Medical Video: What is MSG? The Truth about Monosodium Glutamate- Thomas DeLauer
Ever heard the term chinese restaurant syndrome? The term was first known in the 1960s, and refers to a collection of symptoms experienced by someone after eating food from a Chinese food restaurant. These symptoms include headache, reddish skin, and sweating. Flavoring monosodium glutamate aka MSG is an ingredient that is thought to cause these symptoms. However, there are still not many scientific studies that show the relationship between MSG and these symptoms in humans.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers MSG to be a safe ingredient and most people can eat foods that contain these ingredients without problems. However, there are a small number of populations who can experience unwanted events due to consuming MSG.
What exactly is MSG?
MSG is an additional ingredient used as flavoring. MSG has become an important ingredient in the food industry because it can reduce the use of fresh and quality ingredients without having to damage the desired taste. MSG is produced from the fermentation of sugar syrup, flour, or sugar cane. This fermentation process is similar to the fermentation process used to make wine or yogurt.
What are the symptoms of most MSG?
A person may experience symptoms within two hours after consuming foods containing MSG. These symptoms can last from a matter of hours to several days. Some symptoms that often appear include:
- reddened skin
- numbness or burning in the mouth
- numbness or burning in the throat
In less frequent cases, some people can experience life-threatening symptoms that are similar to allergic reactions. These symptoms include:
- chest pain
- fast heart rate
- abnormal heart rate
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of the face
- swelling in the throat
Mild symptoms do not require specific treatment. However, you should immediately contact the ambulance or go to the nearest hospital if you experience serious symptoms.
What causes chinese restaurant syndrome?
MSG is estimated to be associated with symptoms in chinese restaurant syndrome. However, this has not been proven. If you feel sick after eating Chinese food or other foods that contain MSG, you may have sensitivity to MSG. Keep in mind, that even natural foods may contain high levels of natural glutamate.
The doctor will evaluate your symptoms and your food consumption history to determine whether you are truly sensitive to MSG. If you experience severe symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, your doctor may check your heart rate with an EKG to analyze your heart rhythm and check if your airway is blocked.
How do you deal with symptoms due to most MSG?
Handling this case varies greatly depending on the severity of the symptoms experienced. Mild symptoms usually do not require treatment. You can take medication from a pharmacy to relieve your headaches. Drinking a few glasses of water can also help remove MSG in your system and shorten the duration of symptoms. For more severe symptoms, doctors can usually prescribe antihistamines to relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath, swelling of the throat, and rapid heartbeat.
If you experience chinese restaurant syndrome with severe symptoms, you should start avoiding foods that contain MSG. Always read the ingredients of each pack of food you eat and ask the restaurant if they use MSG in their food. It's a good idea to avoid chinese food and other foods with high MSG concentrations. You can consult a doctor or nutritionist to plan your diet.
If your symptoms are still relatively mild, you don't have to stop your current diet. Ask your doctor whether it is safe for you to eat foods that contain MSG. You may be able to reduce symptoms by limiting consumption of foods containing MSG.