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Monosodium Glutamate and Migraines

Why does MSG cause migraines?

Monosodium glutamate, commonly known as MSG, is another chemical that is prevalent in Western diets. It is used as a food flavor enhancer to amplify the taste of various types of food especially canned, packaged and frozen entrées. Consumers often face a difficult task when trying to establish the presence of MSG in many types of foods due to its many confusing and euphemistic terms which often does not exactly identify the MSG content such as:

  • Hydrolyzed protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein
  • Textured vegetable protein
  • Natural flavorings
  • Natural flavor
  • Flavoring

While MSG is popularly and inextricably associated with Chinese food, it is actually also present in a wide range of food including:

  • Frozen dinners
  • Potato chips
  • Salad dressings
  • Various seasoning products
  • Fried chicken
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot dogs

If MSG is consumed in adequate amounts, it will produce a reaction that might include lightheadedness or dizziness, nausea, abdominal cramps, facial and oral numbness, headache and chest pain within thirty minutes of the monosodium glutamate additive intake. Most often the migraine headache feels like there is a bandlike pressure around the forehead as well as a throbbing or pressure over the temples. This is popularly known as the “Chinese restaurant syndrome.”

Migraine sufferers frequently reported developing a typical migraine attack after ingesting even minute doses of MSG. The best solution is complete avoidance of foods containing this particular compound.