MSG, The Great Pretender

Monosodium Glutamate probably has more names to hide under than you have hats to wear. It was originally used in the East to enhance food flavors and was extracted from seaweeds.

In the 1960s, people began reacting to it with "tingling, numbness, brain fog, chest pressure and pain.” 

In the 1970s, researchers found that the pharmaceutical substance would kill brain cells in the lab. (Maybe that’s why some have brain fog and migraines).

Although this was considered a natural substance, it stimulates nerves, particularly in the brain It also changes how your taste buds taste food. It can even make nasty stuff taste good!

MSG has been called an excitotoxin. It crosses the blood-brain barrier, overstimulating brain cells and can contribute to learning disabilities. It’s been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrigs’ disease and more.

It forces the body to use vitamins C and E  to help undo the damage it causes. It also uses magnesium, chromium, zinc, and selenium to help protect your brain. That seems like a good thing, but the problem is that those nutrients are vital to many other functions in the body. If they’re busy mopping up brain damage, they’re not available for other things. “20 Sneaky Names Nasty MSG Goes By.” cites a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research. It indicated that high doses of MSG (perhaps accumulated amounts) can increase markers of “oxidative stress in heart tissue.” Oxidation occurs when free radicals are formed. They may increase “heart disease, cancer and diabetes.” Those tests were based on higher-than-normal intakes. ("Is MSG Bad for You?  15 Foods to Avoid.”

It can contribute to high blood pressure, asthma attacks and metabolic syndrome.  suggests that drinking a good amount of water will help flush the substance from the body. That sounds good, but I didn’t read anything to confirm it.

Although the protein (glutamic acid) is also in certain meats, dairy, grains and veggies, the body handles it safely. The same can’t be said for the manufactured stuff.

I won’t go into the chemistry of MSG. However, let’s look at how it hides and the symptoms it can cause. (By the way, states that MSG is known as the 5th taste or umami.)

Here are some of the hidden names for MSG and Free Glutamic Acid

Glutamate Monopotassium Glutamate Calcium Glutamate

Monoammonium Glutamate Magnesium Glutamate Natrium Glutamate

Yeast Extract Autoyzed Yeast Gelatin Textured Protein

Soy Protein Isolate   Sodium Caseinate Calcium caseinate

Glutamic acid is in natural whole foods but they do not cause a problem. However, problems occur when it’s been processed, manufactured or fermented.

It can be in bouillon, broth or stock, soy sauce, or soy extract. It’s also added to a large number of packaged and processed foods. It can hide under the umbrella of flavorings or “natural flavors.”Soy-based protein powders may contain it and it’s even in some whey protein powders.

Let’s look at how it can affect some people. A teener who worked at a fast food restaurant found their grilled chicken sandwich began to cause swollen eyes. That progressed to his having to carry an epipen for protection in eating foods with MSG.

Dehydration and headaches are present in some. For one, it mimicked a heart attack with pain, a racing heart, and shortness of breath. Another experienced diarrhea that lasted for days, migraines, and severe stomach pain.

MSG is very slowly processed by the liver which is our chief organ for detoxification. It lasts in the body for around 72 hours. So, if you continue to eat it, it will accumulate in the system possibly leading to more symptoms.

Some people react with hives and a burning or itching sensation. Worst of all are those who are so sensitive that they can experience anaphylactic shock. They may end up in the emergency room, all because of their reaction to a food laced with MSG. lists these other symptoms relating to MSG. Obesity, eye damage, fatigue, disorientation, depression, nausea, drowsiness and weakness. “MSG and Free Glutamate: Lurking Everywhere.” Dr. Mercola spoke of eating crab cakes and reacting with “a dry mouth, terrible thirst, and a headache.” The next day, he "felt sore all over” and his “hands felt like they had arthritis.”

It can be in gravy, and sauces. Commercial gravy can be made with “water, a thickener, artificial coloring, artificial flavors and MSG”

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock wrote a book “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.” In it, he highlights MSG, aspartame and other substances that cause brain damage.

Do you suffer from joint inflammation? How about back or neck pain? Breathlessness, slurred speech? Learn to read labels and check all of the foods in your cupboards.

By only cooking our own foods and avoiding processed ones, we can tame symptoms and often find that we get our life back. So what is safe to eat? 

Organic grass-fed meat, organic dairy, legumes, veggies, fruit, nuts, and seeds.

I know that showing you the things placed in your foods can be daunting to say the least. However, I’ve seen many patients over the years with debilitating diseases. I wonder if some of those disorders could have been halted in progression if we only knew then what we know now.

There are still sites that defend the use of MSG. However, I wonder about the paper and financial trails behind the determination to downplay the symptoms so many experience.

At the risk of sounding redundant, please learn to read labels. If the print is too small, consider carrying a small magnifying glass. I do. Even then, it’s sometimes hard to read the fine print which is meant to discourage you from reading the ingredients.

I truly want to see us all become healthier. Garbage in, garbage out isn’t just a slogan. There’s truth behind it. 

Nancy Pidutti, PhD, NHH, Nurse, Author, Chaplain

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option above this to the right, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a simpler option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. Send your information to and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

It has come to this editor's attention that people are sending information to the Grant County Beat Facebook page. Please be aware that the editor does not regularly monitor the page. If you have items you want to send to the editor, please send them to Thanks!

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—

Feel free to notify if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised.