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Grant Achatz Names MSG as a Top-3 Kitchen Staple

Alongside salt and black pepper.


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  1. "You can find it online, or look for it in Asian markets."


    Or you can go to any grocery store and buy some Accent.

    54 Replies
    1. re: Chimayo Joe

      Ha! That was my thought. Right next to all the other "flavor enhanced" (main ingredient is MSG) products...Maggi, chicken bouillon, Knorr products, Goya products, etc. no shortage of MSG on any grocery store shelf, anywhere in the US.

      It was almost like they were elevating MSG to a real "specialty product" status, instead of mentioning that is in almost every cheap, trashy, ingredient mix on the market. Funny.

      1. re: sedimental

        Just so you know, Maggi doesn't have any MSG in it. This is one of those rumors that's taken on a life of its own and perpetuated itself for years on the Internet. Some of the many overseas versions do, and it wouldn't surprise me if many of their other products did too. But here in the States, Maggi Seasoning doesn't. It has loads of naturally occurring glutamates, but so do soya sauce, bacon, hard cheeses, tomatoes, mushrooms, and many other tasty things.

        As for MSG being common in junk foods, sure. The stuff is, after all, a flavor enhancer. I'm still amazed how many people claim it has bad effects on them, never realizing how much they ingest without knowing or reacting.

        The idea that MSG could be responsible for "Chinese restaurant syndrome" was debunked nearly twenty years ago. Yet the myth persists. There are indeed some in whom it can act as a migraine trigger, and a few who are genuinely allergic. But for the vast majority of us as reedux said it's harmless, and it adds deliciousness. Plus it's lower in sodium than the salt we overload our food with. And a little dash of MSG goes a long way.

        Does it belong in everything? Of course not. Especially when really good ingredients are used, food generally needs less enhancement; this applies equally to salt pepper, and other seasonings as well as MSG.

        I think it's about time we Americans got over our collective fear of the stuff. Understand, I'm not claiming that it's health food and we should be using it all the time. But MSG does not deserve its infamous reputation. What it does deserve in my opinion is a place on the shelf next to the salt and pepper.

        1. re: eclecticsynergy

          I use several versions, but prefer the original Maggi wurst, the German version. It has MSG. I believe the Mexican Maggi (and most others around the world,all have MSG, not just hydrolyzed soy or whatever). I think maybe the American version is the only one that uses "natural MSG" so it is not a "myth" for the rest of the world ;)

          1. re: sedimental

            I think the ingredient include some sort of sodium glutamate aka MSG. I also prefer the German version but have the Asian version on hand as well.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              I use Aromat too (by Knorr) which reminds me of Maggi wurst a little, but is way saltier and lighter. It is a yellow powder so you can use it in a wider variety of things. Most Knorr has MSG as well.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Maggi was originally Swiss I think, Lord Maggi. The Indian version of MSG is amchur powder (sour mango powder) and contains many glutamates.

            2. re: eclecticsynergy

              It is not a myth. Surely it doesn't affect everyone, but MSG definitely has deleterious effects on most people's health, whether or not they are aware of it.

              Naturally occurring umami is not an issue, but that chemical MSG definitely gives some folks -- me included -- headaches.

              1. re: ChefJune

                "definitely has deleterious effects on most people's health"

                "definitely gives some folks -- me included -- headaches"

                So "some" is equivalent to "most?"

                1. re: ChefJune

                  AFAIK, there's not been a single study that has substantiated that. In addition, according to the FDA the two products are identical and cause no different reactions.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    .... definitely has deleterious effects on most people's health, whether or not they are aware of it.

                    Living on earth has deleterious effects on everyone's health.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Yes, it's like the Curse Of The Pharaohs.....Dead. Every last one of them.

                    2. re: ChefJune

                      Chef June, it wasn't the MSG that caused the headaches, though, but something else in the foods you ate, probably tyramines or any of the biogenic amines (histamine, phenylethylamine, etc.) that are commonly in Asian dishes, and also the cause of many wine headaches (the ones not caused by over-consumption).

                      All to say, you're blaming the wrong culprit for your headaches. Lots of other posts by me and others about this, along with links to ample scientific evidence over many years to support my statements. Wish you didn't get those headaches, but MSG did not cause them. ML

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          Probably not MSG, and I dunno if its even the tyramines as maria lorraine suggested.

                          Sometimes people just eat too much.

                          I know my noggin hurts when my tummy is too full. At least when I'm not too embarrassed to admit it.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Part of why people blame MSG is that it is easy to note coincidences (I get a headache, I see MSG on the label -> ergo, MSG cause the headache). But it is harder to conduct the kind of blind test could rule out a connection. Someone would have to add MSG (or not add it) to a variety of foods, without the subject having any knowledge.

                            1. re: paulj

                              And that's exactly what happened in many double-blind clinical trials. Subjects with self-declared MSG sensitivities were given massive amounts of MSG or none at all, and neither they nor the researchers (in the double-blind studies) knew which subject had which. There was no correlation -- none -- in any of the medical studies between MSG and headaches or other negative effects.

                              When you're eating a foodstuff that has several potential headache-causing ingredients or chemicals, there's a tendency to focus on the thing you know that might be causing it, not the ingredients or chemicals you don't know about that are really the culprit.

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                I'm honestly surprised that the myth remains. It can't get much better than double-blind.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  There are many ingredients other than MSG/autolyzed yeast in Asian foods *known* to be the cause of headaches:

                                  soy sauce
                                  fish sauce
                                  shrimp paste, fish pastes
                                  spice pastes, curry pastes
                                  tofu, bean curd, soybean paste
                                  fermented black beans
                                  anything fermented
                                  soup base, prepared stock, bouillon,

                                  and many other ingredients.

                                  The effect of these ingredients with tyramines or histamines (or other biogenic amines) is cumulative. Two or three of these ingredients per meal might be OK for a person, but more than that causes a headache or hypertensive event in that person. Or your threshold for a reaction -- headache or otherwise -- might be especially low, and only one ingredient, even in a small quantity, triggers a reaction. Whatever your individual threshold, it is not MSG or autolyzed yeast that is causing the negative effect, but something else.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Agreed. Although the flaw in big DB studies is that it assumes that the affected are large enough in number to have a statistical effect....in essence that all individuals are equal.

                                    For example if you have a real MSG problem in 1 out of 1000 people...and study 500...a big study actually...you would see no effect of the MSG. The one person affected would be hiding in the error bars and be undetected.

                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                      Some folks appear to have no problem, but to the ones that do, it can mean a trip to the ER. Just like someone can be allergic to eggs and others can eat them with no problem. The disturbing thing is that some of the folks defending MSG have so little empathy for folks who really react.

                                      1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                        I've worked in an ER. I've never seen, or frankly, heard of anyone coming in from a reaction to MSG.

