MSG and Migraine

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MSG and Migraine

Post  Kem10 on Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:52 am

I'm just beginning to explore this area and it looks daunting to try to avoid MSG in my food but going to give it a try never the less. If any one else is interested here are some articles to get started.
http://migraine.com/blog/msg-untangling-this-hidden-migraine-trigger/
be sure to read part 2 also, link at the end of the article. There seems to be a LOT of names and hidden sources for MSG in our food.
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  dcook60 on Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:32 pm

yes, kem, this enterprise of avoidance can be very daunting.  but it's so worth it!  since MSG is an excitatory neurotoxin, everyone on the planet is sensitive to it, but most are not as sensitive as migraineurs, and don't notice any bad effects. their livers are likely detoxifying it; i don't know why mine isn't so good at that!

personally, i have not knowingly eaten anything with MSG or its many clone-names for 16 years, and it has paid off for me.  yes, you've read that i still have daily migraines, but now they are manageable, and i rarely (maybe once every 8 months or so) have to go to bed for 2 days and suffer hideously.  before the MSG revelation, i could count on a frequency of more than once/month in bed, missing everything in life.  

msgmyth.com and msgtruth.org are two other enlightening websites.  i met the couple who started msgmyth and they are fine, generous people.  they live in my state and were very helpful to me when i had NO IDEA how to feed myself without this additive.  

dianne
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  Kem10 on Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:35 am

Thank you for those sites Dianne. I shall definitely check them out. Smile
OK, have looked over those sites and they are very eye opening and very challenging but I think this may be the beginning of a glimmer of light at the end of a very long, very dark tunnel. Thank you again!
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  Mini on Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:55 am

Sorry my head is not so good today so this is short. Yes, MSG is hidden in so many things even when it is not mentioned.
The important thing is that it took me ages to discover that anything containing soya,or soya beans products contains MSG. Even if it is in natural form,it is still a trigger.

So, I am afraid this meant no Chinese food forever because so many contain soy sauce (also often hidden) and at the same time explains why I always had M after going to Chinese restaurants.

I have also discovered that avoiding MSG is a must, if I want to avoid several more unnecessary M attacks.
I hope it also works well for you.
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  Kem10 on Sat Mar 22, 2014 12:52 pm

Thank you Mimi. The whole thing seems so overwhelming just now but am going to start with cutting all the obvious things and likely go on from there. Seems the food industry is determined to put additives in everything! I ate some fresh strawberries this morning and promptly developed cramps and diarrhea. My guess is that they were drenched in sulfites to help keep them fresh so even though I washed them, it wasn't enough.
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  dcook60 on Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:05 pm

kem, if you want to feel less overwhelmed, i'd suggest getting the book deb anglesey sells (msgmyth.com).  i actually have two copies, and i'd be willing to send you one (but it's full of food-splatters and doesn't look real appetizing.....:-).

i don't know what the price is now, but she's always updating it, and she has a TON of valuable info you can use for reference, plus LOTS of really good recipes.  she's a fantastic cook; i know because i've eaten at her house.  

keep on learnin'; it's a process.  your'e right, sulfites are everywhere, and they are also a huge problem for many people.  organic is best.  i worked more hours this week, so felt i could afford $6.50 for a pound of organic strawberries.  they have so much more actual taste than the pesticided ones.

my family used to live in southern CA where a lot of strawberries are grown, heavily poisoned.  they are one of the "dirty dozen" foods which are the most sprayed.  get that list and carry it with you to the store.  i'd love to buy everything certified organic, but realistically, i can only afford so much.  we all do the best we can do, so please don't try to be perfect with the diet; you will learn a lot as you get more savvy at reading labels.

the first thing i ever discovered was "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" in tuna cans.  i couldn't understand why plain old tuna was making me so sick; now i get it, of course.  trader joe's has unadulterated tuna for a reasonable price; i hope you have a t.j's nearby.  even though many of their prepared items have citric acid (MSG) i still find lots of good food there, besides just produce.  best of luck, dianne
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  Mini on Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:59 am

Dear Dianne,
you are so right about organic food, it is just too expensive, and frankly not always as tasty as we expect. It is not just pesticides, but the soil must be fed exclusively with organic fertilisersfor several decades and this condition is difficult to achieve and is more expensive.
If you go to countries like Italy or France, or central Europe you can often eat food from small farms that tastes amazing, because they only ever use the ancient methods of farming.

