Is MSG Bad for You?

Renee Wu April 3, 2011 88

Ramen noodles are one of college students’ favorite snacks, packed with MSG. Photo courtesy of

Monosodium glutamate. It’s in your Chinese take-out. It’s in your finger-licking delicious Nacho Cheese Doritos. And it’s definitely in your late-night bowl of Ramen noodles. Used for decades as a food additive and flavor-enhancer, monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been called many things, from a merely unhealthy additive to an addictive neurotoxin. But is the hype really to be believed?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, MSG is a safe food ingredient. The controversy about MSG, however, arises from a number of anecdotal complaints since the 1960s about adverse reactions when consuming foods with MSG. The “MSG Symptom Complex” or the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” includes symptoms such as headaches, flushing, sweating, numbness, chest pain, nausea, heart palpitations, and weakness. Still, researchers have not found any conclusive evidence that links MSG to any of these symptoms, though it is acknowledged that a small minority of people may have mild, short-term reactions to MSG. In addition, scientists cannot explain why natural glutamate, which is present in cheeses and hams, has not been associated with any symptoms, when the natural compound shares the same chemical properties as MSG. Although the stigma of this additive may still persist, the use of MSG and other related glutamates are generally perceived by the scientific community to be harmless.


  1. Brian Taylor August 1, 2012 at 11:29 PM -

    Wow.. talk about your BS medical expert crap. Do your own study and see that MSG is the slow poisoning of America. It is and has been studied conclusively and proven to cause obesity. In fact it is used to create obese Mice to study by medical professionals. Sites like this that promote “Expert” (paid by lobbyist of the food industry) are absolutely disgraceful and should be sued for false testimony. Only then will they stop propegating the lies and deception to continue the decline of American health.

    • Kyle W September 11, 2012 at 1:16 AM -

      Thanks for your comment Brian. You mention studies that conclusively prove MSG causes obesity, but you don’t cite any references. I’m curious and would like to know where you are getting this information. Would you please append a web link or name and author of the books or articles you are referring to?

      • bruce March 12, 2013 at 8:52 PM -

        dr. ted boer is just one of many …are you a doctor?

      • Chris May 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM -

        Glutamate and sodium are in everything, and form ionic bonds regardless of whether you want them to or not. Good luck stopping this from happening.
        The research cited was done on mice and not humans. MSG is harmful to humans the same way peanuts are. If it were the true cause for obesity all of Asia would be really fat and have these “MSG headaches” all the time. People who are against MSG need to find something productive to support.

    • keith September 15, 2012 at 2:56 PM -

      the “obesity in mice” was caused by adding 20 mg to every 100mg of food that the mice ate. Not really a 1-for-1 comparison with the use in human food, unless you place a heaping mound on everything you eat.

      most labrat studies completely overdose the rats with insane amounts of the chemical in question.

    • Andrew May 10, 2013 at 9:43 PM -

      It’s absurd to think that MSG is more harmful than, say, table salt. Let’s examine what MSG is: monosodium glutamate, meaning one sodium ion bonded to a glutamate molecule. Sodium, as we all know, is a common mineral that our bodies need to function, as well as one that most of us consume too much of, in the form of table salt (sodium chloride). Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that our bodies produce every day. Clearly, the sodium ion is no more harmful in MSG than it is in table salt (and indeed is less harmful by volume, as glutamate is much larger than a chlorine ion and therefore MSG contains less sodium by volume than table salt). If glutamate is as harmful as some claim it is, then we’re in pretty big trouble given that it’s coursing through our bodies daily. (Maybe it would be an issue if it were entering our brains in larger-than-normal amounts, but MSG acts on the neurons in our taste buds, not in our brains. I’d expect the amount that actually enters the brain to be negligible.) I admit I’m not a biochemist, but healthy skepticism dictates that the claim that MSG is deadly or otherwise harmful, in the absence of any substantiating evidence, is foolish. (Granted, MSG, like any other ingestible substance, probably WILL make you sick or kill you if you consume massive amounts of it–say, if you ate a kilogram of MSG in one day. The same is true of water–ever hear of water toxicity?)

      That’s my two cents. Let’s stop the insanity of MSG hatred and actually promote it so that people will be more inclined to use it to help themselves lower their sodium intake, which would be an ideal outcome.

    • Paul June 21, 2013 at 11:28 AM -

      Only 2 things cause obesity: lack of exercise and over-eating. Decades ago, 2000 calories was hard to come by. Now you can get it in 1 meal.

      Don’t blame MSG. The Japanese have a long history of being fitter and living longer than Americans. Why? They eat less and exercise more.

      Go exercise and monitor what you eat.

