MSG: A first-hand horror story

Originally entitled “Sick to death”, this is the debut post of a friend of mine, who has the most acute sensitivity to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and food additives that I have ever known.

Yes, he’s an extreme case, but as you will see, it’s solid proof that this stuff isn’t doing your insides ANY favours at all. As with gluten, just because you might not notice any backlash as such, the gluten is still working around your body and causing inflammation.

Please also SHARE this post with everyone you know who has problems with this area.

Here you are…

Have you suddenly started gaining weight in the past few years, even though your diet and lifestyle haven’t changed?

Do you suffer from;

– acid reflux?

– skin rashes?

– irritable bowel?

– asthma?

– migraine headache?

– mood swings?

– vomiting?

– heart irregularities?

– seizures?

– fibromyalgia?

– blurred vision?

– depression?

– vertigo?

– diarrhoea?

– lethargy?

– cancer?

Do you have a child who screams and throws up most nights whilst doctors are puzzled as to the cause?

Are you on medication for:

– stomach ulcers (acid stomach / acid reflux)?

– nervous dispositions (depression / anxiety)?

– heart conditions (palpitations / irregular heartbeat / heart flutters)?

– skin conditions (rashes / ulcers / psoriasis)?

– neurological disorders (alzheimer’s disease / dementia)?

If you answered “YES” to any of the questions above, you may want to continue reading.

This is my story.

Ever since I was born I have had a low tolerance for free glutamic acid.

I didn’t know it when I was a child as there wasn’t much of it about, hence it didn’t really get into my system.

When I was in my late teens, I started to suffer from an acid stomach and late night vomiting.

Not knowing what was causing my symptoms, I went on a strict diet of boiled rice and boiled chicken, very boring, but the symptoms went away immediately.

Every couple of days, I would introduce a new foodstuff into my diet and if I threw up, I would keep the packet and stop eating that foodstuff.

Bit by bit, I built up a collection of packets and the only common ingredient was E621 / MSG / MonoSodiumGlutomate.


Avoid products with MSG and I was fine.

Mostly this boiled down to giving up Chinese food and flavoured crisps.

This was VERY annoying, as I had always been fine to eat pretty much anything as a child.

The manufacturers of food had changed their products and hence I had to adapt my diet to stay healthy.

This was fine until about the year 2000, when “MSG FREE” products started to be introduced.

I still got the same effects, even though the products proudly displayed that they had taken MSG out of their ingredients list.

I was confused, but I stayed away from the foods which had previously had an ill effect on me and for the most part I was fine, occasionally being caught out with “something that didn’t agree with me” and just thinking I was unlucky with food poisoning on the odd occasion, generally a couple of times a year.

This all changed in about 2010.

Suddenly I started throwing up on a daily basis.

I was VERY concerned, so sought medical advice.

I told my doctor my symptoms;

– acid stomach

– vomiting almost every night at about 2am

– mouth watering whenever I burped

– flu like symptoms (painful joints and kidneys)

– depression and lethargy

I told my doctor that I thought there was something in my food which I thought I was reacting badly to.

My doctor told me it sounded like I had an ulcer, and without tests, prescribed me ulcer medication.

I read the contraindications (possible side effects) on the accompanying leaflet;

– heart palpitations

– bloody / black / tarry stools

– blood in urine

– hair loss

– pinpoint spots

– unusual bruising or bleeding

– shortness of breath

– mouth sores

– lower leg swelling

– discoloured nails

– lethargy / weakness

– skin rash

– fever or chills

– back pain

– my skin might slough off (separate from the tissue beneath and shed from the body, much like the skin of a snake)

Excuse me, but **** THAT!!!!

I was also offered antidepressants and counselling for the depression.

I opted for counselling and giving back the tablets.

Once again, I went back to the rice and chicken diet (described above) and once again, all symptoms disappeared.

Once again I started to introduce one food product every two days and almost instantly I threw up.

The culprit?

Tesco’s tiger bread.

This was annoying as there is no ingredients list on the product and I had been fine with it up until that point.

The next few products?

Bourbon biscuits, custard creams, jaffa cakes, most breads, most spreads, most cereals, most canned and packet goods and almost EVERY fizzy drink.

The most common ingredient?


I started to do some research and came across a website called which pretty much saved my life.

As they describe on their pages, free glutamic acid (MSG) can be labelled under a range of guises. (see lists at bottom of post)

Over the next twelve months, I experienced a massive sweep across the whole of the food industry to the point where I could only eat about 5% of anything sold in any supermarket, including Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, KwikSave, Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, CostCutter, Safeway and others.

Today, I can only eat about 2% of all produce of any supermarket, and that includes all fresh goods.