                                      2. re: sal_acid

                                        Though in many of the studies that tested reactions to MSG in a clinical setting, the testing was done on patients who had self-described themselves as having terrible reactions to MSG. Those tests found no correlations between pure MSG and placebo.

                                        1. re: sal_acid

                                          That isn't true at all. You could see the result on the first (or only, for that matter) person who walked in the door and assume a 100% affected rate.

                                          That's not the *flaw* of big studies, it's the *benefit* of them, because the bigger they are, the less likely this is to happen. But to say that if there's a 1 in 1000 incidence of something you won't see it until you actually examine all 1000 respondents is just plain wrong. The one is exactly as likely to come up in sample #1 as it is in sample #1000. The odds are exactly the same with every roll of the dice.

                                          1. re: acgold7

                                            Big studies do not catch "outliers" if the general population is enrolled. This is a problem that vexes the FDA when evaluating new drugs and is why newly approved drugs often have adverse events crop up in the first few years of use. An uncommon AE, say 1 in two thousand will be undetectable over the background rate unless the study is impractically large.

                                            In the case of MSG sensitivity, if it exists, it is probably only in a very small percentage of the population since general population studies of MSG problems are negative. MSG studies that enroll people who claim to have the sensitivity are more revealing in that they are negative too.

                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                              I'm not questioning your conclusions about MSG at all.

                                              But your statistical assumptions are completely incorrect. Large studies may or may not catch outliers and it's completely wrong to just say they don't. There is a completely equal chance of the one in 2,000 being the first person interviewed or sampled as it is being the last. It's completely incorrect to say that one AE would be undetectable. It's more likely to look over-represented in a smaller study than the other way around.

                                              Big studies most certainly do catch outliers for the most part, (especially if the general population is the universe) and the bigger they are, the more outliers they catch. I did this stuff for almost 30 years and your reasoning is completely backwards.

                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                Well no it isn't backward at all. Adverse events all have a natural rate of occurrence in the absence of any experimental stimulus. If you ask 500 people if they had some symptom today, say dizziness, a small number ...lets say 5...will answer "yes". So the rate is 1 in 100.

                                                Because of this natural rate of adverse events you have to have a control group to compare the test group to in order to determine if an effect is attributable to the MSG or just random natural occurrence (were there no control groups in your 30 years' experience?)

                                                Now suppose you are doing a study of MSG vs placebo in a group of volunteers. And suppose that the study size is a total of 200... 100 in each group (big study). And the the real rate of MSG-induced dizziness is one out of 500 people.

                                                There will be 1 volunteer with dizziness in each group (because of the natural rate of the symptom), and at most...at most.. one more actually due to MSG in the MSG group. This is not a statistically significant difference, it could have happened by chance. The study would say there is no dizziness caused by MSG because the study wasn't big enough to detect the 1 in 500 people who actually have the effect. This is why study size determines the power of a study to detect abnormalities.

                                                1. re: sal_acid

                                                  In theory. In practice it doesn't usually work that way at all. The science of probabilities and sampling error (standard error and deviation and all that geeky stuff) always come into play and things never, ever work the way you describe.

                                                  Odd how people say 200 is a big study and then scream that the Nielsen sample of 12,000 isn't big enough.

                                                  I'm not a statistician but even I know enough to qualify every number in a study with the words "More or less." If you don't, you're just plain bullshitting people.

                                                  By the way, your last sentence is what I've been saying all along and the opposite of what you've been saying, so I now have absolutely no idea what your actual point is. So I think I'll just leave it here.

                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                    Oh my. Things actually work exactly as I describe.

                                                    You need to study that geeky stuff some more.

                                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                                      It's a minor point, since I think we all agree that a large study (or aggregate of studies) is needed to distinguish statistically significant but rare outliers from false positives, placebo effect, etc. But while you understand this, you've also made some errors in understanding probability, it seems.

                                                      If 1 out of a 100 people in a large population have a significant reaction to something, a study of 100 random people would not necessarily yield exactly one positive result (even putting aside the issue of false positives, for the time being). In such a study, there would still be about a 37% chance of not finding anyone with a positive reaction. Likewise, there would be a strong possibility of finding more than one person with a positive reaction.

                                                      Similarly, if enough studies were done with just one or two participants each, some would find a positive result.

                                                      In principle, this is for the same reason that if you flip a coin twice, you don't always get 1 heads and 1 tails (only 50% of the time, actually). Small studies can find 'real' outliers, but they can't differentiate between them and false positives or demonstrate their statistical significance on their own.

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                        Agreed, but It actually isn't so minor a point. Statistics are a mystery to many on this board. Randomized trials are likewise not well understood by the average or even above average CHer.

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                          I would distinguish between a study intended establish whether a particular sensitivity exists (and is testable), and one that seeks to estimate its frequency (once verified).

                                                          Testing a group of self-identified sensitives should be a good way of testing whether the sensitivity is real. Such a study could include a random control population.

                                                          A large random sample is appropriate for the frequency study.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            That would help a lot. But the control group should be the sufferers given a placebo rather than the general population. They would be given MSG or placebo in a blinded fashion and then perhaps crossed-over (ie given MSG if they got placebo the first time and vice versa). This way they would be their own control group and would control around their potential bias (that they have a problem with MSG). If a subject believes that they have a problem they aren't an unbiased rater and this has to be controlled around.

                                                            A problem with the MSG issue is that people don't all report the same problem from it. It is hard to design a study that will answer all questions in one shot.

                                                            Another problem is that the symptoms they report from MSG are hard to quantify and differ in perception between each person eg..headache..feeling light headed.

                                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                                              Yes, MSG v placebo must be part of the study.

                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                <<But the control group should be the sufferers given a placebo rather than the general population. They would be given MSG or placebo in a blinded fashion and then perhaps crossed-over (ie given MSG if they got placebo the first time and vice versa). >>

                                                                This is exactly the way several of the trials were designed.

                                              2. re: sal_acid

                                                The onus of proof is on him who asserts the positive.

                                                In other words nobody is obligated to chase an arbitrary claim with an eternity of studies and infinite samples, all the way to the end of the bell curve, trying to prove a negative (that there are no "outliers").

                                                If one asserts X (that MSG causes headaches or whatever else the claim may be), the burden is on him to demonstrate it and on nobody else to disprove it.

                                          2. re: paulj

                                            That's a pretty straight forward double blind study.

                                          3. re: maria lorraine

                                            I strongly disagree, maria lorraine. My research has extended over many years. It IS the msg that causes me distress. I do not get headaches because I do not consume that which gives them to me. You are free to disagree with me, but I know my body.

                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                              Glutamate is a substance the body itself manufactures, so I don't buy it.

                                          4. re: eclecticsynergy

                                            Sorry, but I am a former food process engineer and MAGGI and any type of hydrolyzed vegetable protein or meat extract or yeast extract is very high in free glutamate and acts exactly like MSG. That is why the FDA in 1995 proposed labeling hydrolyzed proteins so that those sensitive to MSG could avoid it.Sadly the food industry killed that recommendation, but the FDA understood that hydrolyzed vegetable protein = MSG.