      • Robert Dinse February 13, 2014 at 5:33 PM -

        I’d add that one of the reasons it’s so easy to get 2000 calories in a meal is the addition of high fructose corn syrup into almost everything.

        And if you want something evil, high fructose corn syrup is it. It gets converted in to glucose approximately 6x faster than table sugar, often faster than the pancreas can react to, spiking blood sugar levels and causing all kinds of havoc.

        Personally, I’ve never had any of the symptoms attributed to MSG. I would be curious though to know how much of it crosses the blood-brain barrier.

    • Bryan November 14, 2013 at 3:42 AM -

      scientists believe that primates are susceptible to excitotoxic damage[26] and that humans concentrate excitotoxins in the blood more than other animals.[27] Based on these findings, they claim that humans are approximately 5-6 times more susceptible to the effects of excitotoxins than rodents are.[28] While they agree that typical use of monosodium glutamate does not spike glutamic acid to extremely high levels in adults, they are particularly concerned with potential effects in infants and young children[29] and the potential long-term neurodegenerative effects of small-to-moderate spikes on plasma excitotoxin levels.[30]

      • collegegal March 14, 2014 at 1:13 AM -

        You can not seriously be citing Wikipedia….

  2. Wendy Schmitz September 12, 2012 at 5:13 AM -

    Brian, I see you read a lot of chain emails? This “slow poisoning of America” is far from conclusive. In fact there is lots of debate over whether it is a hoax. Do yourself a favor and do your own research to back your claims.

  3. Brian Taylor October 7, 2012 at 1:15 AM -

    You people are so ignorant…can’t you see that George W. Bush is trying to slowly poison you with MSG and 2 dozen other chemicals that he produces in his secret chemical plant in Texas? The only hope we have as a nation is to allow President Obama another chance to clean up GWB’s mess and to destroy everything GWB is trying to do to America with his poisonous MSG plant. Dick Cheney and Haliburton are in on this conspiricy too. Please save us Obama.

    • Michael O'Malley October 10, 2012 at 8:26 PM -

      Hahahahaha! Brian I hope you are kidding… I have a cousin just like you, he also cracks me up.

    • Dempsey October 12, 2012 at 6:47 PM -

      Did you smoke some MSG before you wrote that post?

    • common sense October 16, 2012 at 11:53 AM -

      Ok guys its ok hes just a troll

    • Thomas Wertz January 3, 2014 at 7:50 PM -

      I just wanted to add that Obama is doing a great job isnt he. HA!

    • Richh March 16, 2014 at 2:30 AM -

      The only thing Obama cares about is giving away taxpayer money for votes. He could care less about MSG. Get a life.

  4. Fat Chick October 9, 2012 at 10:06 PM -

    Beer has MSG!!!!!!

  5. ha ha ha October 11, 2012 at 3:04 AM -

    uhoh.. someone needs to put the tin foil hat back on

  6. Maria Shaw October 16, 2012 at 9:20 PM -

    Cup noodles are slowly destroying America…

    Surely there are bigger problems to worry about. ;)

  7. Julie October 26, 2012 at 6:40 PM -

    Brian, you are off your rocker about GWB trying to poison America. I will tell you the truth. There is not a man that can save this country, not Obama, not Romney. Read the Bible. It will tell you the entire TRUTH!

    • Fiddlesticks annonymix August 23, 2013 at 6:23 PM -

      How does the saying go? Don’t bring a bible to an msg fight? Something like that. Are you SERIOUSLY bringing religion into this? You’re worse than Brian. Would you people PLEASE understand that we’ve all heard of Jesus and your bible and made a conscientious decision to not care. You’re not going to educate anyone by pushing your views on them. Your numbers dwindle every day as people wake up. You’re wasting your time. If someone isn’t religious it’s because they’re intelligent and strong willed enough to think for themselves and therefor are a waste of your time. If someone is dumb enough to believe that INCREDIBLY childish story, then they’re ALREADY RELIGIOUS!

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  9. Sayleak H. November 2, 2012 at 12:36 AM -

    People are so fricken ignorant. Why do you think America
    Is the fattest Country in the god damn World?!? Continue to tell yourself these lies that the corrupted Government is feeding you. FDA is a fraud corp. The medicine they approve actually does more damage than good. People are so close minded and ignorant they can’t open their eyes wide enough to see how the Gov’t is screwing them so hard up the ass! Wake the eff up stupid America

    • Andrew May 10, 2013 at 9:48 PM -

      What’s your evidence for your claim? I’m pretty certain the FDA does a pretty good job of requiring and managing extensive clinical trials for new products. We’re talking years of scientific testing; it sounds to me like you question the scientific community’s judgment in general, which is a ridiculous thing to do if you actually understand how the scientific method and peer reviewed research works. You’re being irrational and paranoid. If anything, the problem the FDA creates is that it slows scientific and medicinal progress, by requiring more testing than is at all necessary for many of the products it oversees.

