article.

      2. on the contrary it could also be the fact that the broth is easily digested and goes more quickly into the bloodstream. Foods that contain that were are harder to digest don’t break down as quickly and do not enter the bloodstream so rapidly so you’re getting smaller amounts of the glutamate at a time.

  15. I’m suspecting that some of these symptoms people experience are real and some are psychosomatic.

    For the real ones, an interesting test would be for the subjects to have the same fish a week apart with one dish having 12% more table salt and the next week’s adding approx one portion of MSG.

    I’m curious to know if it’s actually the higher overall dose of sodium that’s causing these symptoms, not specifically MSG.

  16. All these people saying that they eat at Chinese restaurants and then react – my question is, do you react when you eat chips? Dorritos? Home-made noodles? Or McDonalds, KFC, Karls Jr, pretty much most fast food? Because they all contain MSG. If you react to MSG, you have to avoid most processed foods, or be very careful about what you do eat. I say this as someone who is allergic, not sensitive, but allergic to MSG. So if you *only* seem to react at Chinese restaurants, it’s either psychological, you’re just racist or it’s something else you’re reacting to.
    There are no studies showing that it affects the body in any way, and every country has deemed it safe. Go to the doctor and get tested for what ever it is you are actually reacting to.

    1. I DO react the same way with fast food, Doritos, packaged soups/dips/etc, that contain MSG. Maybe for some it is something else and not MSG. But just because SOME don’t react to it in everything does not also mean the NO ONE can react to it.

    2. I react badly to doritos. Most restaurant chinese food. Ive pinpointed all my migraines to msg foods. My blood pressure also goes from 130/85 to 180/110 after digesting any foods containing msg. Ive had this problem for the last 20 yrs. The Dr has not tested anybody with msg sensitivity. His comments are what make alot of people skeptical about what drs say.

    3. I actually do react to chips and other things and try my best to avoid it all. And it’s frustrating that family/friends who think this is a myth or in my head cook with it and don’t tell me. I get horrible migraines to the point of throwing up and not seeing. So I found out that the times I’ve gotten them after eating at their house and not saying anything for fear of hurting their feelings or seeming like a complainer, they took as I don’t actually get these migraines and I’m making it up. And when I’ve tried to tell them no, I actually did have a severe migraine just didn’t feel the need to announce it, I was just making it up. So now I guess I have to announce to everyone whenever I get a severe migraine. ?

    4. I get severe 48h+ migraines with all added msg. Chips, ham, pre made sauces, even some ice creams. I eat close to 0 processed food because of that, and every time a migraine starts it’s 95 percent chance I ate out or I accidentally didn’t read a label. I stay away from stuff that lists “spices” as an ingredient, because it may very well include msg.

    5. Yes, it was chips like Doritos, and other snack foods that made the connection for me in the first place. I must read labels very carefully.

    6. Yes to your whole first 2 sentences. First migraine at the age of 8, after eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger for the first time. Horrible experiences into adulthood. I cannot eat fast food, without knowing the ingredient list. I would constantly be sent home from school and trips to ER, multiple food sensitivity tests, spinal taps, MRIs. I’m 39 now and no hospital, specialists, dr or test has found a logical reason for an 8 year old to randomly start having debilitating migraines. They stopped in adulthood once I knew to avoid the additive. I have my first migraine in years after using a canned sauce to make a casserole a few days ago and have been trying to figure out why I can’t get out of bed and I’m in so much pain and throwing up. I forgot to read the label.

    7. I do react to all those things Natalie,
      people can and do have sensitivities to MSG , just because you don’t, and I’m happy for you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, there are many medical sites that document varying reactions, myself personally it usually starts with a severe headache about 2 in the morning that can last for 2-3 days and can include nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue and a hangover feeling, one of the worst things is explaining to friends or doctors and having them not believe you, doctors don’t seem to have a test or treatment for this, so tend to ignore you.

  17. i realized that I react to certain type of MSG (not all, which brand or amount, unknown tho). I know most of the Asian restaurants use MSG, I feel numbness on back of the neck and shoulders.

  18. Interesting that this article suggests that if you want further information on the topic to refer to the US FDA. Not sure I would trust their track record.

  19. Dear doctor Taylor,

    My wife once a thought as you until we had kids. Like myself my kids are extremely sensitive to MSG or free glutamate. I cam tell if any food has MSG from the first bite. It tastes way better than it should and puts me into an eating Frenzy and feel like I’m on a heavy stimulant I do have brain fog the following day. My wife thought it was all in my mind until our kids had the same sensitivity. Now anytime we eat out my wife makes me try a bite before feeding to our kids as they start bouncing off the walls from free glutamate or MSG. Also I’d like to know who funded these very incorrect studies and what their agenda was. My recommendation to all those who are MSG or free glutamate sensitive, while eating out if it tastes better than it should send it back and don’t pay for it. That brain fog you experienced the following day is from over-stimulated brain neurons . Some studies suggest msg causes accelerated brain aging. I am one of the more sensitive people to MSG and for some reason high glutamic acid foods such as cooked tomatoes Chili’s mushrooms Etc will give me no MSG symptoms besides the enhanced flavor of the natural glutamate. Go figure hmmm.

    1. That is really interesting. Actually a lot of MSG is still extracted from kelp (so it is a plant-based source). This is why I’m fighting to get time on the fMRI we just got at George Mason University. If there is any “neuro-stimulative” about MSG we should be able to see it (and that hasn’t been done before).

    2. I have thought there may be a genetic component as well. My mother feels ill a day following as well, but doesn’t get the extreme migraines and have to go to the ER everytime as I do

  20. Well….if its not MSG somethings going on.
    When i was a kid ( jr high and high school) i noticed one time while eating w my family in a local Chinese Restaurant that i felt like i was somewhere else. Like i was in a cloud. I sat there thinking…”what is going on?” my head kind of ached and i got a loud ringing in my ears. After about 5 mins it went away. Of course i didnt say anything and just ate my fortune cookie.
    Skip ahead about a year and im in the same place with different people and it happened again. Pressure in my head, ears ringing and a feeling of disconnect from the group. Once again i didnt say anything and the feeling went away.
    The third time it happened around senior year in the same place i spoke up and said, “ im not sure why but every time i eat here i get kind of dizzy and a weird ringing in my ears”
    My Aunt said “maybe you have that MSG allergy”. I didnt even know what she was talking about.
    The feeling kind of scared me so i self avoided Chinese Food for years. A few years back i tried some Chinese food at a different place and it didnt happen again.
    So not sure what was happening but i know it wasnt me. Something weird was going on. I guess I’ll never really know.
    Im now a nurse practitioner. I do believe that you need to listen to people as they are usually pretty good judges of whats going on in their own body. This MSG thing may not be a true allergy but that doesnt mean that people arent correct in the way it affects them.

    1. I agree that people are the best judge of what’s going on in their body… this is why I’m so interested in studying MSG. The issue is that when you enroll people who say they are “MSG-sensitive” in a placebo controlled trial, they can’t distinguish the MSG from the placebo. Neither can the blood work (granted there are additional markers that need to be measured). Honestly, it really worries me that there is something we don’t know that could be non-MSG related but really impacting people…

      1. Check for free glutimate reactivity…if I take a glutimate I have the same reaction. I was advised to do so to heal digestive challenges and sure enough, the glutimate caused the same reaction, heaviness, fog, shaky, numb, weak and ill, heart palpitations and low feeling the next day. Study glutimate in some people and target that reaction. An abundance of added glutimate may have an adverse affect on GABA receptors

      2. I think for some people there’s a more straightforward way to show they are MSG-sensitive, that being a physical reaction that is less biased such as diarrhea. Most people would agree that diarrhea is a sign of a problem and caused by sickness. I’m one of those MSG sensitive people that get explosive diarrhea w/proccessed MSG. I didnt realize this until recently and am 29. I cooked almost all my own foods and eat out about 2x per week and haven’t had a stomach virus in probably over a decade if not more. For the food I bring in the house, I mostly chose organic but if not organic, things w/limited preservatives and am not a snacker so no chips or crackers 95+% of the time. I realized I am MSG sensitive after a bowl of organic canned soup. I don’t really eat canned soup but bought some for hurricane preparedness and decided to have some. Within 30 mins of the soup, I had a couple strong stomach cramps followed by explosive diarrhea. I havent had much diarrhea while eating at home for a long time. It made me realize though that subconsciously I associated eating out at restaurants with diarrhea. Not only restaurants but, growing up, I thought diarrhea was normal stool and not because of sickness. As someone who is a big fan of Asian food and has cooked it at home in the past often as well, I had also had diarrhea reactions from mushrooms. Interestingly, I had showed up sensitive to mushrooms and brewers yeast on a food intolerance test before. So maybe you could say that people aren’t sensitive to msg but some are sensitive to glutamates and highly processed ones triggers a reaction more than unrefined versions.

      3. I’m glad I read through the comments on this one. Please accept my response in the generous spirit it is intended. I’m sure you were just trying to be snappy and catch folks’ attention, however your article is offensive.

        It’s offensive not because you’re necessarily wrong, but because of the way you (as someone, I assume, with training/knowledge) have been dismissive and rude. For example, your article says that MSG is low in sodium, yet it opens with, “you probably could cut back on the fried rice and General Tsao’s chicken. I mean you did just complain about being bloated,” which is either contradictory to one of your main points, or fatphobic, or both. Either way, it’s rude and dismissive, and a misuse of your power in this given situation.

