Headaches? A Most Likely Cause

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist November 30, 2010

Americans are in a world of hurt.    Use of store bought painkillers increased by nearly 90% between 1997 and 2005 according to statistics provided by the Department of Drug Enforcement.   What’s worse, frequent use of over the counter painkillers can cause withdrawal headaches causing the sufferer to use an ever increasing dose to treat symptoms and a cycle of overuse.

It’s no secret that recurring and sometimes debilitating headaches are a primary reason for abuse of over the counter pain meds.   Unfortunately, most folks popping pills to rid themselves of headaches have absolutely no idea what is causing them.

What if I told you that completely eliminating a single food additive would rid you of many, if not the majority of headaches that you suffer from?

That additive is none other than the ubiquitous monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG.   MSG is the mirror image of the naturally occurring glutamic acid in the human body. In a nutshell, MSG is glutamic acid gone bad.

MSG is a Neurotoxin

MSG is a potent neurotoxin. When consumed as an additive in processed foods, it hammers the hypothalamus, part of the brain stem, and shrivels and kills brain cells.  The hypothalamus is the Master Gland of the endocrine system and controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and sleep.

Rats fed or injected with MSG get morbidly obese, possibly because the MSG causes the pancreas to increase the amount of insulin it secrets which can rapidly lead to insulin resistance and Metabolic Syndrome.

Ok, so we now know that MSG can contribute to weight issues and other metabolic problems.

msgBut did you also know that MSG is a primary cause of headaches and migraines?

Most people fail to make the connection between MSG and their headache problems because the headache doesn’t always immediately happen after eating a MSG laced fast food meal, for example.   In some cases, the headache won’t take hold for a full 24 or even 72 hours later, long after that brief, dietary lapse has faded from memory.

The good news is that you can eliminate MSG from your life once and for all, and with it, your headaches and dependence on over the counter pain meds!

To do it, you must basically swear off most, if not all, processed foods.   Earlier in this post, I referred to MSG as ubiquitous because it is everywhere.  MSG is the dominant additive in the food supply occurring in approximately 95% of all processed foods!

Restaurants use MSG laden ingredients too.    Most soups and sauces in restaurants come from some sort of “flavor” package.   The “flavor” package or bouillon cubes are loaded with MSG.   Steaks are frequently brushed with MSG before grilling to make them more tasty for the consumer (this disguises poor quality meat).

Beware also of restaurants that claim that they do not use MSG!  What they are really telling you is that they don’t add any MSG.    MSG is still very much present in the flavor mixes, soup starters and bottled sauces that they buy and use to prepare the food.    They don’t make that stuff from scratch, I can assure you!

Beware also of products that have on the label “No MSG Added”.    The picture above is of a package of beef sausage bites my husband bought for our kids thinking it was MSG free.   Is it?   Absolutely not!   The ingredients list includes “natural spices” which is almost certainly MSG.    Again, the manufacturer can get away with the “No MSG added” label because none of the listed ingredients contain more than 50% MSG.

Games, games, and more labeling games.   Bottom line?     If you think a product may contain MSG, it most likely does considering that 95% of processed foods have it added somewhere.

Once you decide to get off MSG and avoid it like the plague like I do, you will be delighted to see that headaches become a distant memory in your life story.   I can’t remember the last time I actually took an ibuprofen or any over the counter pain med for anything, let alone a headache!

There is much benefit to be gained from slaying the Processed Food Giant in your home!    Start by eliminating MSG from your life and experience the wonder of headache free days that ensue from a happy hypothalamus!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

 

Comments (74)

  1. Becky Nicklas via Facebook March 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    I was a life long headache sufferer for years. There are several things that bring on a headache in me, and MSG is definitely one of them.

    Reply
  2. Kelly Johns via Facebook March 11, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    my body rejects msg Kate Bowie majorly, i get stomach cramps within an hour of having any, very wary of it. thanks for good read, confirms how horrible it is.

    Reply
  3. Jenny Freemantle via Facebook March 11, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Yes, MSG is a cause of headaches but it has been shown that 85% of Migraine headaches are the result of gluten intolerance. All forms of MSG certainly should be removed from the diet but if you suffer from Migraines the first thing to suspect as a cause is gluten.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: HEADACHES|MSG|PAIN RELIEF | Healing Desire

  5. This is such an important post. MSG is banned in Australia but whenever I travel, especially in Asia I can taste it in food right away. Then I start to get a headache and if it has been used in rather strong quantities my symptoms of Fibromyalgia start to spike. It’s not good! But I’m grateful that since my body never usually has it, it can immediately let me know when I have.

    Reply
  6. I had struggled with migraines for years. I wife finally turned me on to MSG telling me that it could be causing my headaches.

