A reaction to food seasoned with MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG). MSG is widely used as a FLAVOR ENHANCER in processed foods, meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables, especially in Oriental cooking. Excessive MSG can be associated with symptoms in susceptible people: a tingling or burning sensation (face, upper back, neck, or arms); heart palpitations; anxiety, excessive urination and thirst; stomachache; vomiting; attacks mimicking epileptic seizures in children; asthma; and possibly depression. Migraine headaches can result from consumption of food treated with MSG. Generally the symptoms are transitory. Women are more likely to experience this syndrome than men.
The details of how MSG causes these effects are not known. Caffeine and vitamin B6 may counteract the effects in some people. Some research suggests that MSG related syndrome is the result of histamines found in shrimp paste, soy sauce and other fermented flavorings. It is very important for individuals who develop tightness of the chest to seek medical advice, to be certain more serious problems are not overlooked.
Tarasoff L., and M. F. Kelly. “Monosodium L-glutamate: a double-blind study and review,” Food and Chemical Toxicology 31, no. 12 (1993): 1,019 1,035.