Winter Weather Updates - Get the latest closure information for Adventist HealthCare locations during the winter storm.
Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Healthy Living > Health Library > MSG Sensitivity (Holistic)
Take 50 mg of vitamin B6 a day to help process MSG into harmless byproducts
Check food labels for MSG and ask restaurant staff if the food you eat contains MSG
Avoid Accent or Aji-No-Moto products and any foods containing these seasonings
MSG sensitivity is a set of symptoms that may occur in some people after they consume monosodium glutamate (MSG). The syndrome was first described in 1968 as a triad of symptoms: "numbness at the back of the neck radiating to both arms and the back, general weakness and palpitations."1
MSG is used worldwide as a flavor enhancer. Although many restaurants now avoid the use of MSG, many still use significant amounts. The average person living in an industrialized country
consumes about 0.3 to 1.0 gram of MSG per day. MSG is classified by the US Food and Drug Administration as
"generally recognized as safe." Indeed, many researchers have questioned the very existence of a
true MSG-sensitivity reaction. Most clinical trials, including some double-blind trials, have failed to find
any symptoms arising from consumption of MSG, even large amounts, when taken with food.2, 3, 4, 5, 6 However, clinical trials have found that MSG taken without food may cause
symptoms, though rarely the classic "triad" described above.7, 8, 9 A large trial and a review of studies on MSG both suggested that large amounts of MSG
given without food may elicit more symptoms than a placebo in people who believe they react adversely to MSG.
However, persistent and serious effects from MSG consumption have not been consistently
demonstrated.10, 11, 12
People sensitive to MSG may also react to aspartame (NutraSweet).13
The symptoms of MSG sensitivity have commonly been described as headache, flushing, tingling, weakness, and stomachache. After eating meals prepared with MSG, people with MSG sensitivity may have migraine headache, visual disturbance, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tightness of the chest, skin rash, or sensitivity to light, noise, or smells.
Simply avoiding MSG will prevent MSG-sensitive reactions. MSG is found in some Chinese and Japanese food and is also contained in some flavor enhancers, such as Accent® and the Japanese seasoning AJI-NO-MOTO™. MSG may be difficult to avoid completely, as it also occurs in hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, gelatin, yeast extracts, calcium and sodium caseinate, vegetable broth, whey, smoke flavoring, malt extracts, and several other food ingredients—including "flavoring" and "natural flavoring"—without otherwise appearing on the label.
Our proprietary "Star-Rating" system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
Years ago, researchers discovered that animals who were deficient in vitamin B6 could not properly process MSG. Typical reactions to MSG have also been linked to vitamin B6 deficiency in people. In one study, eight out of nine such people stopped reacting to MSG when given 50 mg of vitamin B6 per day for at least 12 weeks.
The actual percentage of people with MSG sensitivity who are deficient in vitamin B6 and who respond to B6 supplementation is unknown. Nonetheless, many doctors suggest that people having MSG-sensitivity symptoms try supplementing with vitamin B6 for three months as a trial.
1. Kwok RHM. Chinese-restaurant syndrome. N Engl J Med 1968;278:796 [letter].
2. Prawirohardjono W, Dwiprahasto I, Astuti I, et al. The administration to Indonesians of monosodium L-glutamate in Indonesian foods: an assessment of adverse reactions in a randomized double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled study. J Nutr 2000;130(4S Suppl):1074-6S.
3. Bazzano G, D'Elia JA, Olson RE. Monosodium glutamate: feeding of large amounts in man and gerbils. Science 1970;169:1208-9.
4. Morselli PL, Garattini S. Monosodium glutamate and the Chinese restaurant syndrome. Nature 1970;227:611-2.
5. Zanda G, Franciosi P, Tognoni G, et al. A double blind study on the effects of monosodium glutamate in man. Biomedicine 1973;19:202-4.
6. Tung TC, Tung KS. Serum free amino acid levels after oral glutamate intake in infants and human adults. Nutr Rep Int 1980;22:431-43.
7. Schaumburg HH, Byck R, Gerstl R, Mashman JH. Monosodium L-glutamate: its pharmacology and role in the Chinese restaurant syndrome. Science 1969;163:826-8.
8. Rosenblum I, Bradley JD, Coulston F. Single and double blind studies with oral monosodium glutamate in man. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1971;18:367-73.
9. Kenney RA, Tidball CS. Human susceptibility to oral monosodium L-glutamate. Am J Clin Nutr 1972;25:140-6.
10. Walker R, Lupien JR. The safety evaluation of monosodium glutamate. J Nutr 2000;130(4S Suppl):1049-52S [review].
11. Geha R, Beiser A, Ren C, et al. Multicenter multiphase double-blind placebo controlled study to evaluate alleged reactions to monosodium glutamate (MSG). J Allergy Clin Immunol 1998;101:S243 [abstract].
12. Geha RS, Beiser A, Ren C, et al. Review of alleged reaction to monosodium glutamate and outcome of a multicenter double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Nutr 2000;130(4S Suppl):1058-62S [review].
13. Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL. Effect of aspartame and sucrose loading in glutamate-susceptible subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1981;34:1899-905.
Last Review: 06-08-2015
Copyright © 2018 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. www.healthnotes.com
Learn more about Healthnotes, the company.
The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.