                                            1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                              I'd never be one to say the FDA is a fine gatekeeper for the nation's food safety, or that it cannot be arm-twisted into being a agency for manufacturers' profit motives,
                                              but still...

                                              Free glutmates are still not MSG
                                              Nor are hydrolyzed proteins MSG
                                              Nor does MSG or cause adverse health reactions, according to many scientifically designed medical trials
                                              Enteral glutamates do not cause adverse health effects

                                              So, in this case, the FDA, flawed entity that it is, acted

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                The very reason food makers hydrolyze protien is to release the bound glutamate so that it acts as a flavor enhancer. But in that form it also increases plasma glutamate levels dramatically. http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content... Even the makers of MSG state that the glutamate in MSG is chemically identical to glutamate found in the human body. That is why it is a problem. Sprinkling a known neurotransmitter on your food in any amount is not a good idea. I have a degree in food science and worked at the top global food companies and actually took courses in food chemistry. What is your background that makes you so sure of yourself?

                                                1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                  I work in biochemistry, research in food and wine chemistry mainly, but more importantly I work with the scientists who do the testing and develop the studies. I read data and medical studies every day, and report on findings. Which is why I don't think a study on nine people means diddly-squat, especially this one, when there is so much other data that contradicts this one.

                                                  You don't eat neurotransmitters. The body makes them from amino acids you eat. This includes the neurotransmitter glutamate. Your body makes it -- it doesn't go from the digestive track into the blood.

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    Sometimes I wish I *could* eat neurotransmitters.

                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      No but when you eat it - the plasma levels increase.

                                                      1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                        Again, a study on nine people means nothing. Lots of things raise plasma glutamate: carbohydrates, gout, any digestion of any food, psychosis, among them.

                                              2. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                Actually reactions to MSG were not debunked. They were upheld. The independent study commissioned by the FDA and reported in 1995, showed that there were adverse reactions to MSG intake of as little as 0.5 grams. In fact, asthma was found to be affected as well as heart rate. More recently though, studies have been done in China to find things that lessen the impact. http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/N...

                                                1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                  Cochrane meta review 2012
                                                  "There is no evidence to support the avoidance of MSG in adults with chronic asthma, but as data were limited, this review cannot provide a reliable evidence base for determining whether MSG avoidance is a worthwhile strategy."

                                                  "While a 'Traditional' food pattern was positively associated with asthma among Chinese adults, there was no significant association between MSG intake and asthma."

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    A Meta review is not a real study. The FDA's independent study did find asthma with as little as a half gram.

                                                    1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                      Most likely that meta review included the 'independent study'. Did you post a link to that study?

                                                      1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                        <<A Meta review is not a real study.>>

                                                        It's a review of many studies.

                                                        Since the quality of studies is important to you,
                                                        any studies you cite should be on humans, not rats.

                                                        Also the studies should be on glutamate that is eaten, not glutamate that is made by the body (the neurotransmitter).

                                                        You seem to repeatedly cite studies on rats or on the neurotransmitter glutamate. Those studies do not prove your point, yet those are the type of studies you have repeatedly offered as truth. Do you understand why they do not prove your point, and instead seem to suggest you do not understand the difference between dietary glutamate (which is completely changed by the digestion process), and the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is made in very large amounts by the body.

                                                        To prove your point, remember that the studies need to be on dietary glutamate (not the neurotransmitter) and on humans (not rats). Those two factors need to be the basis of any scientific study or information you cite.

                                                    2. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                      Carol, there's no medical study or science at foodconsumer.org link, just some unsubstantiated claims. I'm sorry -- I realize you are very emotionally invested in your stance, but it is not supported by science.

                                                  2. re: sedimental

                                                    What about salt? There's no shortage of salt on any grocery store shelf in cheap products.

                                                    What if we were to sub that in:

                                                    "It was almost like they [Grant Achatz] were elevating salt to a real 'specialty product' status, instead of mentioning that [it] is in almost every cheap, trashy, ingredient mix on the market. Funny."

                                                    By that line of reasoning nobody should ever use salt in their cooking.

                                                    1. re: Soul Vole

                                                      That is my point. Why didn't they say "salt can be purchased at any specialty store or over the internet"???? That would have been an equally dorky comment.

                                                2. other than those who aget MSG sensitive migraines and such, its proven to be
                                                  harmless and delicious. David chang is also super fond of that crystal gold.

                                                  26 Replies
                                                  1. re: reedux

                                                    There's never been anything medically documented that shows that MSG has that effect.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      Even the claims of it being an excitotoxin are pretty weak

                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                        Yes, but it is lame to "poo poo" other peoples dislike of it (for whatever personal reasons). I don't drink tap (unfiltered) water, no research tells me I will die from it, but I don't want to routinely drink it. I don't give a shit that there is no research proving anything. I don't drink it.

                                                        I am okay with MSG used at my discretion. I am also okay with saturated fats, not okay with many carbohydrates, not okay with sugar, okay with nitrates in preserved foods, not okay with hydrogenated anything, etc. I don't "dis" people for holding to something that is not "scientifically proven". I was a published researcher, I understand the bullshit of what science can be, on many levels.

                                                        Personal choice.... is just that. If someone thinks it is bad for them or gives them a headache, then don't use it. I won't think them stupid or ignorant. But, I think it makes some of my meals "over the top" delicious :)

                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                          But there's NO evidence that people get "MSG sensitive migraines and such." I think it's unfortunate that people perpetuate things like this and then other people believe it and then won't try it.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            Yes, but there is no evidence for a lot of things. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

                                                            If they don't try it, then they won't know...one way or the other. Not my problem. This is an American issue, not anywhere else that I have been. I grew up in different countries and cooked there. Each one has their "seasoning" that contains MSG. I lived in Turkey for over 2 years..... It is called Tuzot there. It just struck me as funny.

                                                            My posts were more about how funny it was that an American chef, seems to have "discovered" this, and wants to "teach" about it.....when it it ubiquitous in America already, and amongst most all international home cooks (via typical cultural seasonings) all over the world.

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                It's okay. I am shamelessly trying to steer the conversation about MSG actual "use". Not wanting this to devolve into the old..."msg, good or bad" circular arguing nonsense that always seems to happen.

                                                                It would be great to actually discuss how, why, where and when to use MSG. I don't think chowhound can handle that discussion though...for whatever reason. My guess is that is an American bias. I have been making my own seasoning salts with it lately (Cajun style) and would love to share ideas, get inspired...as I often do here. Again, it appears that is unlikely :(

                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                  I talked with the reigning King of French Chef's in New York City during the 1980's. He was a good friend of the chef that mentored me early in my career. We were talking about making consomme and how the clarifying process, while making the broth crystal clear, also took away flavor by trapping the suspended particles in the stock into the "raft" at the top of the pot. He showed me his solution, a 5# can of Accent.

