HEALTH ALERT: The Dangers of MSG (monosodium glutamate)


Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer traditionally found in Chinese food. For over 50 years in the United States, it has been added to everyday foods from potato chips, soups, breakfast sausage and gravy to seasoning packets, fast food, prepared meals and baby food. It activates a fifth taste (in addition to sweet, salty, bitter and sour) called “umami,” which is the Japanese word for “pleasant savory taste.”


Watch Out! Monosodium Glutamate can have many different names. Here is a brief list:

Names of ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid:
Glutamic acid (E 620)2, Glutamate (E 620), Monosodium glutamate (E 621), Monopotassium glutamate (E 622), Calcium glutamate (E 623), Monoammonium glutamate (E 624), Magnesium glutamate (E 625), Natrium glutamate, Yeast extract, Anything “hydrolyzed”, Any “hydrolyzed protein”, Calcium caseinate, Sodium caseinate, Yeast food, Yeast nutrient, Autolyzed yeast, Gelatin, Textured protein, Soy protein, soy protein concentrate, Soy protein isolate, Whey protein, whey protein concentrate, Whey protein isolate, Anything “…protein”, Vetsin, Ajinomoto

Names of ingredients that often contain or produce processed free glutamic acid:Carrageenan (E 407), Bouillon and broth, Stock, Any “flavors” or “flavoring”, Maltodextrin, Citric acid, Citrate (E 330), Anything “ultra-pasteurized”, Barley malt, Pectin (E 440), Protease, Anything “enzyme modified”, Anything containing “enzymes”, Malt extract, Soy sauce, Soy sauce extract, Anything “protein fortified”, Anything “fermented”, Seasonings

Glutamic acid found in unadulterated protein does not cause adverse reactions. To cause adverse reactions, the glutamic acid must have beenprocessed/manufactured or come from protein that has been fermented.


Monosodium Glutamate is a compound of sodium salt can glutamic acid (which is a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid found in your body). Your body uses glutamate as a neurotransmitter. Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s chorea. Injections of glutamate in laboratory animals have resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain

MSG is also considered an excitotoxin, which means that it overexcites your body’s cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees — and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more.

MSG can affect these body systems: blood pressure, brain, digestive system, endocrine system, hearing, lungs, allergies, pancreas, thyroid function, vision, hypothalamus, nervous system, heart rate, hypoglycemia
MSG can affect these diseases: ADD/ADHD, Allergies, Alzheimer’s Disease, Asthma, Atrial Fibrillation (cardiac arrhythmia), Autism, Diabetes, Depression, Dizziness, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, High Blood Pressure, Hypothyroidism, Hypoglycemia, IBS, Migraines, Multiple Sclerosis, Obesity, Pituitary tumors, Rosacea, Sleep Disorders and Tinnitus


Brain Chemistry and Emotion

It is very common for people suffering with depression, anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder and other mental/emotional conditions to be prescribed a class of drugs know as Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SRI’S), which can cause problems.  First, these medications, as with all medications, have numerous side effects, including, but not limited to, nausea, vomiting, increased feelings of depression and anxiety (which may sometimes provoke panic atacks).  Second, these medications are concentrated chemicals that accumulate as toxins in the liver and fatty tissue.  Third, discontinuing this class of medications often has very controversial and severe side effects including documented suicide attempts.  Fourth, these medications address only the symptoms that a person experiences, and can produce a feeling of numbness  caused by the medication decreasing central nervous system function.  Once medication ceases, the symptoms return as they were or worse before the medication.

Working with thousands of people suffering with mental/emotional problems over the years we have seen the following to be true (of course there are many variations):

1)  A person may be predisposed to emotional imbalances, perhaps due to genetics or an underlying sensitivity to prolonged mental, physical or chemical stressors .

2)  That person may then experience a loss, trauma or a stress (the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”) which causes a decrease in brain chemicals, mainly Serotonin.  Serotonin is a key component in helping someone to feel calm, at ease, relaxed, and connected to people in the environment .

