Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

MSG is just wonderful

with 5 comments

Since that grossly misinformed New York Times article last week, everyone appears to have had their brain cells destroyed by the stuff. Eades has written a silly article stating:

This reminds me of an accidental experiment that MD and I performed on a friend who was allegedly allergic to onions, garlic and tomatoes. She said she got headaches, flushing, palpitations, and a host of other symptoms if she had so much as a smidgen of any of these foods. She was a real pain to eat out with because she grilled the waiters on all the ingredients in whatever food she was thinking of getting, telling them that she was ‘deathly allergic.’ Whenever she ate at our house, MD would make our friend’s portion of whatever was cooking without onions, garlic or tomatoes. Once MD mistakenly gave her a dish (I don’t even remember what it was now) that contained finely minced onion. Our friend ate it before MD realized her error. Nothing happened. No headaches, no sweats, no palpitations, nothing. As time went on we would give her garlic and/or onions (it’s hard to hide tomato) without effect. She stayed with us often, so we knew that the effects didn’t show up the next day either. She wasn’t really allergic, she merely thought she was.

Food allergies are real and can even be fatal. But more often than not, I suspect they are like that of our friend. Some folks are convinced – for whatever reason – that they are allergic to certain foods. If they eat these foods, and they know it, they have problems. If they don’t know it, they do fine. I suspect this is the case with most MSG reactions. Savory monosodium glutamate

Oh, of course! That’s why we’re all sick. IT’S IN OUR HEADS.

Obviously, being such an ‘expert’ on the subject, Eades doesn’t even know the difference between a food allergy and a food chemical intolerance. There’s no such thing as being “allergic” to MSG. MSG reactions are chemically mediated.

The poor woman described above was having a food chemical reaction – which is dose related. A “little bit” of onion, garlic, or tomato is very different from a big bit of onion, garlic, or tomato. She didn’t understand this, neither did the Eades family, who subjected her to a rather cruel and unpleasant experiment to ‘prove’ she wasn’t allergic to these foods.

If Eades had done the slightest bit of research, he would know that experiments designed to assess reactions to MSG come out differently depending on whether they have been sponsored by the Ajinomoto Corporation or not. For every independent study that points to a negative reaction associated with MSG, Ajinomoto finance a study that mysteriously shows no reaction or a positive reaction to MSG.

There was one particularly infamous study done a while back in which MSG reactions were assessed when participants were under the illusion that they were testing a new diet drink. The study was huge, so it is seen as “the definitive” answer to the MSG question. The placebo given was aspartame. Something to which failsafers know they react to in a very similar way to MSG. Every time the media get into the MSG debate, this obviously broken study is trotted out as ‘proof’ that people do not react to MSG, and that only “one in a thousand” people might react to it. I hate to break it to you folks, but scientists are very crafty people!

Let me tell you about my reactions to MSG:

There was one incident back when I used to eat processed foods when we heated a can of French onion soup for our starter on Christmas day. Clear soup is notorious for causing MSG reactions, because the MSG is absorbed very quickly, and is especially effective if not given with other amino acids. Within five minutes of having a bowl of this soup, my head was buzzing and rushing and I felt like there was no gravity. I got up and started pacing around the flat, and I couldn’t stay still. I had to go out onto my balcony and gasp for air. I felt hungry, I felt shaky, and I had lost the ability to think properly, I couldn’t speak. It spoilt my Christmas. I couldn’t enjoy my dinner, and I was agitated, spaced out and withdrawn for several hours. I had no idea at the time what had caused this horrible reaction, I thought perhaps I was ‘hypoglycaemic’ and hadn’t eaten enough that day.

Then there was the interesting coincidence with my Deep Vein Thrombosis. It just so happens that I had been put on the third generation pill about nine months before I got my blood clot. But it was in the two weeks prior to me finding myself in hospital, that my company had moved offices out of town, and in the absence of decent food, I had started taking instant MSG’d noodles to work with me every day for lunch. No wonder I was stressed and irritable. It’s not such a far out coincidence, since glutamate is heavily involved in the clotting cascade and a known association has been found with blood clots and strokes.