                                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                                    Definitely! Plain Accent works in that application for a really light consumme.

                                                                    I also really love Osem chicken consumme powder (usually found in the Jewish food section) for a kick ass chicken soup addition. I think it is better than the plain Latino chicken powders. They have a new one boasting " no MSG" for Americans. I am not sure if it is as good as the old one, but if you run across Osem ...try it. Very chicken-y in a natural flavor kinda way!

                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                        Actually there is a mountain of evidence about how MSG and glutamate in excess affect the human body http://msgtruth.org/related.htm

                                                        1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                          Edited post: Rats! And more rats!

                                                          I did check the first 100 or so of the studies listed there, and most of the studies were on *rats* and on the neurotransmitter glutamate the body had made, and not dietary glutamate.

                                                          You do know that dietary glutamates are completely broken down by digestive enzymes as part of the nitrogen cycle, right???

                                                          I have been researching this for many years, you know, and am quite aware of how MSG has been unfairly blamed for health events when biogenic amines are the likely culprits.

                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                            So you checked out every reference in those 16 pages in the past two hours. Sure you did...

                                                          2. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                            Wait a minute, Carol...Msgtruth is *your* website??
                                                            And you're linking to your own info that's so inaccurate??

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                              Like I said before.

                                                              We have seen the enemy. And it is us.

                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                Why can't I link to a list I made of scholarly research about this topic not paid for by the MSG industry? I did not do the research myself, silly. Are you saying that Chapel Hill is not a valid research outfit? Are you disparaging ALL of the researchers from around the world that I am citing simply because you like MSG?

                                                                1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                  OK. I went to the list of articles on your website, and copied them all into a Word document. There were 188. I went through each one.

                                                                  I eliminated all the articles that weren't current, published before the year 2000. Fair enough??

                                                                  Most of the older studies were on rats or mice or on the neurotransmitter glutamate anyway, so they had no bearing on this discussion. I eliminated the ones on aspartame too, just so you know.

                                                                  Of the 7 that remained, I eliminated the two on glutamate receptors, since that concerns the neurotransmitter and not dietary glutamate. OK?

                                                                  I eliminated the one that was a press release, since it was s press release. OK?

                                                                  And I eliminated one that was on rats.

                                                                  That leaves 3. I eliminated the one on fibromyalgia and dietary glutamates because it was only on four patients, and that means nothing. But congrats on citing a study on glutamate that is eaten.

                                                                  Two left. The study on allergies was on a nerve growth factor and not on dietary glutamate. So that one doesn't work.

                                                                  That left one. This study, published in 2000 was on pituitary hormone secretion after a single large dose of MSG.

                                                                  But you should take this one off your list too, really. Because it doesn't support your point. It disproves your point, actually.

                                                                  Did you read the full text??

                                                                  It's here, a .pdf doc at the Journal of Nutrition:

                                                                  What is says is:
                                                                  -- the study was on 8 men (too few)
                                                                  -- none of the pituitary hormones were affected by MSG.

                                                                  -- *Important* It also says the pure MSG had an effect "below that of the protein meal and was not significant."

                                                                  So, of the 188 studies in your list, not a single one proves your point. Not one.

                                                                  Again, I'm so sorry, because you are so invested in believing MSG is a substance that's really bad for humans. But not one study you've cited, not one link, has proven your case.

                                                                  I'm always willing to read a study or research that might be relevant, though -- that's on humans, on MSG or dietary/enteral glutamate, published in the last 10 years.

                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine


                                                                    I applaud this effort. I really really do. It deserves to be recognized, if not for thoroughness, then for pure utter diligence on your part.

                                                                    But, in all sincerity, even my old friend Sisyphus knew when to stop pushing that boulder.

                                                                    Sometimes there is no reasoning with myopia.

                                                                    Happy holidays maria.

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      My grandfather once told me "Boy, you can't win a pissing contest with a skunk".

                                                                      Great effort on your part, but the energy is wasted. You are fighting against True Believers.

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                        It's not so much that you will win over an opponent in a debate, but you might educate some else who was swayed by pseudo science into thinking that MSG is dangerous

                                                                        Thank you Maria for the time you took to expose the type of studies used to make these claims

                                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                          It was important to me to be clear, and to show how the "evidence" was not evidence. It was also important to me to demonstrate the weeding-out process of evaluating studies.
                                                                          That's why I made the effort.

                                                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                                                              While I don't disagree, this is a fine line.

                                                                              maria (as well as you and others) are right that debating or refuting the points made by Carol are important to properly and fully inform those that may be less than ideally educated about these issues, there comes a point where continuing to acknowledge the issue as a debatable point actually lends credibility to the other side's position.

                                                                              For example, no one whips out their Twitter accounts or fires up their blogs to debate the flat-earth society acolytes. Similarly, if someone said that 10 Big Macs at McDonalds is a better fine-dining experience than a tasting menu at The French Laundry, people would just shrug, think "cookoo" and move on. Nothing really to rebut because regular and rational people don't really consider it debatable.

                                                                              Again, I don't say this to belittle the work maria has undertaken in this debate/discussion, just that at some point one wonders whether the diminishing marginal utility of an additional rebuttal shrinks so rapidly that it actually turns negative.

                                                                              Trust me, I understand the desire to have the last word (and I mean I *really* understand that desire), but ask yourself if you really want or need to have the last word with someone who comes to you and exclaims self-righteously, "the earth is flat!"

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                <<maria (as well as you and others) are right that debating or refuting the points made by Carol are important to properly and fully inform those that may be less than ideally educated about these issues, there comes a point where continuing to acknowledge the issue as a debatable point actually lends credibility to the other side's position. >>

                                                                                I understand your comment about trying to "convince" a flat-lander that the earth is round. I am aware I probably cannot.

                                                                                Even so, it was of merit to me to analyze the 188 articles listed that supposedly support the MSG horribleness claim, and find not a one does indeed support that claim.

                                                                                Doing so revealed the evidence and claim are even more specious than ever. Going through that exercise was for my own benefit (if only to ascertain how unsupported the "evidence" is), and for the benefit of other readers and Chowhounds. I have understood all along that Carol and other MSG-horribleness believers may not be swayed.

                                                            2. Ha ha Ha, too funny!
                                                              Does this mean that I now can put my jar of Accent front and center in my spice cabinet, not hidden behind some little used obscure spices, when dinner guests are coming?

                                                              1. "Sir, would you like a bit of fresh ground MSG on your salmon this evening?"

                                                                1. I like the chapter in one of Jeffrey Steingarten's books which asks something like, "Why don 't a billion Chinese have headaches?"

