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Symptoms msg reaction: Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Is it harmful?

MSG symptom complex: Side effects and MSG

Some people experience symptoms, such as breathing difficulties, headaches, and sweating, after eating monosodium glutamate (MSG). However, there is no evidence that MSG is harmful.

MSG is a food additive that enhances flavor. It is commonly used in restaurants and pre-packaged foods.

While there are many anecdotal reports of MSG-induced symptoms, scientific research into the syndrome is limited.

As a result, the use of MSG remains controversial, and some restaurants advertise as being MSG-free.

Read on to learn more about MSG symptom complex and the health effects of this additive.

Share on PinterestThere is minimal scientific evidence linking MSG consumption with particular symptoms.

The most common reported symptoms of MSG symptom complex include:

  • breathing difficulties
  • chest pain
  • facial flushing
  • a headache
  • numbness or burning pain in the mouth
  • a rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • swelling of the face

Most symptoms don’t require treatment, but a person should go to an emergency room or call 911 if experiencing chest pain or breathing difficulties.

While MSG symptom complex may be related to MSG intake, researchers are still not sure what causes the symptoms.

While MSG does not affect most people, some people self identify as sensitive to it or other food additives.

Share on PinterestMSG is a flavor enhancer commonly added to processed meats.

MSG is made from glutamate, which is one form of glutamic acid, an amino acid that is naturally present in many foods.

The human body also produces glutamate and requires it for several functions, including learning and memory.

MSG is used to enhance flavor, and it is commonly added to processed foods, soups, and canned goods.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider MSG to be “generally recognized as safe.”

However, because the FDA have received many reports of negative reactions to MSG, the administration requires manufacturers to feature added MSG on food labels.


Relatively few studies have investigated the effects of MSG, especially in recent years.

A study from 2000 included 130 people who self-reported as being sensitive to MSG. They were administered MSG or a placebo.

Of those participants, 38.5 percent reacted to MSG only, 13.1 percent reacted to the placebo only, and 14.6 percent reacted to MSG and the placebo.

The reactions were typically mild. An increased dose of MSG without the presence of food was most likely to cause a reaction.

However, the researchers were unable to replicate the results when they repeated the test with the same of participants. This suggests that outside factors, such as food intake, may have caused the reactions.

In 2016, a review of studies concluded that eating MSG with food had no significant influence on the occurrence of headaches.

However, one study included in the review reported a significant link between the consumption of MSG and headaches in female participants.

The authors concluded that, overall, the methods used could not produce reliable, consistent results and that more research is needed.

It is important to note that an organization that promotes the use of glutamate employs one of these authors.

Researchers commonly administer MSG to mice to induce obesity. In the past decade, some people have wondered whether MSG intake is also linked to extra weight in humans.

One study from 2011 found that MSG was associated with an increase in weight in healthy Chinese adults. However, there have been conflicting results.

More research is needed to determine the effect of MSG on the body.

People report various health issues that they associate with MSG. According to a Korean study from 2014, the most common complaints were:

  • thirstiness (84.5 percent)
  • drowsiness (55.7 percent)
  • weakness (34.5 percent)
  • nausea (30.2 percent)
  • a headache (14.7 percent)

MSG symptom complex may also cause:

  • excessive sweating
  • flushing of the skin
  • a tingling sensation in the skin
  • numbness or burning in the mouth

Severe and life-threatening symptoms are rare. They resemble the symptoms of an allergic reaction and include:

  • chest pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • an irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • swelling in the throat or face

People who experience severe symptoms should seek emergency medical attention.

Share on PinterestMSG is usually present in potato chips.

MSG eaten in normal amounts does not cause adverse effects in most people; however, if you are sensitive to MSG the only way to prevent symptoms is by cutting out foods that contain the additive.

Anyone with a sensitivity to MSG should check whether it is included on food labels. Remember to also check for the full name: monosodium glutamate.

Some restaurants also use MSG in their food, so people may want to enquire about this when ordering.

The additive is usually present in:

  • packaged and processed meats, such as hot dogs
  • meat extracts, such as pork extract
  • bouillon
  • canned vegetables
  • potato chips
  • soups and stocks

MSG is also known as:

  • E621
  • hydrolyzed protein
  • maltodextrin
  • modified food starch

Avoiding natural glutamate

People who are very sensitive to MSG may also need to avoid foods that contain high amounts of natural glutamate.

Natural glutamate is present in the following:

  • mature cheeses
  • cured meats
  • braised meats
  • bone broths
  • fish and shellfish
  • fish sauce and oyster sauce
  • soy protein
  • soy sauce
  • mushrooms
  • ripe tomatoes and tomato juice
  • grape juice
  • yeast extract
  • malted barley, which is used in beer and bread
  • walnuts

Avoiding natural glutamates may be challenging, but a doctor or dietitian can provide guidance and develop a low-glutamate meal plan.

A person should see a doctor if symptoms are severe or persistent.

Anyone with breathing difficulties, chest pain, or swelling of the throat should seek emergency medical care.

To assess a person’s symptoms, a doctor may ask when the person last ate foods that contained MSG.

Depending on the symptoms, the doctor may also:

  • check the heart rate
  • examine the airways for blockages
  • perform an electrocardiogram to check for an abnormal heart rhythm

While much of what we know about MSG Complex Syndrome is anecdotal, the effects seem to pass quickly. People often report feeling better within a few hours.

In the meantime, home remedies can alleviate discomfort.

However, anyone with a life-threatening reaction to MSG should carry an epinephrine shot, such as those sold under the brand names Adrenaclick or EpiPen. Be very careful when eating out or buying packaged or processed foods.

A dietitian can help to determine which foods are safe.

MSG Symptom Complex: Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) symptom complex refers to a group of symptoms some people experience after eating food containing MSG. These symptoms often include headache, skin flushing, and sweating.

While some people associate these symptoms with MSG, there is minimal scientific evidence showing a link between the two in humans. That being said, there are countless testimonials that support this theory, including the warning from Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon and author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers MSG safe. Most people can eat foods that contain MSG without experiencing any problems. However, a small percentage of people have short-term, adverse reactions to this food additive. Due to this controversy, many restaurants advertise that they don’t add MSG to their foods.

MSG is a food additive used to improve the taste of food. It has become an important additive for the food industry because it doesn’t compromise flavor if lower quality or less fresh ingredients are used.

MSG is made up mostly of free glutamic acid, or glutamate, an amino acid found naturally in most foods. It’s produced by fermenting molasses, starch, or sugar cane. This fermentation process is like the process used to make wine and yogurt.

The FDA categorizes MSG as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). The FDA also categorizes salt and sugar as GRAS. However, there’s controversy over the lack of oversight the FDA has in the introduction and use of additives by the food industry.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), many GRAS foods don’t go through the rigorous testing required for this safety claim. For example, trans fats were once identified as GRAS until enough research forced the FDA to change the classification.

The FDA does require companies that add MSG to their foods to include the additive on the list of ingredients on the packaging. This is because some people identify themselves as sensitive to MSG. However, some ingredients naturally contain MSG, and food manufacturers may choose to use these ingredients to avoid disclosing the name MSG on the ingredient list.

If you intend to steer clear of MSG, exclude these main ingredients: autolyzed yeast, textured vegetable protein, yeast extract, glutamic acid, gelatin, soy protein isolate, and soy extracts.

People may experience symptoms within two hours after eating foods that contain MSG. Symptoms can last a few hours to a couple of days. Common symptoms include:

  • headache
  • sweating
  • skin flushing
  • numbness or burning in the mouth
  • numbness or burning in the throat
  • nausea
  • fatigue

Less commonly, people can experience severe, life-threatening symptoms like those experienced during allergic reactions. Severe symptoms may include:

  • chest pain
  • rapid heartbeat
  • abnormal heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling in the face
  • swelling in the throat

Minor symptoms don’t require treatment. But you should go to an emergency room or call 911 right away if you experience severe symptoms.

People think MSG is linked to the symptoms previously listed. But this hasn’t been proven.

You may be sensitive to MSG if you become ill after eating foods that contain it. It’s also possible to be sensitive to foods that naturally contain high amounts of glutamate.

Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and dietary intake to determine if you’re sensitive to MSG. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms, such as chest pain or difficulty breathing, your doctor may check your heart rate, perform an electrocardiogram to analyze your heart rhythm, and check your airway to see if it’s blocked.

Treatment may vary depending on the type and severity of your symptoms.

Treatment for common symptoms

Mild symptoms usually don’t require treatment. Taking over-the-counter (OCT) pain relievers may ease your headache. Drinking several glasses of water may help flush the MSG out of your system and shorten the duration of your symptoms.

Treatment for severe symptoms

Your doctor may prescribe antihistamine medications to relieve any severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, or rapid heartbeat.

