MSG is safe enough for me

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Hell yes. It’s a salt- and, used sparingly (as you would/should use table salt) it can bring wonderful things to your food.

Know that last splash of parmesan cheese you add to your pasta and red sauce? Guess what parmesan cheese is FULL of. Also: tomatoes. And mushrooms. And and and.


Created an account just to comment on this.

MSG gives me major migraines, which I can in fact prove - and have done so on at least 3 occasions by eating a full bag of flavored potato chips and then throwing up a few hours later once the nausea and light sensitivity is in full swing. It’s a terrible party trick, but the only one I have.

I get a mild form of this after eating some seriously savory dishes (with your parmesan, your mushroom, tomatoes, etc), but only after days of eating the same dish, and nothing comparable to the hell I get from a single fast food item or the like. I understand my personal experience is merely anecdotal, but I’ve repeated it often enough that I feel there is some truth to it.

It’s great you love your processed bullshit, but some of us seriously contemplated suicide due to migraines that doctors pushing pills told us could in no way be cause by the crap food we were eating. Also, I have a pet theory that this stuff will alter your palate for the worse in the long term; as I’ve found people who eat more of it are less sensitive to subtle flavors, which in turn leads to eating more things containing MSG.


I don’t doubt people when they say MSG gives them headaches/migraines; after all, it’s a form of sodium, which can definitely have that effect on people. Super-sodium-laden potato chips or Chinese food? Sure, that can absolutely cause people headaches if you’re sensitive to it. But MSG, itself, is naturally-occurring, as others pointed out. There’s nothing particularly special about MSG that causes health issues. This has been scientifically proven.


I was totally with you until this. I use a Japanese msg-coated salt and its great, I use it while cooking non-processed “bullshit” foods, much like the OP says. And I am certainly not less sensitive to subtle flavours… that is a strange conclusion.

Sorry you have sensitivities, I have scent sensitivities and they are also hard to “prove” - apparently me crying in the corner and need to rinse my nasal cavities isn’t proof.


An interesting intuitive hypothesis. However, science is what we use to separate what seems to be true from what is actually true. Got any science that confirms your idea?


found the problem.

The phrase “everything is good in moderation” is of course an oversimplification, but sometimes it is true.


Sample size of n=1 can make causality difficult to determine. You had me until “scent” sensitivities. Not saying you don’t have life altering reactions reactions to chemicals in the air but I do reject the larger claim that “scents” per se cause them as opposed to specific chemicals or families of chemicals.

I enjoy scent free workplaces and buildings so I actually like the restrictions that many with “scent sensitivities” have worked to implement. But “scent” sensitivity is merely the toxins gambit for things you can smell. Reacting to specific chemicals is a real thing, but the larger claim of “scent” sensitivity is like “wifi” sensitivity"


We need a double blind study!

I’ll be control. Send me a bunch of potato chips and I’ll try to guess if they have MSG or not.

(Signed, someone who really likes potato chips.)

(PS: Jalapeño is a good flavor. Send those.)


jalapeno is an amazing flavor


So is tetrodotoxin…

Other than the fact that it’s MSG, which some people are apparently particularly and specially sensitive to.

It doesn’t seem to bother me, personally, but certain perfumes (or ‘scents’ if you will) that don’t seem to bother other people will trigger my migraine, so I have no problem sympathizing with @HansHibbety. It’s hard to think kindly of products when you can’t even think.

Speaking scientifically (as opposed to trying to push my own agenda*) I’d say there’s abundant evidence that different people have different but generally consistent reactions to different stimuli, including chemical and dietary stimuli, which is one of several excellent reasons for the labeling laws that giant corporations hate so very, very much.

* Buy only Medievalist brand MSG for healthy vitamin glow!


LOL - ya, no. If you want me to be specific I will: artificial scents. Air freshners, febreeze, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, cheap drugstore perfume, anything with that “fresh” scent (what is that!?) some scented candles. Essential oils however are fine. (real ones, not fake ones) - I’m sure if you wanted to fund the research we could pin point what the exact chemicals are that trigger my reaction. BTW - I say “sensitivity” because its not an allergy, no histamine reaction, just an irritation, so flushing helps remove the irritant faster than my mucus.

@Medievalist - oh ho! Hello fellow well met! :wink:


OP seems a bit over the top. I don’t remember “hysteria” about MSG being an engineered food additive. What I do remember is that some people apparently found they would get a headache after having Chinese food with MSG added. Then lots of other people started avoiding it, and as a result a lot of Chinese restaurants began advertising their food as MSG-free.

I would portray the whole thing as overreaction out of ignorance, much the same as how people are reacting to gluten nowadays (genuine sufferers of conditions that cause a reaction to gluten excepted, of course).


I think MSG was condemned in the 70s because a small number of people are allergic - probably including the gentleman above.

I find meat and butter provide all the umami I need. Anchovies are particularly nice. No need to buy the refined stuff.

EDIT: Oh, but BoingBoing doesn’t get paid if you use butter, so never mind.


Oh, is tetrodoxin in tomatoes, cheese, and mushrooms? I had no idea.

I’m not talking about neurotoxins, I’m talking about chemicals that naturally occur in commonly-eaten foods, that can be isolated and used as a flavor additive/enhancer. If someone gets headaches from MSG added to food, they’d get the same headaches from eating a big hunk of parmesan.


Infinitely more enjoyable than eating a full bag of potato chips. @JonBristow - you in? :wink:


Yes, a huge bag of potato chips will cause issues, the ones I meant were the little snack size - it’s crazy to eat a pillow of chips. I can replicate my problem with MSG with a serving of instant ramen, or practically any given standard portion of food seasoned with it. I only discovered MSG was the cause of my migraines by radically altering my diet (I was in college and living off processed and fast food) and slowly adding items back in until I had a migraine again. The only common ingredient in those items was MSG.

Again, I understand that science says it’s safe, but for some of us that simply isn’t true. Or to be more accurate - it’s safe in that it won’t kill me, just make life significantly less enjoyable. Many people have problems processing many different things, this one just happens to be mine.

No, I do not have science confirming alteration of taste after consuming a diet containing MSG, only a hunch and a lot of time spent cooking. Perhaps someone motivated can get some sweet grant money figuring that out for the rest of us. If i’m wrong about it, then you’ll have yet another item to tell me why I should be eating this thing my body doesn’t want.


So out of curiosity, does this happen when you eat flavors that don’t have MSG, like:

LAY’S Barbecue Flavored Potato Chips
LAY’S Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Flavored Potato Chips
LAY’S Cheddar & Sour Cream Flavored Potato Chips
LAY’S Cheesy Garlic Bread Flavored Potato Chips
LAY’S Dill Pickle Flavored Potato Chips

I’m just wondering if it’s MSG in particular, or excessive amounts of salts in general (or maybe even something else).

\I’m not going to ask you to give yourself a migraine on purpose…just wondering if super salty potato chips full of weird artificial flavors give you migraines always, or just the specific flavors that have MSG? Can you go to town on a bag of Lays bacon mac and cheese chips and be just fine?


That’s like saying you have a “food” sensitivity, but only to “artificial food.” You are painting with a very broad brush. And, again, I’m not denying your condition, but I do say that “scent” sensitivity is like the vague “toxins” gambit. Which toxins, exactly? “Scents” don’t all have the same chemicals in common.


Oh hell yes. Can I add garlic?

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