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: NanaMoussecurry

                                                                      MSG is not a real flavor---even if the food industries like to call it "Umami". What it really is is a flavor enhancer that excites your brain cells to give the sensation of a certain sweet/salty flavors. If it over-excites the neurons, that could lead to damaging/killing them. Everyone's brain is wired differently, so some people are more sensitive to MSG than others. True, tomatoes/mushrooms have glutamate, it's unprocessed, naturally-bound and therefore safer than the processed free glutamic acid that is then turns to MSG with sodium.

                                                                      I choose not to take the risk; for a while I didn't even know that of the health risks associated with MSG because I blindly believed the FDA's claims that it's generally safe and natural.

                                                                      There are many ingredients that hide MSG.

                                                                      Interesting article/sites where you can find lists of those ingredients: www.naturalnews.com/025066.html

                                                                      Here's a 60 minutes segment on MSG: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bwBfp...

                                                                      FYI, I once called a neurologist to ask him to talk what he knows about MSG, but when I mentioned the word "glutamate", he got nervous and said "Sorry, I can't talk to you, but thank you very, very, very much for asking" before hanging up the phone. (his exact words which I'll always remember


                                                                      Grant Achatz is right in the sense that MSG doesn't kill you right away---although it has killed people who are highly sensitive to it. What he might not know is that it has a cumulative effect on brain cells and to this day there has been no long-term studies to prove that it's safe. Keep in mind that the pro-MSG industry has billions of dollars and includes pharmaceuticals (yes, adjuvanted vaccines have MSG in the form of hydrolyzed gelatin, and some pills are made with gelatin).

                                                                      So, the harsh truth is that I wouldn't consider Grant Achatz to be a real chef.

                                                                      1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                        "What it really is is a flavor enhancer that excites your brain cells to give the sensation of a certain sweet/salty flavors."

                                                                        So let me get this straight: The MSG bypasses your tastebuds and goes straight to your brain?

                                                                        Amazing what interesting factoids I can learn on Chow!

                                                                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                          I highly recommend you to read Russell L. Blaylock's book EXCITOXINS: THE TASTE THAT KILLS: http://www.amazon.com/Excitotoxins-Th...

                                                                          It should be required reading in college/high school classes!

                                                                          1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                            Not that this is a proven site but it certainly brings up some questions about this Dr. Blaylock.


                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              The best thing to do is to read as much diverse material as possible and to decide for yourself via critical thinking.

                                                                              Many if not all studies on vaccines and MSG are funded by the industry in some way, shape or form, and the way the studies are made can be manipulated to generate the desired results. Not sure if I'd call that science!


                                                                              Something we digest every day should be UNSAFE until proven to be safe beyond a reasonable doubt. If you still don't believe in any of proof that MSG/Vaccines are unsafe, keep in mind that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

                                                                              1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                I have A LOT of scientific and medical background and read reputable sources only. I believe almost everything we consume is safe until proven otherwise. Your mileage obviously varies.

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  Define "reputable"? Complacency usually comes with having a good reputation. Those scientists who piss off the party line by presenting studies that hurt the food/pharma industry's profits probably wouldn't have a good reputation. Remember the doctor who years ago suggested to surgeons to wash their hands between operations to prevent the spread of infectious diseases? He was threatened and derided. Was he complacent? No. Did he have a good reputation at the time? No. Yet as it turns out, his simple suggestion was right after all!

                                                                                2. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                  Speaking of fraud in studying vaccines, I will mention one name: Andrew Wakefield

                                                                                  1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                    >>>Something we digest every day should be UNSAFE until proven to be safe beyond a reasonable doubt.<<<

                                                                                    Then, gosh, you'd better stay away from water.

                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                      And better just hold your breath while you're at it.

                                                                            2. re: nycguy20011

                                                                              i haven't had a chance to read the article and the video you linked to, but just as a knee-jerk reaction to your post, i'm justing thinking out loud: why aren't a billion chinese and japanese not walking around with brain cell damage?

                                                                              1. re: ritabwh

                                                                                :) I think that got mentioned upthread. And I haven't read an answer to that :)

                                                                                1. re: ritabwh

                                                                                  That question comes up a lot, and here's the answer (or at least an answer to consider intelligently): http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandsty...

                                                                                  The problem is that many people (including some of my friends/family) aren't good at processing new information and using critical thinking. I'm all for critical thinking, but some members of our gov't might be against----as someone in history once said "How fortunate it is for governments that the people they administer don't think!"

                                                                                  1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                    nycguy, i read the guardian article. the author says msg has not been proven to be harmful and he give it a pass. i don't this this article supports your position. there was not a mention of brain cell damange.

                                                                                    1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                      "problem is that many people (including some of my friends/family) aren't good at processing new information and using critical thinking"

                                                                                      Oh the irony. (Shakes head)

                                                                                    2. re: ritabwh

                                                                                      The Chinese are now avoiding MSG and reducing its use due to medical concerns and a view that MSG just masks poor quality food and bad cooking.

                                                                                      1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                        ... a view that MSG just masks poor quality food and bad cooking.

                                                                                        No, actually the view is that the SMOG in Shanghai just masks the poor quality food and bad cooking.

                                                                                    3. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                      "So the harsh truth is that I wouldn't consider Grant Achatz to be a real chef."
                                                                                      So, uh, what is he then?

                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        At least now I know why his food LITERALLY blew my mind!!!

                                                                                      2. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                        There's a good bit of inaccurate info in this post.

                                                                                        First, umami is a basic taste hard-wired into our taste buds, with individual dedicated taste receptors for umami/glutamate alone. Those taste receptors' only job is to detect umami. So again, umami is not a flavor, but a basic hard-wired human taste.

                                                                                        Second, the glutamate you eat has no connection whatsoever with the glutamate in your brain. Whoever or whatever you've read, that has said the glutamate in your brain has any connection with the glutamate you eat has no knowledge of biochemistry, or human biochemical processes.

                                                                                        And then, unfortunately, that uninformed garbage has been believed and propagated.

                                                                                        I'm surprised with your reading that you never learned how or where the neurotransmitter glutamate your body uses comes from. It's not from glutamate you eat!!

                                                                                        The glutamate you eat is completely changed chemically by the digestive process. It will never reach your brain (cross the blood-brain barrier).

                                                                                        The glutamate neurotransmitter is made by your body through a complicated chemical process that never uses any glutamate you eat.

                                                                                        Every human body has about two pounds (TWO POUNDS!! -- a huge amount) of glutamate THAT THE BODY HAS MADE.

                                                                                        This is what's supposed to happen: Glutamate is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the body. But the body doesn't add to its load of glutamate when you eat more foods with glutamate or MSG. It's only the specific glutamate the body makes that serves as the neurotransmitter. Only in the event of rare disease does this ever create a problem.

                                                                                        Remember, the body makes, and is supposed to make, huge amounts of glutamate.

                                                                                        Take the time to read and understand the body's biochemical process for making glutamate. You don't need a science background to understand that the body is supposed to make the huge amounts of glutamate the body needs and uses.

