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MSG

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This is a sort-of-about food topic . . . we had dinner the other night in a Thai place that opened recently near our house. It wasn't very good for several reasons, and we're not likely to go back. Apart from the other issues, the next morning I had a low grade migraine, and my husband had a painless ocular migraine. I get headaches a lot, but he has those events only very occasionally, usually if he drinks too much coffee. I've heard that MSG doesn't deserve its reputation, and I have no way to know if there was any of it in the food we had, but I'm wondering if there might have been and if that was the cause of both of us feeling weird the next day. Does anyone else get those kind of reactions?

  1. Friday night after work I picked up some takeout from Peiwei for dinner for me and my husband. We hadn't had PeiWei in a couple years but it's right next door to where I work, it was 8pm, he'd worked late and didn't want to cook so it was a quick and easy solution.

    We both had bad headaches yesterday morning. Definitely from the food I think...probably the sodium as along with the headaches we couldn't get enough water into us yesterday. Could sodium have caused the same problem for you?

    1. MSG causes my jaw and my face to hurt... feel tight and gives me a low grade ache behind my eyes as well. Since I had that reaction I refuse to go anywhere that uses it. MSG is not good for you in any amount, let alone the massive amounts they put in some foods at many asian restaurants.

      4 Replies
      1. re: gryphonskeeper

        "MSG is not good for you in any amount"

        At this time, all scientific research is contrary to this statement.

        1. re: gryphonskeeper

          I hate to tell you this, but MSG is everywhere. Truly. Granted, most restaurants do not liberally apply MSG to their dishes straight from the jar, but they may use packaged broth as a soup base or cut corners with their salad dressing. If so, MSG is involved. The soup is still homemade and probably delicious, due in part to the addition of MSG. Do you ever eat any kind of packaged snack from the conventional grocery store? MSG is there too. Honestly, if you eat out at mid-range restaurants, you are eating MSG, maybe only in minute amounts, but still; even if you think the restaurant "would never" use MSG.

          1. re: gryphonskeeper

            Causation is a tricky thing. Lots of people claim that MSG causes various syptoms, but in double-blind placebo-controlled tests, there's no correlation between the administration of MSG and the presence of such symptoms, or between the administration of the placebo andthe absence of symptoms. That's not to say that nobody is sensitive to MSG, but scientists who have tried to prove that such a sensitivity exists have failed.

            Oh, and by the way, MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, which is an amino acid necessary for metabolism. Without glutamic acid, you die. So some amount isn' t just good for you, it's necessary to sustain life.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              alan, I am telling you right now I know it is the MSG in the food. I also know that from a nutritional standpoint MSG is worthless.

          2. From what I understand, MSG is fine as long as it doesn't come to the boil. It's a matter of not knowing how to cook with it. Has anyone else heard this?

            5 Replies
            1. re: suse

              ahhh...yet another MSG thread

              I have never heard of MSG vs. boiling...I'd take that info with a heaping palmful of salt...

              MSG is harmless

              1. re: aelph

                I was told this by several Asians while living in Asia. How can no one ever have heard of this? It's not msg vs. boiling, but rather boiling after msg has been added to a dish.

                1. re: suse

                  By "MSG vs. boiling" I was referring to the constituent elements of your suggestion...not, literally, MSG vs. boiling...

                2. re: aelph

                  If MSG is harmless... why does my jaw, face and head ache after eating it? I would wager that is harm.

                3. re: suse

                  Yes, another MSG thread. But one of my pet peeves too, even though I do crave a bit here and there.

                  From what I gather, the heating or boiling of MSG simply disintegrates it to a point where it destroys the flavour, rendering it useless. I do not believe it makes it toxic in any way.

                  I think this is consistent with the package instructions for some of the finer ramen noodles, where they say to add the soup package to the bowl right before serving, instead of adding it to the noodles while cooking.

                4. I know MSG is in many things...but they are several times after eating pho at different Vietnamese places that I feel very "spacey" and must chug litres of water....I have to think there must be an abundance of MSG at some places!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: burlgurl

                    Agree! I'm aware many places where I eat out use MSG in various amounts, and I do drink up the soup in my instant noodles when I make them at home.

