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Friday, March 18, 2011

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

The "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" or also known as "MSG Symptom Complex"  or "MSG Allergy" is a condition often marked by nausea, dizziness, headaches, and a racing pulse which can happen to anyone who consumes food containing high quantities of monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Why the name "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome"? The symptom was first reported in 1968, by a physician who had eaten in a Chinese restaurant, hence created the name.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) also known as sodium glutamate is a sodium salt from glutamic acid. It is commonly used as food additive and food enhancer. Trade names of MSG include Ajinomoto, Ac'cent, Vetsin and Tasting Powder.

Food with high MSG is mostly in fast food restaurants, from the fried chicken, salad dressing, sausages, fries to the dipping sauce. Canned food and soups, canned meat, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and meat flavouring cubes for soups or stew also contain MSG.

Symptoms of  "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome":
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Feeling Hot
  • Pain in neck and chest
  • Shortness of breathe
  • Palpitations (fast heartbeats)
  • Cold sweat
What to do? There is nothing that you can do as the symptoms are transient. However if you feel faint, put your head between the knees or lie flat on your back. When in doubt, please consult a doctor.

Prevention tips:
  • Eat fresh food only.
  • Avoid or, at least, minimise the intake of MSG in home-cooked food.
  • Do not buy processed food and food containing MSG. Check the label and look out for other label names for MSG: E621, hydrolyzed protein, yeast extract, sodium caseinate, textured protein and glutamic acid and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
  • Avoid eating in places known to use MSG and food with plenty of MSG.
Related Tools / Resources:
MSGTruth: What Food To Avoid?
In Bad Taste: The Msg Symptom Complex : How Monosodium Glutamate Is a Major Cause of Treatable and Preventable Illnesses, Such As Headaches, Asthma, Epilepsy, heart
The Simple Allergy Friendly Cookbook


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