        People who report real symptoms don’t need judgment from doctors. They need doctors who will respect them, listen to what they know about their own bodies, and who are interested in helping them get to the bottom of whatever is wrong…without shaming commentary or gaslighting (making a patient feel like their experience is all in their head) along the way.

        I’m glad to hear you are worried that something non-MSG (but presenting as MSG) is affecting people unknowingly. That would have been wonderful info to include in your article, instead of burying it in a comment. It seems most who read your article did so because of personal experience; imagine what good could have come from an article that said, “MSG probably isn’t the issue, but since you aren’t alone in your experience we’re looking into this alternative explanation.” I would have expected a rousing chorus of “Hallelujah!”s to that news.

        I really hope your research goes well, and that you’re able to offer an alternative to folks suffering with whatever it is they have/experience.

      4. Dr Wallace, I am telling you now people can have bad reactions to msg. I have reactions to added msg in food – and also to too much glutamate in food. Ie: a steak that is aged so has more naturally occurring glutamate. I have had headaches from added msg in chicken, and naturally occurring glutamate that is high in certain foods like older beef, lamb. Maybe the connection is the glutamate which I understand is high in added msg? I have epilepsy and both added msg and too much glutamate can give me partial seizures. It is not a case of people pretending we are “special” and wanting attention. This is a real thing and it is very annoying that people say that its all in our heads – like you are suggesting in your article. I would recommend you change your article and have some more respect for people who have this intolerance. I certainly wouldn’t trust the FDA which is heavily pressured/funded by food companies I believe. Perhaps you are funded by the msg industry? I hope not.

  21. Don’t believe you! Whenever I have food with msg, I am awake all night, rapid heartbeat and brain fog the next day.

  22. Nonsense. The ONLY thing that triggers my migraines is MSG. I have unknowingly eaten things with MSG and ended up with a horrible migraine. Going back over all of the food I had eaten and there it is! There is such a thing as Chinese food without MSG and many Chinese restaurants are getting away from using it.

  23. I want to know how this is true. Every time I’ve eaten a food with MSG in it, I’ve vomited during that night. I’m so annoyed at having some sort of intolerance to MSG because I love foods that have it in it. Is there any way to have it checked or stopped?

    1. Well since its not a traditional allergen an allergist wouldn’t be able to test for it. It makes me quite intrigued that a couple of people have said their allergist diagnosed them with an MSG-sensitivity when there’s no test for it because its not a traditional allergen (I.e., proteins are allergens because they trigger a immunoglobulin response). MSG doesn’t trigger an immunoglobulin response (at least in my read of the peer-reviewed literature).

  24. Trust me, I promise. Just like a used car salesman. Are you willing to put money behind it? If so, how much?

    1. We just got a new functional MRI at George Mason University and I am dyyyyyying to recruit people who say they are “MSG-sensitive” into a placebo controlled study. I’ve been applying for grants left and right and would definitely put the little money we have in my lab (and donate my time) to run the study. I don’t want to take any company money to run the study because of the ascetics of industry funded research on such a controversial topic.

  25. Interesting article, thank you. And some interesting respondents too. Obviously lots of people who mistake their brain fog for an MSG-induced symptom when it’s obviously caused by carbohydrate loading.

    A good science education is sorely lacking on schools these days…

    1. Are there carbs in msg seasoning. That his how i tested my self. I bought msg seasoning. Consumed 1/2 a teaspoon and shortly after my migraine started. Im no scientist and defenatly not a dr. But i know my body hurts and i feel like there’s an ice pick in my head. Explain that to me please.

  26. Recently discovered that not only do I have a severe reaction after eating something with MSG, but I also have the same and sometimes worse reaction from items containing Yeast Extract. Anyone else experience symptoms with this?

    1. YES!!!! I learned over 10+ years of getting migraines through tracking diet and correlating with symptoms that YEAST EXTRACtT/hydrolyzed yeast was the culprit. I have to make all broths, soups, and many salad dressings/seasonings from scratch because of it. I figured I wasn’t the only one… the yeast extract is high in concentrated glutamates like the MSG, so it must be the concentrated dose all at once that causes excitation in the nervous system and the migraine cascade. When we consume glutamates throughout the day it’s in smaller doses and likely balanced by another amino acid in the food to offset its actions. Nature is wiser than us. I hope someone studies this for all of us who suffer. The conclusions drawn by the article above are unscientific anyways.

    2. Yes! Yeast extract causes me to get all puffy/retain water for days afterward.

      I also notice it makes my food highly palatable- in a “dangerous” sort of way.

      I haven’t noticed any reaction Chinese restaurant food, but not something I choose to eat anyway.

  27. Hi Dr. Wallace,

    As a child my family got Chinese food about once a month, and every single time, I felt a particular kind of sick afterward — flushed and achy, with tender skin, especially around my shoulders and neck…like I was getting the flu. It was awful, and then it was over — no virus or anything. Did anyone in my family ever suggest that maybe I shouldn’t eat Chinese food? No. (It was the 70s and no one was paying attention.) Did I ever connect the dots and avoid Chinese food? Nope. Flash forward to adulthood, when I had the reaction a couple of times and thought, huh, maybe I’m reacting to MSG. So I just avoided Chinese food, simple enough. Then I had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant, having no idea it used MSG, too. It was a cold day and I gulped the delicious Pho broth down pretty quickly. Very quickly I started sweating and was flushed, with that horrible achy feeling and a rapid heartbeat. I was doubled over and barely made it out of the restaurant.

    It is most definitely the MSG that I and others react to. It’s unlike any other food reaction or a typical overeating reaction. The thing is, it’s very much dose dependent — for me, at least. I can have a little MSG — in a couple of Doritos, a couple of Planter’s peanuts, etc. I could probably have a couple sips of Pho. But eat a whole dish that’s loaded with MSG, and I get very sick, every time. I’ve had allergy testing and there’s nothing I’m allergic to, and I regularly have Asian sauces and ingredients without MSG and am fine.

    From my unscientific life experience, most people do just fine with MSG. But some people, including me, most definitely do not. Interestingly, just recently my mom told me that every time she goes to the Chinese restaurant she feels sick afterward and has to lie down. (She was not present during our Chinese takeout Fridays; that was with my dad and stepmother.)

    I haven’t looked into the “msg reactions are fake!” studies, and I have no idea what is happening biologically during the very real reactions that some people have. Maybe it depends how much MSG was eaten that day in other foods? Maybe the doses used in the studies aren’t as big as what is sometimes in Chinese/Vietnamese/etc. dishes? Maybe it depends how much sodium is in the meal?

    I for one don’t jump to the “neurotoxin” explanation and (obviously) hope it’s a passing reaction that doesn’t do harm.

    I would ask you to please reconsider your stance. It’s one thing to say that science hasn’t been able to figure out the reaction; quite another to say that you know for sure it’s not the MSG. Why not be curious instead of condescending?

  28. Yeast extract is widely known to contain high levels of free (not bound to protein) glutamate. The glutamate in MSG is free glutamate. So, eating yeast extract is like eating MSG without the extra sodium.

    1. And it seems to bother m some of us just the same. Yeast extract gives me migraines everytime. I will get a migraine and go look back at something I ate when I thought it was safe, and realize I was exposed after the fact. It’s not psychosomatic.

  29. Dr Wallace, the reason I am reading this article is because I have been feeling so tired with a persistent headache and a tightness in my chest, as if I worked out too hard..starting three days ago after I ate rice cakes with MSG…I had them for my snack each day. I never feel this way and that was a new food for me, so I read the ingredients and there was MSG listed. I looked up MSG sensitive symptoms and found your article. You describe my symptoms to a tee, and yet you say they are not from MSG! I don’t know if it is or it isn’t but I do know I will not be eating those rice cakes again.

  30. The only time I have ever fainted in my life (I’m 54) was last year immediately after eating a large meal at an Asian Fusion restaurant (the first and last time I was there). Just prior to the incident I was having extreme bowel pain (again, not normal). I went through a battery of tests; heart monitor, stress test, MRI, neurologist, etc. All negative. The conclusion by my GP and Cardiologist was that it was a Vasovagal Syncope event but they could not pinpoint the cause. So when I recently visited my Gastroenterologist for a yearly checkup, I mentioned the incident. His FIRST question was; did you eat Chinese food? He told me about a potential issue with MSG which prompted me to look it up (and I wound up here!)

  31. The only time I have ever fainted in my life (I’m 54) was last year immediately after eating a large meal at an Asian Fusion restaurant (the first and last time I was there). Just prior to the incident I was having extreme bowel pain (again, not normal). I went through a battery of tests; heart monitor, stress test, MRI, neurologist, etc. All negative. The conclusion by my GP and Cardiologist was that it was a Vasovagal Syncope event but they could not pinpoint the cause. So when I recently visited my Gastroenterologist for a yearly checkup, I mentioned the incident. His FIRST question was; did you eat Chinese food? He told me about a potential issue with MSG which prompted me to look it up (and I wound up here!) (btw, I also went through a full allergy test panel. Nothing came up but not sure if there’s a test for MSG?)