                    But occasionally I would get this super-thirst right after certain meals eating out. The thirst gives me the need to chug litres of water throughout the day even though it doesn't seem to help much, and the worst spell in recent memory lasted for two days! The last two of these spells was caused by a bowl of pho and a bowl of Thai soup.

                    I could only conclude that it was either the massive quantity of MSG (more likely), or the type of MSG (is here such a distinction?) that caused the super-thirst in those select cases, and not in the other cases (thank goodness).

                    BTW I am a fiend for all foods natually rich in umami/MSG, such as parmesan, cured ham, anchovies and mushrooms, and I never get this super-thirst or any type of discomfort eating those in big quantities, so that is why I suspect even more there might be diffierent types of MSG that cause or do not cause a problem.

                    Can anyone please enlighten?

                  2. I go to a headache clinic, run by very good neuologists, for migraines. MSG is indeed a major trigger for migraines. The amount that it takes to set you off, can vary...since it is in so many food items. If the restaurant cooks with alot (??) of MSG in the food, the amount may have exceeded your limit and triggered your and your husband's migraine. I don't know where you heard that MSG doesn't deserve its reputation, but in the World of Migraines, it is right up there with red wine and aged cheese (sigh). Unfortunately, it's one of those things that you don't know til it hits you...ie, that this resto cooks with alot of it. I guess it is ok that the food was mediocre and you won't be returning anyhow!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: anthrochick

                      If MSG is a migraine trigger that doesn't make it "harmful" to those who don't suffer migraines...same for red wine and aged cheese...

                      You could also make the argument that too much red wine is "harmful" to you

                      or, godforbid, too much aged cheese...

                      this thread is risking rehashing several other MSG threads; a territory very well-covered on CH

                      1. re: aelph

                        no, I am not saying MSG, or red wine or aged cheese, is "harmful" or maligning them- just that they are known migraine triggers to people. Some people don't get migraines or bad headaches in general, but sometimes get a doozy from a trigger like MSG when the circumstances
                        are right ( or wrong). My point was that she was not crazy, that the MSG very well could be the migraine culprit in her case.

                        1. re: anthrochick

                          To elide the discourse of other MSG threads: sure, if you experience migraines, a "trigger" could catalyze them...

                          Certainly, if you eat too much of something, anything you may experience deleterious effects.

                          The MSG/Asian food/Chinese Restaurant Syndrome conundrum has been examined from divers sides: fyi...I've long thought MSG unfairly maligned(long before the MSG threads proliferated on CH)...there are other factors at work...psychological, sociological, possible sensitivity,
                          ethnic/exotic misapprehensions than merely MSG.

                          I recommend anyone(outside of those predisposed to migraines) to pick up an oz. of MSG at your local spice store, Asian market, or in those bottles of Accent ubiquitous on the shelves of major grocers. Test it yourself. It's a cheap experiment.

                          or, even cheaper: eat a bag of Doritos

                          1. re: aelph

                            hah i did that once (ate a spoonful of msg) and it didn't do anything...but then again i love the stuff and grew up eating it. My mother always added a "dash" only to foods and that was only a few things. However my grandmother (korean) loves to add loads of it to things like bean sprouts.

                            I LOVE MSG

                            1. re: aelph

                              haha, I was gonna say! why don't you eat a bag of cheetos and see if you still get the headaches, then you'll know if it's the MSG!

                        2. re: anthrochick

                          Funny that you mention the cheese, since that is a natural source of glutamate.

                        3. I really don't understand why "artificial" glutamates in the form of MSG and other hydrolyzed proteins cause reactions and natural glutamates found in soy sauce, fish sauce, cheese, wine, tomatoes, etc, just cause deliciousness. Is it because the sodium? Perhaps isolation of glutamic acid from other proteins causes this reaction in such a way because it's over processed and in too pure of a form? I always thought of consuming MSG similar to consuming white sugar instead of honey or maple syrup. The sugars are still there, but in processed pure amounts. And we all know that processed foods cause hell to our body

                          31 Replies
                          1. re: takadi

                            There's a lot of evidence to suggest that in almost all cases, the MSG form is causing no more issues in someone's body than naturally occurring glutamates, and that any "effects" that people are seeing are from other sources.

