Hold the MSG: Food Triggers for Epilepsy and Other Neurological Illnesses

By Alison Rose Levy via The Integrative Health Outlook

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Last week, 60 Minutes reported on David and Susan Axelrod’s search for a cure for epilepsy prompted by their two decade plus experience of the ailment, which their adult daughter has suffered since infancy. But while Katie Couric admiringly covered the researchers seeking to find “the Cure,” ie. new anti-convulsive drugs, once again proactive, preventive health care strategies that might help to reduce incidence of epileptic attacks were overlooked.

How ironic it is that in the midst of the health care reform debate, Axelrod, a key Obama aide, is so poorly informed about integrative strategies that could help his own daughter.

For neurological illnesses, including Parkinson’s Disease, epilepsy, and others, a body of scientific research demonstrates that certain food additives, singly and in combination with each other, contribute to excessive nerve cell firing; and thus, may be a possible trigger for epileptic attacks and other neurological incidents. In keeping with that, limiting or altogether avoiding these ingredients is a strategy that some integrative physicians recommend, though many who could benefit are unaware of the dangers these common food additives pose.

Because of their activity–stimulating nerve cells to rapidly fire and burn out, ultimately resulting in nerve cell death, the food additives are considered to be “excitotoxins.” While some naturally occur in the body, people who consume processed foods are exposed to a much greater amount than ever before since industrial food scientists regularly add them to processed foods to enhance the food’s flavor. The most widely used food ingredients that have excitotoxic activity are monosodium glutamate, aspartame, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and other additives that stimulate the taste buds and mask the flavor of many processed foods, Fresh, natural foods don’t require this form of flavor enhancement. The artificial sweetener, aspartame, marketed as NutraSweet, Equal, and under several other brand names, is one of most widely consumed of the food additives with excitotoxic activity.

Nearly all food items sold in convenience stores are full of them, as are many processed, or packaged foods. If you read labels, you will discover that they are listed under many different names; and flavorings such as those in soups, soup mixes, and even many spices will often contain them as well.

With the increase in incidence of neurological illness, including Alzheimer’s Disease, a basic proactive health strategy, that many integrative practitioners recommend, is to limit intake of these food ingredients. More information on excitotoxins can be found in Russell Blaylock MD’s book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Food Additives: A Shopper’s Guide To What’s Safe & What’s Not by Christine Farlow is a shopper’s guide to ingredient names.

For health information, science, and action, get the free ezine, the Health Outlook at www.health-journalist.com

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Over 100 mg methanol impurity per liter wine becomes formaldehyde and then formic acid in humans — co-factors for “morning after” hangovers — folic acid protects most people: Rich Murray 2009.10.31

Aspartame reactors often report problems from MSG.

There is the same level of methanol from the 11% methanol part
of the aspartame molecule in 2 L [ 6 cans ] aspartame beverages,
as in 1 L dark wine or liquors.


Dermatitis. 2008; 19(3): E10-E11.
© 2008 American Contact Dermatitis Society
Formaldehyde, Aspartame, and Migraines:
A Possible Connection
Sharon E. Jacob; Sarah Stechschulte
Published: 09/17/2008


Aspartame is a widely used artificial sweetener
that has been linked to pediatric and adolescent migraines.
Upon ingestion, aspartame is broken, converted, and oxidized
into formaldehyde in various tissues.
We present the first case series of aspartame-associated
migraines related to clinically relevant positive reactions
to formaldehyde on patch testing.

formaldehyde, aspartame, and migraines, the first case series,
Sharon E Jacob-Soo, Sarah A Stechschulte, UCSD,
Dermatitis 2008 May: Rich Murray 2008.07.18
Friday, July 18, 2008

consider co-factors (methanol, formaldehyde, and protective
folic acid), re UK FSA test of aspartame in candy bars on
50 reactors, Stephen L Atkin, Hull York Medical School:
Rich Murray 2009.09.29
Tuesday, September 29, 2009


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