“O is for Occipital Lobe” by Eric on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a chemical that food manufacturers add to their products to enhance flavor; it is a cheap way to make very low quality foods taste great. What food manufacturers don’t want us to know is that MSG is a neurotoxin. A neurotoxin is a chemical that has a degenerative effect on the brain and nervous system.
Consumed on a regular basis, MSG creates lesions in the hypothalamus part of the brain. When this occurs, neurotoxins enter the brain and cause damage. The damage caused results in abnormal development such as obesity, impaired growth, sexual reproductive problems, sleep difficulties and emotional problems.
One source of MSG is derived from fermented sugar beets. Currently, thanks to a company called Monsanto, 90% of sugar beets in the United States today are genetically modified to contain the pesticide gene of Roundup. So, by ingesting MSG we also ingest a known carcinogen.
At first glance, it would seem that removing MSG from our diets would be easy. I mean, just look at the food label, and make sure the product doesn’t list “MSG” or “Monosodium Glutamate” in the ingredients list. Nothing to it, right? In an ideal world, this would be the case. Unfortunately, if the ingredient is made up of less than 99% MSG, the food manufacturer doesn’t have to list MSG in the ingredients list. MSG can be “hidden” in our foods under more than 50 alternative names and forms including, autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, dry milk powder, dry milk protein, gelatin, glutamate, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed corn gluten, hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, monopotassium glutamate, monosodium glutamate, natrium glutamate, sodium caseinate, textured protein, yeast food, yeast nutrient, etc.
The best way to protect yourself from the neurological effects of MSG is adapt a lifestyle of “clean eating”. Clean eating involves eliminating all processed foods from our diet; a processed food is any food that comes in a bottle, box, bag, can, carton or shrink-wrap, as well as the vast majority of deli and restaurant foods. It is virtually impossible to avoid these foods your entire life; never eating in a restaurant is a somewhat unrealistic expectation in today’s society. So, what can we do to protect ourselves from the neurological effects of MSG when we are in situations where MSG is nearly impossible to avoid?
In 2008, Phytomedicine released a report for a study which explored the use of Red Clover to protect the brain from the effects of MSG. Red Clover contains phytoestrogenic isoflavones which can possibly protect the brain from glutamate toxicity. The study found that by taking Red Clover before consuming MSG, there was a significantly increased cell survival rate and significantly decreased release of cellular lactate dehydrogenase, an indicator of cell damage. You can supplement with Red Clover in a variety of forms (such as teas, tinctures, tablets, capsules, liquid extracts, and extracts), but a whole herb supplement is thought to be the most effective.
Another way to protect our brain from the effects of MSG, is to supplement with Pyruvate. Pyruvate produces energy in the brain. When energy is produced in the brain, the brain is protected against neurotoxicity. Pyruvate is available as a supplement in most health food stores.
Keep in mind, these supplements are good to use when you can’t avoid ingesting MSG. Obviously it is better to avoid MSG altogether, when possible. As I heard a health professional say “it’s like putting a helmet on your head so you can strike yourself with a sledgehammer.”
Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.
© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’
The phytoestrogenic isoflavones from Trifolium pratense L. (Red clover) protects human cortical neurons from glutamate toxicity. Occhiuto F, Sangla G, Samperi S, Palumbo DR, DePasquale R, Circosta C. Phytomedicine. 2008 Sep; 15(9):676-82.
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