Around Our Town...To Your Health
09/01/2005 - Hi Folks. School is back in sesion – let's get to work. This month's subject is Excitotoxins. This is a strange word but a very important subject to our health. There are two excitotoxins we are going to talk about, Glutamate and Aspartame. But do to the amount of material we have to present this month we will focus mainly on Glutamate. You may be aware of Glutamate as in the food ingredient Monosodium Glutamate, also known as MSG. This product is a flavor enhancer. It was grandfathered with things such as salt and baking powder when the FDA enacted the 1958 food additives amendment believing it was harmless. The FDA states that if the product is less than 98.5 percent pure MSG they can legally call it something else. There are roughly four dozen different names for it.
What is Glutamate? It is an amino acid. Amino acids make up proteins and, as you know, our bodies are made up of proteins. Glutamate's primary function is a neurotransmitter in the brain. We have two kinds of neurotransmitters, excitatory and quiet. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter. A neurotransmitter allows nerve cells to "talk" to each other. Too much of this excitatory transmission can kill the neurons.
We can cause this problem to occur by what we consume in our diet. Remember MSG, if not in its pure form, can be called other things such as natural flavors, carrageen, bouilloon, broth, barley malt or soy sauce. Or, if the food is involved in being processed, it may be called by still other names, for example, yeast extract, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed vegetable oil, anything protein fortified, or ultra pasteurized. There are others but our space is limited.
Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter of the pain pathway. Patients have noted that at times when their diet is lousy they experienced increased symptoms such as pain. So, if we eliminate or significantly reduce the consumption of MSG in all forms, we should decrease our pain levels, correct? In a journal called the Annals of Pharmacotherapy an article was published called Relief of Fibromyalgia Symptoms Following Discontinuation of Dietary Excitotoxins in June of 2001. Four patients who were diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and had undergone multiple treatment modalities with limited success had complete or nearly complete resolution of their symptoms within a month after eliminating MSG or MSG plus Aspartame from their diet. This should be an important part of any therapy for those who suffer from Fibromyalgia or have a chronic pain syndrome. Remember this is not a cure all but a very important thing to note in terms of dietary effect on our body.
In the next month I will continue this discussion and will add to our discussion Aspartame. Until then...
Marc Delgadillo, D.C. is a Chiropractor practicing in Casper.