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This page last updated 11/12/19

Monosodium Glutamate
"free glutamate"
is in most of the food Americans eat every day

MSG is in a class of chemicals called "excitotoxins".
These are chemicals that stimulate the nerve receptors in our body and brain so much that they damage the nerve and even kill it.  Long term exposure to these chemicals leads to nerve damage, eye damage and the cumulative brain damage that is likely a major contributor to Dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and ALS.
Along the way a whole host of other symptoms show up that are a warning that one is on the path to these terrible brain wasting diseases. (see full list of diseases linked to excitotoxin's damage below). Note also that the medical community completely ignores this as a cause of any health condition.

There are three major sources of these excitotoxins in our diet and the levels today have reached all time highs.
1. MSG or free glutamate which is hidden behind names like “Natural Flavors” and “Spices” and about 40 more names.
2. Aspartame – The artificial sweetener Nutrasweet
3.  BMAA - is a blue green algae toxin found in fish/seafood which is at an all time high because of fertilizer/farm animal pollution of our lakes and oceans causing more algae.

The only easy one to avoid is the artificial sweetener Aspartame because it is actually listed on the label on diet drinks and sugar free products and some dairy products.
can be mostly avoided by not consuming fish or seafood grown in waters contaminated by industrial agriculture. In the US the worst of it is anywhere in the south including all Florida. Surely you have heard of Florida beaches being closed due to the toxic algae.
Monosodium glutamate is always listed in the ingredients list but the root molecule "free glutamate", which is the damaging part is never listed on an ingredients list. Since most people now know that monosodium glutamate is bad, companies have found other ways to add it to foods as free glutamate and call it by many other names like "spices", "natural flavors", "yeast extract", "modified food starch". Nearly all fast food is loaded with it because it adds great flavor, is really cheap, and makes you over eat and still want more. When a corporation was involved in preparing the food you eat you can bet it is full of free glutamate. Soups, sauces, dressings, meats and cheeses, breads, even the ketchup and mustard are the usual hiding places. To avoid most of it one must make all their food from scratch using single ingredient products. (like mom used to do).

Most people know MSG as the flavor enhancer used by oriental restaurants. What very few people realize is that since World War II the amount of MSG (free glutamate) in the foods we eat every day has steadily risen to an all time high today. Why is this and how has this slipped under our radar? The FDA is not just asleep at the wheel on this one, they apparently are taking an active role protecting the obscene profits of the food giants who depend on free glutamate to make their over processed, nutritionally stripped foods taste great and make people crave them. The alternative is to use much more expensive natural spices to flavor the food but that would hurt their profits.
Free glutamate is a cheap flavor enhancer. It has no flavor itself, it works by over stimulating our taste buds - making them "dance" if you will. A better analogy is that free glutamate molecules are like little electric cattle prods, shocking our taste buds into thinking it is a really taste food. Given
In the culinary world it is given the taste name of "umami" by the Japanese who discovered MSG by processing seaweed. Free glutamate is absorbed by the tissues of the mouth, lining of the esophagus, and throughout the GI tract. It excites the brain to believe the food being eaten is the best you have ever tasted.  The toxic effect is when the nerve cells are over stimulated, the nerves continue to fire and fire until they run out of energy and die.  Nerve cells die and we become addicted to this glutamic acid, causing more cravings for foods that will give us even more free glutamate. This makes glutamate a food as dangerous as the worst street drugs. It is one of the big drivers in the obesity epidemic. When scientists need obese mice for a study, the fastest way to get them obese is to inject them with MSG.

What foods is it in?
Glutamate is naturally found in many foods but it is bound to a protein and thus harmless. The health damaging "free glutamate" is produced when it os broken away from this protein bond and that is done by heat, fermentation, and other chemical processes.
The only true way to avoid it is to eat all food in the raw state. This is one of the main reasons that domesticated dogs, cats, and humans have so many degenerative diseases and the rest of the mammals on this planet who eat only raw food as nature intended do not have degenerative health problems and don't get obese unless they are eating food humans had a hand in preparing.

Free glutamate is commonly added or to a lesser extent, naturally occurring (after being heated or fermented), in many of the foods Americans eat every day, such as bread, soups, sauces, processed meats, packaged meals of any sort, Asian cuisine, and frozen dinners, condiments, flavored chips, crackers, snack foods, dairy products (Parmesan is the highest), fermented foods like soy sauce, beans & legumes, all gluten containing baked goods including breads, most all fast food (Chipotle is one of the only fast food companies that doesn't add any free glutamate to it's foods), and most all restaurant food, especially those owned by corporations.

The vegan world is not immune to this most unhealthy of food additives. Most savory vegan recipes include ingredients like Braggs Aminos, soy sauce or tamari, miso, and nutritional yeast, all of which are very high in free glutamate. They are in there to add flavor to the dish, The plant based cheeses and meats are loaded with it including the new Beyond Burger.

