Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MSG, Migraines and General Health

Other wise known as Monosodium Glutamate. I have discovered is one of the main triggers to my migraines.

I may or may not have shared with you before, but I have severe migraines. Ocular Migraines, Cluster Migraines, Sinus Headaches and Migraines that will last for days. An MRI showed I have something called White Matter Disorder. There is a lot of white matter around the grey matter in my brain. Neurologists know little about this other than the people who have this disorder have Migraines, motion sickness, occasionally being off balance and a few other things in all common.

I have found several triggers. Sun, can't do anything about that. Scents/smells, I try to limit my exposure to those. Stress will sometime bother me, but most of the time it does not. And of course, hormones. For Ocular Migraines the weather and barometric pressure plays a big part. Cannot control that. If I eat something with MSG, the weather changes causing an ocular headache or if there is any other type trigger with when I ingest MSG, I am in for days of a migraine.

I get warning auras, sometimes 24 hours in advance. This always helps and I can prepare myself.

I have been on a neuro medicine for 1 1/2 years as a preventive. My Neuro and I want to start tapering me off the medication. But since taking the meds, it has made a difference in the quality of my life. The script does not completely get rid of headaches, but they are less occurring and more manageable.

Months ago, I read an article in my AFAA (Aerobic Fitness Association of America) American Fitness magazine about MSG. The different ailments and woes that MSG can cause for those who are sensitive to it. And how it is in general unhealthy to most people. I started making an effort to read labels and exclude MSG in our diet.

Guess what? My headaches decreased! I would even get auras, an ocular head ache in one eye and it would move to the other eye and then it was gone.

In fact, when I took MSG out of our diet, I rarely needed more than an a couple of aspirin, if even that. In other words, my headaches were fewer and fewer, very mild and only lasted a few minutes. Many times, went away on their own. At first, I did not fully realize the decrease in migraines was because of taking MSG out of our diet. Then one day we went to one of our favorite deli's and I got my favorite deli sandwich in all the world. I had a 4 day migraine that started in the parking lot when leaving the deli. It was horrible!!!! The sandwich meats were full of MSG's and all kinds of sulfates.

Now my whole family read labels to help me out. My family love me so much. They do not want me to have these headaches. The ones that put me to bed and cause me to have an upset stomach. They will even speak up at a restaurant asking about MSG use in cooking the food if I do not.

My neurologist has decreased the dosage of my script by 50%. Even told me I can 'experiment' now if I want. I am on a safe dosage to do that.

Hidden MSG~
Reading labels is not enough. No it is not. FDA does not require products to list MSG on a package as MSG or Monosodumium Glutamate. A "Healthy Snack" will be full of hidden MSG. FDA allows manufactures to list the ingredients of MSG instead of MSG or Monosodumium Glutamate. Sun Chips is an example. There may be only one or two ingredients of MSG in the product, but if you are sensitive & allergic to it, you are still going to have a reaction.

Here are a few ingredients to look for in all lables:
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Hydrolyzed Protein: (plant, vegetable, any kind)
  • Sodium or Calcium Caseinate
  • Autolyzed Yeast, Yeast Extract
  • Yeast Food, Yeast Nutrient
  • Textured Protein
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Monopotassium Glutamate
  • Gelatin
I took the above off another MSG/Migraine Research site. I question the Gelatin. Some of the yeast I question as well. If you do a Google search, you will find different research papers. Most of them have at 6 of the above ingredients in common as hidden MSG triggers. Including "Healthy Snacks" and foods. I have found whey protein and wheat on lists as MSG ingredients and Migraine triggers. These do not seem to be an issue with me.

I have looked at other research concerning MSG and foods to avoid and it almost reads like it is for someone with celiac disease instead of an intolerance to MSG. I suppose to a degree, many people have to go by a trial and error.

MSG and ingredients that make up MSG are used in inexpensive foods to: preserve, enhance flavor, tenderize, etc. They are in all prepackaged bakery mixes, prepackaged foods, most canned meats and soups. Dales Steak Sauce (a southern delight) is full of it. :-( So are most package salad dressings.

How do you avoid MSG? Read labels. Eat fresh fruits and veggies. Never assume a 'Healthy Snack' is w/out the preservatives. Read the labels. Cook from scratch.

Here is a link to an interesting study that tells more about MSG and explains not only how it effects migraines, but other issues that people may suffer from, including obesity.

I hope that you will find it helpful. MSG & Migraines

God Bless. I hope that everyone is enjoying the summer!

Edited to add this.... MSG & Hypothyroidism. I just happen to be hypothyroid....