Research indicates that it is safe to consume MSG in normal amounts. However, if you experience adverse symptoms after consuming MSG, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that contain it.

When you eat at a restaurant, ask if they add MSG to their foods if they don’t identify foods on their menu as being MSG-free. Also, if you think you’re sensitive to foods that contain high amounts of glutamate, talk to your doctor or dietitian about eating a special diet that eliminates foods containing a lot of it.

If your symptoms were minor, you don’t necessarily have to stop eating the foods you enjoy. You may be able to reduce your symptoms by eating only small amounts of foods that contain MSG.

Is MSG really bad for you?

You have probably eaten some monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the last 24 hours. It is found in almost all processed foods, and the glutamate present in MSG is chemically identical to the glutamate found naturally in all foods, such as parmesan cheese, green peas, and tomatoes. Its transformative culinary power cannot be denied. In its pure crystalline form, MSG can be added to soups, stews, sauces, and broths for a round, tangy flavor. Like regular table salt, MSG can also help heighten our perception of other existing flavors. Tomato soup with a pinch of MSG tastes more like tomato. Add a pinch to beef stew to make it taste more beefy. I, like my mother, and her mother before her, keep a small jar of this substance next to the salt in my kitchen.

This may come as a surprise to some readers. I hear you now: But Kenji, MSG is terrible for you! You will have migraines, asthma, numbness and 17 more symptoms, each worse than the last!

Others may have the opposite reaction: Yessssssssssss, finally a validation! MSG reactions are all in your head, and all of these studies have proven it. MSG headaches are a hoax!

Wait. Because both of these reactions are not true. First, let’s take a quick look at the history of MSG use, and then talk about what these studies actually say.

What is MSG?

Dried kombu with white dust of crystalline glutamate on the surface.

Is Msg really bad for you?

MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid (α-amino acids). It was first isolated in 1908 by the Japanese biochemist Kikunae Ikeda, who was trying to figure out what exactly gave dashi – Japanese kombu (giant seaweed) flavored broth – its strong, savory character. It turned out that kombu contains a lot of glutamic acid. It was Ikeda who coined the term “umami”, which translates to “savory”, to describe the taste of glutamic acid (and other similar amino acids). So far, scientists have discovered only four other tastes sensed by the tongue and soft palate: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter.

By 1909, pure crystalline MSG, derived from kelp, which is abundant in the sea around Japan, was sold under the brand name Aji-no-moto (roughly, “flavor element”). The company still exists today, although with the current high demand for MSG, the chemical is synthesized, not mined. Pure MSG powder is sold under a variety of brand names (such as Ac’cent), and high glutamic acid ingredients are widely used in packaged foods, usually as autolyzed yeast extract or hydrolyzed soy protein.

Until the end of the 1960s, everything was fine with MSG.

The Chinese Restaurant Syndrome Myth

Is Msg really bad for you?

The term “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” began to be used in 1968, when a letter written by a reader named Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In it, he suggested that the numbness and palpitations he experienced after eating in Chinese restaurants could be due to the widespread use of powdered monosodium glutamate (MSG) in Chinese cuisine. While no actual evidence has been presented, the idea has been widely circulated (even before the internet!), and for decades MSG has been blamed for everything from migraines and numbness to bloating and heart palpitations. MSG phobia was born, and it still exists today, although the racially derogatory name “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” has since been replaced by “MSG Symptom Complex”.

There has been a wave of anti-MSG just recently. Article after article claims that science has proven no harmful effects of MSG. These articles are just as guilty of misrepresenting scientific data as those who spread the idea of ​​the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. Let’s look at the real scientific evidence.


Dr. John Olney’s study, published in Nature1 in 1970, showed that high doses of MSG under the skin of mice in infancy caused retinal damage, brain damage, and obesity in adulthood. These are huge doses of MSG administered directly to young rodents, far from the small amounts that a person consumes orally. A meta-study published in April 2000 in the Journal of Nutrition 2 found that out of 21 studies of MSG conducted in primates, only two found an association between oral intake and neurotoxicity. Both of these studies were carried out by Olney’s lab, and since then no one has been able to replicate these results. Moreover, even in mice (the experimental species most sensitive to MSG), the oral dose of MSG required to cause brain damage was one gram per kilogram of body weight, which is equivalent to the absolutely enormous amount that a 170-pound person would eat a third of a cup of pure MSG in a day. one sitting, without food, on an empty stomach. This is about the amount of added MSG that the average adult consumes in six months.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) conducted a meta-analysis of available experimental data3. As a result, it was concluded that although very high doses of MSG can cause degenerative damage to nerve cells and disrupt hormonal function in animal studies, there is no evidence to suggest any long-term harm to humans at normal doses.