                                                                                        There have been many peer-reviewed, independently funded, controlled clinical trials over many years -- many of them double-blind, during which humans with self-admitted MSG issues were given massive doses of MSG, and no correlation was ever found -- ever -- between MSG/ glutamate and headaches or other negative health reactions.

                                                                                        Which is not to say that the humans in the clinical trials did not get headaches or other negative reactions from eating certain foods, only that the culprit was not MSG or glutamate.

                                                                                        The headaches were probably caused by tyramines, often found in foods that also contain glutamates or MSG or autolyzed yeast proteins, and known to trigger headaches, migraines, hypertensive reactions, even rashes and shortness of breath.

                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                          There's a good bit of inaccurate info in this post.

                                                                                          There a good bit of understatement in that sentence.

                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                            I wish I were wrong about the harms of MSG. One of us is wrong; we can't both be right. Let me as you this: is it worse for public welfare if those who think MSG is safe are wrong or those who think MSG is harmful are wrong? There's a lot of propaganda and

                                                                                            Moreover, the FDA, the governing agency that classifies MSG as generally safe, should not always be trusted because they have conflicts of interest. Why are food and drugs regulated by the same administration and not separate ones? And how is that NOT a conflict of interest? Please explain to me how Pharmaceutical companies would make money if no one had illnesses. And if Pharmaceutical companies made no money, how would that affect the FDA and the "gifts" that Big Pharma give them? There's a lot of corruption in our country, and the harms of MSG isn't the only cover-up.

                                                                                            1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                              But wouldn't that argument apply to any substance deemed safe by governing agencies? If the FDA deems MSG or xanthan gum or baking soda or plain water 'generally safe,' that endorsement alone is hardly enough to convince me they're not... nor is it even enough to concern me.

                                                                                              I am no fan of the rampant corporate infiltration of our government and its policies, as many of my other posts will attest... but that alone doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong about any individual substance in question. You still need evidence.

                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee


                                                                                                Try omitting all food/beverages with processed free glutamic acid (http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hidden...) for two months and feel the difference it does for your body. I used to get colds at least 3 times a year---severe ones with painfully sore throats and fevers. Those colds went away when I omitted foods with those ingredients. It wasn't easy at first to be honest. When I tried going back to my tasty MSG-filled foods and drinks (yes, Sprite has processed free glutamic acid), the colds came back.

                                                                                                FYI, MSG= Processed free glutamic acid + sodium.

                                                                                                It's the processed free glutamic acid that's the functional/excitatory part of MSG. The sodium is just there to turn it into salt form.

                                                                                                I once had to explain to a homeopathic doctor that processed free glutamic acid is not the same as naturally bound glutamate that's found in mushrooms/tomatoes. The former is toxic, the latter not so much.

                                                                                                1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                                  Those same heavily processed foods that contain msg (and I dispute quite a few of those things listed in your link, by the way) contain an enormous number of other additives, comparatively few bio-available vitamins, few antioxidants, scant fiber, or any number of other organic compounds found in less-processed vegetables, and quite a bit of processed sugar, sub-optimal processed oils, refined starches, etc.

                                                                                                  I have indeed felt better and healthier since I stopped drinking soda and eating much in the way of highly processed foods, and added sugars. But I'm hardly convinced that it's the MSG that was the problem.

                                                                                              2. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                                I or someone must have asked this but I'll ask again for a citation, from a reputable scientific/medical source that gives any proof that MSG has any health problems.

                                                                                                1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                                  <One of us is wrong; we can't both be right.>

                                                                                                  Or both of you are wrong. :P

                                                                                                  Just teasing.

                                                                                                  <is it worse for public welfare if those who think MSG is safe are wrong or those who think MSG is harmful are wrong?>

                                                                                                  While I understand where you are coming from, we do have a tradition (in science) to not criminalize something unless there are evidence. Otherwise, you can have a lot of unusual speculations which isn't helpful for the society. These speculation can be very distractive

                                                                                                  For example, a poster recently wrote that stainless steel cookware has the ability to leach/suck nutrients out of foods. Thus cookware should be made from diamagnetic and paramagnetic instead of ferromagnetic.

                                                                                                  If we go off on a tangent and follow every speculation without evidence, then we will be in big troubles.

                                                                                                  <Please explain to me how Pharmaceutical companies would make money if no one had illnesses.>

                                                                                                  They don't, but there are always diseases to cure. They don't need MSG to create a disease for them. We will never be disease free, because we will simply never going to live forever. Anything which does not live forever will always have diseases -- as the organism bodies slowly degrade. Modern medicine has basically eliminated all the infectious diseases for modern society. We no longer die at young age from small pox or infections. As we live longer, live style diseases become more appearance -- such as diabetes.

                                                                                                  < harms of MSG isn't the only cover-up.>

                                                                                                  Then, you need to ask yourself two very simple but unavoidable question.

                                                                                                  First, why would the Japanese and Chinese heavily use and market MSG to benefit US drug companies. Why would these foreign governments poison their citizens just so they can buy US drugs?

                                                                                                  Second, why do Japanese, and many Chinese (like those from Hong Kong and Taiwan) have longer life expectancy than those in the US -- if MSG is so bad?

                                                                                                  1. re: nycguy20011

                                                                                                    > is it worse for public welfare if those who think MSG is safe are wrong or those who think MSG is harmful are wrong?

                                                                                                    This amounts to saying that if anyone, any sizeable group, thinks that something is harmful, harmful for whatever reason, no matter how unconfirmed and in spite of decades of scientific research, then maligning that thing is good for the public welfare, and pointing out the actual facts somehow runs contrary to the public welfare.

                                                                                                    It's kind of like the Ricky Gervais line, "Just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right."

                                                                                                  2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                    The problem is the blood brain barrier is not always intact and in fact becomes "leaky" in certain circumstances. Like when blood sugar is low. The problem is MSG increases insulin and drops blood sugar within 15 minutes of eating....

                                                                                                    1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                      The blood-brain barrier "leaks" when blood sugar is low?? No way.

                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                        ml, one of the thing that continues to amaze me (after decades in the medical/scientific field) is how, now in the internet age, how many non-scientific/medical sites are touted. Especially dangerous, IMO, are those that SOUND reputable.

                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          Keep in mind, Egas Moniz received the Nobel Prize for developing the procedure we now colloquially call the "lobotomy".

                                                                                                          That means the scientific community rewarded a procedure that essentially calls for scraping away brain cells. By drilling holes in your fucking head. A fucking drill.

                                                                                                          We have the seen the enemy. And it is us.

                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                              I guess that frontal lobotomy worked for you, eh?

                                                                                              3. Why does it matter that one chef claims that it is an important component in the kitchens?

                                                                                                There were thousands of chefs before him who believe MSG is very useful, and thousands of chefs who don't.

                                                                                                So now we have one more chef who took one side of this debate/disagreement, and suddenly this is news-worthy?