3)  The reduction in Serotonin levels may cause depression, sadness, anxiety and disconnectedness.

Obviously many factors exist in life that may trigger bodily malfunction which, in turn, could trigger the change in the brain chemistry leading to emotional imbalance.  We use Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Nutrition to correct the bodily malfunction, namely the organ system, which regulates brain chemistry.  Read our August, 2007 “Oriental Medicine and Your Emotions” newsletter to understand the exact organ relationships to emotion.

If you have any questions or would like to know if you or someone you know can be helped with problems of this nature, please do not hesitate to call.

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.

Buyer Beware: How To Pick an Acupuncturist

Patients often ask, “I’d like to refer someone I know to an Acupuncturist where they live out-of-state, how do I help them find a good Acupuncturist?” Or “I’m going to be out of state for three months and I want to continue care while I’m away, how can I find a good Acupuncturist in that area?”

First of all, do not hesitate to ask us to help you find someone in another area, as we train Acupuncturists all over the U.S. and even Canada.  The basic question to ask a prospective Acupuncturist is: “Do you practice TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)?” If they say yes, their focus will be on treating symptoms, not treating the underlying cause of a symptom. To understand more, continue reading…

“The modern day practice of acupuncture in China that has been imported to the United States is known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)… Mao [Tse Tung] established 5 universities… the system of TCM shows the influence of Western Medicine as well as the Communist society from which it springs …. There are aspects to the tradition of acupuncture that pre-date the China of Mao Tse Tung that still survive, especially in the traditions of acupuncture in Japan … in these oldest traditions of acupuncture, the most skilled practitioner was the physician who could, though a careful evaluation of the subtle physical signs and a careful evaluation… detect disease in its earliest stages before the person became gravely ill.”  (source: http://www.acupunctureworks.organicmd/acu/acufaq.htm)

In summary, TCM practitioners treat symptoms for short-term (if any) gains, or, “Give a man a fish.” Functional-style practitioners increase the body’s function so it can heal itself; “Teach a man to fish.”

Brief Timeline of Chinese Medicine:

1500 BC: first recorded attempt at conceptualizing and treating disease with Chinese medicine; discovered written on the inside of a tortoise shell.

≈200 BC: earliest known medical text, Huangdi Neijing (English : “Yellow Emperor’s Classic”) is written.

113 BC: earliest examples of metal needles believed to be used for medical purposes found in a tomb in China.

1600 AD: Chinese Medicine evolves with a focus on longevity, vitality, virility and fertility.

1671 AD: earliest written record of acupuncture released in the western world.

1949 AD: Mao Tse Tung creates TCM, destroying volumes of material that were based on the original form of  Acupuncture.

1972 AD: Journalist James Reston accompanies Richard Nixon to China and reports on Acupuncture being used as anesthetic for minor and major surgery, igniting American interest.

Present Day: The vast majority of practitioners in America practice TCM without knowing it, as American interest began AFTER Mao Tse Tung bastardized the medicine. Thankfully, at least a very small percentage of Acupuncturists still utilize the ancient and most effective methods of Acupuncture.

A good, competent acupuncturist will give the ideal responses to all or at least the majority of the questions below:

Question to ask:

Ideal Reply:

1. Do you practice TCM?

No. (If yes, the practitioner is symptom focused.)
2. Do you perform a full, exhaustive intake, prior to treatment, to see if acupuncture can even help? Yes. (If no, major red flag.)
3.  Do you systematically educate your patients over 2-3 visits in the beginning of care? Yes. (If no, possible caregiver communication barrier or lack of comprehension of Chinese Medicine.)
4. Do you chart function? Yes. (If no, symptom-focused.)
5.  Do you use hospital standards and have certification in U.S. Clean Needle Techniques? Yes. (If no, lack of training and possible health hazard for patient.)
6.  Do you use Chinese-manufactured acupuncture needles? (Chinese needles are cheaper in cost to practitioner.) No (If yes, Chinese standards are much lower, thus much more painful treatments.)
7. Do you have multiple practitioners that work together as a team with each patient? Yes (If no, indicates possible inflexibility of  thought and lack of team approach to your health.)
8.  Do you have a national license as a Diplomate in Acupuncture and a Diplomate in Chinese Herbology?