                            If someone truly had a MSG sensitivity, they'd hardly be able to eat anything.

                            1. re: jgg13

                              I don't understand it either. Maybe a small amount of MSG is ok for me, but too much causes a headache. Aged cheese, red and white wine (and any wine product) all give me a bad migraine, as do hot dogs. But pepperoni and other nitrate meats do not. Nor do "non-aged" cheeses. It is not always a standard science, to find the trigger and the amount that sets it off. So I must be ok eating small amounts of MSG...but there is undermined amount that gives me a whopper migraine...and no way to tell what that amount is.
                              But to to the point, the original poster and her husband both had headaches...something in common gave them a headache. MSG, envirnment, smoke, something else?? If her instinct says that it was the MSG< I bet she is correct.

                              1. re: anthrochick

                                As long as she doesn't publicly decry MSG or anything else, she's entitled to her opinion. But unless she's doing it scientifically all that she is accomplishing is buying into and spreading hype based hysteria.

                                1. re: jgg13

                                  I don't think I was "buying into and spreading hype based hysteria." I said originally that I had heard that MSG's reputation was largely undeserved. I don't think for a minute than any anecdotal info about two people having dinner in a third-rate restaurant constitutes a scientific study. I was just surprised at the coincidence, and couldn't think of anything else that would have provoked the same result, wondered if anyone else had similar experiences.

                                  I was interested to hear that many mid-priced restaurants use MSG, and from what people have said, I could believe that some level of it might be a problem for other migraine sufferers. It might even be that sodium in any form could do the job if it was excessive.

                              2. re: jgg13

                                I disagree with that. I think that when it's added separately it's just in much higher doses than what might occur naturally in foods the contain it. I think the higher amounts are what trigger problems. Similar to people like me who have a histamine problem with wines. I can have a glass, maybe 2, without problems. But if I go on to a 3rd glass, the problem seems to build up in my system and cause problems. I can't taste a 3rd glass because I get too stuffy. But one glass is fine every time. I think it's the same with MSG because I almost never have a reaction to it. But when I do, it's at particular places where I've come to deduce based on repeat visits that they must be heavily adding it because that's when I have a problem with it. Thankfully it's rare. Mostly when I get cheap Asian takeout and also at one middle eastern place where I only get it when I eat their seasoned rice.

                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                  What usually gets my eyebrow raised though is when people specifically talk about asian restaurants, but don't seem to have a problem eating things like Campbells soup, pre-packaged chips & snacks, etc. Its *extremely* common in all sorts of pre-prepared food but you'll see people who still talk about "chinese restaurant syndrome".

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    Yeah, see, I don't eat anything like that so maybe that's why I don't encounter it. I haven't bought or used campbell's soup for years, and the only chips or packaged foods like that that I buy are from my natural foods store. The potato chips I buy have the following ingredients: potatoes, soybean oil, salt. I don't eat at chain restaurants and don't eat much packaged/processed food if I can help it so the only time I seem to run into it is either at asian places or at the one middle eastern place I mentioned.

                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                      I think you and I must have matching stomaches because I am the same way with food. Only all natural foods, free range eggs, organics etc. NO fast food or chains, and the ethnic place I go to, the first thing I ask now is if they use MSG, if they do, I choose to eat elsewhere. Because of my healthy lifestyle I think I am sensitive to certain additives.

                                    2. re: jgg13

                                      I was tinking the same.... It's in sooo many things, not just asian things...

                                2. re: takadi

                                  Actually this is exactly my experience so far, as I wrote further up in this thread. I do eat lots of food rich in "natural" glutamates such as cheeses, cured ham, fish sauce etc., and I never seem to suffer from the super-thirst (which I call MSG-thirst) I seem to get from a bowl of pho soup or wonton soup, for example, at certain places.