      Okay, now is your turn to either accuse me of being a “sheep” or of being part of the conspiracy. Because it simply wouldn’t make sense to provide an argument beyond baseless accusations.

  10. Julie November 4, 2012 at 2:28 PM -

    Oh, come on! We’re the fattest country in the world because we want everything and we don’t want to DO anything. We’re lazy, gluttonous pigs. The only contribution msg may have to this is that it makes us wanna eat even more. We still have self control, we just refuse to exercise it- or anything else, for that matter. Stop blaming everything else for the reason behind your diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, etc. Our problems exist because it’s not worth it to us to live healthier lifestyles.

  11. James S. November 6, 2012 at 4:24 AM -

    If anything, MSG causes your food to taste so damn good that you’re more than willing to polish off those last few bites in the take out box even though you already had to undo the button on your trousers a couple of bites ago…
    Its probably that last little bit of calories & fat ingested on a regular basis causing your liver to work overtime which is a function of obesity… Just control your portions and enjoy life- moderation dude. Make sure you eat a healthy meal prior to smoking the cronic and you will have zero defects my friend.

  12. jen November 16, 2012 at 9:35 PM -

    there is nothing wrong with MSG!!

  13. ExcitoMan November 27, 2012 at 4:09 AM -

    MSG for everyone! Yay!

  14. Dee December 2, 2012 at 10:20 PM -

    The issue with MSG is that it DOES cause a reaction in people. It’s not some urban myth. Glutamates cause some seriously horrific problems for people like me who are sensitive to them. I had migraines for the past 2-3 years until a new neurologist suggested the link between glutmates and my debilitating headaches!! What a RELIEF to be symptom free the FIRST WEEK without glutamates!! Every dinner date that my husband and I had ended in the same crappy migraine!! Why? Because restaurants LOAD their food with MSG to make it palatable and keep you coming back for more. It’s in nearly EVERYTHING now, not just Chinese food. Ham? No way. Sausages? Never. Caned SOUP? NOT! Read the labels on most processed foods and see what you’re eating! Even touting “all natural” or “No MSG” on a label doesn’t mean you won’t be eating gluamates. Hydrolyzed protein contains glutmates. Soy protein or milk protein additives contain glutamates. So, when you read those ingredient labels that say “no added MSG” you are getting FOOLED into paying more for something that the manufacturer knows you’ll buy because you’re trying to avoid EXACTLY what they’re hiding in their product!! I’m not wearing some tinfoil hat – educate yourself instead of believing your deceiving tastebuds!!

    • Betty March 3, 2013 at 3:39 PM -

      So I’m curious Dee, did you ever try that experiment that Denver Doubter suggested? I think it’s ingenious and it would be a shame if you didn’t.

    • Fiddlesticks annonymix August 23, 2013 at 6:30 PM -

      YOU having an adverse reaction to something that doesn’t affect the rest of us isn’t ‘the problem with MSG’. That’s a problem with you. That’s like saying peanuts are bad for everybody because you have a peanut allergy. Actually no the problem isn’t the peanuts, its your system. This is a science based discussion on a science based site people lets TRY and pretend we’re A LITTLE bit educated.

  15. denver doubter December 12, 2012 at 4:48 PM -


    Please forgive my doubts about your condition. but my degree is in psychology, and what I understand is that many people who think they have food allergies often prove to be mistaken.

    If you are as sensitive to MSG as you say, you may be a very rare individual, judging by the current studies. (OK, so maybe they are faked, funded by the “food industry“). Suppose we ignore them for the moment.
    If you really want to find out, then you are in a perfect position to DO YOUR OWN STUDY. Have a friend prepare 12 doses of powder, 3 to 7 of which have 2 gram doses of pure MSG. The friend will number them, noting the numbers of the MSG dosed powders. They may be disguised with other spices or other powders. He or She will give them to your Husband, who will prepare meals for you 12 times. Neither your husband nor you will know which contain MSG. All you have to do is note your headaches and numbered meals. See if they match.

    The Downside: You may have to endure 3 to 7 migraine headaches.

    The Upside : If this tiny double blind experiment succeeds in proving an MSG to Migraine link, it may be the first to do so. You will be famous. Your YouTube video will go viral..
    If it fails to show a link, you and your husband no longer have to warp your lives around a lie,
    You can eat whatever you like, and start searching for the REAL cause of your migraines.

    However, my experience has shown that what you will probably do is get outraged, (that I could ever doubt you?) refuse my advice, and continue to blame (a probably innocent) MSG for your problems. After all, you are sure you KNOW already, so you don’t need any silly scientific evidence, even your own.