Meats, cheeses, sauces, puddings, sweets, sours, savouries, drinks, creams, yoghurts, custards, pies, breads, butters, teas, coffees, biscuits, in fact, almost everything has fallen foul of the flavouring epidemic.

Now let’s get things straight, I’m not a food nazi and I don’t want Free Glutamic Acid to be banned, just labelled well so I can choose not to eat it.

Does it have much of an effect on me really? (I hear you ask)

Well in my case it does.

When I eat it, I eat with gusto and relish!

I wolf down my food, always clear the plate and often go back for seconds.

It’s like food becomes addictive.

The first effect of MSG on me is that food tastes GOOD!


For example, if I take a fried starch product, covered in salt and “flavouring”, and pop it in my mouth, the Free Glutamic Acid fires up the Umami tastebuds on my tongue and they lie and tell my brain that I’m eating protein.

Honestly, once I pop, I CAN’T stop!

Not so bad so far, right?

So the next thing that happens is my body digests the food and leaves the MSG in my stomach, so the contents of my stomach become more and more salty as time goes on.

Imagine drinking salt water that tastes smokey or woody.

Imagine the effect?

Yes, once all the usable food has been digested, there is only a salt solution left in my stomach, and if ever you have tried salt-water to induce vomiting, that is exactly what happens to me, (normally at about 2am).

When I flush (yes, I vom into the toilet), the surface of the water has a bubbly / chalky / scummy texture which stays for hours.

After I have spent up to an hour throwing up foul tasting and smelling stomach fluid, I normally go back to bed to try and sleep.

Often, this is not possible.

My skin starts to hurt and itch and feel hot, whilst I feel cold to my core.

My calves feel like they are on fire and everywhere that is even slightly hairy itches like mad, (legs, scalp, beard, eyebrows, groin, eyelashes, forearms, backs of fingers, etc…).

I feel irritable and I start to lose dexterity, becoming clumsy and uncoordinated.

My moods start to swing and I become irritable.

Next, my joints (shoulders, hips, knees, spine) and my kidney area starts to ache really badly.

Sometimes I get an uncontrollable wheezy cough and I just can’t seem to clear it.

Often, following this, I have dizzy spells, being light headed when I stand up (like if you are tired and hungry and you’ve just got out of the bath).

These can be really dangerous.

A couple of times I have actually blacked out and collapsed.

One time I landed against a table lamp, smashing the glass shade and cutting through my t-shirt.

Luckily the glass only grazed my skin.

If it had pierced me, it would have gone into my kidneys.

It is normally at about this stage that I get heart heart flutters.

The stage which follows this is a real low mood swing.


A couple of years ago at Christmas, I was just looking for an appropriate place to tie the rope so I could hang myself.

Luckily, I was sensible enough to just breathe until the feeling passed.

So, how long does it take from me ingesting MSG laden food until the feeling passes?

About seventy two hours.

Three days.

Three days of physical and emotional hell.

Every time I am unlucky enough to be poisoned by Free Glutamic Acid.

If I didn’t know better, that would be EVERY TIME I ATE!

Imagine that.

Constant sickness, pain and depression.

The cure?

Eating good, home cooked food.

I can’t eat in restaurants.

I used to be able to eat at a carvery, but not any more.

Now the meats are cooked in a “glaze”.

The vegetables are presented in a “glaze”.

They even use a product called “liquid butter”!


It has made holidays hard as this is now a global phenomenon.

Just think of all the places you “nip out for a bite to eat”…

…now imagine that everywhere you went gave you food poisoning.

McD’s, KFC’s, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Greggs…

…all pre-packed sandwiches and wraps…




…cobs (stotties if you are a Geordie)



..chocolate and candy…

…sweets and fizzy drinks…



…all of it…

…all except plain crisps, chip shop chips (not “fries”), fruit and veg.

It’s a nightmare for my friends when they want to cook me a dinner.

It makes socialising a total ball ache!


…what was it that prompted me to chat today about this intensely boring subject which doesn’t affect the majority of you (other than food is generally addictive and is creating a fat explosion in the population)?

Well, the cure for this (for me) has been quite simple so far.


That has been my motto.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive, but when you compare it to the number of sick days I have had in the past two and a half decades, it’s peanuts.

It makes me more productive and happy.

Easy, right?

Not so.

For a while now, I have included Sainsbury’s bake at home baguettes in my diet and Sainsbury’s Organic (So) range in my diet.

The bake at home basic bread has sat well with me.

Until last night.

Last night, I had a baguette, with organic Wensleydale cheese and organic butter (note: I miss Vitalite) and I woke at 1.35am and PUKED VIOLENTLY!!!


I had read the label and nothing seems to have changed, (unless “FRENCH FLOUR” is another euphemism for MSG???).

