MSG Allergy Symptoms

The Truth About MSG Allergy Symptoms

If a listing of MSG allergy symptoms were to be compiled it would be a short list indeed. The simple truth is, there is no such thing as being allergic to MSG (monosodium glutamate), and any symptoms experienced are not due to an allergy. This may seem to fly in the face of reason, as we have been conditioned to believe that a certain percentage of the population is allergic to MSG and must avoid it. Even you or I may have times eaten food containing monosodium glutamate and felt ill, or believed we had experienced an allergic reaction.


This isn't to say that those who claim to have experienced MSG allergy symptoms are imagining things or making things up. After enjoying a meal in which one of the foods served contained MSG, the individual may have gotten a headache, experienced a bout of nausea, felt a burning sensation in the neck or arms, or even felt some difficulty in breathing. These symptoms are real indeed, and can be quite uncomfortable. What the individual has experienced however are not one or more MSG allergy symptoms, but symptoms of MSG sensitivity or intolerance, and there's a difference.

What Is The Difference? - You may well ask what the differences are, if any, between MSG allergy symptoms and MSG sensitivity or intolerance symptoms. The symptoms may be, or appear to be the same. The difference is, an allergic reaction involves our immune system. That is in part how an allergic reaction is defined. Ingesting MSG does not in any way influence the behavior of our immune system, so by definition, whatever discomfort we may feel, is not an allergic reaction. This is not to say that the symptoms due to this sensitivity or intolerance cannot be rather severe. Instances of seizures and irregular heartbeat have been reported, and considered to be quite valid symptoms. These symptoms however are rarely life threatening, while the same cannot be said for an allergic reaction. Also, unlike some allergic reactions, the symptoms resulting from MSG intolerance or sensitivity are usually quite temporary, and also normally require large amounts of MSG to have been ingested before surfacing.


The fact that you cannot experience MSG allergy symptoms doesn't mean that you're now free to consume food containing MSG whereas you could not in the past. If you've had an intolerance or sensitivity to the substance in the past, the chances are this has not changed. Possibly the only "cure" is to attempt to avoid foods containing MSG altogether. This may not be easy, as many processed foods contain MSG, often used to enhance flavors, and even some foods such as soy which are regarded as very healthy, contain MSG. There have been some arguments that natural MSG will not give rise to symptoms of intolerance or sensitivity, while MSG which is not a natural component of a food item but rather is an additive can be a source of discomfort. This argument has never been proven however.

Some Peace Of Mind - Even if you can't eat foods rich in MSG, and if you suffer one or more of the symptoms of sensitivity to the substance you should probably not even try, you can gain some peace of mind in the knowledge that you are not suffering an allergic reaction, and your immune system is not going out of control, which of course can be dangerous. You should also realize, if you haven't already, that whatever symptoms you've experienced have been temporary and probably not too severe (there can always be the exception of course). You might have to avoid eating in Chinese restaurants, a good source of MSG, but the minute amounts present in many foods probably should not bother you, where if you were allergic to the substance, minute amounts probably would. It may take some time to train everyone to recognize that there is no allergy involved, but as long as the symptoms that do occur mimic allergic reactions so well, the belief that one can be allergic to MSG is going to be hard to dispel.