  16. Movin on December 13, 2012 at 2:37 AM -

    Dee: Your argument is that you can’t be bothered to cook good wholesome fresh food in your own home each night? Do you have weight issues? Eat fresh fruit and vegetables. cook your own steak. Don’t blame your laziness on MSG…..

  17. MM December 13, 2012 at 5:34 PM -

    I have grown up eating family meals with Goya Sazon ingredients. My mom’s Spanish cooking is so delicious. I do notice that after using Sazon or other seasonings with MSG, my tongue tends to tingle. I now make my own Sazon and Adobo seasonings without use of MSG. My concern is long term damage to nerves. Since there is no definitive proof that MSG causes long term damage to nerves, I will occasionally use those tiny but yummy packets.

  18. Morgan December 22, 2012 at 10:04 PM -

    (Part I)

    First of all, you are talking about the L-isomer. All manufactured MSG contains
    the D-isomer which is a neurotoxin. Yes, glutamate is a neurotransmitter but the brain only uses very small concentrations – no greater than 8 to 12µg. Above 12µg glutamate becomes toxic because neurons will begin to fire abnormally and the stress causes cells undergo a high level of apoptosis. One mechanism of the blood-brain barrier(BBB) is to prevent accumulation of glutamate in the brain, however it is only designed to protect against levels found in unprocessed foods(including breast milk). Once the toxic level is reached the BBB becomes incompetent and more porous with a high dose or even prolonged exposure. After passing the BBB the glutamate binds to the glutamate transporter and it is instantly transported into an astrocyte for storage. There are a limited number of glutamate transporters and if they are overwhelmed by a high concentration they are considered to be hyperstimulated. “Glutamate binds to the receptor causing a channel to open and sodium and calcium to enter the cell. At very high concentrations of glutamate, this receptor is hyperstimulated and allows an excess of calcium to cross the cell membrane. This increase in intracellular calcium is thought to trigger a series of events including the activation of the enzyme Nitric Oxide Synthase (which creates the free radical form of nitric oxide) and the generation of reactive oxygen species (for review see reference (2)). Ultimately, these toxic substances do enough damage to the cell to bring about its demise.
    Retinal ganglion cells are exquisitely sensitive to the excitotoxic effects of glutamate (Figure 3). Recently, elevated levels of glutamate were detected in the vitreous of both human glaucoma patients and monkeys with experimental glaucoma (7). Although the actual levels found in humans were small, similar concentrations were enough to cause the progressive death of ganglion cells in a rat model of chronic glutamate exposure (8).”

  19. Morgan December 22, 2012 at 10:13 PM -

    (Part II) Lipid peroxidation generates tons of free radicals producing 4-hydroxynonenal which inhibits the glutamate transporter which allows glutamate to accumulate in the brain. Excitotoxins = Free radicals. Now these radicals are off to the red blood cells and then the liver. Yay for the progression of degenerative diseases. One of the many examples I’ve ran across, “Recently, several studies have been done in which it was found that all Alzheimer’s patients examined had elevated levels of homocysteine. Recent studies have shown that persons affected by Alzheimer’s disease also have widespread destruction of their retinal ganglion cells.”

    And here is a journal from the American Physiological Society on Endocrinology and Metabolism.
    “Nine postprandial adults ingested MSG (150 mg/kg) and rested for 105 min. Venous blood was sampled preingestion and then every 15 min; vastus lateralis muscle biopsies were taken preingestion and at 45, 75, and 105 min postingestion. Venous plasma glutamate and aspartate concentrations increased (P ≤ 0.05) ∼700–800 and 300–400%, respectively, after 30–45 min. Although several other plasma amino acids increased modestly, the rise in glutamate accounted for ∼80% of the increase in total plasma amino acids. In addition, plasma insulin increased threefold after 15 min; this occurred before a significant increase in plasma glutamate…In summary, when resting humans ingest a large dose of MSG there is a rise in plasma glutamate that is large, peaks within 30–45 min, and is accompanied by a similar relative rise in plasma aspartate. This is accompanied and preceded by a rise in plasma insulin. The peak insulin concentration occurs within 15 min postingestion and before a significant increase in glutamate and aspartate, suggesting that insulin secretion is stimulated, in part, by a feed-forward mechanism from the gastrointestinal tract.”