  32. Hi. Thanks for the interesting thoughts, but I must disagree…
    8 hours after ingesting MSG or Sodium Benzoate I get a severe migraine. I can almost set my watch by it. The migraines are so bad that I am unable to operate, unable to process thoughts, calculations, etc. I have had these migraines for 40 years, but with the increase of MSG & preservatives in food, they have increased over the years… Many doctors, including neurologists, have also told me that food allergies cannot cause migraines. They too are wrong… I do believe it has something to do with gut microbes (or the lack thereof). Would love to get to the bottom of this. Regards, Mike

  33. I hope you will open your mind up to msg sensitivity. I suffer chronic migrain maybe not always msg related but Ihave had far to many experiences with msg to discount it.

  34. I wish you would keep an open mind on msg sensitivity.To insinuate that people think they are special because they have an issue with msg is totally wrong. I am a chronic migrain sufferer and would change that in a heartbeat if possible. I know 100% that I get a migrain if I have eaten foods with high levels of msg eg tinned soups but I am able to tolerate low levels . My problem is not all Msg but a very large part of it.

  35. I don’t eat in restaurants simply because I have a bad reaction to most restaurant foods. I can’t say it’s msg but I’m sure it’s due to additives in processed foods. I cook from scratch at home and don’t have those problems. Msg is natural but scientists can’t duplicate Mother Nature. Therein lies the problem.

    1. I also can’t eat at restaurants or frozen pre-prepped meals that much or else my skin breaks out in extremely itches rashes/hives, which go away in a few hours depending on severity. Fortunately popping anywhere from 1-3 Zyrtecs helps relieve it, but in general I try to cook from scratch as well and go light on the sauces, and don’t find myself popping Zyrtec very often anymore. I found this article because I have started suspecting MSG recently. So far I’ve also found that I react to black pepper (though white pepper is safe).

  36. My son – now 15 – is sick every time he eats food high in MSG. Last time was last night – at a festival in Scotland. He had chips with curry sauce (went back to the festival today to check ingredients) and yes, it was in the sauce. He was immediately very out of it and was sick multiple times; then slept for an hour then was OK. We used to eat Chinese when he was little (at a fairly cheap Chinese place) and he had the same symptoms every time. It’s the only common ingredient in the food for every time he’s had these quite severe symptoms. In general he’s extremely tolerant to all foods – not faddy at all. It’s quite alarming when it happens. It’s very boring to read online that apparently this reaction doesn’t exist when it is so clearly the MSG causing it.

  37. A kick in the stomach, followed by face numbness and shortness of breath. Then, depending on how much I had, an incapacitating migraine.
    I hope dr W never has to go through all the symptoms described here and which he so flippantly dismisses.
    This compound affects how the neurons in your brain interact. Are we so advanced in neuroscience that we know how all there is about that? I know that I am sensitive to MSG. I know that my symptoms increase ten-fold if I ingest it in a soup or sauce. I know that some foods that have it do not affect me at a conscious level, while others never fail to. Don’t dismiss something as fiction just because you don’t understand it.

  38. Hi, Dr. Wallace,
    I’m glad that you are interesting in MSG research,because it’s really annoyed me after I ate some food. And I always want to know why it cause to.

    I lived in Taiwan, and I have some personal observation about this problem.
    I notice this problem usually occur when I was eating noodles with clear soup, or some cuisine with thick sauce.(It’s normally found in Asian food)
    It’s really rarely (also can say “never”) happen on other meat, vegetables cuisine.
    So I guess it might be caused by high temperature cooking for a long time.

    Asian food usually boil soup in a big pot, and restaurant used to let the soup boiled all the day. They will cook noodles and soup separately, when the guests order meals, they just start cook noodles, but the soup is always waiting for .

    So I think, MSG doesn’t directly cause uncomfortable, it should be mixed other reasons.(cooking long time in high temperature)

    That is to say, if there is fresh soup, or it didn’t put MSG at first (maybe can put MSG when cuisine almost done), maybe it won’t be make any uncomfortable feeling.

    It’s all about my guess.
    But my English is not very good, I hope you could understand what I want to convey.

  39. Please be open to the vast connections we do not yet know. It is interesting to me that many people report flushing, headache, brain fog etc. and this is called Chinese Food Syndrome.
    I would tend to believe there is a connection there with msg or something with it, although I don’t get that general pattern from msg. However, I do get migraines and II can’t see anything other than msg as the unifying factor preceding many of these migraine. These can range from mild to severe and disabling for a significant amount of time. Because they cause such productivity loss and suffering in some people, msg should be labeled — its in practically everything commercially prepared with seasoning.

    Over and over I am sick with migraine by surprise and I was unsuspecting – the food tasted great
    – too good – like shrimp chips, a casserole that had a can of soup , seasoned beef, etc.
    definitely doesn’t have to be from Chinese food. Anything seasoned, processed seems to be a risk.
    When I was a kid, on “spaghetti day” I refused to eat tomato sauce. I would have a headache already
    from the smell of the sauce simmering.I was surprised to find out tomatoes had msg —
    there was also probably a bouillon cube in it. Other things that are really bad migraine prompters for me
    are certain cheeses — like Brie, which is delicious in my distant memory and I tried it a few times hoping the bad migraine that ensued was just coincidental, but it turned out it wasn’t, so I have not eaten it in ages.
    Oddly fresh mozzarella can cause headache- I have no idea how. Pesto has been a migraine prompter, so I go very light with it,
    and make it myself avoiding parmesan as that is probably guilty – maybe also for the spaghetti sauce.

    I will add that I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind who gets disabling migraines like I do from msg would volunteer for an msg study.

  40. This article makes no distinction between L-glutamic acid and D-glutamic acid, which is the main difference between MSG and the vast majority of the glutamic acid that we consume on a daily basis. Moving on…

  41. Dr. Taylor, I have eliminated so many foods from my diet due to an absolute intolerance of MSG. I cannot consume yeast extract, cooked tomatoes, dried mushrooms, etc. The result? Severe brain inflammation requiring steroid treatment. Do you have any ideas on how to overcome so I don’t have to be so vigilant? I’m also severely allergic to coffee and chocolate. My body will turn fire engine red in less than 30 seconds after consuming. How do I get to be less reactive? Thanks.

  42. As I type this comment, I have a wicked MSG headache. I seldom eat processed food due to eating Ketogenic/LCHF diet for the past 3 years. Every few months my employer treats us to a Chinese food lunch. The idea of opting out of the lunch makes me uncomfortable. I order shrimp egg foo young because there are zero other suitable choices. I know it contains some starch carbs, but I suck it up. I do add some soy sauce… because it’s delicious!
    The headache ALWAYS arrives during the night and by morning I’m nauseous, sweaty and my eyes are tearing. My personal remedy: potassium. Helps to flush out the MSG. I get mine from the salt substitute “No Salt”, but other people use cream of tartar. I use about 1/2 teaspoon dissolved in water. Then drink a couple of glasses of water over the course of an hour. It’s hard to drink because of the nausea but I soldier on. Buying a bottle of pills is of no value because I’d have to swallow 5 or 6 of them (along with the carby filler used to make them) to get the same dose. I’m a 61 year old woman with no health problems and taking no medications (because of the weight loss)…not saying anyone else should follow this advice. The headache is almost gone.

  43. It’s 100% msg for me and cheese (not butter). If I make the same food at home from scratch nothing happens. If I got to two msg Free Asian Restaurants I love, no issues! I’ve done Cyrex labs food sensitivities test and Viome. I know what foods to avoid and anything with msg is a huge trigger. No fast foods, no processed foods and I have a huge saved list of all the names of msg when I go to the grocery. I’m always scared to eat out. First thing I do is ask about msg. It’s in All the cheap and chain restaurants. And if you compare toxic table salt to msg based on the sodium % you need to learn about what table salt is and how it can cause problems where natural sea salt with a similar mineral balance to human blood is perfectly safe. One is created in a lab the other humans have been using safely. High blood pressure is table salt not from sea salt.

  44. It’s pretty clear he explained that MSG is a naturally occurring substance in relatively common foods and that the addition is minuscule compared to your actual natural intake. So blame italian, steak houses, French, blame them all. In the end, it’s just a bunch of hypochondriacs who need to point a finger as to why they feel like human garbage. I never eat Chinese food, as a Japanese american, but I put msg in lots of savory dishes at home(executive chef professionally), and my usual dilemma is heart burn from too much acidic food. But I love acidic food and hot sauce. Almost as much as i love hearing gluten diets cure autism. We’ve been munching on the same stuff for millenials. Maybe stop sucking down sugar and fatty foods and take a walk every once in a while. Might help that crater in your couch heal, along with you msg sensitivity. Also conducted a blind test locally with those claiming. Results were indefinitely negative. Guess those people were wrong too.

    1. Holy condescension. I am fit and exercise regularly. I eat a diet of mostly natural foods prepared with care. The Dr.’s “scientific” pronouncements defy the basic logic of coming to a conclusion before full testing has been performed. He even indicates he’s “dying” to recruit people who claim MSG effects and to use the new equipment at George Mason to perform experiments. Your anecdotal observations do nothing, but show your ignorance. Having the response I have to MSG (vertigo) is neither imagined nor borne of hypochondria. It’s inconvenient and annoying and it happens only when eating foods that are labelled with MSG. Just because science has clearly identified the causal link doesn’t mean it’s not there. I discovered the link over 20 years ago after 10 years of extreme suffering. It was only this dietary change that corrected the issue.

