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Update on MSG

The reactions attributed to monosodium glutamate do not appear to hold up to scientific scrutiny.

August 26, 2010 |
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Acknowledgements

Image thanks to Tracy Wong.

Transcript

What about, MSG? The scientific consensus has been that MSG is generally harmless, but what’s the latest Monosodium glutamate allergy, menace or myth? Myth. Despite concerns raised in the 1960’s, decades of research have failed to demonstrate a clear and consistent relationship between MSG and the kinds of reactions people typically attribute to it. 

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other “HHH” videos (Harmful, Harmless, or Helpful?). Also, there are 1,686 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

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  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other “HHH” videos (Harmful, Harmless, or Helpful?). Also, there are over a thousand subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/herehere/ HereHere

    Interesting. I wonder if there were possible conflicts of interests in this study. Just a thought. Sometimes a single study doesn’t mean anything. I don’t have problems with MSG (although it does make me thirsty, like any other salt), but I do avoid it. It is pretty easy to avoid MSG anyways.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/pannydeters/ pannydeters

    I don’t think it’s just a single study. I believe Dr. Greger has mentioned two European conferences that looked over all the research (surely more than one study, if they spent time on the question a second time) and determined it to be harmless.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/vallis/ Vallis

    Why is there so much anti-msg on the internet? Almost everybody says it is bad for you. I wish it was harmless, it is in so many foods.

  • Teresa

    I like Dr. Russell Blaylock because his concern about MSG has frightened me away from processed foods.  Do you totally discount his book “Excitotoxins  The Taste that Kills”?  What about MSG being an excitotoxin for the brain?  Nutritionfacts.org has been the backbone for my change to a plant based diet, but I wish you could dig up a little dirt on MSG to help keep me on track.  You’re my hero Dr. G, thank you.

    • Dan Holbert

      I was also curious after a friend posted a link on Facebook about the “excitotoxicity” of MSG. I tried some googling to see if I could find anything reliable. So far, what I found is this:

      Deciphering the MSG controversy

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2802046/

      They say that there is dose-dependent death of mature mouse neurons with MSG. They say the effect is mitigated with the presence of Vitamin C. This is in in vitro, using the cells of another species, so I don’t think it’s definitive.

      Dr. Greger, could you weigh in on this?

  • JuliaKathleen

    I have been told that MSG is used in laboratory studies on rats to induce diabetes in the rats. Is there any truth to this? And, what is MSG anyway? What is it made from?
     

  • Skylady

    My husband and I have been vegan and following your website
    for over a year and a half and respect your opinion. We also recently read the book “Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills,” by Dr. Russell L.
    Blaylock. We followed it up with extensive internet research, and the
    evidence seems to be that free glutamic acid in the diet over a lifetime can cause nerve and brain damage. That the corporations feel they have to hide glutamic acid in thoroughly deceptive labeling loudly proclaiming “NO MSG,” yet their ingredients lists show hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured protein, soy protein isolate, yeast extract (including nutritional yeast we were fond of), soy sauce (also used to be a staple of ours), carrageenan, “flavors” (not specifically named) and many others–they are simply changing the names in order to keep what they call a “clean label” to deceive the consumer. After all, the uninformed consumer would think how bad can protein and yeast and seaweed be? If I understand the process of manufacture, then the amino acid chains are broken down by boiling in sulfuric acid, and neutralizing pH with lye. Then plenty is wrong with eating it. It isn’t natural, and is just as fake as any GMO food. I had no idea that there is free glutamic acid in so many harmless-sounding ingredients. So regretfully we no longer eat fake meats (the processing being as repulsive as the slaughterhouses for the real meat), and a lot less soy sauce and we watch the ingredients in the plant milks we buy as we frequently see carrageenan and disodium something-or-other (meaning that there is also glutamic acid in it.) If glutamic acid is harmless, then why has it been outlawed in Europe in baby food, and why do corporations feel they have to go to great lengths to make such deceptive labeling while claiming “No MSG.”??? We’ll grow most of our own food, and buy the basic ingredients. No convenience foods as I’d rather spend the time in the kitchen than in the hospital. Very much interested in other opinions about glutamic acid in all the processed vegan food that is becoming so popular–especially the fake meats, milks, and soy sauce.

  • Skylady

    My husband and I have been vegan and following your website
    for over a year and a half and respect your opinion. We also recently read the book “Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills,” by Dr. Russell L.
    Blaylock. We followed it up with extensive internet research, and the
    evidence seems to be that free glutamic acid in the diet over a lifetime can cause nerve and brain damage. That the corporations feel they have to hide glutamic acid in thoroughly deceptive labeling loudly proclaiming “NO MSG,” yet their ingredients lists show hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured protein, soy protein isolate, yeast extract (including nutritional yeast we were fond of), soy sauce (also used to be a staple of ours), carrageenan, “flavors” (not specifically named) and many others–they are simply changing the names in order to keep what they call a “clean label” to deceive the consumer. After all, the uninformed consumer would think how bad can protein and yeast and seaweed be? If I understand the process of manufacture, then the amino acid chains are broken down by boiling in sulfuric acid, and neutralizing pH with lye. Then plenty is wrong with eating it. It isn’t natural, and is just as fake as any GMO food. I had no idea that there is free glutamic acid in so many harmless-sounding ingredients. So regretfully we no longer eat fake meats (the processing being as repulsive as the slaughterhouses for the real meat), and a lot less soy sauce and we watch the ingredients in the plant milks we buy as we frequently see carrageenan and disodium something-or-other (meaning that there is also glutamic acid in it.) If glutamic acid is harmless, then why has it been outlawed in Europe in baby food, and why do corporations feel they have to go to great lengths to make such deceptive labeling while claiming “No MSG.”??? We’ll grow most of our own food, and buy the basic ingredients. No convenience foods as I’d rather spend the time in the kitchen than in the hospital. Very much interested in other opinions about glutamic acid in all the processed vegan food that is becoming so popular–especially the fake meats, milks, and soy sauce.

    • Julie lang

      Take a look at this TedTalk – the mother – and doctor – of a child with autism. She did her own research and completely turned around her childs health through the removal of all sources of MSG (as you noted hidden in everything). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL4SD5f2toQ

  • Joe

    it totally gives me headaches… can;t be good

  • sponsonby

    Hello! Are GMO´s responsible for any allergies?

    • herblady

      I don’t have the research but my MD told me to stay away from GMOs, because I am trying to heal leaky gut. Leaky gut leads to many allergies.