                                  For comparison, I get a milder form of MSG-thirst from eating a whole bag of Doritos, or Campbell's chicken soup.

                                  From all this I can only conclude it might be the quantity, the concentration or the form of MSG that matters in how it affects the body.

                                  1. re: tarteaucitron

                                    That's weird though because you'll find that some online resources say Italian dishes contain way more glutamates than Chinese food. I'm still convinced that it doesn't have much to do with concentration, but rather with absorption

                                    1. re: takadi

                                      No, not weird. What you said about ease of absorption, pureness etc. (similar to what I meant by concentration) is still compatible with my experience. I'm still open to any of these as a factor to account for the annoying super-thirst I still get from time to time. So maybe you're right about the idea that MSG, in huge, unnatural amounts and in the absence of the usual accompanying substances, causes the most harm.

                                      It's impossible to compare the MSG level between "Italian dishes" and "Chinese dishes", because each can vary so much. I'm sure no one would dump a load of msg into a a well-prepared home-cooked Chinese dish like they do in cheap restaurants.

                                      On the other hand, I do know that a lot of Italian foodstuff used for flavour has plenty of glutamates, so, no surprise there. My point was, I do eat a lot of these plain (romano cheese, parma ham, for example) and while I get thirsty from the salt, I do not suffer from the MSG-thirst that is markedly different -- it generally lasts much longer, my tongue feels extreme discomfort, and drinking massive quantities of water doesn't help much.

                                    2. re: tarteaucitron

                                      Or maybe it isn't the MSG at all. The amount of salt in a big bowl of wonton soup can be staggering. Doritos are pretty heavy on the sodium, too. It's just so difficult to identify a single culprit in a bowl or bag full of dozens or hundreds of ingredients...

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        It's funny, but people who don't have the sensitivity, whatever it is, seem to continue to insist that it's either not MSG or it's all in people's heads. I don't understand this type of thinking. People don't get migraines from eating a very salty bowl of soup.

                                        edited to add: you can find anything on the internet. I can find all sorts of medical articles (JAMA was one I found) supporting the msg-headache/migraine link, just as one can find all kinds of links saying that there is no link. It seems the continued prevalence of problems people have with ingesting a dish or cuisine with particularly high/uniquely high levels of MSG and then experiencing some negative side effects IS there because it happens to a lot of people. I don't know why so many other people are intent on "proving" that it's not the case or that it's all in the person's head or that there are other things that they eat and don't get the effect. There are times I drink wine and don't get a stuffy nose right away either, but it doesn't mean I don't have a histamine sensativity that is activated by it.

                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                          To clarify: I'm not saying that there's no such thing as MSG sensitivity. I'm just saying that scientific attempts to prove the existence of such a sensitivity have been pretty unsuccessful.

                                          People love simple cause-and-effect relationships, and some things are pretty straightforward: you ingest enough histamines, you get a stuffy nose. And that's a result that can be duplicated in a controlled study without any difficulty at all. But the human organism is extremely complex, as are the foodstuffs we eat. Sometimes it just isn't so simple.

                                          It seems counterproductive, in the absence of a conlusive correlation, for someone who has an adverse reaction to demonize a single ingredient and ignore all other possible causes of that reaction. Not only because the conclusion may be wrong, but also because the person might avoid the "straw man" and still ingest the problem-causing substance.

                                          All I'm saying is that it's good to keep an open mind about these things. They're much more complicated than some of the militant types would have you believe.

                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                            Thank you RockandRoller! I was just re-reading these posts, amazed at how adament some people were against me and the OP -that our migraines were in our heads ( no pun) or could not possibly be from MSG. I was suprised at how such a nice OP query got such semi-hostile responses about MSG. Geez!

                                            I agree with you....why are some people so intent on "proving" that there are absolutely no negative side effects, or that because they don't get the headaches or because there is MSG in many foods...that we are crazy or scared to eat "exotic" food. Give us credit for being smart people and who know our bodies; there is cause and effect here. EVery Migraine Clinic/neurologist knows that MSG is a food trigger to some people. Even my accupuncturist knows it. It may not affect everyone, but that does not make it any less valid. Nor are we on this post maligning MSG. The OP was just asking a simple question.

