Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Allergy

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a well known flavor enhancer. It is commonly used as a food additive and flavor enhancer. Earlier it used to be made with wheat gluten but now it is made by bacterial fermentation. People in the past have experienced symptoms such as nausea and headache immediately after eating Chinese food cooked with MSG. Common forms of MSG include ajinomoto, vetsin, and accen.

Monosodium Glutamate Allergy Symptoms

The most popular form of MSG sensitivity is the MSG symptom complex, called the Chinese restaurant syndrome. It is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Burning sensation at the back of the neck
  • Heat like sensation in forearms
  • Burning sensation in chest
  • Facial pressure or tightness
  • Chest pain
  • Strange feeling of bodily expansion and contraction
  • Severe headache
  • Throbbing headache
  • Nausea
  • Pinprick sensation
  • Upper body tingling and weakness
  • Palpitations
  • Numbness in the back of the neck, arms, and back
  • Bronchospasm (in asthmatic patients only)
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness

Can Monosodium Glutamate Allergy be Diagnosed Using Popular Methods?

No. Unfortunately, MSG Allergy cannot be diagnosed using normal procedures such as skin tests or ImmunoCAP (R)/RAST. The diagnosis is mostly based on the complaints of the patient and the physical examination of the symptoms.

What are the diseases that symptomatically resemble MSG allergy?

The symptoms of certain medical conditions seem to resemble the symptoms of MSG allergy. The physician must first rule out other diseases before arriving at the diagnosis of MSG allergy. The following are the disorders, the symptoms of which are apparently similar to that of MSG allergy:

  • Depression
  • Nocturia
  • Arrhythmia
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Angina
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia

Treatment for MSG allergy

Generally the following medication is prescribed for treating MSG allergy:

  • HCTZ
  • Lisinopril
  • Opcon eye drops PRN (according to the need)

More Information on MSG Allergy

Some researchers opine that what is termed MSG allergy is actually an intolerance. This is because in a food allergy, the body produces antibodies to fight proteins contained in the food. These antibodies cause allergic reactions. However, the ingestion of MSG does not cause the release of such antibodies.

MSG stimulates the nerve cells just like caffeine or alcohol. This leads to an increase in histamine levels in the body, leading to allergy-like symptoms. Also, MSG is known to worsen allergies to other food items. For example, if an individual is allergic to soy, then in an item containing MSG and soy, the MSG can aggravate the patient’s allergic reaction to soy.

1 response to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Allergy

  1. MSG is listed on food ingredients under a variety of names, which is so confusing. Today I had a migraine with vomiting after accidentally ingesting MSG.
    Since so many people are highly sensitive to MSG it appears important to have legislation requiring that MSG is presnt in food pruchased in stores and in restaurants.

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