  45. Norman borlaug won the nobel peace prize and is thought to have prevented billions of deaths from starvation. Guess we seem to be doing okay when mother nature wont tag in

  46. Norman borlaug won the nobel peace prize and is thought to have prevented billions of deaths from starvation. Guess we seem to be doing okay when mother nature wont tag in

  47. Everyone who thinks they are sensitive needs to take blind taste tests over a period of a few weeks to prove it. Or, just take a spoonful each day and see which days you don’t feel groggy or whatever that results from bad sleep or some other thing that is resulting to you all thinking it’s the MSG.

    Saying you are sensitive is like saying you’re sensitive to salt. It’s in everything, yet you are quick to blame it on MSG even through you have no idea what it really is.

    1. All you have to do is buy msg seasoning and eat a half a table spoon. If you are sensitive to it you will find out. I did and my migraine started like clock work. A week later i ate alot of salt . Guess what!!! I didnt get migraines. So i tried the msg seasoning again. Guess what!!! got my migraine back. I know that some people believe they know everything. But i can tell you i hurt very bad after consuming anything with msg and there is something in it that causes a lot of problems for people. Yes it occurs naturally in foods. But Guess What. The msg added in our foods is not natural. Its processed. So maybe thats the problem. I dont know .

    2. We all do blind tests. We eat a food, we get migraines, we later discover we were exposed after investigating labels. None of us will eat MSG on purpose. You’re lucky if you don’t suffer. You couldn’t pay me $1million dollars to eat it because I would want to die from the symptoms. You clearly don’t get it. And MSG and Yeast Extract are not exactly the same as what’s naturally occurring in the foods.

  48. It seems to me that most Asian restaurants are not kept very clean. I used to order from one place, take out. They would deliver. One day, I went there again. It was a small building, concrete floors, 2 booths, nobody there, about a dozen flies flying around, greasy windows. Never ordered from there again.

    Was at a restaurant for lunch. Looks nice and clean. Until I saw a large cockroach crawling along the booth median. My friends and I left immediately.

    I’m willing to be that most of these people that have these allergic reactions could be having some other reactions because of the food preparation. I’m sure other restaurants we all go to, not just Asian restaurants, are using MSG.

    Figuring it’s MSG is easy to say because “everyone” is saying it’s the MSG. But it’s a flavor enhancer. I don’t see how that could be the problem when there are so many other likely reasons why everyone is getting different reactions to the stuff. Lethargy, headaches, nausea. That could be anything. Do you get headaches from kids making so much noise? If you do, you must have a sensitivity to kids.

  49. I know something is up with MSG. If I eat anything with it – it induces severe dizziness/vertigo. I absolutely have to avoid it, or I pay the price for days. I can add salt to my food … but cannot do fast food (Chinese, chicken) anymore, because so much of it has MSG in it.

  50. When I consume food with MSG I get bloating, diarrhea, cramping, and spike a fever. It doesn’t matter the type of food. Yes, Doritos cause this for me, as well as soups, sauces, fried chicken, anything that has it. I’ve come to recognize how my brain reacts to foods with MSG, if I have the sensation that this is the best food ever and I have to eat it all, then it’s usually MSG. If found this article tonight as I was searching for information about MSG sensitivity. I had plain grilled chicken today with teriyaki sauce on the side. I barely dipped the chicken I the sauce, but within 30 minutes I had explosive diarrhea and now I have about 101° body temperature with chills and body aches. Same thing happened when I ate an order of fried chicken a few months ago, that time I was sick for 3 days. Basically, I rarely eat out due to this, and most wait staff are clueless. I would participate in your study if I lived near.

  51. You are seriously listing the FDA as a source of information?
    You have got to be kidding. These are the biggest bunch of incompetent morons on earth. They rank among other organisations that are consistently wrong and are only found to be wrong after years of saying a product is completely safe. Others are the CDC, the FCC, ICNIRP, ARPANSA, ADA, AMA and many others.
    Very arrogant article in some parts. And also dismissive of people with genuine complaints with blanket statements that are denigrating to people who are seeking answers to their problems.
    Personally, MSG causes constipation in me. No, I have not done a scientific study. I would not waste my time. You seem to think that unless it has the seal of approval by a possibly corrupt “scientist”, that it is not worth a pinch of salt.
    The medical profession and so called experts have failed me every single time on other issues relating to health. It is only through my own research that I have overcome health issues that have been caused by government and medical profession approved toxins which they willingly administered. So the last organisation I would rely on for information is one of those organisations. They are corrupt and deliberately incompetent.
    But it is your opinion, you are entitled to it, and I am a firm believer in free speech.
    Cheers

    1. Yes. I am
      The same. I don’t choose it. Earlier today I want to eat some noodles and add a bouillon cube. My mom bought some natural ones and she has the MSG chock-full ones. She swore to me that the one I was grabbing was non-MSG and I ate it and 20 minutes later explosive diarrhoea like always. It’s funny how we’re also different and none of us are the same LOL

    1. Hey there – Thanks for bringing this to my attention. My first concern is these are all rat studies using doses of ~4g of MSG per kilogram of body weight. For a 150 lb person that would be equivalent to consuming over A HALF POUND of MSG per day (in the Nemeroff study for 42 days). I would imagine consuming a half pound of any amino acid would cause weight gain and other health issues (its the same as consuming an additional half pound of meat every day… you’ll gain weight). The same goes for the prenatal studies… ethically we can’t give pregnant women a half pound of any purified substance. Dose matters. We see the same issue with glyphosate, aspartame, etc. The rat studies linking aspartame to weight gain and cancer… you would need to consume 15,000 cans of diet Coke per day for 20 years to get the effect in humans. I could keep going and rant all day about how bad the data is… when we have very advanced studies in humans from top neurological institutions that affirm its safety at levels currently in food (and above).

  52. I’d like to thank Val, for offering a remedy (KCl). I use a plant-based diet to help me avoid MSG and yeast extract (other names can be on labels). I used to have nearly daily migraines, and believed Dr. Taylor’s claim. If I’m very careful, I can eliminate the migraines, but I do feel like the quality of my life has been lowered, because of it. Yes – These flavor enhancers are used by food manufacturers and restaurants to get you to come back/buy again. I do have a knowledge of Medical Toxicology, so I suspect the prevalent use has lead to higher and higher dosages, With the vegan diet, I still must read labels carefully and cook most of my own food. This means I can’t enjoy a meal with friends at an water-front restaurant, for example. There was a comment made about Cheetos, which I can’t eat, but I can eat Bamba peanut butter puffs. Unfortunately, the plant-based market is starting to add yeast extract to their processed foods. I used to be able to count on Amy’s brand, but found a new product with it. The veggie burgers that restaurants have introduced, for vegans, all contain yeast extract. I actually have had a problem with hypotension from using KCl instead of NaCl, but the remedy makes sense, and I’m feeling much better now. I tried an Italian Sit down restaurant last night, and the soup I could tell had MSG. I sincerely hope that the few fast food restaurants (Chipotle, Tiajuana Flats, Bolay, Moe’s) I can eat at, don’t start adding flavor enhancers to theIr vegetarian products. I greatly appreciate the remedy, if I do have a problem. I’d like to be able to be more social, and I do like going to nice restaurants with friends. Chinese restaurants often don’t add MSG, because of the reputation, and they know how to prepare it without, if you ask. This is what threw me off of MSG causing my migraines in the first place. I don’t have any problem with nutritional yeast or soy sauce, by the way. Oh wow – I feel so much better!

  53. starts about 2 in the morning with a bad headache and nausea and cant get back to sleep, like a bad hangover but without drinking, usually clears 4-5pm in the afternoon, i must be special

  54. MSG in Japanese Curry Roux Mixes strongly amplifies my prevalent skin problems. I have been able to determine, beyond doubt, that MSG is the reason for this, because cooking with dry powder mixes, which don’t contain MSG, creates no issues.

    Listen to your body.

  55. Ever since I was little if I ate any sort of food with MSG I would get a migraine, throw up, and not be able to function for a few days afterwards. I also have chronic illnesses and while I have these same symptoms sometimes, I know these symptoms are coming from the foods I ate with MSG. Stop trying to invalidate the people who actually get sick from it and can’t handle it. Science doesn’t explain everything and your natural remedies don’t fix everything either. I have had actual doctors tell me that MSG can cause me to get sick like that.

  56. Here is a link for anyone interested in information not paid for by mega corporations who then lobby to the FDA: http://www.missionheirloom.com/understanding-glutamate.

    Free vs bound glutamate. Dr. Wallace must have sold his soul to corporations and/or is making money off of posting positive stuff about msg. I suffered from migraines for decades, only to do an elimination diet and realize that the 12-hour migraines (with severe trigeminal nerve pain begining approx. 10 hours after digesting anything with free glutamate in it). Benadryl works somewhat well. Cream of tartar sometimes. GABA sometimes. I’m sensitive to lecethin, bleached carrageenan (becomes unbound). Seems like free radicals vs antioxidants. Google ingredients that contain msg. It is super annoying that sooooo many processed food have one form or another (spices, autolyzed yeast, natural flavors, citric acid, etc).