                                            Aelph - ".there are other factors at work...psychological, sociological, possible sensitivity,
                                            ethnic/exotic misapprehensions than merely MSG" that may or may not be true for some people, but was it necessary to say that to OP and me?

                                            Judith, OP, have we answered your question at all?

                                            1. re: anthrochick

                                              How is what I commented any different than what other posters offer? BTW: I was addressing a general audience in my reply not "diagnosing" a specific poster. You don't appear to have an issue with alanbarnes repeating the exact same message. If your migraine comments are directed at me...take care to read closer, nowhere do I say MSG isn't a possible migraine trigger. Incapacitating migraines run in my family(though, luckily, I don't suffer them...yet). Again, labeling MSG a possible trigger is another issue entirely than it's supposed general toxicity.

                                              1. re: aelph

                                                sorry aeph, I thought that your comments were directed at the migraine-people on here, specifically me and Judith, by listing specific things that you thought could be the cause...I felt like by listing those things you were doubting us that MSG is a trigger for us ( well, at least for me). It was the "it's all in your head (no pun) stuff again" again...re: MSG and migraines. Believe me, when you get them, you track down the triggers, you know pretty much what causes them and it makes me hot when others say, oh no, that can't be the cause! And I guess what got my goat ( no pun again) was the "exotic/ethnic apprehension". What? Are you saying that you think people get migraines because they are so scared to try chinese/thai/korean/vietnamese food? Sorry, that sounds crazy. And to anyone on this website, well, that is really crazy. All of this is why I took offense. Maybe you didnt mean it towards me specifically, but i was in the grp in general.

                                                alanbarnes didn't chalkup our migraines to non-food reasons. He gave another food ingredient as a possible culprit. And yes, people ( including me too) get migraines too from stress, smoke, chemicals, and other non-food things...so you are not wrong per se....it's just that we migraine sufferers kinda know what triggers them, and it is rather irritating to have others doubt us. I hope you never get these...they are horrible. I got them 6 yrs ago from toxic mold from flooded basement; I take 3 prevention drugs and I still get a few /month. I hope you remain migraine-free forever.

                                                1. re: anthrochick

                                                  My comments are general, not addressed to migraines...I don't how much clearer I can be...please, read again...

                                                  1. re: anthrochick

                                                    For some reason I only find myself getting strong MSG reactions when eating Chinese food.

                                                2. re: anthrochick

                                                  Yes thanks. I think my question got answered in all kinds of ways. For one thing, I'm not alone with migraines, and I'm not alone in thinking that at least in this instance, MSG could have been the culprit. I am not Asian-food phobic, or for that matter any kind of food-phobic (except once I turned down muskrat, but it was in tupperware and funky tupperware turns my stomach). And I'm definitely not going back to Tee-Nee Thai on the Alameda in San Jose!

                                                3. re: rockandroller1

                                                  Just to be clear, rockandroller1...

                                                  re: " I can find all sorts of medical articles (JAMA was one I found) supporting the msg-headache/migraine link"

                                                  The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has never published any scientific article proving a link a between MSG and headaches or migraines. Here is the search for MSG from JAMA site:

                                                  http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/search?f...

                                                  In a JAMA patient information article -- but NOT a scientific/medical article,

                                                  http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/...

                                                  JAMA did say that MSG is a possible migraine trigger, but that article was published in 2000. There has been many double-blind medical studies since 2000 that have not found any link whatsoever between MSG and headaches/migraines. Often, the patients in the studies were severe "MSG" sufferers, but still no link was found, even when massive amounts of MSG were ingested. Of course, the study used MSG that was isolated -- not occurring in tandem with other substances that are also headache/migraine triggers and that are also in Chinese/Asian food.

                                                  I don't doubt AT ALL that many people suffer a reaction, even suffer from severe migraines, because of some substance in Chinese/Asian food.

