Advertisement
Food

The truth behind ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’ and MSG will shock you!

×

The term “Chinese restaurant syndrome” derives from a letter from a physician to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968 speculating that certain physical symptoms — numbness in the limbs, heart palpitations — were due to monosodium glutamate, or MSG, in the Chinese food he ate. The term soon took a life of its own, causing many to speculate over the years that that migraine may actually have originated with the noodles from the Chinese takeout place on the corner.

(Chinese restaurant syndrome is still listed in the dictionary; Merriam-Webster.com recently tacked on an addendum noting the pejorative nature of the term.)

What is the deal with monosodium glutamate, or MSG? Is it as sinister as some people say? Does it give you headaches? Cause you to sweat and your heart to race? Make you sick? Or is fear of MSG, which naturally occurs in food like cheese, tomatoes and walnuts, simply racist and representative of a desire to other-ize immigrants by characterizing their food as dirty and unsafe?

The truth will shock you!


Advertisement