The Dangers of MSG and Migraines

Those that suffer from chronic migraines will tell you that it is not just a headache. No, a migraine feels like a headache magnified a 1,000 times making you feel dizzy, nauseous, sensitive to light and sound. For some, even getting out of the house is just not possible. Unfortunately, doctors and scientists are still in the relative dark when it comes to understanding the cause and treatment of migraine sufferers. There are medications and therapies but there is still no way to perceive if a migraine is headed your way and once it arrives, most just have to wait until it leaves. There has been one ray of light for migraine sufferers found in dietary changes, recently: the removal of MSG from the diet.

MSG or monosodium glutamate is a compound that is found in a number of your favorite foods. In its most basic form, MSG is a high concentration of salt. Unfortunately, a majority of processed foods use MSG as a flavoring compound. The problem is that because of it ubiquity of MSG, it is extremely difficult to rid your diet of MSG and furthermore, the substance causes a number of health complications due to excess consumption. The body already produces the amino acid glutamic acid and with the addition of processed MSG, the body often reacts negatively to the excess.

What used to be known as “Chinese restaurant syndrome,” the medical community now recognizes the feeling of lethargy and head discomfort as symptomatic of ingestion of MSG. Too much salt in the diet can have a number of other unpleasant effects on the body including high blood pressure, bloating, and dehydration. MSG is an excitatory neurotransmitter that activates the flavor receptors in the brain artificially and has been shown to impair or damage other receptors in the brain which may explain it as a catalyst for migraines.

The other distinct problem with MSG and your health is the marketing aspect of the additive. Clever marketing has made it so that MSG has 40 other misnomers such as: sodium glutamate, magnesium glutamate, textured protein, whey protein isolate and soy sauce extract, just to name a few. So if you want to rid your diet of MSG-laden products be sure to read those labels very carefully.

If you have made the medicinal and dietary changes in the effort to ease your migraines and you still experience debilitating effects, perhaps having an MRA or MRI of the brain or a CT of the sinuses could be helpful in order to determine if there are any other causes at play. MRIs are extremely sensitive to the blood flow and nervous structure of the brain and could be a helpful diagnostic tool for your physician. MRIs are painless, non-invasive and can provide detailed images of your internal structures for you and your doctor’s examination.

If you are having trouble with your migraine attacks and want to investigate the reasons, speak to a medical professional about having tests done so that you can know if there is a cure for your head trouble. To schedule a test at Doctors Imaging, call 504-883-3555.