Was it the baguette?

Was it the cheese?

To be really honest, I’m not sure.

I’m going to have to wait a week at least until I feel well enough to poison myself to find out which.

If there was a simple test for Free Glutamic Acid, I could test my food before I ate it, but it would appear that I am the simplest test you can get.

Feed me food, and if I puke and want to die, then it had FGA in there somewhere.

I am the human glutamic litmus paper!

*frowny face*

If you want to find out more for yourself, I would strongly recommend Truth In Labelling (.org) as a good place to start.

Their site is a bit basic and scruffy, but the info in there is gold.

After further internet searching, I found that some good, scientific information can be found at;

If you are in the mood to do some research for yourself, Google is your friend.

Just type in “MSG” or “free glutamic acid” and go from there.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject, but the stuff I have written here is purely based on my research, personal experience and the opinions I have formed based upon these.

As for the effects on the general populous, most of you seem unaffected for the majority of the time, with a few of you having “chinese takeout syndrome” occasionally in the short term.

I have met about half a dozen people who are as extreme in their intolerance as I, and it is the infants I feel most sorry for.

They can’t tell their parents what is wrong with their food.

All they can do is cry…

…and throw up…

…and suffer.

If I get any further information, or inspiration, I’ll blog when I can.

If you want to get in contact with me for any reason, drop a tweet or email to…

@nofga4me  or

I’ll reply when I get the chance.

Til then, stay healthy and be lucky!


***Lists of names under which MSG may be found (source;

– Glutamic acid / Glutamate (E 620)

– Monosodium glutamate

– Monopotassium glutamate

– Monoammonium glutamate

– Magnesium glutamate (E621)(E622)(E624)&(E625)

– Calcium glutamate (E 623)

– Natrium glutamate

– Yeast extract

– Anything “hydrolyzed”

– Calcium caseinate

– Sodium caseinate

– Yeast food, Yeast nutrient

– Brewers’ yeast

– Autolyzed yeast

– Gelatin

– Textured protein

– Soy protein (also isolate or concentrate)

– Whey protein (also isolate or concentrate)

– Vetsin

– Ajinomoto

Free Glutamic Acid can often be found in (or be produced by);

– Carrageenan (E 407)

– Bouillon and broth

– Stock

– Natural flavor

– Any “flavor” or “flavoring”

– Maltodextrin

– Citric acid (E 330)

– Anything “ultra-pasteurized”

– Barley malt, Malted barley

– Pectin (E 440)

– Protease

– Anything “enzyme modified”

– Anything containing “enzymes”

– Malt extract

– Soy milk

– Soy sauce

– Soy sauce extract

– Anything “protein fortified”

– Anything “fermented”

– Seasonings

To a lesser degree, Free Glutamic Acid is suspected of being in;

– Corn starch

– Corn syrup

– Modified food starch

– Lipolyzed butter fat

– Dextrose

– Rice syrup, brown rice syrup

– Milk powder

– Reduced fat milk (e.g.., skim milk; 1% milk; 2% milk)

– Most things low fat or no fat

– Anything Enriched or Vitamin enriched

And MSG is often used in conjunction with;

– Disodium 5’-guanylate (E 627)

– Disodium 5’-inosinate (E-631)

  • Disodium 5′-ribonucleotides (E 635)




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6 thoughts on “MSG: A first-hand horror story

    • George says:

      I have just started food coaching, as you are absolutely right – madness!!!! That’s why I’ve not written for so long – you can only go so far doing something for love and no money! I guess those are the times we live in. Check out my Facebook Page – George Dryden – there is a circular logo as the profile pic, rather than a photo. Enjoy!

  1. Geraldine batt says:

    Good day dave , I have just read through your post , really enjoyed it , I feel for you , I gave up all things containing msg in all its guises just after Christmas, my symptoms were atrial fibrillation for fifteen years , I have not had an attack since then , I was having them daily on my path up to Christmas 2016 , people like you dave are a God send to people like me , God bless you and all who you care about.

  2. Janis Crew says:

    I absolutely feel like crying to find that I have fellow sufferers like myself. I’ve been through all of the same in depth searching also, at times wondering whether life is worth living. Every time I ask a chef if the gravy is free of msg they haven’t a clue what I’m talking about. Keep up your work for your own sake and fellow sufferers. Tip…… One of our daughters moved to Porto in Portugal. I visit often and find that I never once have had any problems as the food they serve in cafes, restaurants, eating houses are prepared fresh whilst we wait for our meal. Great!

    • George says:

      Hey Janis. Thanks for your comments, and I’m glad Dave’s story made you feel less isolated. I will pass your comments on to him.

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