So far so good. It looks like the anti-MSH advocates are right. But what about short-term effects, ie. MSG symptom complex? Of course, not everyone who experiences short-term symptoms of MSG use can be hallucinations, right? Study 1993, published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology4, showed that in a normal cross-section of the healthy population, there is little to no correlation between MSG intake and the symptomatic MSG complex, especially when MSG intake is combined with a meal. In fact, the effect was no more than that of a placebo.

Doesn’t sound good to MSG haters.

But not so fast. What about people who consider themselves sensitive to MSG? Everything is much more interesting here. In a study published in November 2000 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology5, scientists administered increasing doses of MSG and a placebo to 130 adults who identified themselves as susceptible to MSG. Although responses to MSG were not completely matched on retesting, subjects generally showed stronger responses to real MSG (38% of respondents) compared to placebo (13% of respondents).

The conclusion of the study was that MSG does induce adverse reactions in a particularly sensitive subpopulation when taken in large doses (greater than three grams) on an empty stomach. The existence of the MSG Symptom Complex is a concrete scientific fact.

It turns out that dizziness, redness of the face and numbness of the chest and arms, which I always insisted that it was only in my older sister’s head, still exists. (Sorry, Aya.)

What about glutamic acid in other foods?

Kombu is not the only food rich in glutamic acid, although it may be the richest. Many commonly eaten foods are rich in this substance:
Food \ Glutamic acid content (mg/100 g)
Kombu (giant seaweed) 22,000
Parmigiano-Reggiano 12,000
Bonito 2,850
Sardines/Anchovies 2,800
Tomato juice 2,600
Tomatoes 1,400
Pork 1,220
Beef 1,070
Chicken 760
Mushrooms 670
Soybeans 660
Carrots 330

According to the FDA, the average adult consumes about 13 grams of glutamate daily from natural sources, plus an additional 0. 55 grams of added glutamate from MSG or other sources. This leads to the obvious question: Chemicals don’t care what source they come from. Glutamate is glutamate, whether it’s sourced from seaweed, synthesized in a lab, produced by the body, or consumed in Parmesan cheese. Why are people sensitive to MSG not sensitive to foods rich in glutamic acid? Why can my sister eat as much Parmesan cheese and as many anchovies as she wants?

It is important to remember that in virtually all studies, adverse reactions have only been reported with near-fasting glutamic acid. In combination with a sufficient amount of food, the symptoms practically disappeared.

Glutamate is glutamate, whether it is derived from seaweed, synthesized in a laboratory, produced by the body, or consumed in Parmesan cheese.

Is Msg really bad for you?

Jeffrey Steingarten, longtime nutrition correspondent for Vogue magazine, has suggested that the high number of people claiming MSG sensitivity in the 1970s and 1980s may be due to the fact that many foods were in Chinese-American restaurants began with a bowl of high-MSG wonton soup consumed on an empty stomach before other meals. This theory seems to be consistent with scientific evidence. Even though Parmesan cheese is high in glutamic acid, it has a lot of other goodies as well, and you are more likely to eat this cheese with pasta or pizza.

One last note: Some have suggested that fasting high MSG broths are particularly to blame in Chinese restaurants, but there is also the possibility that some people claiming MSG sensitivity are actually experiencing reactions to other ingredients. common in Chinese cuisine but not as common in other restaurants, such as peanut butter often used for frying, shellfish extracts used for flavoring, or herbs such as cilantro. As far as I know, there is currently no scientific data that would raise this hypothesis to the rank of theory.

So should I cook with him?

So, what is left for us in terms of its use in cooking? After all, it looks like the MSG sensitive subgroup is small enough and adverse reactions rare enough that you’ll likely be fine using it in your own food, especially if you take care to eat a little. a MSG-free product to lay the groundwork in your stomach before moving on to products. What’s more, all the evidence suggests that at worst it’s a short-term discomfort without any long-term consequences.

However, if you feel that you have a sensitivity to MSG, do not use it! And to everyone who says: “It only seems to you!”, You can not worry, because they are mistaken. Your ally is science, and that is a strong ally.