Yes (If no, indicates the practitioner did not pass the national board exams.)

As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to either email or call us! We’re here to answer any questions you may have.

Trying to reduce dairy? Here are some tips!

  • Good milk substitutes include oat milk, almond milk, rice milk or soy milk.
  • There are some cheese substitutes, not many of which are completely dairy-free, however. Check at your local natural food store for “Casein-free” cheese substitutes.
  • You can even find ice cream made of rice or soy!

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.

Skin Care Tips

Roughly 60% of the patients that we see have some sort of skin-related concerns, whether major or minor.  The following simple skin health guidelines apply to those who have skin trouble or those who simply want to care for their skin more efficiently.

In some cases, skin conditions are simply caused by external factors.  For example, chemicals in beauty products or other environmental stressors.  Much more commonly, I find that there is a combination of internal and external factors leading to skin problems.  In Oriental Medicine, the lungs govern the function of the skin.  The liver and skin work together in eliminating toxins from the body.

Here are some guidelines to follow to optimize skin function:

  • Use treatments that enhance Lung, Liver, and skin function.  This includes Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine.
  • Reduce/eliminate the intake of toxic substances such as refined sugar, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, deep-fried foods, processed foods, and preservative laden foods.  These things are filtered out of the blood stream by the Liver, therefore may be distributed to the skin via the Liver.
  • Reduce/eliminate the use of skin products containing chemicals.  Follow this maxim: do not place items on the skin that you would not eat!  Always use effective, non-toxic treatments that don’t have petroleum based ingredients.
  • Filter your municipal shower water.  Vaporized chlorine from a showerhead will severely dry and agitate skin.  We carry an easy-to-install water filter.
  • Drink spring water.  Avoid chlorinated municipal water.
  • “Margarita Complexion Formula” by Golden Flower treats acne.  (Available at AHHA)
  • Vital supplements to use:
    • Vitamin B-2 (alone, without the complex): 100mg/day.  B-2 facilitates the skin’s use of oxygen.  (Available at health food stores)
    • Vitamin C with bioflavanoids: 1000mg/day.  Vitamin C aids in the healing of skin (Available at AHHA)
    • Evening Primrose Oil: 2 capsules/day.  (Available at health food stores)
    • Trace Minerals with selenium: 1 table/day.  These minerals assist with a variety of skin conditions (Available at AHHA)
  • Alba organic fragrance-free moisturizing lotion.  (Available at health food stores)
  • “All-one” soap.  I strongly recommend avoiding the use of commercial soaps, especially those that contain triclosan.  (Available at health food stores)
  • Use deodorants that are aluminum free.  (available at health food stores)
  • For existing skin problems, I’ve found that the skin does respond best to a rotation of the following possible topical products (use one for 2-3 weeks, the switch to another):
    • Zinc Spray (Available at health food stores)
    • White flower oil (to clear heat conditions) (Available at AHHA)
    • Home Health’s Psoriasis Cream (Available at health food stores)
    • Home Health’s Anti-Fungal Lotion (Available at health food stores)
    • Vitamin E Lotion (Available at health food stores)
    • Herbs for Kids’ Super Kid’s Salve (Available at AHHA)
  • For burns and scars, the BEST remedy known today is a Chinese ointment, “Ching Wan hung.” (Available at AHHA)
  • Tea Tree oil is a very effective antiseptic. (Available at health food stores)
  • Red Marine Algae fights all strains of the herpes virus (cold sores, shingles, etc.). (Available at AHHA)
  • A Chinese liniment, “Wan Hua Oil” treats toenail fungus effectively. (Available at AHHA)

The above recommendations are general suggestions; we suggest speaking  to us regarding specific questions or unique circumstances.  We will try to do my best to help you as we can!

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.