Epilepsy Talk

MSG: Dangerous or Deadly? | October 8, 2009

MSG can be responsible for long term neurological damage.  It’s been linked to diabetes, stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, stomach disorders, fatigue, depression, headaches and migraines, grand mal seizures, irregular or rapid heart beat, nausea and vomiting, numbness in the finger tips, autism, ADD/HD, Asthma-like symptoms, fibromyalgia type pain, disorientation and confusion, and degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Don’t be fooled by the term “free glutamate”…

Some foods advertise “No MSG”, or “No added MSG”, but actually, they contain large amounts of a hidden MSG derivative, called “free glutamate”. Many people experience adverse reactions but are not aware that the cause may be exposure to this substance, free glutamate, which is created in manufacturing processes. When any product contains at least 79% free glutamic acid it must be called MSG. Quantities of less than this amount, do not fall under MSG labeling restrictions, and can be called any number of innocent sounding names, such as “natural flavoring”.In larger quantities, free glutamate is toxic to everyone, but for those who cannot metabolize it effectively, even very small doses can act like a poison. MSG stimulates or damages glutamate receptors, making them more sensitive to subsequent ingestion of MSG. Science suggests that free glutamates may act as a “slow neurotoxin” with damage, such as dementia, only becoming apparent years later.

Stealth dangers…

The tricky part for consumers is that current labeling allows for free glutamate to be hidden under more than 40 different names making it extremely difficult for MSG sensitive individuals to identify. For example, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, another name for free glutamate, is widely used in many manufactured food products. Brain lesions have been produced again and again experimentally using hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Also, it has been determined that when these substances are combined together, as can be found in the lengthy ingredient list of many prepared foods, they become much more toxic than when used individually. Commercial soups, sauces, and gravies that are in liquid forms are even more toxic than solid forms, because liquids are rapidly absorbed and attain high concentrations in the blood.

MSG has been found to cause serious damage to several areas of the brain…

It has been clearly demonstrated that free glutamate places humans at risk, and plays a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders, but the FDA dismisses much of this extensive research. Numerous complaints have been filed since its initial use began in the 1940’s. By 1948, many major food suppliers were using MSG, and since then, its use has doubled each decade. The average American now consumes 1.92 pounds of MSG each year.

According to Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills”, “…excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, learning disorders in children, episodic violence, specific types of obesity, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Hidden names and sources of MSG…

This is where it gets scary.  MSG is hidden in more foods and ingredients than you’d ever dream of.  Here are some examples:

“Enriched”, fermented, protein fortified, ultra pasteurized, broth, bouillon, caramel flavoring, corn syrup, cornstarch, dry milk solids, natural flavoring, gelatin, gums, malt extract, milk powder, modified food starch, potassium glutamate, seasonings, soy protein, soy sauce or extract, stock, vitamin “enriched,” whey protein, yeast extract and yeast nutrients.

So, buyer beware.  Read those food labels carefully!


  1. So why doesn’t the EFA, CURE, epilepsy.com and all other seizure related groups get together, get everyone to sign petitions, protest and demand congress and the food industry to make it ileagal to use nitrate, Carrageenan, MSG and all other replacement additives ? Why they don’t is because they have more friends with people and crooks in DC than they do people like us who suffers with seizures, as they do not understand us, They can sleep with the enemy all they want to. That is why I do not give money much knowing they have never went to bat for my interest in seizures, unless it was something any doctor agrees to that is to me a medical fact. Uhhhh WAKE UP call,Hello EFA,,, executives and grass roots people lol lol lol MSG, CARRAGEENAN, NITRATES, and all the other junk in our food&drink supply causes seizures in people. I’m not laughing about that either. It really amazes me who and how people say they care when all they care about is their own image, and self rather than caring for everyone they claim they care for. As I have said before, ”’Unless you have the condition yourself, or disorder to use the words you and doctors like to use, you have no idea what it is like and how it is to live with a condition, that you never know when something bad might happen. Thankfully I am bless to the extent I can maybe dictate 99% of the time by what I eat or do not eat that will or will not creat a Grand Mal seizure. If the EFA believes my kind of life is one to be cherished and dreamed about think again. You deserve 1000 times worse than what I have had for the past 50 years. Sorry if you or anyone thinks I am mean. It is reality of what I have to live with after 50 years since age 5 months old. I would do ”anything” never to have to have another seizure of any type except commiting suicide which taking some AED’s gives you those thoughts. Ahhhh another reason the EFA has really looked out for us. What’s most new drugs do today ? Suicide & depression risks are higher than any other side affects with some of these new drugs. Surely EFA, CURE & congress can’t help that or can they ? Just face it, to them EFA, CURE and everyone in DC we are just a number who may give a few dollars to make us believe they are doing something to help us all. Only the Food & Drug industry with the help of the FDA has any type of life that benefits from us. Congress, EFA & CURE are in the same feild with them. Tell me again how much they care and love us ? How have they helped you if they do ? I’m still waiting after 49 & 8 month years. tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc. I’m tired of waiting. tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc. Oh Well Life goes on. Dream On..