    I decided to give it a try. BAM, no more headaches. It was like a miracle. I couldn’t believe it.

    So If you suffer from chronic headaches……please please please try this. It worked for me.
    Brian\’s last post: Tips to Handle Stress and Anxiety

    Reply
  7. It is truly amazing when you begin to look at food ingredients and realize what is considered MSG. For the longest time I carried with me a list of ingredients and food additives that always contain MSG. I printed this list out small and laminated it for my wallet so that I would always have it with me in case I had a question while shopping. I was doing this when I first began to change what I ate. Now that I make the majority of my foods from scratch I notice when I eat something that contains MSG (like eating out somwhere) all of my joints hurt the next day.
    Sue T.\’s last post: The Everything but the Chicken Chicken Soup

    Reply
  8. oh my goodness. It’s so nice to see articles like these. I’ve recently become aware of the terribleness of msg and how food manufacturers are using it to enhance their sales. I’ve been “screaming” at everyone I know about it and almost all of them think I’ve lost my mind. My boyfriend seems to be angry at me for “scaring” him into not eating his fave foods. I feel like such a villian. Some people have simply ceased contact with me. In my mind the facts about msg are something to be alarmed about and the insidious tactics of food manufacturers exposed as much as possible but so many people seem to want to be ignorant like they really truly believe that ignorance is bliss! It isn’t! What you don’t know really can hurt you!!! I feel like screaming! Msg isn’t the only thing to be alarmed about either!! DX

    Reply
  9. I appreciate this and its posting was timely as I was visiting family. It helped me pinpoint the horrible headache I got a couple days after eating MSG from a package of onion soup mix used in a beef roast – and therefore we knew the following week to make our own! Then the same thing happened after some supposedly no-MSG Chinese food. I shared your info with my family. I am so horrified that the lie of “no MSG” is being propogated. We were wary after that and double checked by internet search when we saw a box of Progresso “NATURAL” beef broth – with “NO MSG” and a little asterisk saying “except naturally occuring in autolyzed yeast.” Lo and behold it’s just another labeling gimmick and that is the same thing as MSG. Sickening, literally and figuratively. I already eschew all processed foods at home but this will help when we’re fending out and about.

    Reply
  10. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
    Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist December 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Jennifer, my content was being scraped and stolen all the time using a full feed. Had to go to partial as this type of stuff is so not cool and very difficult and time consuming to stop.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: MSG: Fibromyalgia Symptoms Cause? | The Health Matters Show With Cinda Crawford

  12. I have become VERY sensitive to MSG. When you have to eat out and are fearful of MSG headaches, try drinking Calcium Bentonite Clay Water (Natures Cleansing Clay or Living Clay Co.). I use about a tablespoon shaken up in 8 -12 oz of water and drink throught the meal. This helps….for when you just can’t avoid it. I think it probably absorbs much of the MSG. The clay is also good for food poisioning for the same reason.

    Reply
  13. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
    Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist December 1, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Produce is also frequently sprayed with MSG. Auxigro is 29% free glutamic acid (MSG). Organic produce is not sprayed with this as far as I know.

    Reply
  14. Thanks Sarah,
    It took me until just recently when I thought that I wasn’t eating any MSG to realize that any poultry injected with a “solution” has MSG in it. One day in the grocery store, it just kind of hit me that if is has something injected into it must have MSG in it and it does. I was finally able to find MSG-free turkey and chicken at Walmart of all places! The chicken is antibiotic free, free range, hormone-free, etc and very reasonably priced.
    Also, thank God for the Internet; I have been able to find recipes for msg-free “Montreal Style” steak seasoning, Fajita Seasoning, etc. Sea salt packs a lot of flavor and so we can still enjoy the flavors of the seasonings my family loves.
    In addition, I believe that all the seasonings/spice mixes that are sold in Indian Grocery Stores are MSG free. Most of them say all natural, no MSG or sugar added. I guess Indians didn’t get hoodwinked like the rest of Asia into believing that food wouldn’t taste good without MSG!
    thanks, Joyce

    Reply
  15. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Joy, that is the most difficult part of being a Real Foodie .. how to mingle and socialize like a normal person without getting sick from all the low quality, processed food being served. What I do is stick to meats, veggies and fruit and skip the bread (which is not ever traditionally prepared). Skip the desserts to as they will be full of white sugar and refined flour. Even if th meats and veggies are not organic, stick with these types of foods and you won’t at least be getting a daily headache and be exhausted and lethargic from all the sugar and carbs!
    Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist\’s last post: Headaches A Most Likely Cause