    I hope that no one takes this blog seriously. I believe that chronic low grade inflammation and leaky brain has something to do with it, but guess why so many Americans have leaky gut and leaky brain…bc we are being fed a bunch of unhealthy chemicals in all of our food (even sprayed on fruits and veggies…chemicals in the soil) and msg in everything.

    Sorry that this “doctor” is so I’ll informed.

  57. I use msg. It appears in larger quantites you can have unpleasant side effects. People are adding way too much. You only need a pinch on a pound of hamburger meat, not a handful. A pinch, as in take your two fingers grab some and sprinkle. Some people are adding nearly half a cup of msg to a couple pounds of hamburger meat. Go ahead and eat a cup of cane sugar and tell me you don’t feel different in some way.

  58. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5278591/

    The only symptom my mom experiences with a reasonable dose of MSG are severe headaches/migraines. She still eats foods with MSG but has to be careful about limiting the intake. For example, using the entire packet of Maruchan ramen noodles chicken flavoring will definitely give her a severe migraine. If she meters her dosage to a 1/4 or 1/8 of the packet, she is fine. She has consistently shown through single blind testing that she is sensitive to MSG. You could argue she is simply sensitive to sodium but when she or I consume a high amount of sodium (over 700mg) in a single meal, we both experience other issues, usually constipation being one of them but not headache. The problems she experiences with MSG are unique.

    Perhaps the MSG scientists are using for testing isn’t appropriate or reflective of how or what type of MSG is used in foods. Perhaps MSG combined with other ingredients in foods makes it behave differently than when it’s taken by itself. Regardless, as of now, I’ve seen firsthand and read thousands of accounts of how foods containing MSG negatively impact people.

    I understand that you’ve read much literature stating that they’ve tested people’s exposure to MSG via double blind studies and found no causal links to it causing any problems. The problem I have with this is that the scientists conducting these studies are informed of a problem, are unable to replicate the issue and come to the conclusion the problem does not exist. Instead of concluding the problem does not exist, they should be trying to figure out why a problem that definitely exists, is difficult to replicate in laboratory conditions. In some of the testing, it seems they believe that if you don’t have a direct reaction to something via exposure, that it’s not having an effect on the person. There are many chemicals that aren’t reactive or are inactive without being used in conjunction with other chemicals and or pre-post processing of said chemical compound. One study I read said they laced citrus drinks with MSG and through double blind testing concluded that it had no effect. It’s not necessarily a bad test as it asks and answers the question, does MSG by itself cause reaction in sensitive and non-sensitive populations. However, using that test as a way to come to the conclusion of whether MSG has an effect on sensitive or non-sensitive populations is a mistake. There are far too many anecdotes and discussions in regards to MSG and other similar foods causing similar reactions to sensitive populations that to dismiss it does a huge disservice to these people and makes sufferers skeptical of the scientific community.

    https://www.faseb.org/Portals/2/PDFs/LSRO_Legacy_Reports/1995_Executive%20Summary%20From%20the%20Report_Analysis%20of%20Adverse%20Reactions%20to%20Monosodium%20Glutamate%20MSG%20Report.pdf

    Read page 7.
    All of those symptoms listed have been reported by sufferers who are sensitive to MSG. In all the years I’ve consumed food with MSG, I’ve only had one instance of experiencing a negative reaction to MSG consumption. I should preface that neither myself nor my friend are known to be sensitive to MSG as we regularly eat food containing large amounts of MSG. One evening I shared a meal with a friend at a chinese restaurant we frequented (we ate off several shared plates of food). Later that evening, we both went home (not cohabitating) and about an hour after I got home, I began what became a horrible night that included tingling in extremities, headache, heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, etc. My symptoms were so severe that I could not sit down and I had to literally keep myself standing the entire night otherwise I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I never felt so close to dying and it was the scariest moment of my entire life.. It took about 12 hours from ingestion of the food before I was able to sit or lay down without experiencing heart palpitations. I later went to the doctor that day but by then, the symptoms had gone away. It was only later that afternoon that I met with the friend to discuss what had happened to me that night that he revealed he too experienced similar symptoms though a bit less severe. Once he had told me that the same thing happened to him that night, that’s when I knew right away that it had been the food we ate that evening and that’s when I searched online for chinese restaurant food syndrome. Neither my friend or I were aware that a high dose of MSG would cause these symptoms.

    Anyway if I were you, I wouldn’t making it your life’s mission to declare that MSG is perfectly safe/fine/non-symptomatic for people when there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and even some scientifically backed up evidence that MSG in certain dosages for some persons can have very adverse effects.

    If you feel people are exaggerating the effects of MSG because their dosages are far too low to be symptomatic, you should probably be trying to figure out how and why small dosages of MSG can become symptomatic in people. There are probably other underlying issues either with the persons sensitive to MSG or the way the MSG is being prepared or used in conjunction with other foods that may make it more potent and or increase the incidence of episodes in sensitive persons. From my limited data about persons sensitive to MSG is that they tend to have lower than average blood pressure. That might be a good place to start looking.

  59. MSG is unnatural, unhealthy, causes inflammation, and is a problem. This article is obviously written by someone who just did a bunch of internet research but doesn’t actually know much about nutrition or have personal experience. I am on hour 48 of nausea and bloating due to accidentally rating MSG. I hope the writer is willing to dig deeper to uncover the truth.

  60. When I quit eating it completely headaches and migraines went away. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was chronic supposedly permanent conditions also went away also. Goodbye Fibromyalgia, goodbye asthma, goodbye IBS. Goodbye weight gain and food cravings. Sure it’s safe. Completely. Hahaha

  61. You talk a load of Tosh, MSG intolerance know in the west as, “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” affects many people in different ways, if I eat something with (Flavourings) which is MSG disguised under the heading Flavourings, I will develop a Migraine within an hour depending on the amount of MSG present, it will last for days sometimes even after taking Imigran, I have even had the conversation with a lady from Thailand who suffered with horrendous headaches but since moving to the UK where she no longer uses MSG to cook with she has little trouble, there are meany other comments on the internet confirming MSG is a cause of Migraines and many other symptoms

  62. You are very flip in your assertion that I think I’m special…even clarifying that I’m not..you don’t know how msg affects me, only how it effects you! Anyone can have an adverse reaction to anything…dangerous !

  63. Pretty bold to post a article claiming a person cannot have a reaction to MSG when you can have an allergy or intolerance to literally any substance. I have had reactions before to it in a variety of foods but recently ate crab legs at a restaurant that uses Cajun seasoning. Didn’t dawn on me that the seasoning they use has a large quantity of MSG. Two hours after eating I began vomiting and felt horrible for the next two days. Dr. confirmed it was a reaction to the MSG which gave me an atypical migraine. Took an Imitrex and the majority of the symptoms went away. Was advised to drink as much water as possible to flush my system.

  64. I have suffer from migraine headaches for 30 years. I’ve tried illuminating everything from my diet and have visited every type of doctor under the sun. I would not be able to function without sumatriptan and take on an average of 900 milligrams a week. Kudos to you Dr. Wallace for dedicating your time and talents to this awful affliction that’s so many people have nowadays. I pray that you find some answers.

  65. Just because they don’t have research to prove it does not mean it dob happen
    Everyday feel great go out for lunch the pain starts. You have severe headaches after eating then tell me it’s not msg. Your full of bull

  66. I just had some cheese puffs and got a sever migraine, nausea…my teeth and nose are numb, my face is warm and I’m itchy as well. It’s not life threatening, but it is absolutely an allergic reaction. I have allergic reactions to many things people say aren’t things people have a reaction to: nitrous oxide, novocain numbs my whole face, 24k gold, cilantro, garlic. You can’t decide how someone else’s body will react to something.

  67. I get a nasty flush after eating at my favorite Chinese restaurant and after eating Hillshire Farm’s beef sausage. Random, I know. I think it’s the MSG, and Mayo Clinic states that MSG sensitivities do indeed exist. I think it’s the MSG load in meals vs the trace MSG that is in snacks. And think about it, when you eat a meal, you eat to fill up…..I can’t remember the last time I filled up on Doritos. I don’t think MSG intake is equivalent, in the least

  68. Whenever I eat msg I get headaches. I wish I didn’t. Msg is an amazing food enhancer that I wish I could eat by the spoonfuls. But I can’t. I’ve experimented by a teaspoon of msg powder in my mouth to find and understand the source of my headaches. No other ingredients. Just a teaspoon of msg.

  69. Found drinking water can help, read of vitamin B6, Mg (can try more green veggies, herbs, B1 (Thiamine)- found in sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, beans & lentils helps to convert glutamine to GABA, B2 , B3, B12 B6 found in fish, liver, organ meats and potatoes.

    Father(chest pain) and 1 brother (headaches ) and I reacted (brain fog)
    Check the Reid diet, she took child off glutamate foods and no longer autistic.
    https://www.truthinlabeling.org/msg.html

    https://draxe.com/nutrition/msg/ The main difference between glutamate and monosodium glutamate, however, is in the way that they are each processed within the body. The glutamate found in foods is typically attached to a long chain of other amino acids. When you eat it, your body breaks it down slowly and is able to closely regulate the amount that you take in. Excess amounts can simply be excreted through the waste to prevent toxicity. (20)

    Meanwhile, MSG is produced using a concentrated form of glutamate that is isolated, meaning that it’s not attached to other amino acids and can be broken down very quickly. This also means that it can raise levels of glutamate in the blood much more rapidly, contributing to symptoms in those with a sensitivity.