    Comment by Craig Davis — July 9, 2010 @ 2:55 AM

  2. It’s all a matter of $$$$$$$

    Each year the NIH spends $30 billion on medical research, but just ½ of 1% is spent on epilepsy.

    P.S. St. Valentine is the patron saint of epilepsy! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 9, 2010 @ 4:38 AM

  3. yes i am very careful on MSG , or any additives added to food .. i dont even add salts , preservatives, to my foods .. i know , it can raise the blood pressure, .. even migraines . since i started using veggies , fresh fruits to my diet, havent had seizures either .. mostly everything is fresh in our home .. no fast foods , sodas either .. there was something i saw on tv few yrs ago , where low salt items , even had the same as the regular can / bottle .. since then i read everything , i buy .. even the frozen foods had a tad in there ..


    Comment by cathy — March 16, 2014 @ 4:51 AM

  4. You seem to have hit it right on the dot Cathy. And I bet you eat well.

    Our mantra is no white “stuff” and no prepared foods.
    Or salt. The hidden salts are enough to kill a cow!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 16, 2014 @ 9:35 AM

  5. i make sure to read the ingredient lists on all the foods i eat.


    Comment by crystal cahill — July 20, 2014 @ 4:02 PM

  6. You need a doctorate in nutrition to read labels these days. Just the way they add sugar and claim “all natural”.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 20, 2014 @ 6:06 PM

    • not to mention they use a lot of big words, that i can’t pronounce.


      Comment by crystal cahill — July 20, 2014 @ 11:16 PM

      • I guess that’s the point. To confuse you until you don’t know what you’re eating.

        Ultimately, they win. We lose. Even in the “natural foods”. (I know, I’ve already said that.)

        And the GMOs. Nothing is pure anymore. Wonder why kids get so sick? Asthma‎, diabetes, food allergies, are worse that ever.

        Just look at the junk we’re eating.

        This article may interest you, if you haven’t already read it.

        The Scandal of Aspartame



        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 21, 2014 @ 12:43 PM

  7. I haue epilepsy and 5 kids keep me updated plz


    Comment by Kathy lubben — December 21, 2014 @ 5:52 PM

  8. Anything we can do for you, sing out….

    Meanwhile, if you subscribe, you’ll get every article by email when it comes out weekly.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 22, 2014 @ 8:56 AM

  9. IS msg scientifically proven to cause THESE problems?


    Comment by laura — November 29, 2015 @ 8:09 PM

  10. It’s a trigger for these conditions.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 30, 2015 @ 10:27 AM

  11. what is msg, is it something that can make you sick. becase my doctor said anything to me.


    Comment by michele metzger — May 27, 2016 @ 2:37 PM

  12. MSG is Monosodium glutamate — a substance added to food to trick the stomach into feeling full. Wears off after half an hour.

    MSG is used most often in buffet-style restaurants and Chinese food restaurants to help maximize profits by saving food resources.

    It is also a seizure trigger.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 27, 2016 @ 2:44 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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