  20. DEE January 6, 2013 at 5:41 AM -

    There is so many scientists studies out there it is ridiculous on MSG. On one called Understanding Brain Damage and Endocrine disorders caused by MSG is one of thousands. MSG is potentially toxic to everyone. Adverse reactions, in a 1980 study, glutamic acid causes brain lesions in laboratory animals is undeniable. If MSG is good why is so hidden from us as for as studies are concern? Anyhow MSG induced brain lesions in the area of the hypothalamus and/or accumulations of glutamic have been shown to cause the following: Retinal degeneration –
    Neuro endocrine disorders-
    Reproduction Disorders
    Stunted Growth
    Behavioral disorders
    Learning and Memory disorders

    • Sylvia October 11, 2013 at 12:15 PM -

      Dee, you’re not citing a study. You’re citing a web site. Not a peer-reviewed, published, scientific study.

  21. Ashamed February 1, 2013 at 3:10 AM -

    Being a recent Yale alum, I am quite astonished to come across this post. And not in a good way. This brief, biased article does not even attempt to look into the science or even the public debate surrounding MSG citing only the status quo approval of the FDA, WHO and other political agencies. A myriad of published, peer reviewed articles exist illuminating some negative impacts of MSG consumption. I am quite startled that several readers, namely “Morgan” and “Dee” note such sources and explain the science of MSG far better than the Yale Scientific author. Come on Yale. Let’s try to explore both sides of an issue a little more thoroughly before falling into supporting the popular default opinion.

  22. Talk some sense February 18, 2013 at 5:14 AM -

    You know, if America would stop eating processed crap and ate real food and exercised, we wouldn’t need to worry about this nonsense. Glutamine/Glutamate is an amino acid found in every single protein you eat. I really don’t think this is the problem. America’s addiction to sugar and processed food is the problem. I do scientific research for a living, and you know how we get mice fat for obesity and diabetes models? We feed them the “American Diet,” which consists of 30% sugars and they blow up like balloons. Put down the soda, hit the gym and eat a salad.

  23. joe February 23, 2013 at 4:50 AM -

    maybe yale gets a grant ..or they just like those nasty noodles so much. msg is bad for you.

  24. Bernadette March 24, 2013 at 7:26 PM -

    I love you guys! How awesome!! The best thing about America, is the right to express one’s opinion without being gunned down in the street, or hauled off to jail!! Yeah!!! freedom of expression!! THANK YOU GOD that I live in such a rich country where people have such abundance, they can get fat if they want to, and express themselves!!! Focus on what’s good and what’s right!! You get what you focus on!! All of you are awesome!! THank you! I love a good debate and what could be more scholarly than that!!!

  25. Brandy April 5, 2013 at 6:03 PM -

    Bernadette, I agree with you. I think you can go crazy trying to figure out is it good for you, is it bad for you. I think all we eat in moderation and staying in your correct weight range and living a moderately stress free life, this will keep you healthy.

  26. richie rich April 22, 2013 at 5:25 PM -

    Bottom line people is stay away from msg as much as you can because it is scientifically proven to be unhealthy for you. It is also scientifically proven to not cause death but it certainly is proven to be unhealthy. So if you want to eat healthy you Want to stay away from msg. You dont have to have a college degree to know these facts, nor do you have to be a s,ientist that wrote an article on it.

    • Mirk Watkins November 9, 2013 at 1:03 PM -

      Richie, maybe you need some experience from University *not College*, as this was a terrible article with zero references or links to Peer-Reviewed findings. The commenters have done a far better job of doing so, though, even then, I doubt that those are more than independently verified, as such horrific effects as described by said commenters, and the aforementioned turd that brought us all together, would have had drastic consequences for the future of MSG. It’s Peer Verified information that gives ammunition to one side of a debate or another, and the world is still torn on the subject. Even the author couldn’t come up with anything more than hearsay and you know who he’s representing :P

      IMO, there’s a social hysteria regarding MSG. It’s obvious, after having witnessed a friend go from oblivious to the MSG in pre-made Caesars to, admittedly, psychsomatically inducing migraines every time he tries one after learning what’s hiding inside my favourite hangover cure. That’s another Uni / College experience you’re missing out on ;) jk

      I’m sure large amounts of anything sucks for you. Knowing America’s bad eating habits, is it any wonder overdosing on unregulated MSG is such a common, if subtle, occurrence? One meal a week with as little MSG as a dish can get away with is the safest way of enjoying the unknown without freaking out over it’s, frankly incredible, detrimental effects; at least, until scientifically proven one way or another. That doesn’t mean believing unverified and strongly biased articles at face value.

      Determining how much is too much is a task for scientists, but not believing everything you hear until its veracity can be proven is a good first step to not being townie scum ;) <3

      Good Luck

  27. MIddas April 30, 2013 at 6:22 AM -

    MSG is bad when you consume a large amount. As goes with everything you eat, consuming alot of one thing food would result in some negative impact to your body in some way. all you need to do is have a healthy diet and eat alot of variety of food. American foods contains MSG apart from the asian food such as fast food. chips and burgers from fast food shop may contain just as much as MSG in Chinese restaurant.