  70. This article is false as my wife is sensitive to MSG and if its in any food it triggers her hives.

    She knows her hives are triggered by a few things and we have tested this.

    To claim no one is sensitive is very narrow minded for a medical professional.

  71. Ok, then why do I lay awake the entire night with toothpicks in my eyes that won’t shut and feet that itch Intensely. I’ve tested it enough times to know that it is msg causing the problem. I avoid it at every dinner.

  72. Consider the possibility that your aversion to msg, or gluten, or sugar, is something you expect . Right now I am feeling glassy, but have no msg to blame it on. If I had been to an Asian restaurant, I would have a ready made reason for my mild distress. In the opposite way it is easy to have a positive reaction to a worthless product like Airborne. Feel like you might be coming down with a cold? Take it. Now think how many times you felt you might be coming down with something, but didn’t. If you took Airborne, you probably would credit it for you recovery.
    I really think we need more double blind randomized studies to examine dietary and supplement claims.
    Anecdotes only take us so far.

  73. I definitely have a reaction to MSG. In 1973 I ate at the YMCA restaurant in Hong Kong. I felt great going into dinner. I immediately got sick to the point I could hardly stand, and went to bed and missed the rest of the evening with friends. I’ve tried to avoid MSG since then. But, today, I had some pre-made Sushi from City Market, Pagosa Springs, CO. Shortly after eating, I felt faint and nauseous and could barely crawl to bed. It lasted for a brief time. Was I getting the flu? I looked at the ingredients on the pre-made sushi, and, sure enough, there was MSG. Glad I don’t have the flu, but allergy to MSG is real and sudden and not fun but short-lived.

  74. This article is written in a glib, snide and anti-patient tone. Doctors are supposed to be scientists who listen to their patients and recognize that medicine is an evolving field. I have anklosing spondylitis and any food that increases glutamate release in the body including msg, caffine, autolyzed yeast, carrageenan, etc., sets of flares of arthritis. I found your article because I was searching the internet looking for helpful information. Instead, I just found a young jerk-sounding bully who probably thinks his medical certificate on the wall makes him smarter than everyone else. Not helpful. The smartest doctors I have encountered go into the field to help other people not to just promote themselves. You should consider why you are even writing these silly articles.

  75. This is very careless to post – you don’t know what you don’t know. People have allergic reactions and synthetic versions of glutamate such as msg causes extreme puffy face, headaches, chest pains and stomach upset.

  76. Just because you personally don’t have symptoms doesn’t mean the rest of us are making it up!

    Mac Donald’s doesn’t use MSG- I can eat that.

    KFC use it- if I eat that as a one off treat once a month I will be up all night with the worst stomach pain.

    If I eat a chinese take away I get the same!

    Yes the foods may be bad in general but eating in a place that uses NO msg will have no affect on me. If I eat in a place where they use MSG I am guaranteed a world of pain. I recently made this connection and have gone MSG free!

    This article is baloney I’m sorry doc.

  77. As I sit here vomitting with a debilitating migraine wondering why msg causes such a violent reaction I see your bullshit. I have moved to eating meat with no season except salt pepper and salads, veggies with no sauce. I cant eat fast food or season for the fear of the violent reaction to msg I get. Sounds to me like your arrogant or a sellout.

  78. What wild claims! As someone who has been on a dietician and hospital approved strict elimination diet and had an anaphylactic reaction to the challenge with monosodium glutamate tablets I can tell you that your theories about msg sensitivity not being real are false. Msg may be naturally occurring but dosage is definitely a factor in the recurring symptomsof msg sensitive people
    Just because food chemical sensitivities are a difficult area to prove because individual reactions vary significantly does not mean that they do not exist at all or that all of the people commenting with their various personal reactions to msg are hypochondriacs. Considering the gut/brain connection is only a very recent discovery, and as above individual reactions to the same substances vary, science has a long way to go in figuring out how to research this area successfully.

  79. It is so maddening that “scientists” are normalizing the use of added MSG in food products. Those of us who are sensitive to MSG are now inundated with MSG-laden food at restaurants. It is become a full-time job to avoid the additives. You would definitely not be espousing this myth that people are not sensitive to this, if you were subject to the same migraine headaches that I get whenever I consume MSG.

  80. Explain to me why I have a severe reaction (Migraine Headache) to foods that have a high concentration of MSG. Soy Sauce, Suddenly Salad, and Dales Steak Sauce are just a few. I first suspected it was MSG because I had dinner with steaks marinated in Dales Steak Sauce and a pasta salad made from Suddenly Salad. The common ingredient with the highest concentration between the two was MSG. Thirty minuities later I had a very severe headache. Since then I have eaten at separate times Suddenly Salad and a roast cooked in Soy Sauce and both times gotten a severe headache. There are other occasions when eating a Asian restaurants that I have felt lethargic and thirsty after the meal. If this isn’t a reaction to MSG then what is it?

  81. I’d say I’m 98% sure that I react negatively to MSG. The real proof for me wasn’t even that I get terrible cramps after eating it (almost always in Chinese places), so much as from my experience with a Mexican restaurant. I had been there 2 times before and had gotten the same cramps. I didn’t think of MSG, but we went there once and a friend sitting next to me said, “Whoa, MSG buzz,” (he said he feels it in his face), so the alarm went off for me too. Now it made sense why I got camps every time I went there. Now when I ask them to hold the MSG at places that I used to get sick at, I don’t get sick anymore. I know that’s anecdotal evidence, but it’s 40 years of personal experience anecdotal evidence.

  82. Taylor, I would like to respectfully disagree with you. It’s articles like this that put people with free-glutamate sensitivity in pain for years as they assume it couldn’t possibly be “MSG.” I have suffered with migraines my whole life, and now in my 40’s finally found relief through a heavily-regulated diet. What others need to know is that not all humans are created equal – some will have a predisposition to cancer or lupus or heart disease… some have a sensitivity to free glutamate. It is NOT just MSG. MSG is only a mass-produced version of free gluatmate. Free glutamate is found under 40 different ingredient names (such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein and autolyzed yeast extract). This is further excacerbated by the FDA considering these ingredients GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) – they are not required to be labeled as such, and can fall under broad categories such as Natural Flavors, Spices or Enzymes. My diet has ruled out many restaurants and much processed food because of this. However, I am finally getting relief from my migraines. Before you jump ahead to do research, you might want to check into some that has already been done… and perhaps “debunked” by research done by big food corporations. Follow the money trail. Big Food Corp will threaten and debunk anyone who discovers the truth about all the additives that go into their food. After all… it is no longer contested that MSG is addictive and does cause weight gain. (The FDA uses MSG to create obese rats for their studies on obesity) Dr. Russell Blaylock has already done/compiled some compelling evidence for what happens to the brain in someone with a compromised blood brain barrier. You might start there…

  83. Interesting article. I have neuroborreliosis and suffer from intracranial hypertension. I have regular lumbar punctures and the pressure ranges from 20-27 on their meter. I too noticed frequent headaches after MSG. I’ve tested it with LP’s and frequently average 3-4 units of pressure higher after MSG than before.

  84. Fellow MSG sufferer, cream of tartar , about 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp in water. It works , potassium helps too!

    I feel it in minutes with spotty vision and process of elimination found it was MSG.

  85. I like many of you am allergic to MSG – I will get the totally spaced out feeling as though I am here – but am not – hope that makes sense – you just have to keep looking on the back of packets to see all those hidden names and learn the names because there are so many that are hidden. People think you are mad when you say I am spaced out through eating MSG but believe me it is true – hope you all a day free of MSG.

  86. So I don’t get migraines, bloating and sick as a dog for 18 to 24 hours. It must all be in my mind. Thank you!
    You are right, I am not allergic. I am MSG sensitive according to my doc, no anaphylaxis or hives so not technically allergic but so sick I don’t care. I do most cooking to avoid even trace amounts of MSG, natural flavor, disodium inosate or guanuylate and exitotoxins my gut and head can’t stand. Recently I bought the same chicken seasoning I bought last year. Sick all night and could not sleep, I checked ingredients and MSG had been added… had to toss that shit. Still 99 out of 100 would not be bothered by that and why you discount my rage at your statements. I guess it pays well to say MSG sensitivity is crap but us unfortunate few know better. MSG should be outlawed because they hide it everywhere!

  87. Phosphatidyl choline has changed my life.. I can’t believe you haven’t let my post through so that it can help others as well! You really should be ashamed of yourself!