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    Moderator, please allow this, for Judith's sake, the OP:

                                                    MSG is a trigger for migraines, per National Institute of Health and it's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Foods containing tyramine (red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and some beans), monosodium glutamate (MSG), or nitrates (like bacon, hot dogs, and salami) " - www.nlm.nih./govmedlineplus/ency/arti...

                                                    JAMA is only a periodical..and only 1 periodical of many medical ones. It is a general medical periodical - NOT neuological or any other specialty. If you think you can rely on it for all medical info, you are mistaken. NIH and its specialties, or the various neuological periodicals are where you can find info about migraines. JAMA is a periodical of the American Medical Assoc, and it is very political at that. JAMA is not the keeper of all medical knowlege, and they will tell you that themselves.

                                                    I am a medical and cultural anthropologist, teaching food right now. I have worked in the medical world for 25 yrs.. And I get migraines. A food dairy is the scientific method for knowing triggers. It is a scientific. Neurologists use this Cause and Effect method for migraines. There have been many many tests at universities, NIH, labs, to show what are migraine food triggers...and there are a few standards ones. Check it out on the web.

                                                    1. re: anthrochick

                                                      THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

                                                      1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                        anthrochick, hello,

                                                        My job for many years has involved hours of research daily in the area of food and wine chemistry. My subspeciality is medicine, and specifically biogenic amines, some of which are nasty migraine triggers – tyramine is one.

                                                        In addition, I too am a migraine sufferer, although their incidence is infrequent now. I know you suffer from these; I have suffered as well.

                                                        As I have said earlier, but not to you personally or Judith, I don't doubt at all you get migraines after ingesting certain foods.

                                                        So you could say this area of migraines and food triggers is right up both my professional and personal alley.

                                                        If you’ve read my posts in the past year, you will see that I also cite the National Institute of Health/The National Library of Medicine as the source of many medical/scientific articles.

                                                        What you didn't understand above was that I was responding to rockandroller1's claim about JAMA. He said that there was an article in ***JAMA*** proving an MSG link to migraines and I said, nope, there wasn't a JAMA article. I don't think you understood that was I merely correcting him about the JAMA claim. So I hope you understand that now.

                                                        The NIH article you linked to (I think alanbarnes corrected your link) is an OK guidance tool for migraine sufferers. And the article does say MSG "MAY" be a migraine trigger.

                                                        One thing to consider about the article is it is not a scientific/medical study, and that the medical citations are from 2005 or earlier The article is on the NIH site, but NIH did not write it. The publisher is ADAM, an online health information service, not a bad source of information, but not as good as legitimate, current medical studies.

                                                        I really like the NIH/National Library of Medicine too, and I want you to be informed about your malady, not only because you suffer from something excruciating and should know all you can about it, but also because of your field of medical anthropology.

                                                        Have you ever searched the National Institute of Health/National Medical Library for studies on migraine treatment? Just so that you keep up with the latest information about how to deal with your migraines and keep them at bay as long as possible? There's a wealth of information there.

                                                        So please do this research, for yourself, so you can keep up with the latest, most effective treatments for your migraine headaches. It’s great that the most recent studies are always listed first.

                                                        Go to:
                                                        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/ent...

                                                        I like to click on the tab called Limits, so that I can then choose medical studies/articles that have my search terms in the title, that were done on humans (rats don’t count), and that were published in the last two/five/ten years, because research gets outdated quickly.

                                                        Research
                                                        migraine AND treatment, and
                                                        migraine AND monosodium AND glutamate,
                                                        and monosodium AND glutamate.

                                                        I just did all three searches and for monosodium glutamate there are 114 scientific articles. Lots of info for you.

                                                        I also went to the Institute you like, The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and did a search there. They published a very recent article on migraines on April 11, 2008 article, and MSG is NOT listed as a migraine trigger. Just so you know.

                                                        Here is the link to the article:

                                                        http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/he...

                                                        But in the article they list tyramines as a migraine trigger. They’re a huge migraine trigger. As you have implied, they are a migraine trigger for you (the red wine and aged cheese).

