Testing assumptions

There’s still a lot of MSG discourse happening in certain pockets of the Internet; right now it’s mostly on food YouTube, where folks are primarily saying that people who claim an MSG sensitivity are racist and/or relying on bad pseudoscience. And, as usual, using the same two strawmen of

  1. Lots of foods have glutamate in it
  2. Did you know that American junk food has MSG in it too?

For 1, yes, lots of foods have glutamate in it, but not bound to sodium.

For 2, yes, that’s why it was eating junk food in college (Doritos and the chili-flavored Fritos, specifically) that led me to realize what was causing my near-daily sensory overload migraines.

Anyway, recently I bought some “country style” bulk sausage at a local butcher which ended up having MSG in it, and rather than throw it out or try to return it, I figured I’d use it to perform an (admittedly extremely unscientific) experiment. Namely, a couple days ago I fried up a small amount and ate it, and while I felt a bit of the classic MSG effects it seemed like it might have been psychosomatic. So today I made a full patty of it and ate it for breakfast… and holy hell that was a bad time. I’m still recovering from it a couple hours later.

So, yeah, I’m still pretty sure MSG causes me problems, and I’m still gonna keep avoiding it.

Specific symptoms I experienced (and am still experiencing, to a degree):

  • Every one of my senses went into overdrive; light feels oppressive, even quiet noises felt like they were blaring in my ear, every little touch felt like stabbing, and I experienced what could only be described as electric formication (not to be confused with a similarly-spelled thing)
  • From the above I also got a migraine with aura, which is very rare for me anymore (back in college I got them fairly often even without MSG, and it seemed to be caused by overstimulation in general)
  • Nausea
  • A feeling of sparkles in my eyes
  • An increase in tinnitus (which is probably just going along with the sensory overdrive thing, but it felt worth calling out)
  • Feeling angry all over and unable to form complete thoughts

So yeah that’s a fun time.

Anyway, it’s amazing how I had all these problems even though I never even mentioned Chinese food.

It’s not inherently racist to have a problem with MSG.


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