  88. I mean it probably affects you neurologically rather than your common allergic reaction that’s more on autoimmune side of things, but I can confirm the lovely MSG seasoning is the real culprit.
    As a teen, I worked at a Chinese restaurant during summer, and often would wok-fry my own lunch under supervision. And I can tell you I always used pretty much the same ingredients, but as the ladel was so huge I sometimes added just a bit too much of the MSG. And every time I have overdone it, depending how much extra from the “safe” amount I plopped it, the symptoms would be that much more severe; varied from mild pressures what felt like in my cheekbones to nearly blacking out of weird head pressure and numbness, and throwing up everything 30 minutes in. Symptoms were always short-lived, for about an hour or so.
    And you can bet I always ate my lunch anyway, no matter if I knew I put too much. 😀

  89. I’m wondering if it’s the process of creating the MSG that’s the problem. They are saying it’s “naturally occurring”. But hydrolysed plant protein is a similar form of it and that’s chemically broken down cells. That’s not natural. When I do a google, some are insisting that MSG is made from fermenting, but we know damn well the snack companies who want it as a preservative would be using a chemically synthesized version. That isn’t “natural”. It’s a preservative, plain and simple. I think for healthy eating we avoid preservatives and the ingredients list should only be real foods, not chemicals. I don’t think I have this allergy or food sensitivity, but a family member does and reacts to foods with any preservatives in them. So probably best to avoid them.

  90. I have a TBI. My own excess glutamate in my brain causes severe issues for me, often called a glutamate storm. The balance of glutamate and other neurotransmitters is crucial for healthy function. I must avoid MSG or I experience real and odd neurological effects and an increase in my every day TBI symptoms, such as increased headache, nerve tingling, motor function, etc. I have 20-40 minutes after digestion before symptoms really get going, and I usually no now when I’ve eaten it. I can “taste” it. I discovered this on my own, but since I have met many TBI survivors with the same reaction to MSG. With a TBI I am not a stranger to doctors telling me my symptoms are bogus, but it is exhaustive and frankly medical professionals using blanket statements about food sensitivities should be avoided. period.

  91. MSG is lethal. Sadly, food chains wont openly let people know it’s in their food products. We find out the hard way. I had a simple Chic fil A combo and I’ve been up all night with a headache and Blood pressure going through the roof. After googling what was in it, to my surprise MSG is the 2nd ingredient on their fried chicken. 2nd only to salt. Once I locate these places with the hidden ingredient I stay away from them. Its that simple.

    1. Hey Claudette – Food chains must legally give you this information if you ask when ordering. Totally believe in the right-to-know so if people want to avoid something, they can.

  92. I am entirely convinced that MSG is a migraine trigger for three main reasons. Firstly, I checked ingredients lists for foods I ate before having migraines and discovered that they indeed contained man created glutamate additives. The most compelling time I checked an ingredient list was when I ate a packet of salad dressing along with a bread roll and subsequently got a migraine. The dressing contained glutamic acid as an ingredient. Secondly, my incidence of migraines reduced greatly after avoiding these types of ingredients. Lastly, there is overwhelming anecdotal evidence from other people’s accounts.

    For me there are two obvious possible explanations for why people don’t experience symptoms as often or at all from naturally occurring glutamate. One, the amount present in natural foods might be less, and two, the speed at which the body metabolizes glutamate in natural foods might be lesser. The latter possibility is more persuasive for me because I am fine with real soy sauce, which surely has a lot of naturally occurring glutamate. I say real soy sauce because some soy sauce actually contains man created, for lack of a better term, glutamate additives such as hydrolized protein etc., which I actually find amusing, as if the natural fermentation of soy beans doesn’t already impart a decent enough flavor.

    There are also experiences where I didn’t check ingredients immediately afterward, but in hindsight conclude were a result of sensitivity to MSG. One was when I was in middle school and got my first migraine I was aware of. The principal walked into the classroom and I had the visual effect of a blind spot in my vision so his head intermittently “disappeared.” A terrible headache ensued. Around that time I had been eating snacks that contained added MSG. Another experience is that I would often throw up after eating Chinese food when I was a child. Nausea always occurs alongside migraines I get that have visual effects. While I don’t recall getting migraines during those occasions, I certainly feel that the possibility of a correlation there is entirely reasonable given my other experiences and conclusions.

    Frankly, I would encourage migraine sufferers in opposition to the the author here by suggesting that indeed MSG could be causing their migraines and that they should simply pay attention to ingredients lists and learn the other types of man created glutamate additives besides straight MSG.

    1. Glutamines/glutamates that are bound to protein don’t have the msg effect. Meat is very high in glutamates but I don’t react to it UNLESS someone descides to use meat tenderizer with msg. I do react to other foods it naturally occurs in, but the worst reactions always occur with added msg. I’m talking head exploding migraines, nausea and sometimes even vomiting and diarrhea.

  93. I understand that it may not be harmful. But what is the reason for the different negative effects that it has on people. In my case, I start sneezing and my nose starts to itch.

  94. Yeah, I had no idea the first clue about anything involving MSG but for years I”ve wondered I would get super nauseas and bloating and gross after eating Chinese. and after looking up my symptoms is the only reason why I even found this article or MSG symptoms in the first place. How you deny a reaction from
    someone who had no idea about this yet is still consistent with what other people claim MSG does?

  95. A Vietnamese seasonal farm worker stayed at my house. On the first night he arrived for the new season I noticed he was stirring a tablespoon of what looked like sugar out of a jar into his soup. He said his mother had given it to him and it made his soup taste really good. It was a jar of pure MSG and I told him not to use too much. A few days later I was passing his room in the morning when he should have been at work and I heard a faint voice through the door calling me to help him. His upper and lower limbs were paralysed so I called the ambulance and they took him to a major hospital 200km away. He arrived back about a week later and it spite of scans and blood tests they had found nothing wrong with him. Needless to say he got the message and stopped stirring spoonfulls of MSG into his soup!

  96. With me, it’s not just MSG but any combination of MSG and other stimulants like Coffee or alcohol. I have to avoid even decaffeinated drinks in case I accidentally hit something with MSG. Free of all three triggers I have no Atrial Fibrillation or other erratic heartbeats.
    Phill.
    BTW. It has taken me almost 40 years to work this out.

  97. “In my research on the effects of MSG in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome and the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, I observed headache (including migraine), diarrhea, gastrointestinal pain and bloating, extreme fatigue, muscle pain and cognitive dysfunction — all of which improved when subjects were put on a diet low in free glutamate, and which returned with re-introduction of MSG. (This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study)”

    http://www.livescience.com/47931-msg-not-safe-for-everyone.html

  98. I had Friday’s potato skins chips and lays stax loaded potato flavor chips today with my lunch. Now I’m lying in bed and can’t sleep with a terrible headache. Even after taking 4 low dose aspirin and drinking water to try to flush it out of my system my head’s still hurting. Needless to say I’m avoiding these snacks in the future! I’m just hoping and praying it lets up so I can sleep!

  99. I can’t have any Chinese food that has MSG in it, I will projectile vomit in about 30 mins. This was unknowingly blindly tested when a place said they didn’t use it. My family and I had very similar meals and I threw up when we got home and nobody else got sick and enjoyed their leftovers the next day.
    I also get really nauseous with other things that have MSG in them. The amount of how nauseous I get always depends on 1.how much I eat and 2.where the MSG is located on the ingredients list.

  100. Not all things can be explained.
    For about the past 5 years I have avoided MSG . I Check labels on everything . Food additive 635 enhances MSG !
    I experience Nausea, vomiting, face swelling and migraine lasting two days and nights. I turn pale and if accidentally consuming larger amount curl up and have trouble with thought process and movement. I have to Sleep with a icepack to the head.
    I strongly believe MSG should be baned as additive.

  101. I vomited on a regular basis for two years. I was really sick but only on an episodic basis six to twelve hours after eating something that didn’t agree with me. Medication such as antacids didn’t help at all. I went to a very basic diet then started adding things back in, following what we did for our dog when she had severe digestive issues which wound up requiring surgery for her. Guess what? The only time I puked was when I ate any form of MSG, including autolyzed yeast extract. I eliminated all packaged foods containing such ingredients which also included “natural flavors”. Three years later, I haven’t had a single vomiting episode. I don’t know who’s paying you to tell people that they don’t know what their bodies are about but you should strongly consider the Hippocratic Oath “Doctor”. Feel free to write to me. I’d love to continue this conversation.

  102. I have diarrhea within 20 to 30 minutes lasting for an hour or more after consuming MSG, EVERY… SINGLE… TIME! That’s definitely NOT my imagination. It’s usually a surprise because I don’t expect it to be used at so many different restaurants, but it is. Chinese restaurant are not the only culprits now. MSG strips me, my lower stomach feel swollen, my heart beats oddly, and I’m lethargic for the rest of the day. Once in a Chinese restaurant while eating, I suddenly felt dizzy and it literally felt to me as if my plate came up to my face. No, of course it didn’t… my head had dropped almost into the plate. MSG sensitivity is REAL!!

  103. I was wondering if black beans could be the cause of these symptoms in some people? I occasionally get some of the symptoms described, but I’ve never been convinced by the MSG theory because I eat other foods that are associated with higher levels of MSG without any reaction at all (before anyone comes at me, I am very clearly saying some people and not questioning you if you believe your illnesses are a result of MSG!). On most of these occasions I have eaten black beans, and the other two times I had eaten at a different chinese restaurant to usual so they may well use them in their sauce. They are not something I regularly consume (literally only made this connection today, after a black bean chilli!), and other beans do not cause any adverse reactions to occur.

    1. Don’t be too shocked… I have a bunch of activists groups that follow me constantly. Their comments aren’t necessarily representative (and also identically posted to other nutrition scientist’s websites). I’m just here to give ya the science lol.