                                                        And curiously, MSG -- in all its myriad forms --
                                                        ALWAYS, ALWAYS, occurs with tyramines.

                                                        Tyramines are in all these Asian foods, in huge quantities:

                                                        soy sauce,
                                                        tofu/bean curd,
                                                        miso, teriyaki,
                                                        fish or shrimp paste,
                                                        broth,
                                                        anything aged,
                                                        dried,
                                                        fermented,
                                                        salted,
                                                        smoked or
                                                        pickled.
                                                        And beer.

                                                        So, the next step is SEPARATE the tyramines in those ingredients from the MSG, and see which one is causing your migraine.

                                                        But you can’t. Those two substances are intertwined.

                                                        It might be time for you to start blaming tyramines.

                                                        They’re a nasty migraine trigger. As well as an intense trigger of headache, shortness of breath, flushing, chest tightening, increased blood pressure and a host of other things.

                                                        So have at it. Blame away. Blame tyramines.This time you’d be blaming the right thing in Chinese food.

                                                        As you say, you’re a smart girl. Keep up with the best research, stay current, stay informed.

                                                        I hope you suffer fewer migraines as you get older. That’s what happened to me, but I think many factors contributed to that. Good luck to you.

                                                        ~~apologies for the ridiculously long post~~

                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                          Maria Lorraine, thanks for the info. I really appreciate it. When I lived near a medical school in metro area, I did read the journals and real research, but now that I live in a small town, it is not as feasible. Thanks for showing me the internet links to more research, so I can read more. I will read and see what I think, will talk to my neurologist. It is refreshing to talk to someone with scientific knowledge, thank you for speaking up.

                                                          3 questions: I don't have any of the other symptoms you mentioned ( shortness of breath etc). Does that mean anything? And I eat more Thai and Vietnamese food than Chinese food? Would they have less of these offending ingredients than Chinese? I don't habitually eat the list of foods that you mentioned, but they could be in the dishes that I ordered.

                                                          I too hope my migraines go away as I get older. I got them when I got very sick from toxic mold from flooded basement at age 45. I am 52 now. I used to have them 15 days a month, now it is 2-3 /month.

                                                          I hope the OP is still reading this too.

                                                          1. re: anthrochick

                                                            And I would like to add that we do sushi at least once a week - with soy sauce, always miso soup and pickled ginger (sometimes with tofu) but always with edamame (straight soy beans) and a beer. Never a migraine.

                                                            Dim Sum today, I'll report back.

                                                      2. re: anthrochick

                                                        The NIH document you reference clearly states that migraine attacks ***may*** be caused by MSG (among other things). In other words, the NIH is saying that MSG is a possible trigger for migraines. That's a lot different than saying that it is a definite trigger. AFAIK no responsible medical researcher claims that any direct causal link has been proven.

                                                        A food diary and/or an elimination diet are a good way of establishing triggers that are food-related. You may be able to prove that the chicken lo mein from a certain restaurant gives you a migraine. But just because that dish contains MSG, unless you eliminate all other components of that dish from your diet, you have not established that MSG is the migraine trigger.

                                                        Does that mean that you should continue to eat that chicken lo mein? Of course not--it gives you migraines. And if you get fewer migraines by avoiding dishes containing MSG (regardless of whether it's the MSG or something else in the dish that is causing them), then you may certainly want to avoid dishes that contain MSG.

                                                        But from a scientific perspective, the jury is still out on whether MSG is the actual cause of anybody's migraines. And my review of the literature indicates that they're leaning strongly toward aquittal.

                                                        (BTW, the link in your post is broken. Here (hopefully) is the NIH document you refer to: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/en... )

                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                          Moderator, please bear with me again :
                                                          I don't think you get what I am saying: if there are a bunch of ingredients in a food item, and one is a known migraine trigger (and I am sticking with the science I have read and my Headache Clinic here), plus other things like chicken, salt, and other spices that might cause an allergy but are not known migraine triggers ...then 99%, the trigger could be that one known ingredient trigger. Migraine triggers are fewer than allergies, so they are easier to detect.