I am in UK and our organic product, even the most expensive never tastes like this, so I often end up disappointed. Still, we can only eat what is available, and at the price that we can afford.
One thing, sorry, MSG is monosodium glutamate, not citric acid. I only mention it because  under ingredients it often states: monosodium glutamate (and not MSG) so there might be confusion as well.

I would also like to mention another deadly trigger, which is artificial sweetener aspartame, as well as others such as saccharine, this is why calorie free, or low sugar drinks and deserts can be so deadly.

As you said Kem eating is a minefield when you suffer from migraines.

Another thing about triggers is that  every person responds differently to triggers, so in the end we all have to keep trying what works for us best.


Last edited by Mini on Sun Mar 23, 2014 5:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  dcook60 on Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:31 am

sorry to disagree, mini, but citric acid IS one of those MSG ingredients.  it's on every list.  especially if it is made from corn, it is sure to have some free-glutamate in it.  and how is one to know what it's made from?  

one cannot know unless one has nothing else to do besides call every food manufacturing company, (and believe me, i've done it) finally after much waiting and runaround getting someone on the phone who has not a CLUE what's in the food he/she represents.  

this is the most hellish part of the MSG avoidance campaign; that all is not disclosed on labels.  if the suspected ingredient is in a small enough amount, it doesn't by law have to be listed on the label.  if some prepared ingredient is purchased from another supplier who hasn't come clean about what's in it, the new food will not have it listed, either.  minefield.......yes, big-time.  

oh and let's not start an argument, but organic fertilizer can be free!  manure, compost, seaweed, etc.  yes, i know the whole enterprise is labor-intensive and often more expensive but why poison ourselves daily if we can have another option?  maybe this is simplistic thinking, but even when i was 22 years old and read rachel carson's 'silent spring' i got the point that "a little poison is still poison".  dianne
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  Kem10 on Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:25 pm

Dianne, thank you so much for your offer of Deb's book but I think I may download the Kindle one as it is half the price and I can have it today. I've been reading and reading the web site and message board and there is so much info there. Take baby steps is going to be my motto for now to keep from being overwhelmed and also my body always reacts badly to any sudden abrupt change.

My first quick and easy change was to toss out my toothpaste and begin using baking soda. My breakfast this morning was fresh blueberries and chopped walnuts but I later read the ingredients on the walnuts package which I expected to be just walnuts but no...it has BHT. Tomorrow a trip to the local health food store in hopes of finding walnuts that are just walnuts and also some apples to make my own applesauce. Applesauce on top of a baked sweet potato with a sprinkle of organic cinnamon is pretty good.
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  Migrainegirl on Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:48 pm

Sorry to get all scientific but citric acid is not in fact the same as MSG.

MSG is C5H8NO4NA,  many of the additives people have trouble with are glutamic acids (MSG without the sodium molecule).   Glutamic acid and its salts can be present in a wide variety of other additives, including hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and protein isolate.  It can also be labeled as natural flavor or contains glutamate.  A nice list of the amount of free glutomates in food is in Wikipedia under glutamic acid.  

Citric acid is C6H8O7.   This is a completely different compound.  You may well have problems with it also, but this is in addition to any problems with MSG.  Or, alternately, there is some concern that citric acid may often contain some free glutomates that are created during its processing and not filtered out.  But this is in addition to the citric acid.  It itself is not the same as MSG.
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  Mini on Sun Mar 23, 2014 5:33 pm

Thank you Migrainegirl, this is exactly what I meant.
It is possible that there  might be some traces of MSG (as they can be traces of nuts, for example) in any mass produced food through contamination of the equipment, but basically citric acid and MSG are quite different additives, even if they both could me M triggers, chemically they are quite different products.

I have also forgotten to add that some foods contain naturally produced MSG. One of them,I believe. is soya beans which is now present in so many mass produced food in one form, or another. There are others but I don't remember at the moment what they are.

I am not surprised that there is so much confusion about the ingredients listed on the food labels, like for example mixing MSG with citric acid as if they were one and the same, because the whole labelling is deliberately designed to confuse us, so we find it too complex to bother to read them, just give up and but the product without too much examination.
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  Seaine on Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:22 am

I have also had to radically change my diet, once I found that artificial food dyes contributed significantly to my migraines. I sort of did it in steps. At first it seemed overwhelming, but turned out to not be as hard as I thought. For example, I first cut out only red #40, because I thought that was the only one causing me issues. So I still ate foods with the other colors in them. After a few weeks I realized it was the other colors also, and cut them out. Later, I realized it was in my medications such as extra strength Tylenol and my birth control pills, so I had to change those. Finally, I realized it was in my toothpaste so got Tom's of Maine brand which I highly recommend.