  104. About 10 years ago I started to get ocular migraines – with vision auras (assume all migraines mentioned in this post as having auras) in both eyes. Scared me to death! Over the years I have made some observations that have helped me minimize the likelihood of getting an ocular migraine. At first, I noticed a pattern – after eating Chinese food I would get a migraine. At first it was random – after awhile a migraine was guaranteed. My sensitivity to the “cause” was getting worse. Granted I was only going to 2 specific Chinese food restaurants. So I stopped eating Chinese food – no issues. OK….. maybe not 100%…. BUT, if I ate Chinese food I could guarantee having an ocular migraine with vision auras the next day – mid morning. One day I had a migraine after not having Chinese. I ate a bag of beef jerky – Sweat Baby Ray’s Teriyaki flavor. OK… add to my avoid list. I had one another time I suspect could have been due to a sweat barbeque sauce. For the past year I have experimented further with Chinese food – avoid any Teriyaki flavoring. This seems to have worked. I went to a Chinese restaurant that advertised, “We use no MSG”. Great! After eating their Chinese food the very next day I had a bad migraine! I called them, I will admit, a little heated. “We do not add MSG to any of our foods, however, our Teriyaki marinade contains MSG.” I do not think that MSG affects everyone harmfully. I am convinced that there are people who have a sensitivity to MSG. At least in my case, my sensitivity is getting worse over time, or as a result of continued consumption of MSG.

  105. those who say allergic to MSG are not and you are right
    but when i cook a feast like dinner -which i love to do on a Friday night- with MSG ( using a small fraction of what they use in restaurants )
    i dont feel as healthy as without it when i wake up in the morning , the feeling is like being hit in the eyes with a pwerful flash light and a hangout feeling in the mouth that stays for an hour or more , which is not serious but it’s there and that tells you something . and i tried it so many times being so careful to recreate everything except with or without MSG .

  106. Hi Dr. Wallace. Don’t know why this did not get posted previously though feel important to share my experience.
    I have heard the debate on if MSG reactions are an allergy or a sensitivity. In some ways it’s semantics – if your body is reacting adversely to it, who cares? Maybe the degree of reaction of is important particularly if someone has adverse/anaphylaxis reaction. What matters most is people understanding their own bodies and reactions to things.
    Dr. Wallace’s comment [“I can’t keep count of how many people have casually told me “I’m actually really sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG).” News breaker… you’re not. I know you think you are… and you really want to tell me all about your symptoms… and that you’re the special one… but I promise, you’re not”] is out of bounds to me based upon my personal experience I will try to quickly recap.
    1) Pre-2012 – I start to begin to notice a reaction to foods with MSG (e.g. Doritos assorted flavors, some rice mixes, ranch dressings and many BBQ sauces). My reactions are generally tingling of lips and bit of general itchiness. Eating Doritos was a rate diet event as an aside. I decide to avoid MSG carefully checking labels and no longer have issues.
    2) Summer 2012 – while at Camden Yards (Baltimore, MD), I giddily have Boog’s BBQ. I break out in hives and extreme itchiness and load myself with Benadryl. After working with their great hospitality team, I learn they have been using an older drum of McCormick’s seasoning which had…yes, MSG – they sent the photo of the label. They had recently switched to a non-MSG rub though this was the leftover drum.
    3) I have had similar reactions to autolyzed yeast (many rice mixes) and avoid that.
    At Subway, I started to have my “MSG-like” reaction to their chipotle sauce. They had noted at that time that autolyzed yeast may mimic MSG reactions so I stop using that sauce. This article is from 2017 https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/is-yeast-extract-bad-for-me
    4) November 2020 – There’s a brand of tortilla chips with lime I like with no MSG. I happen to buy my local Big Y brand recently and start to feel the “MSG itchiness” – scalp, skin, etc. I go and look up the ingredients. Guess what is in there: monosodium glutamate.
    If we want to have the is MSG an allergy or sensitivity debate, let the pharmacists, doctors and chemists have a good time with it. Meanwhile for the rest of us who know our bodies, trace what happens and have had real reactions to MSG, we will avoid it if it doesn’t work for us.

  107. Can only say that you’re wrong. As a teen after a bowl of congee I started getting sweats, turning beet red to the point of my friends asking me if I was ok. I felt itchy, hot and later developed an intense migraine. Since then this reaction has reoccurred many time and only in foods heavily seasoned in msg. I used to have migraine sensitivities as well so I wonder if there is something that triggers a reaction in certain people?

    I’m only cautious about msg as a necessity and luckily am not so sensitive that I can’t eat occasional junk food, just massive amounts do it. I’ve had very salty dishes without having this reaction in any way, so it doesn’t appear to be salt itself. Perhaps something to do in the way it’s been made? I used to have no reaction at all! I also had no opinions on it, the reaction just came at me like a Brick. Maybe one overloaded experience taught my body to overreact, who knows.

    The only thing that I’ve found to ease the severity of the impact is taking some cream of Tartar in some water and drinking it before hand. It calms the reaction down from places that in the past left me feeling like eating too much made me wish I would just die! Such nauseating migraines.

    No matter what anyone says about this being fake it don’t change this unwelcome side effect it causes me. I’d love to be without it. Avoiding msg altogether stops these reactions 100 %… it’s just hard to not want to cave in and go to dim sum on a rare occasion or order takeout.

  108. Super gastrointestinally allergic to MSG. Immediate flushing, headache, cold sweats and then my stomach valve, I have been told, by ACTUAL allergists, is a severe MSG reaction. I create so much phlegm as a reaction I dry up internally and end up getting up to 4 bags of SALINE. I have slightly high BP. There are a bunch of insulting people on here who arent allergic, so good for you, so shut up then and get off the site. With the saline and rehydration and some cortisone the reaction subsides. Note that saline and cortisone can raise BP but in my case, they lower it hence the conclusive evidence. Naturally occuring glutamates are in very very miniscule amounts and have a different chemical structure. Also allergic to aspertame (makes an aldehyde in my muscles, so no diet drinks. Never had chronic fatigue but those if you who do might check on this) and nitrites. Can have applegate meats all day, celery powder and cherry powder..but one regular hot dog and end up on phenobarbitol aspiring and caffeine for visual distortions and obscenely painful headaches. All confirmed by an actual, allergist and doctor. Not an internet doctor like this one. Man made chemicals aren’t always 100% safe for 100% of people.

  109. When MSG is made like cocaine it is bad for you and will cause problems in people that have issues with it. Kinda how natural sugar is not bad for you but processed sugar is. This article is basically saying “stop blaming msg but idk what’s your problem.” Even though it obviously is added msg that is causing people problems. Msg is America’s crack they put on poorly cooked food AKA chick fil a, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, etc. . It is easy to cook flavorful dishes without adding the crack cocaine of the culinary world. Music is great, have you tried it with cocaine? That’s what’s happening in the culinary world with msg. The food is fine and doesn’t need msg but people are addicted to it now so that’s how it is.

  110. So last night I had Singapore noodles which I’m not sure what made my body react the way it did as I couldn’t breathe properly, my neck and lips were red, I felt dizzy, I was up every 2 hours of needing to go to the bathroom and drinking heaps of water as I just felt dehydrated, my legs were numb when I got up as well a few times I stumbled to the bathroom, now i just have a headache. I have no clue what I’m allergic to I’m getting tested on Thursday but I’ve never experienced this before and also everyone is different, to you it might not but for others it might.

  111. Dr. Taylor,

    Posts like this are what make it so hard to get real research in this area. Yes there is no research proving MSG sensitivity but there is no research disproving it either. I read your science, I believe in science. However, I also believe that science has a long way to go to be able to fully understand the human body. It may be the levels of MSG, it may be the type (artificial) that is being used, and, yes, it may be our diet already that is causing it. However, until we have scientific, peer reviewed studies, we don’t know.

    As for my experience, I have had reaction to MSG my whole life. Not only do I have a great diet (I have psoriatic arthritis since I was 14 so I have adjusted my diet to help my joints), but I have a much higher pain tolerance than most. MSG still knocks me on my butt. Not just in Asian food, but from soups, chips, sauces… etc. As a matter of fact, I am writing this now having just recovered yesterday from MSG poisoning (because yes, it is in everything, artificially, which is part of my problem).

    Not everyone is allergic. It may even be a infinitesimal part of our population. That does not mean we don’t exist or that we are hypochondriacs.

  112. Here’s a double blind, placebo controlled study that proves the headache theory. We falsely believe that science has vetted out all of our biological processes and how they work. We are still so behind in understanding how diet, bacteria, etc affect varying individuals. This means that there isn’t scientific literature concretely proving or disproving a hypothesis, but case studies definitely have their merit. I just disagree that we can patently disprove the msg to headache connection.
    https://thejournalofheadacheandpain.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1129-2377-14-2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other related posts

Halloween Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treaters and Haunted House Goers

October 9, 2020

Pumpkins, witches, ghouls, ghosts, goblins, and now the coronavirus pandemic make for an extra scary holiday.  Halloween will look different...

continue reading

Magnesium and Blood Pressure – What You Should Know!

October 6, 2020

In the United States about 77.9 million (1 out of every 3) adults have high blood pressure.  Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of d...

continue reading

Is Dairy Good For Your Bones?

September 14, 2020

A glass of milk with each meal was nonnegotiable for us as kids.  But does it really do a body good?  The idea that milk and dairy...

continue reading