                                                                                                1. A memory just floated to the surface of my mind that has an interesting bearing on this particular discussion:

                                                                                                  In college, my friends and I used to occasionally fall victim to massive hangovers.

                                                                                                  To fight these evil headaches we would often order cheap Chinese food. MSG-laden, no doubt.

                                                                                                  By all accounts, this cure worked.


                                                                                                  1. MSG is not safe for everyone. Hospitals and doctors advise against its use by patients with seizures or who are on epilepsy medication. Doctors also advise against its use in patients who get frequent migraines and fibromyalgia. I am a former food process engineer and foods high in umami like hydrolyzed vegetable protein (Maggi) as well as autolyzed yeast and yeast extract contain high amounts of glutamate - the very same glutamate that makes up MSG (monosodium GLUTAMATE). So, if you are trying to avoid MSG, you need to avoid a lot more than just labeled MSG.

                                                                                                    36 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                      I've done a quick search, only a few dozen links, but can't find any truly scientific/medical citation to support not using MSG if suffering from seizures. Could you provide one please?

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        I have obtained a food drug interaction chart handed out at Hackensack University Medical Center that states that MSG is to be avoided by those on anti-seizure meds. Sorry you can't find a link, but it is well known how those drugs act. Topiramate is a glutamate blocker which works on migraines as well as binge eating - all of which are linked to MSG. http://professionals.epilepsy.com/med...

                                                                                                        1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                          There's nothing at that link. But I played along anyway, and went to the search window of the Epilepsy site you linked to, and typed in topiramate (the generic name of the drug at your link) and food interactions. Nothing. Also typed in foods to avoid. Nothing. Then I went to the drug monograph for topiramate here:

                                                                                                          and again there was nothing on any foods to avoid while taking topiramate, or even any warnings about food interactions.

                                                                                                          I did a Google search on anti-epileptic drugs and food interactions and all I came up with was a generic warning on drug interactions with grapefruit, which is pretty commonly known, but has no bearing on MSG or enteral glutamate ingestion.

                                                                                                          I went back to the Epilepsy website you linked to and came across a long list of toxins and drug interactions.

                                                                                                          Glutamate or MSG was not listed anywhere as an item to avoid, even though 250 other substances to avoid are listed:

                                                                                                          That's the site called Epilepsy.com for Professionals. You'd think they'd list MSG or glutamate somewhere if it was a problem. But neither MSG or glutamate is listed.

                                                                                                          Next, I went to the National Library of Medicine database to see if there was any medical study on food interactions (not just MSG) and anti-epileptic drugs: (anti-epileptic[Title]) AND food. Nothing again.

                                                                                                          I did another search in the database after that: I typed in MSG and epilepsy as search terms, as well as "monosodium glutamate" and epilepsy, and no study was ever found on humans in the last 30 years.

                                                                                                          There were studies on rats, but rats are not human. Baby (neonatal) rats were given massive amounts of MSG subcutaneously -- not even through the digestive track -- and some of the rats developed seizures.

                                                                                                          But any food or substance injected into the skin in massive doses (as this was), even Heinz Ketchup, would cause seizures or deleterious results.

                                                                                                          All to say, any advice to avoid MSG for a person with epilepsy is based on very old inaccurate information.

                                                                                                          Again, there are no studies on humans humans that have ever showed correlation between MSG and seizures, for the last 30 years in the National Library of Medicine database.

                                                                                                          Nor are there any studies or journal articles on foods to avoid while taking anti-epileptic drugs.

                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                            I also put little credence in rat studies because as you say the amounts given bear no resemblance to anything a human would consume.

                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                              http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lan... Glutamate increase precipitates seizures in the conscious HUMAN brain.

                                                                                                              1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                If I read this correctly there were six patients and four mentions of "may."

                                                                                                                1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                  Again, that's glutamate the body has made, not glutamate the body has eaten.

                                                                                                              2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                You do know that an NMDA receptor is a GLUTAMATE receptor, and that is right on that page.

                                                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                              http://www.drlwilson.com/Articles/epi... Here is a doctor who advises against using MSG because it may trigger a seizure.

                                                                                                              1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                I'm kinda thinking more like Mayo Clinic, NIH, Harvard, Yale, something like that.

                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                  I'm thinking any scientific, peer-reviewed medical journal, with a double-blind study on humans, patient number at least 100, which was then independently confirmed by another trial. Last 20 years, last 10 years, better. Standard requirements.

                                                                                                                  But there's been nothing on this -- I just spent 45 minutes in the database.

                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                    From a Hong Kong TV program a while back, they presented 'Japanese' research studies claiming 'glutamate' will actually help boost neuron growth in the brain and thus improve memory?!!

                                                                                                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                                                      Glutamate is involved in memory but too much can kill a neuron.

                                                                                                                      1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                        Only in rare diseases do the two pounds or so the body's load of glutamate increase to such a level that it causes disease. Check out which medical conditions are caused by an excess of body glutamate. Look closely -- this is not dietary glutamate causing the illness. Learn to differentiate.

                                                                                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                      Thanks, bud. I'd read that also.

                                                                                                                      1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                        She says, "Researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and these symptoms."

                                                                                                                          1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                            Have you read the clinical trials on human migraine sufferers that involved ingestion of huge amounts of MSG?? There was no correlation!

                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                              I believe those were double blind studies, weren't they?

                                                                                                                        1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                          Yes, lets see what the Mayo Clinic says: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migr... Lookee here. It says MSG is a CAUSE of migraine.

                                                                                                                          1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                            The link between migraines and MSG have been disproven in many medical studies. Already linked to here on Chowhound.

                                                                                                                              1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                                Again, the Mayo Clinic uses the word "may" multiple times. Considering your blog, do you perhaps have a bias that can't allow other info to be considered?


                                                                                                                                1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                                  Written by "Staff." Uninformed staff. This is just some hokum on the Mayo website, not a Mayo Clinic medical study. Get me the Mayo Clinic research -- something credible.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                    It's (not) funny you mention that. On another thread I was doing some research and found a link to a good university. But the link was in fact something that a student was "opining" about. That kinda surprised me that a good school would allow that - with their name attached to it.

                                                                                                                                2. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                                  Yep. Let's not forget all the other things that MAY cause symptoms:

                                                                                                                                  "Foods. Aged cheeses, salty foods and processed foods may trigger migraines. Skipping meals or fasting also can trigger attacks.
                                                                                                                                  Food additives. The sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate, found in many foods, may trigger migraines.
                                                                                                                                  Drinks. Alcohol, especially wine, and highly caffeinated beverages may trigger migraines.
                                                                                                                                  Stress. Stress at work or home can cause migraines.
                                                                                                                                  Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Unusual smells — including perfume, paint thinner, secondhand smoke and others — can trigger migraines in some people.
                                                                                                                                  Changes in wake-sleep pattern. Missing sleep or getting too much sleep may trigger migraines in some people, as can jet lag.
                                                                                                                                  Physical factors. Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, may provoke migraines.
                                                                                                                                  Changes in the environment. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
                                                                                                                                  Medications. Oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, can aggravate migraines.