    Global Platform for Allergy and Respiratory Patients

    Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. This can happen within seconds or minutes of contact with something you are allergic to. The most common anaphylactic reactions are: foods, insect bites, and drugs.

    If you are allergic to a substance, your immune system overreacts to that allergen by releasing chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. Usually these annoying symptoms occur in one place of the body. However, some people are prone to a much more severe anaphylactic reaction. This reaction usually affects more than one part of the body at the same time. The flood of chemicals your immune system releases during anaphylaxis can send you into shock; your blood pressure suddenly drops and your airways narrow, blocking normal breathing.


    Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis may appear within seconds or minutes after contact with something you are allergic to:

    • Skin reactions including hives along with itching
    • Reddened or pale skin
    • Warm feeling
    • Sensation of a lump in the throat
    • Wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in throat, cough, hoarse voice, chest pain/feeling of tightness, trouble swallowing, itchy mouth/throat, nasal congestion/congestion
    • Weak and rapid pulse
    • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Alarm
    • Low blood pressure
    • Loss of consciousness

    The most dangerous symptoms are low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness, all of which can be fatal. If you have any of these symptoms, especially after eating, taking medication, or getting bitten by an insect, seek immediate medical attention. DON’T WAIT!!!!!

    Anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment, including an adrenaline injection and a follow-up medical examination in a hospital emergency department.



    Any food can cause an allergic reaction. Foods that cause most cases of anaphylaxis: Peanuts, tree nuts (eg, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts), shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, and preservatives.

    Stinging insects

    The venom of insects, bees, wasps or yellow hornets, hornets and fire ants can cause severe or even fatal reactions in some people.


    Common drugs that cause anaphylaxis are antibiotics (eg penicillin) and anticonvulsants. Certain blood and blood products, contrast dyes, pain relievers, and other medications can also cause severe reactions.

    Less common causes


    natural latex products contain allergens that may cause reactions in sensitive people.


    Very rarely, exercise can cause anaphylaxis. In some cases, this is observed after eating certain foods before training.

    If you have allergies or asthma and have a family history of anaphylaxis, your risk is higher. Even if you or your child has only had a mild anaphylactic reaction in the past, there is still a risk of more serious anaphylaxis.


    Your doctor will ask you questions about your allergies or any previous allergic reactions you have had:

    • Do any certain foods cause a reaction
    • Do bites from any particular species of insect cause your symptoms?
    • Any medicines you are taking and if some medicines seem to be related to your symptoms
    • Did you have any allergy symptoms when your skin was exposed to latex

    You may then be tested for allergies with skin tests or blood tests, and your doctor may also ask you to keep a detailed list of what you eat or avoid certain foods for a period of time.

    Other conditions should be ruled out as a possible cause of your symptoms, for example:

    • Seizure disorders
    • Mastocytosis, immune system disorder
    • Non-allergic conditions causing skin symptoms
    • Psychological problems
    • Heart or lung problems


    During a severe anaphylactic reaction, the emergency medical team may perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. They will give you medicine:

    • epinephrine (adrenaline) to reduce your body’s allergic reaction
    • Antihistamines and cortisone (IV) to reduce airway inflammation and improve breathing.
    • Beta agonist (eg albuterol/salbutomol) to relieve respiratory symptoms
    • Oxygen

    If you are at risk of anaphylaxis, your allergist may prescribe epinephrine/adrenaline autoinjection. This device (the “Pen”) is a combination syringe and hidden needle that delivers a single dose of epinephrine/adrenaline by pressing on the thigh. Make sure you understand how and when to use it. Also make sure the people closest to you (family, co-workers, employers and school staff) know how to use an adrenaline pen, maybe one of them could save your life. Always refill a prescription when it expires. There are no special storage conditions. Avoid freezing (0 ° C). In flight: the pen can be carried in hand luggage. Security personnel and flight personnel may not know this, so ask your doctor for a signed travel certificate. This medicine (“Pen”) must always be carried with you.


    In some cases, your allergist may suggest certain treatments, such as immunotherapy (allergy shots), to reduce your body’s allergic reaction to insect stings. Immunotherapy, also known as desensitization or hyposensitization, is the best treatment option for people with stinging insect allergies because it can reduce the risk of a severe reaction in the future to less than 5%. Poison immunotherapy is given in the form of injections, and about 80–90% of patients receiving it for 3–5 years do not have a severe reaction to a future bite.