    As a result MSG isnt bad when you consume the right amount

  28. ann May 24, 2013 at 4:57 AM -

    I am from Laos and I grew up all my life eating food that has a little msg in it. We eat a lot of fresh vegetables, meats and seafoods and almost every dish has a few pinches of msg. A majority of Asian people eat food with msg and we are considered to be some of the healthiest, longest living people in the world…go figure. As long as your diet is healthy and you get exercise and everything in moderation, something like a little msg is not going to affect you.

    • Fiddlesticks annonymix August 23, 2013 at 6:43 PM -

      Thank you! Yes scientific studies have shown lab rats who consume the human equivalent of 5 cups a day got sick. Go figure. That’s how ALL of our animal based studies go. They load the animal up with more than anyone will ever consume in their lifetime and then when the animal dies or has adverse reactions its bad for you. ANYTHING consumed without moderation is bad for you. Anything. Even too much oxygen will make you pass out.

  29. Kyky June 20, 2013 at 4:30 PM -

    I doubt It hurts you i eat a lot of ramen but gmo will definitely hurt you

  30. Emma July 20, 2013 at 2:46 AM -

    I didn’t know the comments were moderated. I revised, and took out the profanity.

    Personally, I black out every time I have the stuff. I recently linked MSG to the 4 solid years of daily migraine headaches. I also know a number of people who have experienced seizures triggered by the consumption of MSG. It’s an excitotoxin, which actually excites the cells in our brain to the extent that they become overexerted and die. No, it’s not “just a variation of salt that’s just little bit worse than salt.” The MSG that is currently on the market comes from wheat, soy, and corn. What? Stay away from this. It’s genetically modified and it’s only been on the market since 2007. Where da research at? Since it’s not in this article, look for it, it’s astounding! And by the way, natural glutamate and MSG are not the same thing. MSG is a processed food additive. Anything that makes my tongue tingle like it’s electrically charged gets a “no” in my book. Need I say more?

    • Fiddlesticks annonymix August 23, 2013 at 6:48 PM -

      Did you REALLY just type on the Internet where it will live forever that MSG makes you pass out? Please throw your keyboard in the garbage. Some poor server somewhere is storing this crap. Quit wasting space with fairy tales. You’ve never passed out once from MSG. Nobody has unless they were buried under a mound of it and couldn’t breath.

      • passerby November 5, 2013 at 12:33 AM -

        ahhh, Fiddlesticks annonymix, so good! I did my research, I now have a shiny little tin in my cupboard that I reach for more often than the salt :)

      • truthboy December 8, 2013 at 9:51 PM -

        She is not alone. Msg will bring me to blackout level pain from cluster headaches. Worst pain imaginable.

    • Priya January 2, 2014 at 4:43 PM -

      Hi Ahmet,
      First of all, sorry this reply has come so late
      I just wanted to point out that you need to be careful about which sources you cite. This website is NOT scientific – ideally you want to cite scientific evidence in peer-reviewed journals. Whilst these can still be prone to bias (e.g. from the food industry), the peer-reviewing and use of cold hard statistics makes this a lot less likely that on this website.

      Note that the Global Healing Centre (who wrote this article) sell products such as organic supplements and cleanses. Note the last line of the article:
      “Consuming MSG causes swelling of the mucus membranes in the gastrointestinal tract. Cleanse your colon regularly to prevent this swelling.”
      Where do you think a panicked consumer, having read this article, would turn to buy their colon cleanser? Also note the complete lack of referencing – without links to any evidence, this website is basically just a guy saying some stuff and getting away with it because he has some initials behind his name.

      In the future, don’t get evidence anywhere other than peer-reviewed scientific articles. Check this out
      Every time they state a fact, they provide a reference, e.g.
      Raiten DJ, Talbot JM, Fisher KD (1996). “Executive Summary from the Report: Analysis of Adverse Reactions to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)”. Journal of Nutrition 126 (6): 2891S–2906S. PMID 7472671

      Which has then been published in a journal ONLY after other scientists have examined the evidence and replicated the experiment.
      Like I said, these studies are by no means infallible, and results can depend on e.g. which set of statistics doctors used, whether the experiment was double-blind etc. BUT it has been peer-reviewed so it’s a lot lot more trustworthy.

      Meanwhile I’m going to investigate what some of these other posts have said re. glutamate brain spikes etc., although I wish they’d provided a source rather than me having to search for one to prove their allegations

  31. mike roy July 30, 2013 at 6:20 PM -

    MSG is absolutely harmless. Obama is not.

  32. mike roy July 30, 2013 at 6:22 PM -

    The AMA says that natural glutamate and processed glutamate ARE exactly the same. I have used it for years as a healthy salt substitute.