In one of the most incompetent and corrupt policies of the FDA, free glutamate is allowed to be added to food and hidden from the label behind a myriad of names that hide the true reason it is in your food (as a cheap flavor enhancer/addicting additive).
Download and print the lengthy list of names that hide free glutamate here:


From that list the ones most commonly seen on ingredient labels is "spices", "natural flavors", "modified anything", and "yeast anything", "hydrolyzed anything".
"No MSG" on the label or restaurant door means absolutely nothing as free glutamate is not considered MSG even though they are both made up of free glutamate. Are you starting to get mad? Me too.

What really will get you fuming is that this brain damaging "flavor enhancer" is in kids foods and even some baby formula! It's in some vaccinations and flu shots. The blood brain barrier in not fully formed until puberty so the free glutamate has an easy time getting to the brain of children. Think Autism, ADHD, tantrums, behavior issues and learning disabilities and worse. The blood brain barrier breaks down as we age but that doesn't stop retirement homes and even hospitals from feeding large doses of it to the elderly in their "institutional" food service.

I have not seen a better way to learn about how important keeping free glutamate out of our diet is than Katie Reid's 3 videos on her web site www.UnblindMyMind.org. If you read no further go and watch the videos on this site. Very well done Katie! The best one HERE (9 min)

MSG Sensitivity

When a person has an adverse reaction after recent ingestion of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and/or any other ingredient that contains processed, free glutamic acid, we call them MSG-sensitive.
I have not come to a firm conclusion if some people are really more "sensitive" to free glutamate or that those who also have a damaged and inflamed digestive tract (Leaky Gut Syndrome) caused by a poor diet, gluten, pharmaceutical drug damage etc) allow more of the glutamate to slip through into the bloodstream.

Whether you are "sensitive" to free glutamate, aspartame, L-cysteine, BMMA, and other excitotoxins is not the issue. If you are ingesting it there is no way that it is not causing damage to your nervous system, brain, eyes, and even the pancreas.

Here are a few examples of adverse reactions/diseases that have been reported after ingesting free glutamate and or aspartate (Nutrasweet). Keep in mind that this not a complete list of the adverse reactions that have been reported.

The most common effects of too much free glutamate in the diet I hear about almost daily are racing heart beat (careful or that one will get you a pacemaker), vertigo, unexplained sweating, head ache/migraines and eye degeneration (blurry). What is more concerning is the permanent damage it can do to the brain and pancreas leading to Alzheimer's and diabetes respectively.

 Note: since aspartame is also an excitotoxin and like free glutamate, it also can cause the same type of damage and symptoms such as:


- Allergic rhinitis

- ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease

- Alzheimer's

- Anxiety

- Anxiety/panic attacks

- Arthritis

- Asthma

- Atopic dermatitis

- Autism

- Auditory processing dysfunction

- Burning sensations

- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

- Cataracts

- Changes in blood pressure

- Chest tension

- Chostrochondritis

- Chrohn's Disease

- Chronic bronchitis

- Chronic ear infections

- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

- Colitis

- Confusion

- Cramps

- Degenerative eye damage

- Depression

- Difficulty concentrating

- Dementia

- Dishydrosis

- Diverticutilits

- Dizziness

- Eating disorders

- Edema

- Excessive thirst

- Fibromyalgia (and all its associated names),

- Flushing

- Gastroenteritis

- Glaucoma - Harvard article here, see macular degeneration also below.

- Heart "murmur"

- Heart palpitations or rapid heart rate

- Hives

- Hyperactivity

- IBS,

- Incontinence (bladder and bowel)

- Lethargy or sleepiness

- Macular Degeneration - Incredibly this 2002 article documents the problem well. Sad this info is not common knowledge. Forward it to your eye doctor.

- Migraine headaches

- Mood swings

- Multiple Sclerosis

- Myofascial pain syndrome

- Nausea

- Numbness

- Obesity

- Parkinson's

- Racing heartbeat

- Seizures

- Sinusitis

- Skin rash

- Sleep disorders (apnea)

- Sweating/hot flashes

- Swelling


- Vertigo

Watch this 13 minute special on MSG produced by "60 Minutes" in 1991!
Sadly the only thing that has changed since then is that there is much more of it in our food.. Watch it Here (13:27)


MSG was classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and by the European Union as a food additive with the E- number E621. The truth of the matter is that free glutamate and the other common excitotoxin aspartate are both extremely health damaging and cause permanent and progressive, long term brain, eye and nervous system damage. Even worse the FDA allows food companies to hide MSG behind innocent sounding names like "spices" or "natural flavors" so they and achieve what in industry is termed a "clean label"

For a thorough understanding on how excitotoxins like free glutamate and aspartate damage the body read the book "Excitotoxins The Taste That Kills" by neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock.
This book makes the case that the cumulative, life long exposure to excitotoxins is the root cause of the brain damage that is diagnosed as Dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) Russell is on YouTube as well. Here is a great interview that discusses the brain damaging effects of free glutamate. 24 min Interview with Russell Blaylock

MSG increases your insulin response, tricking your body into thinking you can eat more than you actually should. This is exactly how scientists make rats obese, by feeding them MSG laced food. I don’t know about you, but knowing there is a potential substance that can trick me into eating more food is reason enough to avoid this at all costs. But MSG is linked to all sorts of terrible reactions in humans like migraines, toxicity, and autoimmune disorders that you can read about in this tell all book ("The Slow Poisoning of America") about MSG.

