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The Liver and MSG

Battling the MSG Myth » Archive » Sharing Scientific Information » The Liver and MSG « Previous Next »

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Carol H
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2000 - 6:35 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tom, I found an email you forwarded to me with some more good info in it:


Please note one thing we have in common. Our last name. It was this fact
that drew my attention while I was reading an article on a website named:

The specific reference to you was:

"In 1994, John Fernstrom, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, pharmacology and
behavioral neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh, reviewed literature
examining the influence of food intake and ingestion of acidic amino acids,
such as glutamate, on the formation of neurotransmitters and any possible
repercussions on brain function.
Fernstrom pointed out that while glutamate is a neurotransmitter, it does not
have ready access to the brain from the circulation system or the diet. After
reviewing over 20 published studies, Fernstrom stated that the abundance of
scientific evidence indicates that dietary glutamate does not present a risk
to normal brain function.(31) "

I have been participating in a discussion group regarding adverse reactions
to MSG. It has occurred to a number of us that people with liver dysfunction
might be prone to have this susceptibility to MSG induced reactions or that
MSG itself may cause liver damage. It appears that supplementation of
Vitamin B and Taurine helps reduce the MSG reactions.

The liver might be involved in five possible ways:
1. The liver manufactures bile, which taurine is used to make.
2. The liver stores glycogen, which is the body's quick way to adjust the
body's blood sugar (helpful in keeping the blood-brain barrier intact).
3. Diminution or elimination of unwanted amino acids occurs in the liver.
4. The formation of non-essential amino acids including taurine is performed
in the liver.
5. B Vitamins are found in large quantities in the liver because that is
where they are used in processing amino acids.

After reading the "Cirrhosis of the Liver" section at another health site, I
was wondering if there have ever been studies that might have explored this
potential link. As we sufferers of MSG induced symptoms are well aware, MSG
is being added to just about every food product on the market. If
susceptibility to MSG is an indication of an underlying liver problem, this
could have wide ranging benefits to this awareness.

I would appreciate any help you can provide in this matter.

Tom Fernstrom
Tom Fernstrom
Posted on Saturday, March 24, 2001 - 10:07 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dear NOMSGers and Roy the website finder in particular,

I can't remember where I saw it -- whether it was a posting or in the text of a website link, but there was a comment made that many Japanese and/or possibly many asian ethnic groups genetically may not possess a liver enzyme that metabolizes MSG.

I find this hard to believe, but maybe after 2000 years of "natural" MSG consumption, genetic changes might occur through mutation that would eliminate the enzyme through natural selection and that the surviving mutations would have a natural defense mechanism against MSG ingestion.

Consider the Spice trade of centuries ago. What would have happened to westerners if the spices contained elements of destruction. Gratefully that did not happen, but MSG did.

Another thought is about Soy. Has it ever been questioned why western civilizations have only recently begun to add Soy to their diets? Sure you could argue that Soy has been used in human consumption for thousands of years and it is a cheap source of protien. But maybe like the natural selection process, it is harmful to humans who have not mutated the proper metabolism to digest it and utilize the protien benefits.

Why else would most products using soy "hydrolize" it first. Maybe it's because westerners cannot digest it properly to benefit from the protien source and thus the food industry has to "pre-digest" it for us and thus create the excess glutamate in the process.

Talk about "Food Pollution".
Carol H
Posted on Saturday, March 24, 2001 - 11:56 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tom, I think they hydrolize it to release MSG purposely. Food Scientists speak often about "reaction flavors"- that's always foremost in their minds.
I also think that no one was meant to eat so much of any one food on this earth, because some plants have evolved a means of dealing with overzealous herbivours. Plants like soy manufacture chemicals to derail sexual development of animals. These phytoestrogens shut down the production of estrogen by animal ovaries because of feedback loops, and inhibit the development of males. When a population overeats a particular plant food -like soy, nature goes after the animal's ability to make more animals that like to eat soy, hence saving the plants from extinction. I hope that wasn't too confusing. It's explained quite well in the book "Our Stolen Future".
Posted on Saturday, March 24, 2001 - 1:27 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Re Our Stolen Future, see:
Roy Piwovar
Posted on Saturday, March 24, 2001 - 1:40 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


I do not recall reading anything about Orientals having immunity to MSG. Instead, the following post came to mind:

By Gerry Bush on Thursday, November 30, 2000 - 07:57 pm:

Regarding China: During the late 70's, through the 80's and as late as 1993, I traveled extensively throughout China on business. Contrary to popular belief, many Chinese are highly sensitive to MSG, just as we are. I carried along a note in Chinese that told my hosts that if I ate MSG, I could die. Needless to say, no one dared to feed me dishes containing MSG. Surprisingly, many Chinese dishes contain no MSG at all. There was always on the table more than enough food that I could eat from. ( in China, meals are always "family style", where everyone eats from the same large dishes). Many Chinese told me that either someone in their family or that some of their friends were MSG sensitive too.
Also, I have a Japanese friend who lives in Tokyo and his friend cannot eat outside of his house because he too is MSG sensitive. So you see, MSG does not discriminate.
Posted on Saturday, March 24, 2001 - 3:24 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tom - Maybe you read about this in the 12/14/00 New York Times article entitled, "In China, MSG is No Headache. Its A New Threat". It was in Section A-3 but I can't find my copy. Perhaps, Roy knows if there is a way to access back articles via the web?
Roy Piwovar
Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2001 - 3:40 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


I did a word search for "monosodium glutamate" articles for the past year on the site below, and all that I was able to access of the above story without giving them my credit card is the excerpt below:


December 14, 2000, Thursday
In China, MSG Is No Headache, It's a New Treat
Source: The New York Times
Section: Foreign Desk
1245 words

Monosodium glutamate, Chinese seasoning spurned and blamed by Americans for after-dinner headaches, flushing and dizziness called 'Chinese restaurant syndrome,' remains hugely popular among Chinese; estimated 95 percent of restaurants in China use it daily; photo (M)


Lead Paragraph
At the upscale market on Wangfujing Street, the can stands proudly, unapologetically on its shelf, beautifully displayed in a clear-fronted white gift box festooned with gold seals, roses and red ribbon. And why not? It is, after all, ''the king of C...

Purchase full text of article. (Photos and graphics are not included.)"
Carol H
Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2001 - 8:55 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have trouble with questionable news articles that use words that are inflammatory - such as "spurned" "blamed" etc. Portraying those who avoid MSG as if they are whiny jilted lovers. I began seeing words used that way in the newer nutrition texts that list brand names of foods and list as sources the food companies themselves. By word choices they diminish the opponents of their agenda, and use other words to magnify the nobility of their cause. A real journalist would use a "just the facts Ma'am" approach, and would not use words with such subjective connotations as "unapologeticaly", "proudly", "beautifully" etc. to describe MSG. How does a news journalist take themselves seriously when they describe a box of MSG that way? This sounds like a job for FAIR - Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

Tom, I remember nine years ago at a Food Trade Show in Dallas, at the food sensitivity seminar - put on Sunday, before most of the folks would be attending - an Asian food scientist stood up and expressed concern about the use of MSG. She was promptly belittled by the moderator, and her concerns swept under the rug.

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