  33. -/233 August 3, 2013 at 12:41 AM -

    Glutamic acid is an amino acid. Glutamates are its salts.

  34. -/233 August 3, 2013 at 12:43 AM -

    Unless you have reactions to it its fine.

  35. -/233 August 3, 2013 at 12:49 AM -

    Glutamic acid is one of the most abundant naturally occuring amino acid. Amino acids are used to create proteins in your body such as in your muscles. Every single living organism or food derived from a living organism contains some amount of glutamic acid. It is synthesised naturally in your body. Too much of any food or thing in food can be bad for you.

  36. -/233 August 3, 2013 at 12:52 AM -

    But yes it is not necessary to add to your food-it is already in all foods in some amount.

  37. -/233 August 3, 2013 at 12:56 AM -

    The ratio of sodium in msg to sodium in sodium chloride is approximately 1 to 3. The oral lethal dose of msg is five times greater than the lethal dose of sodium chloride orally ingested. 15-18g/kg compared to 3g/kg.

  38. -/233 August 3, 2013 at 1:03 AM -

    It is not a ‘toxin’ although any food or thing in food can kill you if you have way too much of it. Substances have to be past a said toxicity theshold before they are considered toxins.

  39. -/233 August 3, 2013 at 1:06 AM -

    You can have reactions to a large number of things including Water see Aquagenic urticaria. It does not kill you but does cause skin problems.

  40. -/233 August 3, 2013 at 1:06 AM -


  41. Carolyn August 19, 2013 at 12:43 AM -

    Americans are fat because of the huge portions of over-processed awful food they eat. And then snack on junk food. And don’t exercise.

  42. Yasmin September 12, 2013 at 7:37 PM -

    A Dr i know was studying the effects of addictive substances on the brain with PET ligands and an MRI and MSG the brain up like a Christmas tree. She also explained that msg, well the ms part anyway, was refused entry into the brain but when snuck in on the back of glutimate it can sneak past the barricade and wreak havoc on the brain. I personally enjoy Asian cuisine msg’d or not but ultimately it’s presence always makes me feel like someone is making something substandard edible.

  43. Sylvia September 20, 2013 at 11:54 PM -

    Wow, I couldn’t read everything… but I like you Brian, I just have to say that! And I am sorry for all the harsh responses you have had! They are not fair!
    Americans are fat!
    I don’t believe it is because 2/3 of Americans are lazier and more stupid and have less control than people in other countries where there is not as much overweight and obesity problems!
    In my home country I think we should have some people who are as lazy as some Americans and some who are equally stupid or greedy, but we have NONE who is as obese as 1/3 of this country! I think we can explain a lot of it by the ingredients in the food, addictive ingredients, ingredients that bring all the fat to your stomach, I don’t see people like that in my home country.
    I avoid MSG and High fructose corn syrup and more. I think it is worth avoiding! Money has way too much to say about our eating habits! Keep being alert! ;)

    • Mirk Watkins November 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM -

      If you don’t understand the problems besetting America, then you haven’t got an opinion. You’ve got a blind spot, willful or otherwise. Why, if the unverified, bibliography missing, Peer-Reviewed resources, article is right about MSG being a root cause for obesity, are Asian’s SOOOO much healthier, long lived, and not spilling out of their stretchy, but not stretchy enough pants? They have as much, if not more, MSG in their foods as the U.S.

      Science sites should be treated with scientific scrutiny. You took this sham article and made embarrassing, sloppy, grandma kisses all over your comment, without realizing it’s 100% sans Peer-Substantiated. On Yale’s scientific articles site… That’s like believing tabloids written by a massively Dyslexic cultist, and unedited before print, claiming to have slow danced with Satan, where the end of days was laid bare by his whimsical master :P Science requires reproducable evidence and substantiated claims.

      Good Luck finding your way :)

  44. Jonathan November 26, 2013 at 1:56 PM -

    Thank you Morgan and Ahmet for including links to source material. Brian, thank you for the post from Yale Scientific.

    • Priya January 2, 2014 at 4:55 PM -


      Just wanted to direct you to my response on Ahmet’s post. In summary, if you can’t find it, I said not to trust anything that wasn’t strictly scientific, i.e. a study published in a peer-reviewed science journal. The website Ahmet posted was blatantly trying to push bogus “health” cures onto people (see the last line about needing colon cleanses) and didn’t provide any actual evidence for its claims (like the results of a science experiment).

      I’ve had a quick look at Morgan’s reference, whilst it’s again a website it does have links to scientific journals so I’ll definitely be giving that a proper read later. Meanwhile check out the sources at the bottom of this wiki article
      They’re all scientific so should make (relatively) trustworthy reading, hope that helps!

