Polly: People with yeast overgrowth are more likely than most to have an adverse reaction to MSG or monosodium glutamate.  I think the reason may be a lack of coenzyme B6 due to the acetylaldehyde that people with yeast overgrowth are exposed to. People with low B6 are much more likely to be sensitive to MSG due to inactivation of a B6 dependent enzyme, glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase. A B6 supplement will often eliminate this sensitivity to MSG.  The more common reactions to MSG include: rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), depression, migraine headaches, nausea and vomiting, hives, rashes, asthma, and seizures. Yet, there are numerous possible reactions like panic attacks, vision problems, rapid changes in blood pressure, partial paralysis, extreme dryness of the mouth, loss of balance, joint pain, swelling of prostate, frequent urination, bedwetting, hyperactivity, behavioral problems in children, Attention Deficit Disorders, lethargy, sleepiness, insomnia, and many more.
MSG is commonly added as a flavor enhancer to processed food. It is also often added to mixed spices because it is a great filler, being much cheaper than spice. It used to be in a lot of the baby food. Not that babies need it—(It causes brain abnormalities in baby lab rats)—but because it tastes better to the parent buying the product. Thankfully, due to the efforts of private citizens suing the FDA for better labeling of MSG in food, many of the food manufactures have become aware of the public outrage and have stopped its blatant use in many foods. Unfortunately, food processors aren’t to be trusted. Some food manufacturers merely substituted modified food starch for the MSG in their baby food. Unfortunately, modified food starch has similar properties to MSG, even though it usually doesn’t make people as sick. They also substitute hydrolyzed protein, which contains some MSG.
MSG can be hidden in processed food with names like natural flavors, broth, bouillon, hydrolyzed protein, sodium and calcium caseinate, yeast extract and autolyzed yeast. Sometimes manufacturers will rename hydrolyzed protein to something less obvious, such as whey protein, corn protein, or pea protein, etc. MSG can also be in naturally fermented foods such as soy sauce. They are even starting to spray MSG on some fruits and vegetables as a “fungicide/plant growth regulator.”
Avoiding the former list of substances will be enough for most. Yet, if you are very sensitive you will need a list of the 40 or more foods that contain small amounts. You can get this information from the Truth in Labeling Campaign, phone 858/481-9333, website http://www.truthinlabeling.org, and address
Truth in Labeling Campaign
PO Box w532
Darien, IL 60561
If requesting information, enclose a self-addressed envelope with two stamps. Donations appreciated. They have a big battle to fight, and deserve our help. Here is a book on the subject: In Bad Taste—The MSG Symptom Complex, by George R. Schwartz, MD. Here is an article: “The Ubiquitous, Toxic Flavor-Enhancer, Monosodium glutamate (MSG)” in the August, 2000 issue of the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients.
Personally, when I had yeast overgrowth, I could not tolerate MSG, modified food starch, or hydrolyzed protein. I would get very ill exactly one hour after ingestion. (Some people take up to 48 hours to become ill.) It likely had something to do with the yeast, because now I easily tolerate modified food starch and hydrolyzed protein. I haven’t since dared try the MSG, at least not knowingly. Twenty years ago, I did try taking B6 to try and stop my reactions to MSG, but I was not able to tolerate the B6. Unfortunately, coenzyme B6 (P5P) was not available at that time, or I would have tried that.
Franca: How weird that you would bring this up today… I was going to mention MSG myself! My fiancé has just finished a book on excitotoxins, which talks about the effects of substances like MSG on the body. The book is Excitotoxins, subtitled, The Taste that Kills. It is by neurosurgeon Russell L. Blaylock, MD (see http://www.dorway.com ). I haven’t read a word of it yet, but my fiancé thinks there’s a lot of good info in it.
By coincidence, I also recently discovered that MSG is “the sodium salt of glutamic acid… found in mushrooms, seaweed and (get ready for this one!) wheat gluten“! Yes, wheat gluten strikes again! Also, the same article says that the largest concentration of glutamic acid is in nervous tissue. No wonder we all develop so many nervous system problems…
Polly: There is a difference between naturally occurring “MSG“ and MSG made by fermentation or food processing. One is L-glutamic and the other contains both L-glutamic and D-glutamic acid. The fermented or processed product with the D-glutamic acid is the one that causes the bad reactions. The naturally occurring glutamic acid in raw food is usually not a problem. So for some people, raw mushrooms may not be the same problem as cooked. See http://www.truthinlabeling.org/manufac.htm
Franca: I have a MSG question for you: In my case, I didn’t think about MSG while doing the diet, because I’ve had horrible reactions from it for a long time and was already avoiding it. I wonder, though, whether avoiding MSG should be part of the candida diet. What do you think?
Polly: Yes. I think anyone who has a yeast overgrowth should become aware that it is a potential problem. I don’t think it acts as a food for yeast. In fact, one way to manufacture it is to use yeast. Yet I wouldn’t wish MSG on anyone—especially some baby that can’t tell you. Boy, did MSG ever make me sick!
PS: Please be very careful about what you feed your baby. Just because the bottle says baby food doesn’t mean it is good. Check labels! Don’t trust additives like sea algae or carrageenan (found in some types of seaweed). Sea algae contains a fatty acid called DHA. Many consider DHA important for brain development, but DHA should not be used in excess and it should be balanced with EPA, and other fatty acids. Carrageenan is used to induce irritable bowel syndrome in lab rats and is a known carcinogen. Besides finding it in baby foods, you will also find carrageenan used as a thickener in soups, whipping cream, condensed milk, nondairy creamers, and some icecreams.