    Reply
    • Hi, my husband and I both work for a caterer, and my husband is severly alergic to MSG. It used to be he would just get a bad headache a day or so later. But one time he was working an event and thought the meat would be the safest thing for him to eat. He knew some of the salads, etc, had flavorings in them that had MSG. So he ate quite a bit of grilled chicken and pork. That night I had to rush him to the ER. By the time we got there, he was delirious and having trouble breathing. They started giving him benedryl. When he went to work after he recovered, he asked a coworker what they put on the meat. It was some new seasoning they had found and used a lot of. And they usually try to avoid it where they can because of him. So even though the meat was seemingly the healthiest choice, he ended up really sick. The symptoms have developed from a headache, to a severe allergy reaction. Driving a loved one to the hospital and trying to keep them concious through a rural area is a scary adventure I’d rather not repeat. The doctors advise: keep the disolvable benedryl strips with you at all times. I like to avoid meds, but that one could literally save his life.

      Reply
  16. Love the new blog design! You’re really coming up in the world! :)

    I have a question that I actually think would be a very useful blog topic. How do you eat out, especially when it comes to holidays? Most of the time when we eat out we can choose restaurants that have a healthy emphasis, but for Thanksgiving we spent 10 days visiting family. We went to numerous catered events and family dinners. Basically, I just gave up and ate what was set before me. Any advice? Reccomendations?

    Reply
  17. I have to say as much anti-MSG buzz as there was years ago it amazes me that it’s still in everything. Sadly, I have to blame consumers as much as the label-game playing producers. It seems once the news outlets stopped doing stories on the evils of MSG people stopped caring. As long as their favorite Chinese takeout says “no MSG added” they seem content that they’ve done their due diligence. It’s very sad. I can say not only does it cause headaches, but I’ve noticed in my toddler if he’s eaten anything with it his sleep is messed up for a week.

    Reply
  18. Sarah- what do you think about kombu? (I think it’s kombu) It’s definitely traditional, and I heard that it’s how MSG was initially discovered. I bought some, thinking to use it to enhance my home made soups, but I’ve not been able to reconcile whether it has the same negatives as man-made MSG or not.

    Plus an anecdote- since giving up (most) processed foods, I’ve hardly had any real headaches. Two weeks ago, I added a can of Maneschewitz chicken broth to my soup for added flavor- I hadn’t realized that there was MSG in it when I bought it. Later that week I got the first raging headache I’d had in weeks. I didn’t put the two together until I read this post where you said that the headaches don’t always occur on the same day. Ouch! I think I’m going to start tracking any headaches that I get now.

    Reply
  19. I am recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, and I have been suffering migraines since I was a young child. I am currently off all Gluten and still occasionally suffer from Migrains. I am seeing a nuerologist and he has me on on meds that dont seem to work.
    I have had to change my diet and I think changing it a little more by avoiding MSG would be worth it.
    Thanks to my dear friend Heather who sent me this article.

    I am always open for suggestions if anyone out there has any.

    Thanks Again for this!!
    Nicole

    Reply
  20. A great post about MSG and the problems it causes. It is almost impossible to avoid MSG if you eat processed foods, or eat in restaurants. But the health benefits of avoiding MSG are terrific, not just in preventing headaches, but in protecting your mind, having more energy, and just plain feeling better.
    It is worth it to eat real food, and avoid every possible source of MSG.

    Reply
  21. That’s very interesting. I have been avoiding those things for a couple years now because of corn and soy food sensitivities in my daughter, among others. And I can’t remember the last time I had to take an ibuprofen!
    Kelly\’s last post: Honey Buttermilk Bread

    Reply
  22. So very true! My daughter suffers from migraines. It is hereditary, but we discovered the MSG link a couple of years ago and things have improved dramatically! http://www.msgmyth.com has a list available of MSG containing foods. There are some things my daughter still eats, she is very picky. Her headaches now, mostly come from too much activity, not enough water or lack of sleep. The hunt for finding foods without MSG has sparked the healthy revolution in our home:)

    Thanks!

    Reply
  23. Great article!! It is so hard to avoid! We went away for the day with my Mom yesterday and ate out. I have been in bed most of the day from what I suspect is something I ate because I am so tired (worse than usual) and my head hurts. Ugh!!

    I would love to get my family totally off any and all processed junk because I see what it is doing to us and I KNOW how terrible it all is. I feel like little David trying to face Goliath at the grocery store though, with our almost non-existent food budget, how cheap junk is and how addicted my family is. Even though an constantly telling DH about all my health findings, he just doesn’t care. But like David, I hope that my Goliath (the grocery beast and family resistance) can be conquered.

