MSG history

For thousands of years, people in Japan have used seaweed to enhance the flavors of their food. Scientists began to wonder what it was in the algae that made food better. Finally, Kikunae Ikeda found out what it was. His discovery was soon made on a large scale. In 1908, the industrial giant Ajinomoto began manufacturing the chemical compound known as free glutamic acid, also known as “MSG.” The substance was patented in 1909 by a company in Japan. During World War II, American soldiers noticed that the Japanese army rations were tasty. The army mayors discovered that the reason for this was MSG.

After this discovery, the use of the substance spread to the United States. The use of MSG in food became widespread in the United States in the 1950s through restaurants and home use. The main product used to spread this influence was labeled Accent. The product was pure MSG. When the standards for food additives went into effect in 1958, the MSG additive was “protected” without any testing, as its use was so widespread. Technically, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) classifies it as “generally considered safe” without any proof of the substance.

The manufacturing process used to produce the compound requires sophisticated refining. Strong acids and high temperatures are used to hydrolyze or break down various proteins. The raffinate or ‘hydrolyzation’ leaves the manufacturer with a mixture of D-glutamic acid, pyroglutamic acid, along with large amounts of the sodium salt of L-glutamic acid and various other amino acids. Although the body contains some of these proteins in the brain, these artificially produced substances are dangerous. Since they are produced by artificial methods, their effects differ from those of naturally produced proteins. The refinement of a substance increases its potency. This is true for cocaine, sugar, and other highly refined substances.

The companies involved in the manufacture of MSG formed a coalition known as the Glutamate Association in 1977. Although membership in the organization is secret, some observers believe that membership includes Ajinomoto, Archer Daniels Midland, Campbell, Corn Products Corporation, McCormick & Company, Pet Foods, Pfizer and Takeda Laboratories. The Glutamate Association conducts research and makes public statements on the use and ‘safety’ of MSG and associated products.

The spread of MSG use remains wide with heavy use by fast food restaurants. For example, at KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) all non-desert items on their menu contain this substance.

Glutamaic acid in the brain

The natural proteins (L-glutamaic acid) that are present in the brain are involved in the action of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are important for sending messages through the nervous system. The amount of this substance in the body is small, which limits the actions of the neurotransmitters involved.

Glutamaic acid is found at excitatory synapses in the central nervous system. This chemical is essential for enhancement or long-term memory. Playing with these substances can interfere with the functioning of the central nervous system. Glutamaic acid is a neurotransmitter that “excites” the nervous system. It has been found to be fundamental in personality disorders and childhood behavior disorders. These disorders have been improved with changes in glutamaic acid levels. Glutamaic acid is also important in the transport of potassium across the blood-brain barrier.

(Potassium is an essential mineral for maintaining a healthy nervous system and maintaining a regular heart rate. Changes in potassium level can affect each of these)

The amount of these chemical neurotransmitters is kept in a strictly defined range to prevent the nervous system from becoming overstimulated. Neurotransmitters act as specific, chemically sensitive triggers that send messages through the nervous system. It is not by accident that some researchers refer to MSG as “nicotine from food.” One of the reasons nicotine is dangerous is that it overstimulates the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. With MSG, the neurotransmitter glutama is overstimulated.

How MSG works

Part of the danger of highly refined MSG is that, in large amounts, it crosses the blood-brain barrier and can potentially interfere with and over-excite “normal” nerve activities. Any substance that crosses the blood-brain barrier, as MSG does, can potentially affect the brain and subsequently behavior. It overstimulates the nerves and at the same time overloads the chemicals that would naturally neutralize the stimulating effect. In simple terms, it overloads the nervous system. In the short term, the body can recover, but repeated overstimulation can lead to permanent disruption of the system. One particular part of the brain affected is the hypothalamus, which regulates mood and emotions. Overstimulation of that part of the brain can produce marked changes in a person’s behavior. These marked changes can happen suddenly. Reaction time to MSG ranges from sudden to 48 hours. With populations sensitive to monosodium glutamate, such changes can manifest as sudden rage or difficulty controlling sudden impulses.

By definition, any substance that has the potential to be psychoactive (affecting behavior) is cause for concern. Any psychoactive chemical has the potential to permanently alter the brain chemistry of the person involved. In addition to crossing the blood-brain barrier, it also crosses the placental barrier in pregnant women.

This substance often called a “flavor enhancer” actually excites brain cells to overreact to substances. In the overreactive state, the person taking MSG thinks that food tastes better. Overexcitement can lead to headaches, palpitations, facial swelling, numbness, violent diarrhea, migraines, and other immediate reactions (such as panic attacks, stiffness, joint pain, loss of balance, slurred speech, diarrhea, blurred vision, and ADHD ) in some populations. Although some may pass off the reactions as allergic in nature, the body’s response is thus to a toxin.

Some of the toxic reactions are delayed. Late reactions include increased obesity, brain damage, growth retardation, reproductive disorders, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and / or retinal degeneration. These symptoms are serious and worthy of concern. These were some of the effects seen in initial research in laboratory animals. Although some critics claim that the amount of MSG given to animals is nowhere near the amount given to humans, when the many pathways of MSG consumption are taken into account, humans ingest large amounts of monosodium glutamate. Not all people who use MSG experience these problems, although the estimate is ¼ of the population.

Links of MSG with other disorders

Another area of ​​concern is neurological disorders involving glutamaic acid. Research has not indicated a causal effect, however, since glutamaic acid is heavily involved in these disorders, the likelihood that monosodium glutamate can alter a person’s brain chemistry and play a role in them poses a potential danger. These disorders include conditions such as addiction, stroke, epilepsy, brain trauma, multiple sclerosis, AIDS dementia, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression. Glutamaic acid also plays an important role in degenerative disorders related to dementia, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Given the severity of these disorders, anything that increases the likelihood of them occurring is cause for concern.

Some researchers have found links between MSG use and diabetes, migraines and headaches, autism, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s. Since these disorders are a concern for many people today, a more careful examination of the role of MSG is needed. Monosodium glutamate is also used in some vaccines to keep them stabilized or “alive.”

In addition to vaccines, monosodium glutamate or free glutamaic acid has also been used in the growth enhancer known as AuxiGro. This growth enhancer was approved for use in 1998.

MSG by any other name

Although many foods and restaurants use MSG in their products, some do not. Asian restaurant Pei Wei advertises that it does not add MSG to its products. The Whataburger hamburger chain has a website that identifies which of its foods contains MSG so that savvy consumers can avoid the substance. Some restaurants know that one of the effects of MSG is that consumers tend to buy more food and find it tastier.

MSG is not always easy to identify. Some companies use alternative names for MSG. Knowing some of the other names for MSG is critical to knowing which products to avoid. There are more than 25 names for MSG. Some of these names include:


Glutamic acid


Monosodium glutamate

Calcium caseinate

Textured protein

Monopotassium glutamate

Sodium caseinate

Yeast nutrient

Yeast extract

Yeast food

Autolyzed yeast

Hydrolyzed protein (any hydrolyzed protein)

Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten

Sodium glutamate (sodium in Latin / German)

If MSG was just a flavor enhancer, that’s one thing. Research shows that not only does it improve taste, but it affects the brain and nervous system.

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