Hillsboro Naturopathic Clinic

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To all our Patients:
I hope this letter finds you in good health and in strong spirits

We are releasing this newsletter for educational purposes, and we strongly encourage you to share your concerns, because we do our best to respond to your current questions in our future letters. This time we are sharing info for those who don't read labels or who have no idea of the nature of the chemicals in food.
One of the most popular food additives is MSG or Monosodium Glutamate.

Many people know that MSG is not really good for your health, but the food industry keeps on adding it into food. It is used to intensify flavor in meats, condiments, pickles, soups, candy, and baked goods. It is sold as a fine white crystal substance, similar in appearance to salt or sugar. It does not have a distinct taste of its own, so it is hard to find out if there is too much MSG in your food.

MSG is addictive. It stimulates taste buds and makes food taste as if it has much more flavor. After this experience, foods that do not have such intense flavor do not taste good at all. They taste like nothing. Only food with MSG will taste good. That is how people become addicted to MSG.

In the late 1960s, published reports linked consumption of MSG to health problems. Between 1980 and 1994, the Adverse Reaction Monitoring System in FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition received 622 reports of complaints about MSG. (How many mild and severe cases were not reported or misdiagnosed?) Headache and worsening of asthma were the most frequently reported symptoms after consumption of MSG. An unknown percentage of people develop MSG-symptom complex, characterized by one or more of the following symptoms. Burning sensation in the upper body; chest pain and bronchospasm (difficulty breathing); numbness of the upper body; Tingling and weakness in the face and upper body; facial pressure or tightness, weakness, nausea, drowsiness, rapid heartbeat. These reactions were produced by 0.5 - 2.5 g (1/50 to 1/10 of oz) of MSG.

Researches raised questions about the effects of glutamate on the nervous system. Studies showed that MSG causes brain damage in young rodents and brain damage effects in rats, rabbits, chicks, and monkeys. Studies have shown that MSG administered to animals during the neonatal period (baby's life in Mom's belly before birth) resulted in reproductive dysfunction when both males and females become adults. Females treated with MSG had fewer pregnancies and smaller litters, while males showed reduced fertility. Depression, irritability, and other mood changes have been reported after consumption of MSG.

Studies have shown that the body uses glutamate as a nerve impulse transmitter in the brain and that there are glutamate-responsive tissues in other parts of the body, as well. Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's chorea.

Yet, according to official comments of FDA, there is no scientific evidence that current levels of use of manufactured glutamate causes adverse effects. And no evidence exists to suggest that dietary MSG causes brain lesions or damages nerve cells in humans.

Federal Register, Dec. 4, 1992 (FR 57467)
Federal Register, Jan. 6, 1993 (FR 2950);
FDA Consumer, December 1993, "Food Allergies: When Eating is Risky." BG 95-16 http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/msg.html

The statements published by the FDA contradict known facts and common sense. They remind me of an old statement that the Earth is flat. For many centuries there was the "scientific" evidence that our planet is just a big flat platform. Another problem with scientific studies is that it is legal and possible to design the study in such a way that it will prove whatever needs to be proven to keep sales going. This is what happened when Tobacco companies showed proof that "according to medical and scientific studies tobacco is not addictive". Also, if MSG is that safe, why is there a new study every 2 or 3 years to test its safety?

My concerns are as follows:

  1. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a manufactured (not natural) substance.
  2. It has no nutritional value at all.
  3. It adds more Sodium to your food (1 serving size of food with MSG has up to 40% of RDA of Sodium).
  4. It perverts the function of taste buds and makes people choose foods with MSG over other foods.
  5. MSG has no genuine taste, therefore no amount of it can be detected in food.
  6. If taken by a pregnant female, it affects the reproductive organs of the 2nd generation and the general health of the 3rd generation.
  7. It causes brain damage in many animals, including monkeys (humans and monkeys physiologically are very similar, that is why drugs, before given to people, are tested on other animals first, and then on monkeys).
  8. MSG has not been tested on humans like it has been tested on animals.
  9. Even if taken in small amounts, it causes delayed multiple adverse reaction in some people.
  10. Depression, irritability and mood swings are among the adverse reactions. It means that MSG can alter people's behavior.
  11. Adverse effects on animals and people are not dose-dependant. It means that MSG has ill effects even in very small doses (500 mg - the size of a tablet)

I personally avoid foods with MSG. I read labels always. If I eat in an Oriental restaurant, I ask if they add MSG to their food. Reading labels is my habit now, I do it automatically. Because of this habit I discovered MSG in many products on the market.

I stay away from MSG. I wish you would too. Please, read labels on packages of food that you are buying for yourself and your family. Your health is worth it.

Thank you for reading this newsletter thoroughly.
In Peace and Health, sincerely yours

Dr. Victoria Lutskovsky