    PS: I LOVE your new blog design! It is fantastic!
    Carla\’s last post: Note To Self-

    Reply
  24. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
    Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist November 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Liz, yes – autolyzed yeast extract is in most crackers and it is MSG for sure. I was at a birthday party for my child’s teacher yesterday and I ate TWO Ritz crackers (they have MSG a la autolyzed yeast in them) and I got a very slight headache within MINUTES! Fortunately, didn’t get enough of a dose to cause a problem as I noticed the tightening in my head and stopped eating any more!

    Reply
  25. I thought it was important that you include a list of disguises that MSG hides behind, I found this good list online from http://www.rense.com/general52/msg.htm :

    * Food Additives that ALWAYS contain MSG *

    Monosodium Glutamate
    Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
    Hydrolyzed Protein
    Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
    Plant Protein Extract
    Sodium Caseinate
    Calcium Caseinate
    Yeast Extract
    Textured Protein (Including TVP)
    Autolyzed Yeast
    Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
    Corn Oil

    * Food Additives That FREQUENTLY Contain MSG *

    Malt Extract
    Malt Flavoring
    Bouillon
    Broth
    Stock
    Flavoring
    Natural Flavors/Flavoring
    Natural Beef Or Chicken Flavoring
    Seasoning
    Spices

    * Food Additives That MAY Contain MSG Or Excitotoxins *

    Carrageenan
    Enzymes
    Soy Protein Concentrate
    Soy Protein Isolate
    Whey Protein Concentrate

    Reply
    • Thank you for this list Elizabeth I didn’t realize there were so many other additives that had MSG as well!

      I too realized that MSG as well as other things was a major factor in mine and my husbands migraines that we were getting almost daily. At that time we were eating lots of frozen lunches at work, lots of bagged potato chips etc….terrible diet, but since we’ve changed our habits as well as our stress load as we both changed jobs at that time as well, we both have not had migraines since. I am getting headaches occassionally again now but I think it’s possibly a nutrient issue, magnesium possibly, because I am still breastfeeding my 17mth old.

      Reply
  26. Thanks for this post! Isn’t Autolyzed Yeast Extract a “naturally-occurring” form of MSG that many companies will use as a clever disguise?

    Reply
  27. Fantastic article advising no MSG- I’ve been singing this tune for a long time. I’m so glad you posted this. MSG can be a real problem not only for people prone to headaches, but also Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It was added to our American diet to increase the taste of foods, but now it has only become an aggravation. Some food producers are beginning to take MSG out of their products. I truly hope they are!

    Thanks again, Cinda Crawford, host of the Health Matters Show
    http://www.healthmattersshow.com
    Cinda Crawford\’s last post: Press Release- Hemispherx Biopharma- new drug application for Ampligen

    Reply
  28. Sarah,
    thanks for the important posts! I suffered migraines starting @8 yrs old. You are right MSG in its many hidden forms, Natural flavorings, spices, autolyzed yeast extract. ACCENT flavoring, soy sauce , bouillion cubes , Nutrasweet, aspartame. made me feel like I had a vice around my head. The pain was excruciating. I went to a neurologist and they put me on Elavil which made me feel so sleepy all the time. Rather than figure out what was causing the prob. they just wanted to treat the pain. Dr. Blaylock has done amazing work on this.
    Fast forward many years and I am almost 99% headache free. I do not eat anything out of a box only a barn and food from fields not factories. Also, cane sugar, gluten and pasteurized milk were triggers. I now make sure to stay well hydrated, get lots of rest/ at regular times and take 400 milligrams of magnesium citrate. one in eve. and one in am. I notice now that seasoning grass fed beef, veggies, or anything w/ celtic sea salt brings out the wonderful flavors inherent in the food. Thanks again for all you do to educate!

    Reply
    • Hi Katie,
      Can you elaborate on the magnesium citrate? Unfortunately I too, suffer from debilitating migraines and although I currently take two 50 mg tabs of amitriptyline as a preventative measure, I still have episodes that leave me with black eyes, nausea and severe light and sounds sensitivity. I thought mag cit was used for constipation -what’s the connection to migraines?
      Tx,
      C-

      Reply
      • Hi Chris
        my apologies for just seeing your note today. Mag. def. is very prevalent in migraine sufferers. Blue Bonnett mag citrate does not have corn either and some vitamins do that are in citrate form and corn is an issue for me. Gluten intolerance is a MAJOR reason also for migraines and neurolical , inflammatory responses. I would recommend getting testing for celiac/ gluten antibodies first and even if it comes back neg. eliminate all forms of gluten. I would google mag. def. and migraines for more med info. good luck to you!

        Reply
  29. Pingback: Tweets that mention Headaches? A Most Likely Cause -- Topsy.com

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Login to your account

Can't remember your Password ?

Register for this site!