  45. Amanda December 27, 2013 at 10:46 PM -

    I suggest watching Hungry For Change. You can watch it on netflix, it talks a lot about this topic. I’m not on either side because I don’t have enough research to back up either side. I think this movie was really interesting though :)

  46. toni holder December 31, 2013 at 9:45 AM -

    Dear Mr. Brian
    Have you thought that if Mr. G. W. Bush wanted to create the all time genocide, wouldn’t it be better to own thee reservoir tapped into millions of homes across America rather than MSG that stands a chance of only affecting thousands. (Some people are allergic to MSG.) When people come with conspiracy theories. I love the ones that make me go ‘hmmmmmm’ but THAT one was total bullmSg. Speaking of conspiracy theories, I heard of a guy who once turned water into wine, raised the dead n fed thousands of ppl with a few snappers. He also has a best selling novel but cant seem to manage money cause ppl give him cash every sunday ….sorry im just going on n on here thats a nother topic..I suffer with something called M.S.G poisoning

  47. smcncksm January 13, 2014 at 12:32 AM -

    The obesity argument is BS. I live in China, the most MSG riddled country in the world, and also one of the thinest. Not saying MSG is great for you, but it is being lazy and eating too much that makes you fat.

  48. Lula March 4, 2014 at 11:54 PM -

    See this article:

    Not sure what to think, as I WANT MSG to be okay for you, I’m finding it in so many seasoning blends that are tasty. But, as a mom, I’m concerned as to it’s safety. I have a friend who believes it affects her. It has never affected me, but I’m concerned about long term affects of the small dosages.

  49. HarmonyE April 7, 2014 at 5:25 AM -

    A study of 752 Chinese people and the effects of MSG saw a correlation between the intake of MSG and obesity

  50. nels April 28, 2014 at 7:04 PM -

    @Fat Chick …. SOME beer has MSG. None of the beer I commonly drink. Unless its occurring naturally.

  51. Scientist August 31, 2014 at 1:19 PM -

    Excess glutamate is used in animal disease models to exacerbate neurodegeneration..thus the question to ask is, if you suffer from or at risk of developing glaucoma, alzheimers, multiple sclerosis, parkison’s, etc. does consuming MSG posses and increased health risk? to date there are no clnical studies to show it worth the risk though? to be fair there are many other chemical constituents in food products and cosmetics etc. that have been shown to be hazardous to health..

  52. Sarah Shepherd September 2, 2014 at 9:43 PM -

    Why does the comments section always have to be an argument. This is one, very opinionated, very vague, and generally invalid article. I will admit, I’ve only studied MSG for 2 years now, but please, I strongly encourage all of you lovely, intellectually stimulated and yet horridly uneducated people to extend your research on this topic before you state your argument. Find more than one resource that will give you enough valid information to have a meaningful debate. If you’re just looking for a good fight, try taking it to the comments section of Youtube.

  53. John October 7, 2014 at 3:16 PM -

    After 5 years I have determined that I am highly allergic to MSG. I’ve been through endocrin and may other tests which all came back negitive. I’ve always heard you are what you eat. I’m a 58 yr. old male, very healthy and work outdoors year round. I love food, good tasting food! Many of my symptoms were identical to diabetes but I’ve tested negitive numerous times. My heart used to race and hurt real bad. Irregular heart beat as well. Disorientated to the point if not remembering my 4 digit pin number. I felt like I was drunk. Very light headed! The bottoms of my feet hurt bad! Weakness and on and on. So, as tests all came back negitive I decided it was time to do it myself. I could write a book! Do you know there are many names used on the ingredient labels for MSG? Yes sir there sure is! The big one is ‘natural flavors’. Come to find out I’ve been hooked on it for years. Read the labels on the mustard, ketchup, Miracle whip and mayonnaise in your fridge just for starters! How about any of the processed foods you’ll find in your cabinets? Start reading! Chocolates, all of them… Drive down the street, KFC, McD, Wendys, BK, Sonic… down the line! I’ve been 100% MSG free for the last several months and I feel so good now! I’m back to my normal self. I agree 100% that we are slowly being poisoned by our own government. Why, I bet it’s all about the money… what to learn more? Ask away…
    John C.

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  58. LawLima November 21, 2014 at 8:01 PM -

    Since this debate rages on in infamy, I wanted to share a recent double blind peer reviewed study showing ONCE AGAIN there is no scientific basis for the claim that MSG is problematic. It also discredits the early studies involving rats because the MSG was injected subcutaneously. The moral? Don’t shoot up with MSG :-)

  59. jack mirlock December 20, 2014 at 8:14 PM -

    yes msg is good for you. Obama says its ok

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