                                                          And once again y'all, what is all the fuss about, non-migraine people? WE get the migraines. WE suffer, WE know what we ate. And WE are not chinese-food hating, MSG-hating people. What's up with not respecting the people who actually get the migraines and have studied, both personally and professionally, the triggers? Geez, you'd think you are owners of MSG companies and we have personally maligned you. Seriously, do you own huge chunks of stock in the MSG companies? We are not telling anyone not to eat MSG or certain types of food. We are just telling the OP that she is not crazy...that our experinces are the same. As migraine people, we spend LOTS of intellegent time and scientific research to FIND our triggers....we have to in order to know what will send us to migraine hell for 2-3 days at a time......we take this as seriously as does a diabetic. So please respect our experience and the education of our neurologists'...and please quit tell the OP and the other posters that we who get the migraines that we are wrong. Until you are afflicted by this neurological disease, you have not walked in our shoes.

                                                          Judith, OP, we are still with ya...

                                                          1. re: anthrochick

                                                            I have no interest in promoting MSG usage. I don't use it myself, and when cooking at home avoid foods and ingredients that contain the stuff and its analogs. But the OP asked an honest question, and you and gryphonskeeper provided answers that IMO were factually incorrect. I believe that her question deserves the best answer possible, so I stated my disagreement.

                                                            This doesn't imply any lack of respect for the two of you or your opinions. In fact, I respect you enough to believe that you have the intelligence to review the medical literature for yourselves and see if your opinion changes. That's why I suggested that you do so.

                                                            As far as I can tell, current medical research indicates that MSG is not a proven migraine trigger. If you review the information that’s out there and disagree, that's fine. A healthy discussion as to why we disagree would probably leave us both better informed at the end of the day, even though we still might not agree. But I promise not to take the disagreement personally. I wish that you would do the same.

                                                          2. re: alanbarnes

                                                            ps chicken itself is not a migraine trigger, so one would not need to do this test. What is so great is that the NIH and world wide universities have already done many specific tests over the years to come up with migraine triggers. That is how there is a standard list. People do not have to do it on their own. Now, an allergy would be different, and present different symptoms than a migraine. There is no known migraine trigger to chicken. Another spice? It would probably be an allergen not a migraine -trigger. However, the Mayo Clinic does say there are "other spices" that are triggers.

                                              2. I'm going to agree with several here about Migraines and MSG being a solid trigger. I realized it when I pigged out on dim sum one day, eating the left overs the next day. Miserable. I have been testing out my theory, painfully. I now wonder if salt in general can be a trigger if too much - I have a problem with over salting and craving salty foods.

                                                I have suffered with severe hormonal migraines for over 8 years and triggers like msg throw in more migraines a month if I'm not careful.

                                                Dare I say, I'm doing Dim Sum next week - I'll report back! :-( Glutten for punishment for sure.

                                                1. 24 years of MSG intake and no migranes.
                                                  reading this thread = major headache.

                                                  my dad cant tell a sauce pan from a stock pot. the only times that hes ever in front of a stove is to fry an egg on a round alloy cooking vessel. its just an egg, on garlic-infused oil. how come he does it better than i? recently i found out - he sneaks a pinch of those magic granules on it. mmmmm msg

                                                  like aelph said - theres only 1 way to find out....

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: paleogeek

                                                    ahh but some people are allergic to eggs, and get a reation... does that make them crazy? I know this thread sure is making me feel like I must be.

                                                    1. re: paleogeek

                                                      I and the other other posters...even the OP Judith I dont think...are not saying that everyone gets a migraine or has a bad reaction from MSG. Just that we do. That was our whole point, I know lots of people who don't get a reaction to MSG or any other triggers. I sure didn't have a reaction until I got exposed to toxic mold at age 45 and got migraines after that. My SO eats MG and has no migraines. I am envious.

                                                    2. Hi:

                                                      This discussion is starting to get very personal and unfriendly and we've had to remove a number of posts. Since it seems that pretty much everyone with an opinion has had at least one chance to put it out there, and now the conversation is getting repetitive, we're going to lock the thread.