What is MSG?
MSG is short for monosodium glutamate. MSG is derived from the amino acid glutamate, or glutamic acid, which is one of the most abundant amino acids in nature. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Glutamic acid is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that your body can produce it. It serves various functions in your body and is found in nearly all foods. Chemically, MSG is a white crystalline powder that looks like table salt or sugar. It combines sodium and glutamic acid, known as a sodium salt.
MSG is a common food ingredient that is a pure form of glutamate, the most common amino acid in our diets. It has the e-number E621 and is used to enhance flavour. The tongue has taste receptors for glutamate, just as it does for sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes. When MSG is added to foods, it enhances and enriches their savoury (umami) and rich flavours.
Sensitive to MSG?
MSG sensitivity is commonly referred to as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome because it’s frequently used in Chinese foods and many people experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness and sweating after eating Chinese food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified MSG as a food ingredient that's "generally recognised as safe," but its use remains controversial.
Why Do People Think It’s Harmful?
Glutamic acid functions as a neurotransmitter in your brain.It is an excitatory neurotransmitter, meaning that it stimulates nerve cells in order to relay its signal. Some people claim that MSG leads to excessive glutamate in the brain and excessive stimulation of nerve cells. For this reason, MSG has been labelled an excitotoxin.
Is MSG used in Hair Products?
If you try to avoid MSG in your food, just because you believe it's harmful, you may be surprised to know that MSG is found in more than food. It can be found in your cosmetics and personal care products, like makeup, soap, shampoo and conditioner.
As MSG is getting a bad press, there are hidden sources of MSG and its worth checking the ingredients for the following:
* Hydrolyzed proteins
* Amino acids
* Yeast extract
* Nayad (potent yeast extract)
* Glutamic acid
Hydrolyzed protein is in many shampoos and conditioners.
Is Hydrolyzed protein the same as MSG and how does it affect your hair?
MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is an amino acid, a building block of protein. It is found in food that is high in protein, including cheese, meat, poultry, and fish. Hydrolyzed proteins, developed by the food industry to enhance flavour, are simply proteins that have been chemically broken apart into amino acids. The chemical breakdown of proteins result in the formation of free glutamate that joins with free sodium to form MSG.
Hydrolyzed protein is used in many shampoos and conditioners. Depending on the type of hair, hydrolyzed protein can act as an emollient and film former. The lower the molecular weight, the more they will penetrate your hair and skin. The higher the molecular weight, the more it will form a film.
But unfortunately when we are treating thin hair, hydrolyzed protein can penetrate the hair and weigh it down. This can cause the hair to be limp and lifeless. So it is important to pick a shampoo or conditioner that does not aggravate thinning hair.
The bottom line?
While some people assert that the glutamate from MSG can act as an excitotoxin, leading to the destruction of nerve cells, no human studies support this. Overall, there is no compelling evidence that MSG acts as an excitotoxin when consumed in normal amounts. Official sources like the FDA claim that MSG is safe.
There are some studies that topical hydrolyzed protein in soap causing allergic reactions - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25040662
So depending on who you ask, MSG is either perfectly safe or a dangerous neurotoxin and the truth lies somewhere in between. Evidence indicates that MSG is safe in moderate amounts but megadoses ( Like most things !) may cause harm.
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