Video Q & A:

Triggers

Question:

Does MSG cause migraines?

Expert:   Joshua Cohen, M.D., M.P.H. , St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center »

Like many other food triggers, the chemical MSG can set off a migraine in some people, but not in others. Watch this to find out why!

Transcript: Like many other food triggers, the chemical MSG can set off a migraine in some people, but not in others. This flavor enhancer, also known as monosodium glutamate, is said to affect those with the TRESK gene, which is activated by glutamate. According to the journal of the American Medical Association, glutamate is a calcium channel opener and makes blood vessels swell, which often results in migraines. Knowing this, if you want to cut MSG out of your diet, you’re going to have to avoid packaged salad dressings, soups, gravies, spice blends, soy sauce, chips, fruit snacks, instant noodles, frozen foods, lunch meats -- essentially most prepackaged processed foods. And remember, MSG has aliases, which include maltodextrin and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. So also be on the lookout for those when scanning labels. Since most MSG migraines strike up to 72 hours AFTER eating the additive, it’s a good idea to keep a migraine journal tracking every bite of food you eat. This will help you find out if you are sensitive to the MSG trigger. As for treatment options, talk with your doctor about trying an anti-inflammatory medicine. They block the glutamate that activates the TRESK gene and can soothe your aggravated blood vessels and nerve endings. More »

Can't Find an Answer? Send us your question »