These same steps would not apply to you since you are cutting out a different substance, but you get the idea. You will find that it becomes easy to read every food label. I can now look at a food's label and in about 2 seconds find the ingredient I don't want. People are always amazed and ask how I can read so fast, when the truth is my eyes only find the bad ingredient and don't read the rest. If the food is safe, I look for much longer since I have to check every word 3 times. After awhile you will be able to predict/memorize which food you don't want to eat, and you will find brands that you remember you can have and become your favorites. I used to always eat many chips and candies. Obviously most of those have food dyes, so now I only eat Baked Lays Original and some chocolates like Milky Way. Instead of the rest, I change over to cooking more of my own food and having different snacks.

At first it may seem like there's nothing you can eat, but eventually you will discover that in reality, you only weren't eating the right things! I made mistakes almost every single week for the first 3 months, and I knew it every time it happened due to the pain. Now, a year a half later, it seems like not a big deal anymore. Your taste in foods will change and if you don't like something now that's safe for you, your brain will re-wire and you will like it in the future. On the same note, you will no longer crave the foods you can't eat. When I see someone with M&Ms or a lollipop, not only do I NOT want the food anymore, but I feel bad to see someone else eating the poison. I can't stand that my sister lets her young children eat the artificial food dyes, and if I'm ever bringing snacks to a group I would never include anything that I myself can't eat.

I seem to be one of the lucky few on this forum that is not strongly affected by MSG. If I eat a lot, I may get a rapid heartbeat and a non-migraine headache. If I eat some, no noticeable affect.
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Re: MSG and Migraine

Post  ZomigMan on Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:30 pm

dcook60 wrote:my family used to live in southern CA where a lot of strawberries are grown, heavily poisoned.  they are one of the "dirty dozen" foods which are the most sprayed.  get that list and carry it with you to the store.  i'd love to buy everything certified organic, but realistically, i can only afford so much.  we all do the best we can do, so please don't try to be perfect with the diet; you will learn a lot as you get more savvy at reading labels.

Agreed on that. They still use methyl bromide to sterilize strawberry fields, even though it has long since been banned globally. They use it a lot near Monterey, CA where I lived for about 30 years. Highly toxic stuff, it is the only thing that will kill nematodes that infect strawberry plants. They used to grow lots of seasonal strawberries here where I live now, but they plowed them all under a decade ago to plant condos and Intel chip FAB plants.

dcook60 wrote:the first thing i ever discovered was "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" in tuna cans.  i couldn't understand why plain old tuna was making me so sick; now i get it, of course.  trader joe's has unadulterated tuna for a reasonable price; i hope you have a t.j's nearby.  even though many of their prepared items have citric acid (MSG) i still find lots of good food there, besides just produce.  best of luck, dianne

Methinks you mean glutamic acid here. MSG is another name for free glutamic acid. As others have posted, MSG is not citric acid. I drink citric acid all the time... and had been migraine-free for 28 days on my latest diet. MSG is in a lot of processed foods now, including any type of Ranch dressing, several Dorito chip flavors, and is in all brands of bratwurst I have seen lately. MSG has many disguises, including but not limited to: natural flavoring (which can mean many things, but in the case of ground turkey is mainly rendered veggie MSG), whey or soy protein, yeast extract, hydrolyzed protein, and anything with a glutamate ending. The real problem wit MSG is that it is a free form of salt that is absorbed directly into your blood stream where it acts as a vaso-active amine, constricting blood vessels. It also induces your pancreas to release insulin, lowering your blood sugar levels, so you crave sugar. It is likely one of the leading causes of obesity.

For the many names of MSG, look at this site: http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html

Notice that malted barley is listed as being associated with MSG as well, which has high tannin levels (one of my main migraine triggers). Almost all white bread has malted barley flour in it. It is also hard to find plain wheat flour any more. BTW: Costco's Kirkland brand is tuna also only has water, salt and tuna in it. No veggie broth which is mostly highly rendered soy that is very high in MSG to get around saying that they add MSG.
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