Then there was the visit to the Oriental restaurant when we lived in Nice. Myself and my partner chose clear crab soup for starter. Again, five or ten minutes after we had eaten it, we both began to get weird symptoms. My legs felt heavy and dead. My heart was pounding through my chest. My face went numb. I couldn’t concentrate on any of the conversation, my head was buzzing and dizzy, and I became really, really depressed and withdrawn and spacey and almost wanted to cry. My partner complained of the exact same symptoms. If I was “one in a thousand” people who had genuine reactions to MSG, then my partner made us two in two thousand! I mean, statistically that isn’t possible. At the time I was totally ignorant of the effects of MSG. All I had heard about it was it “could cause heart attacks” and was in Chinese and Indian food.

I went home and when I had recovered the next day typed my symptoms into a search engine. What I got back was MSG. MSG caused all the symptoms we had both had. This was a complete revelation to me. You see, this reaction came from nowhere, and I was not expecting it. Obviously I was not ‘convinced’ that MSG was going to cause me any problems, since I was in total ignorance of the symptoms. My partner and I both experienced them separately without knowing what they were. They were not psychological!

About two weeks later I realised I was having a similar depressive reaction to the diet coke I had started drinking on the way home from my evening jog along the promenade. I was amazed to discover that aspartame was known to cause similar reactions to MSG, and that its effects were worse if it was consumed after exercise! When I stopped the diet coke, I stopped getting depressed.

It was at this point in my life that I went from doing just Atkins with all the Atkins junk food that is allowed (which I detested anyway), and underwent my wholefoods/Weston A. Price Foundation conversion. I made a resolution never to eat anything that came in a package, or was complicated enough to have a list of ingredients on the back. It’s just a shame that when I started eating liver and kidneys due to WAPF’s promotion of these foods, that I started getting mysterious headaches and rashes from the amines!

Since I have been on failsafe I have realised that the tiny amounts of free glutamate in some natural foods are enough to raise my insulin levels, give me carbohydrate cravings, and make me hungry again after eating. It’s no wonder Atkins stopped working for me: I’m currently on very, very fresh meat, I’m even eating sushi rice, and I’m losing weight.


Written by alienrobotgirl

22 February, 2007 at 11:47 am

5 Responses

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  1. Oh my God Ellen, that must have been horrible for you. It’s such nasty, nasty stuff.It gets my goat that in one breath Eades offers concern for “real, fatal food allergies” and in the next he’s denying how dangerous MSG is.Can you imagine the consequences of the FDA or some other organisation actually admitting that MSG was dangerous? Ajinomoto and others would get sued for billions!I guess you come from a food chemical intolerant family like me.

    Alien Robot Girl

    22 February, 2007 at 3:40 pm

  2. I was so upset when I saw the original article in the NY Times And now Eades! I steamed! MSG killed my father. He had arrhythmias and it was after a lunch at a Chinese restaurant that he had the big one. He never thought about MSG and it wasn’t, till several years after his death that I made the connection. Oh yes I am sure it is all in our heads.Ellen


    22 February, 2007 at 3:22 pm

  3. I’m not convinced I can source ‘really really fresh meat’ anymore. Maybe that’s why my experience with zero carb never really worked as well as it has for some others. At first I felt good, but the amines and glutamates must have built up in my body and promptly made me not feel good anymore. I’ve been sticking to eggs today and probably will until I can source some safe meat (if I ever can, that is!). This is pretty upsetting. I’m starting to feel like I did at the beginning of Failsafe when I just didn’t know what to eat or trust.

    Mother Nuture

    22 February, 2007 at 10:19 pm

  4. Oh and that Eades blog posting made my blood boil, too. What a dangerous thing to write! I certainly hope he hasn’t encouraged anyone to ‘test out’ their friends’ allergies without them knowing.

    Mother Nuture

    22 February, 2007 at 10:20 pm

  5. I read the Guardian article on this a few months back and was surprised to see it on Eades blog this morning.Your points are well made – especially the difference between an allergy – an immune response – and the chemicaly mediated food intolerance.


    22 February, 2007 at 11:18 pm

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