                                                                                                                                  I think I'm sticking with MSG since everything else in the world MAY cause some symptoms. So "may" also means "may not."

                                                                                                                                  BTW, welcome to Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                    And just look at all the foods listed with huge amounts of tyramines and other biogenic amines. Those are the food substances to blame for migraines and headaches -- what I have been saying all along. This is how MSG gets confused with other things that actually cause headaches and migraines.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                        This is an excellent point that is often missed. MSG is found in vast amounts of "junk foods" and various highly processed foods. For good reason. It makes them "more tasty". The problem is- that they were not healthful foods to begin with ( chips, hotdogs, boxed dinners, certain condiments). IMO, any linkage or anecdotal incidents with headaches, feeling crappy, or obesity has much more to do with eating the junk food- than the MSG in the junk food.

                                                                                                                                        When you occasionally use MSG in home cooking, sparingly and thoughtfully, it can certainly enhance the food. The appropriate amount of MSG for a serving of 6 is about 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon. It is the same or scarcely more, than if you were using mushrooms, parm, tomato, etc. together in a typical Italian style dish. The cool part is that you can get all that tastiness in a simple chicken broth ( for example) without "having" to use all those natural umami ingredients that might not be appropriate for your application.This allows the home cook to really have some fun with cooking and be creative. I think this is why many well known American Chefs are playing around with it right now. It can really open up some creativity.

                                                                                                                                        If you use too much MSG, the dish will not taste right
                                                                                                                                        (much like using too much salt ruins a dish).

                                                                                                                                        In my kitchen, I rarely by processed products containing MSG. I like control over what I eat. When I use MSG ( or the various "glu-tasty-mates") I control the amounts, how much I am getting and when I want them. It is intentional- no surprises there.

                                                                                                                                        It might sound strange, but by using MSG at times, I am actually consuming much less MSG than the "average American" and when I do consume it- I make sure that I am eating healthful tasty food with MSG and not just junk food with MSG.

                                                                                                                                        I find it amusing that some folks eschew using any MSG at home, but will happily scarf down a hot dog with chips at a ballpark.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                          There were studies -- a number of them -- that attempted to prove a causal link between MSG and obesity, but the studies could not separate out the negative effects on the body from trans fats, an excess amount of other fats, preservatives, excess sodium, excess calories, and the lower nutritive value of the food consumed, from the negative effects from MSG.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                            Exactly. Maybe it wasn't the chicken broth with a little MSG that made them fat...perhaps it was the.... Cheetos?

                                                                                                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                        Carol, is this your first thread? Oh boy, talk about being thrown into the fire. It's too bad you haven't had the benefit of prior discussions, and links to research. A lot of what you have said has been said (and re-butted) previously.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                          I wanted to point that out so we can treat her gently :)

                                                                                                                            1. The trash science surrounding MSG is astounding and reflects how scientifically illiterate our country is. Not to say there could be no ill effects from it, but the evidence usually cited is as about as strong as saying "a guy told me".

                                                                                                                              Bottom line...public science is like politics. People will believe what they want to and not be bothered to find out what's the actual truth.

                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                Yes and most of the trash science out there was paid for by the Glutamate industry...

                                                                                                                                1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                                  You must offer some proof for that assertion. This is exactly what I'm talking about... statements with absolutely no support offered and which I STRONGLY doubt exists. Both sides do it and the public believes what they are predisposed to believe.

                                                                                                                                  The amount of foolishness about glutamates (eg that a gluten-free diet should avoid glutamate) obscures whatever may be true.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                    Who is saying that a gluten free diet will eliminate all glutamates? You need to be more specific in your claims as well.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                      I am done here. The high handed way folks are acting on this FOOD website is a complete joke. The science will be disputed by you folks no matter what it truly says. If I want a real scientific discussion - it won't be happening here no matter how hard the moderator tries to eliminate bias. So, good luck to you all, but please try to have a little more sympathy for folks with food allergies and sensitivities that you don't share. Your cooking could make them very ill.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                                        For what it's worth, Carol owns the MSGTruth website. She has a lot of experience debating this issue.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                                          Disagreeing with your unsupported assertions is not "high handed". It is thoughtful and discerning.

                                                                                                                                          Disagreeing with you is not showing a lack of sympathy for those with problems. It is an error to consider your position the only "sympathetic" one. Would you sell people a falsehood and call that sympathetic?

                                                                                                                                          Finally, please don't act all huffy because you can't support your position.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: CarolHoernlein


                                                                                                                                            << If I want a real scientific discussion - it won't be happening here no matter how hard the moderator tries to eliminate bias. >>

                                                                                                                                            You have been asked to participate in a scientific discussion, but so far, you have not cited any credible scientific evidence proving your assertion.

                                                                                                                                            You've been asked many times to provide studies on humans (not rats) and on MSG or glutamate that is eaten, and not glutamate made by the body. You haven't done that.

                                                                                                                                            No one has suggested that people are not suffering when they experience a food reaction (headaches, hypertensive effect, flushing, etc.), only that blaming MSG is blaming the wrong culprit.

                                                                                                                                            Moreover, when a person blames the wrong substance, the thing actually causing the reaction is not identified and avoided.

                                                                                                                                            When you can prove your point, with credible scientific evidence, come back. But haven't ever done that, in spite of your being asked to do so many, many times.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                              Maria, your patience and thoroughness is commendable.

                                                                                                                                    2. FDA:
                                                                                                                                      "Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of the common amino acid glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is naturally present in our bodies, and in many foods..."

                                                                                                                                      "MSG occurs naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheeses..."

                                                                                                                                      ...and we're not talking about canned tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                      I couldn't imagine a day passing in our house without eating tomatoes and to quote Dr. Roizen (top medical professional from the top hospital in the world: Cleveland Clinic):
                                                                                                                                      "Tomato? They should name a country after it" because they are so healthy (particularly for the heart).

                                                                                                                                      That said, everything in moderation.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: acssss

                                                                                                                                        "everything in moderation" That is definitely the key here. The problem is the difference in glutamate content between a fresh tomato and cheese powder is overwhelming. A tomato is mostly water, while hydrolyzed vegetable powder is 20% free glutamate by weight.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: CarolHoernlein

                                                                                                                                          I don't even know what cheese powder is... and "everything in moderation" is key for almost anything in life.

                                                                                                                                      2. He's a cancer survivor, and I find that really sad. imho he's playing Russian roulette with his health if he's ingesting that stuff.

                                                                                                                                        Umami was originally added through real food, such as mushrooms and various cuts of meat. The chemically created stuff in the red can.... well, you can use it if you want to, but I won't and I won't be eating anything that's made with it if I can help it. I think it's deadly.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                          I find it really sad that you are suggesting that if his cancer were to return, it would be his fault for eating things with MSG.