Monosodium Glutamate

In 1968, Kowk, a Chinese physician, described a transient neurological syndrome that occurred when he ate at American-Chinese restaurants. He suggested that monosodium glutamate could be the provoking agent because this product is used widely in Chinese restaurants to enhance the flavor of food. The pathophysiology of the syndrome has been suggested to relate to glutamate. As an excitatory agent, glutamate may alter synaptic transmission. Some authors suggest that the symptoms of monosodium glutamate syndrome may relate to cholinergic overstimulation or non-neurological vascular mechanisms. The syndrome has three major symptoms, occurring within 15 minutes after ingestion of Chinese food and lasting approximately 1 hour: a dysesthetic facial pressure, burning dysesthesias over the trunk, and chest pain. Headache, which may be migrainous in quality, is more frequently seen in patients with a prior history of headaches. Other vague symptoms such as malaise and lightheadedness may accompany the triad. It is not fully established that monosodium glutamate is, in fact, the causative agent. Therefore important contributing influences may also be the vehicle, whether the subject has been fasting, and whether a load of carbohydrate accompanies the ingestion of monosodium glutamate.1;]

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