The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 17 No. 9 • October 2014


Western Civilization Nearly Brought to Its
Knees by the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

FACT or FICTION?

It is important to know that the amounts of monosodium glutamate used in foods at some Chinese restaurants are at much higher levels than the natural amounts normally found in food. Amounts as high as 25 grams of MSG in a bowl of wonton soup have supposedly been measured. This is far beyond a reasonable dose and actually you have to wonder why everyone eating soup containing this much MSG is not experiencing Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS). Moreover, at such high doses, MSG would actually decrease the palatability of food (the threshold for this effect is > 60 mg/kgA). In an early study of human subjects ingesting 5 grams of pure MSG, 32% of 77 subjects reported symptoms that included one or more of the following: feelings of warmth or burning, stiffness or tightness, weakness in the limbs, pressure, tingling, headache, lightheadedness, heartburn, or gastric discomfort.2 As of 1979, 28,000 tons per year of MSG (presumably as the pure material) was said to be consumed in the U.S.B

The researchers2 conducted a double blind, placebo controlled trial with 27 students receiving 125 mg/kg of MSG or placebo. Of those, 12/27 showed symptoms and 15/27 failed to show symptoms in response to MSG. The 12 students showing symptoms were then treated double blind with 9 receiving pyridoxine (vitamin B6) — 50 mg daily — and 3 receiving placebo. Of the nine students that showed symptoms and received pyridoxine, 8/9 showed no symptoms in response to MSG after pretreatment with pyridoxine, while one subject did show symptoms. The authors propose that B6 is involved in the metabolism of glutamate and that a deficiency of B6 may, therefore, allow unprocessed glutamate to accumulate which may be the cause of the CRS symptoms. There appears to have been little followup on this research seeking a possible vitamin B6 deficiency in the etiology of CRS. (Talieferro. Monosodium glutamate and the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome: a review of food additive safety. J Environ Health. June 1, 1995)

No Explanation Forthcoming for Why Glutamate
Found Naturally in Foods Does Not Provoke a
Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

Noting the rather large amounts of glutamate found naturally in parmesan cheese, could there be an Italian Restaurant Syndrome that nobody is talking about. Not so far as we know. It appears that no such thing has ever been reported. (We’re just joking, of course. Our point is that glutamate is safe to consume at amounts naturally found in foods or that are added to supermarket-purchased food by consumers to increase its content of glutamate to that naturally found in very fresh food.)

References

A. Airoldi, et al. (1979) Attempts to establish the safety margin for neurotoxicity of monosodium glutamate. In: Glutamic Acid: Advances in Biochemistry (Filer LJ, et al, eds.), pp. 321–331. Raven Press, New York, NY (1979).
B. Giacometti. Free and bound glutamate in natural products. In: Glutamic Acid: Advances in Biochemistry and Physiology (Filer LJ, et al, eds.), pp. 25–33, Raven Press, New York (1979).
1. Masic and Yeomans. Umami flavor enhances appetite but also increases satiety. Am J Clin Nutr. 100:532–8 (2014).
2. Folkers et al. Biochemical evidence for a deficiency of vitamin B-6 in subjects reacting to monosodium L-glutamate by the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 100(3):972–7 (1981).

QUICK QUIZ

  1. If you want to avoid Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, you should:
    1. Avoid going to Chinese restaurants
    2. Eat large quantities of parmesan cheese
    3. Order only “no MSG added” food at a Chinese restaurant and sprinkle on Ineffable Essence to restore glutamate and inosine to their natural levels found in fresh meats, cheeses, eggs, and vegetables.

  2. Umami is a flavor distinct from sour, salt, sweet, and bitter. Sources of umami include:
    1. Glutamate and inosinate
    2. Powdered mushrooms
    3. Soy sauce
    4. All of the above

FREE Subscription

  • You're just getting started! We have published thousands of scientific health articles. Stay updated and maintain your health.

    It's free to your e-mail inbox and you can unsubscribe at any time.
    Loading Indicator