Migraine Triggers: MSG — Untangling this Hidden Migraine Trigger

Despite claims of safety and origins in nature, headache specialists have long known that MSG can be a significant trigger problem in Migraineurs. This means that exposure to MSG and free glutamates may set the stage for a Migraine attack. Most headache specialists will recommend an MSG free diet, yet many of them fail to educate patients on how to accomplish it.

MSG stands for Monosodium Glutamate. It was discovered in 1907 when Professor Kikunae Ikeda found that there were five tastes that the tongue readily recognizes — sweet, sour, bitter, salty and… he called this fifth taste Umami.

Because it is considered a ‘natural’ substance, it does not have to appear on food labels. If it does appear on food labels, it frequently is hidden on those labels under one of its many pseudonymns or origins. Sometimes certain foods are processed in a special way that is intended to free the glutamate. When glutamate is freed during processing it is then able to cause problems for those sensitive to MSG. Products that have been processed with the purpose of freeing the glutamic acid (basically turning it into MSG) do not have to be labeled.

Glutamates and MSG are considered components of food, not ingredients. Only ingredients are required to be added to labels.

Glutamate and MSG are frequently found in more than just food. They can also frequently be found in soda, energy and sports drinks, sunscreen and bug sprays, cosmetics, medications, vaccinations, shampoo and conditioners, etc.

Glutamate is the business end of the MSG compound and the part that Migraineurs need to be most concerned about.

Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter and is known to be one of the most prevalent neurotransmitters in the body. This article will help you to understand neurotransmitters and their importance to Migraineurs.

MSG and glutamate are very cheap to add to products, therefore extremely popular.

MSG was approved in 1998 to be used as a “growth enhancing” or fertilizer spray on vegetables fruits and grains still growing in the field. These products are not required to be labeled and are approved for use on all agricultural products .

Glutamate reacts within the hypothalamus of the brain and makes you want to eat more. Most people do not know that MSG is the substance given to rats and mice in the laboratory to make them obese so researchers can complete studies on obese related diseases. MSG is often included in products as a salt substitute because of its savory flavor. It is often included in diet food because it alters the brain’s chemistry and gives the person eating it a sense of satisfaction.

Glutamate has been shown to impair or destroy certain brain receptors, and this damage is cumulative.

Next: Part II - How can I Find MSG in the Products I'm Buying?

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