Body Systems Affected by MSG

Allergic response

MSG is not a true allergen but may directly affect immune response by stimulating or damaging the nervous system. In studies done recently on animals, food allergies may be caused by a lack of Interleukin 12.  This substance is made by cells in the body - oligodendrocytes, that are killed by excess glutamate.  Also - Over 85% of individuals with Type 1 Diabetes have antibodies to the enzyme the body uses to turn Glutamate into GABA - glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD).  Their immune system attacks the means by which glutamate is metabolized, even though it does not attack glutamate itself.  Because of their immune response to GAD, Type 1 diabetics are at risk of having an excess of glutamate in their systems already.


Blood Pressure 

May create taurine deficiency – calcium channels stay open – causing high blood pressure and counteracting calcium channel blocking medication.



During periods of hypoglycemia where low blood glucose levels leave the brain with low defenses, or allergy response where the blood vessels become "leaky", MSG may cross the blood brain barrier and damage brain cells by excitatory neurotoxicity. By affecting the pancreas and creating a situation of hypoglycemia, MSG may bring down the brain’s barriers, carrying it’s own key, in a sense, to get to the brain.


Endocrine System 

GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is created by feedback mechanism from MSG. GABA may be addictive. Related to the date-rape drug GBH. GABA stimulates the pituitary to produce growth hormone.  Research has shown that MSG can also overstimulate prolactin production by the pituitary and cause sterility in female animals.  Nearly half of all pituitary tumors are prolactin secreting.



The hair cells of the ear use glutamate as a neurotransmitter.  Over-stimulation of these cells by glutamate can result in ringing in the ears.  

Ringing in the ears is a common complaint of MSG sufferers.   Many disease states and also prescription drugs also affect ringing in the ears, because they directly affect the body's use of neurotransmitters.

It is not surprising that MSG also affects hearing considering that glutamate is what the hair cell in the ear uses as a neurotransmitter. Also, the calcium channels are involved.  Glutamate is a well known calcium channel opener.


Heart rate 

May create taurine deficiency – (taurine regulates heartbeat) causing irregular or racing heartbeat.

Relief of fibromyalgia symptoms following discontinuation of dietary excitotoxins

Malcolm Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Gainesville, FL, USA. 

Editor's Note: An abstract is a summary of a much longer medical report, usually reporting the results of a scientific study. The full, original study can be found in the journal cited at the end of each abstract. 


Fibromyalgia is a common rheumatologic disorder that is often difficult to treat effectively. 

Case Summary 

Four patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome for two to 17 years are described. All had undergone multiple treatment modalities with limited success. All had complete, or nearly complete, resolution of their symptoms within months after eliminating monosodium glutamate (MSG) or MSG plus aspartame from their diet. All patients were women with multiple comorbidities prior to elimination of MSG. All have had recurrence of symptoms whenever MSG is ingested. 


Excitotoxins are molecules, such as MSG and aspartate, that act as excitatory neurotransmitters, and can lead to neurotoxicity when used in excess. We propose that these four patients may represent a subset of fibromyalgia syndrome that is induced or exacerbated by excitotoxins or, alternatively, may comprise an excitotoxin syndrome that is similar to fibromyalgia. We suggest that identification of similar patients and research with larger numbers of patients must be performed before definitive conclusions can be made. 


The elimination of MSG and other excitotoxins from the diets of patients with fibromyalgia offers a benign treatment option that has the potential for dramatic results in a subset of patients. 

Annals of Pharmacotherapy 2001 Jun;35(6):702-6



MSG’s stimulation of pancreas decreases blood glucose, making hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) worse.



Part of the brain most susceptible to attack because it is the "sensor" of the brain, out in the open so to speak, not protected by the blood brain barrier because it needs to monitor levels of hormones in the blood. This part of the brain directs the action of the pituitary gland which directs the action of the entire endocrine system. Many MSG sensitive persons become diagnosed with thyroid disfunction and are put on synthetic hormone due to hypothyroidism. This would suggest that the hypothalamus may be compromised and unable to effectively direct the pituitary gland and consequently the thyroid. The hypothalamus also regulates hunger, and body temperature.  The hypothalamus is also responsible for rage and panic as well...

Based on the fact that MSG has been proven to overstimulate cells in the hypothalamus until they actually died, and that the hypothalamus regulates rage and fear as well as hunger and body temperature, it might be in our best interest to look more closely at what violent teenagers have been eating these days.


Nervous system 

MSG stimulates nerves in tongue and elsewhere directly (that’s why they use it). Glutamate in excess can overstimulate nerve cells until they die.  Certain cells called oligodendrocytes which are found in the nervous system and make MYELIN are killed by excess glutamate.  It is the inability to make myelin which defines the disease Multiple Sclerosis.  In those patients, Interleukin 12 is low.  IL 12 is also made by the oligodendrocytes - a clue that these cells are probably being killed by something.  We firmly believe that something may be MSG and aspartame in the diet. 



Glutamate stimulates the pancreas and may cause Type II diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance.  In individuals with Type 1 diabetes, it may cause an excess of glutamate since 85% of those with Type 1 diabetes have antibodies which attack GAD - the enzyme responsible for converting glutamate into GABA.



There are glutamate receptors in the retina.  Laboratory studies on animals have shown the retina to be damaged by MSG.