More info in the videos below.

One of the best sites on the web that will help you understand the effects of free glutamate on kids (autism, ADD etc.) is UnBlindMyMind.org founded by Katie Reid Phd. Watch the videos on her page - Probably the best info on this page and has good practical solutions too. Don't skip this one.

In 1968, the first MSG adverse reaction was reported in the literature, and in 1969, we saw the first report of MSG-induced brain lesions in laboratory animals. Approximately two years later, the food industry said that they would remove MSG from baby food, but what they did was to remove the "pure" MSG and substitute hydrolyzed protein. It was not until 1978 that baby food was "clean." But today the MSG is back. Not necessarily in the little jars that we call "baby food," but in lots of the other food we feed to babies, including some of the infant formulas.

Glutamate sucks up vitamin B6 and damages health. Too much glutamate in the body has to use B6 to convert to GABA. This uses up B6 and health fails as B6 is needed in over 400 different body processes.


Like free glutamate, aspartate (Nutrasweet) is a powerful excitotoxin. It has a long history of causing health damaging reactions in humans. It should never have been approved by the FDA but there was big money and politics involved in getting it approved. It get's worse. A new (2015) study linked it to Cancer, more specifically leukemia in men and women  - multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in men. The only good thing about Aspartate is that it as always listed on the label although the dairy industry has petitioned the FDA to allow them to add it to milk without putting it on the label. That has not yet been approved. It has accounted for more that 75% of the FDA's Adverse Effects reports.

The web is full of case histories of people drinking diet soda and suffering wide ranging symptoms. Many people are aware it is health damaging but drink it because they want to avoid sugar because they think sugar makes them gain weight which is true. What they don't realize is that even though nutrasweet has zero calories, the way it stimulates the pancreas and tricks the brain it can be even more fattening than the sugar version. Drink water, tea fresh lemonade. Sweeten with Stevia if you want it "sweet".


BMAA is actually a neurotoxin that comes from algae, that is, it can kill nerve cells. It has been strongly linked to ALS. Watch this short video that will cement that link: Diet and ALS

Given this, it is very likely that BMAA is a contributing cause of the brain damage that gets diagnosed as the other big brain diseases. People are eating more fish/seafood these days because they think it's the "healthier meat". Given this evidence, the plant based diet is looking better every day.


LEAKY GUT SYNDROME is a possible reason some people are "sensitive" to free glutamate, aspartate, and BMAA and others are not.
It stands to reason that if our intestinal lining of epithial cells (one cell thick wall) are damaged and leaking food particles and chemicals in the diet directly into the blood then this would make our reaction to those chemicals worse. Indeed Leaky Gut Syndrome can be blamed on a whole host of symptoms and maladies. It is well known that a healthy digestive tract is one of the key parts of being healthy. From my research, the two most damaging foods to the digestive tract are dairy and gluten (wheat, barley, rye). We Americans abuse our stomach intestines with pills, alcohol, and toxic food additives, pesticides, herbicides and pollutants. A leaky gut just insures more of the toxins (including the excitotoxins) get into our blood stream where they can travel to the brain.

Soy Lecitin - should we not be suspicious of lecithin and other soy derivatives (e.g. digestive enzymes) used as part of a "protocol" to cure leaky gut? Soy lecithin is actually the toxic residue left after processing soy oil.
Historian William Shurtleff reports that the expansion of the soybean crushing and soy oil refining industries in Europe after 1908 led to a problem disposing the increasing amounts of fermenting, foul-smelling sludge. German companies then decided to vacuum dry the sludge, patent the process and sell it as “soybean lecithin.” Scientists hired to find some use for the substance cooked up more than a thousand new uses by 1939. Among the uses of lecithin is in cosmetics and skin creams. Rather than being a hidden ingredient, lecithin is touted as being beneficial to the skin. To the manufacturers, it is known as a "penetration enhancer".
This means it makes the skin more permeable, allowing more of the "active" component in the product to pass through the skin barrier. If lecithin makes the skin more leaky, it does not take a giant leap of imagination to see it could be suspect in contributing to leaky gut syndrome.
The thickener carrageen (a derivative of seaweed) is also known to contribute to "leaky gut" by disrupting the bond of the epithial cells that line the intestines. You'll find it in most brands of nut milks, rice milks, non dairy milks and ice cream. It's banned in the EU. Avoid it completely.


How bad is it?
Here is one lady's story:
After about 35 years of death defying chest pains, being on the verge of death in ambulances, several emergency room visits, several hospitalizations, extensive testing and even gallbladder removal to try to figure it out, I finally realized on my own that it was the MSG. Since I avoid it now, the episodes have stopped. Not one doctor in all those years told me it could be MSG. People should know how dangerous this is.




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