What are Excitotoxins?
MSG, Aspartame, other perservatives and chemicals....
Excitotoxins are substances our food manufacturers add to (processed) foods and beverages which literally stimulate brain neurons to death. Excitotoxins have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases or nuero musclular diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Dymentia, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, MS, and others. There are several FMS, and CFS sites citing Excitotoxins as an instigator or aggravator. Therefore, it seems a reasonable conclusion after researching Excitotoxins, that we can assume ADD, ADHD, and so forth would also be a result or consequence of over ingestion of excitotoxins. Just look at our children's health today, obviously we are doing something very different, and while I blame a great deal on HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), it looks like we have uncovered another major player in our fight against disease - and it's where? Again, in our food supply! Plus, lab tests on rats given excitotoxins made the little fellows extremely obese, go figure!
These powerful toxins are not added to food and drinks for health benefits, they are added to increase sales. They have no purpose, other than to enhance the taste of food and the sweetness of various diet products, or to preserve the contents longer. Certainly they are not for our health, but for wealth.
We have to go fishing for Excitotoxins, because in many instances they are not upfront, unlike Aspartame, many are hidden within label ingredients by other names, and even those ingredients are hidden, but are really Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) see list of other names for MSG below.
What do the researchers know? That our brain is extremely vulnerable to excitotoxins. When neurons are exposed to these substances, they become very excited and fire their impulses very rapidly until they reach a state of extreme exhaustion. Several hours later these neurons suddenly die, as if they were “excited” to death. As a result, neuroscientists have dubbed this class of chemicals “Excitotoxins.”
Russell L. Blaylock, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon who has practiced neurosurgery for the past 24 years. He is a visiting professor of biology at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, and serves on the boards of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons and the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association.. He is author of Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills (How Monosodium Glutamate, Aspartame (Nutrasweet) and similar substances can cause harm to the brain and nervous system) (Health Press).
How can you spot excitotoxins? Well there is a list of sneaky names that sound healthy, meaning. So the chemicals/perservatives can be inside or be camoflauged by another name/ingredient. For example do you recognize this healthy sounding ingredient "plant protein extract"?
So, let's assume most of us know MSG is not good and wouldn't purchase anything with MSG on the Ingredients Label. (Remember when Chinese Takeout used to be loaded with it?) Well, now we need to watch not only our restaurants, especially fast food, but also our supermarket shelves, because MSG goes by a myriad of names these days.
Below is a list of MSG (cloaked) ingredients by another name - who would've guessed? We have taken this list one step further, grateful to LetsBeWell, and a few other researchers who took their lists to the next level, clearer information for us the consumer.
Personally I'd stay away Excitotoxins like Aspartame, Sucralose, and from every ingredient listed as an MSG ingredient on the table, playing roulette with my brain doesn't sound like a good idea - pHresh & Alive!
Always Contain Frequently Contain Could Contain
Book: Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills by Russell Blaylock, M.D
"Soybean milk, which naturally contains a high content of glutamate, frequently has glutamate added in the form of hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Kombu, miso, and soy sauce all contain MSG… Sport supplements and weight-loss products frequently contain either Nutrasweet or one of the other excitotoxins."
Dr. Blaylock states in his book that he knew he should be prepared for the backlash from the food industry and especially from the representatives of the glutamate manufacturers. These two industries have joined together to fight anyone who would dare criticize the use of flavor enhancers. In fact, he says they have formed a special lobby group to counter any negative claims about their product. It is called the Glutamate Association, and is made up of representatives of major US food manufacturers and the Ajinomoto Company, which, based in Japan, and is the chief manufacturer of MSG and hydrolyzed protein.
Many are scared off by these powerful businesses and organizations, but Dr. Blaylock felt the public should be made aware and protected from harmful substances being added into our food supply. Millions of lives are at stake, including our future generations.
The definitive book on this subject was written by Dr Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and associate professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi.
Dr. Baylock quoted
"Suppose evidence was presented to you strongly suggesting that the artificial sweetener in your diet soft drink may cause brain tumors to develop, and that the number of brain tumors reported since the widespread introduction of this artificial sweetener has risen dramatically? Would that affect your decision to drink these products and especially to allow your children to drink them? What if you could be shown overwhelming evidence that one of the main ingredients in this sweetener (aspartate) could cause the same brain lesions as MSG? Would that affect your buying decisions?
"And finally, what if it could be demonstrated that all of these types of chemicals (called excitotoxins) could possibly aggravate or even precipitate many of the neurodegenerative brain diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, ALS, and Alzheimer's disease? Would you be concerned if you knew that these excitotoxin food additives are a particular risk if you have ever had a stroke, brain injury, brain tumor, seizure, or have suffered from hypertension, diabetes, meningitis, or viral encephalitis?
"I would think all of us would be more than just concerned to learn that well-known powerful brain toxins were being added to our food and drink to boost sales...
"You would also be upset to learn that many of those brain lesions in your children are irreversible and can follow a single exposure of sufficient concentration. And I would bet that you would be incredulous to learn that the food industry disguises many of these excitotoxin additives so that they will not be recognized. In fact, many foods that are labeled "No MSG" not only contain MSG, but also contain other excitotoxins of equal potency."
He encourages everyone to protect themselves, protect their brain:
The FDA's Response
In July 1995, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) conducted a definitive study for the FDA on the question of safety of MSG.(8) The FDA wrote a very deceptive summary of the report in which they implied that, except possibly for asthma patients, MSG was found to be safe by the FASEB reviewers. But, in fact, that is not what the report said at all. I summarized, in detail, my criticism of this widely reported FDA deception in the revised paperback edition of my book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, by analyzing exactly what the report said, and failed to say.(9) For example, it never said that MSG did not aggravate neurodegenerative diseases. What they said was, there were no studies indicating such a link. Specifically, that no one has conducted any studies, positive or negative, to see if there is a link. A vital difference.
What we find is that there are many gaps in our knowledge concerning the toxicity of food additive excitotoxins. For example, virtually no long term studies have been done on the neuroendocrine effects of chronic excitotoxin additive feeding in humans. Likewise, there are no studies of regionally distributed brain levels of glutamate, aspartate and cysteine following chronic excitotoxin feeding. Most important, there are no studies of the effect of these excitotoxins on the physiology of the nervous system under conditions of low brain energy supply. In examining the research literature, virtually all studies of this problem, other than behavioral effects, are centered on microscopic pathologic changes and not functional alterations of either the neurons themselves or of the entire brain itself. This is of vital importance, since we know that neurons can have severely altered function without pathological change as seen on either light or electron microscopy. Several studies have been done that demonstrate significant alteration in brain neurochemistry with acute MSG exposure.(10,11)
As for the scientific connection to neurodegenerative disorders, a number of such studies abound in the literature. One of the most impressive lines of evidence is that pursued by Pendergrass and Haley in a 1997 study published in the journal Neurotoxicology. In the study they showed that exposure to mercury vapor, at concentrations known to be released by dental amalgams in people, increased mercury concentrations in rat brains 11 to 47-fold higher than controls. At this level, the mercury produced the identical lesion seen in Alzheimer’s disease (neurofibrillary tangles) by interfering with normal tubulin maintenance
1. Ikonomidou C, Turski L. Glutamate in neurodegenerative disorders, in Stone TW (Ed.), Neurotransmitters and Neuromodulators: Glutamate. CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1995, pp. 253-272.
Dr. Blaylock is a neurological surgeon in Jackson, Mississippi, and a member of the Editorial Board of the Medical Sentinel. E-mail: email@example.com.
Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1999;4(6):212-215. Copyright ©1999 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).