Josh has always struggled with headaches. He took headache medicine every day or two, for years and years. He tried everything he could think of. He went to the chiropractor, the homeopath, he tried cutting sugar from his diet...everything anyone suggested, he figured was worth a try. But nothing helped.
When my friend told me how cutting monosodium glutamate from her sons' diets took away most of the symptoms of their ADHD, and listed many other ailments (including headaches) that are aggravated by MSG, we thought it would be worth a try. Off we went to the supermarket, looking at the labels of everything we bought, buying only things without the many names of MSG.
After a couple weeks eating this way, we went out to dinner. Thirty-six hours later, Josh had a horrible headache. And then it hit us! He hadn't been having any headaches the whole time we were eating MSG-free! For the first time, we found something that worked!
Since then, we've done more research on the additive. It turns out, he's far from the only one to be affected by it. It's found in about 80% of our processed foods, and even things labeled "natural" aren't necessarily free from it. Everything from baby formula to granola to tortilla shells is vulnerable. It's linked to obesity (scientists routinely make their study rats obese by injecting them with MSG), as well as a host of other health issues. And though it's been work trying to figure out sources of his headaches, the fact that they're so much less frequent makes the "hunt" worthwhile.
Rarely is MSG listed explicitly on labels, because people are starting to question its safety. Click here for the names of ingredients that can contain MSG. For example, "natural flavor" is often a euphemism for MSG, and "yeast extract" always is. The gelatin encapsulating most pills on the market is another definite source of MSG (yes, even pills you may find at a health food store!)
Steps you can take
|The easiest way to avoid MSG -- Eat The Genesis Diet: that is, "real" food as close to its original state as possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables, and other unprocessed foods are your safest choices.|
|How can I prevent an MSG reaction? When you are unsure of the ingredients in a meal you are eating, activated charcoal is a well-known way to pull toxins from your digestive system, and might help prevent an MSG reaction before it even starts. Unfortunately, it is usually sold in gelatin capsules, which pretty much defeats the purpose! If you have some in your house already, you can open the capsules and dump the powder into a glass of water. It discolors the water, but does not add any unpleasant flavor. Another solution is to buy it in vegan capsules or tablets.|
Umeboshi (which is also available as convenient tablets) may provide some protection too. Also Taurine, Magnesium, Vitamin B6 and CoQ10 are some of the possible remedies that can help.
|How can I stop an MSG reaction I am having? When you do experience a reaction to MSG, you may get some immediate relief from sodium bicarbonate, which helps alkalize your system. It is usually sold in powder form (i.e., baking soda) so if you have some in your house already, you can mix it into a glass of water. Since it doesn't taste good, you probably want to find it in tablet form.|
|Something else to consider -- People who react to MSG are also often sensitive to Aspartame, another almost universal ingredient in "diet" foods. So you may want to cut out both!|
If you have further questions, email Charla Virkler and I will try to help answer them for you.
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