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Excitotoxins Damage or Kill Brain and Nerve Cells: Strictly Avoid Aspartame and MSG and Its Analogs (hydrolized vegetable protein, “natural flavor”, etc)

I know I react to foods, but it’s long been hard to sort out what the problems ones are.

So as a rule, I avoid any food that contains ingredients that are not themselves natural foods. That rules out virtually all processed foods.

Tip: watch out for “natural flavor” (totally unnatural, really MSG in disguise). The FDA allows such misinformation in order to support industry while destroying health. The rule is if it is a secondary ingredient, then MSG has to be disclosed, otherwise it can be hidden as “natural flavor” and similar misleading labels.

Are you keen on brain damage? Then keep eating processed foods with excitotoxins. That is, if the effects are real—the mainstream considers MSG and aspartame perfectly safe—based on outrageous collusion between the FDA and industry (for example).

If you can quickly destroy brain cells in every animal species with modest amounts of MSG and/or aspartame (worse in combination), what does that say about safety when humans see 4X the concentration for the same amount per Kg, and are more sensitive, not less?

What happens when you have damage to the blood brain barrier, as with COVID, concussion, children, fetus, heat stress, illness, etc? Lots of nerve cells die of specific types so that later in life there are too few left, and all hell breaks loose. It it surely not an accident that so many neurological diseases are on the rise.

In my judgment based on lab studies, excitotoxins are a serious risk, particularly when the blood brain barrier can be readily compromized by dietary deficiences, concussion, genetic factors, heat stress, hypoglycemia, etc.

Guess what: magnesium is a natural inibitor of excitotoxins. But most of the population suffers from magnesium deficiency—a double-whammy.


Excitotoxins are chemicals added to food to make them taste better. Aside from good 'ol sodium chloride (salt), that’s the only chemical I’m game for.

Expect the FDA to protect you? Funny! The FDA’s role/goal is to protect industry from financial harm. See for example the notorious Bressler report. To this day, excitotoxin and cancer-causing aspartame is consumed by the ton all over the world in soft drinks.

I’ve considered myself quite aware of what is healthy and what is not, but I recently started reading Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills @AMAZON, by Russell L. Blaylock MD and I am shocked at what I am hearing about common chemicals like aspartame (think diet drinks).

Excitotoxin: a substance added to foods and beverages that literally stimulates neurons to death, causing brain damage of varying degrees. Can be found in such ingredients as monosodium glutamate, aspartame (NutraSweet(R)), cysteine, hydrolyzed protein, and aspartic acid. Citing over five hundred scientific studies, Excitotoxins explores the dangers of aspartame, MSG, and other substances added to our food. This is an electrifying and important book that should be available to every American consumer

See an excellent book overview of “Excitoxins — The Taste that Kills”.

Foods to watch out for include: Soybean milk (naturally high in glutamate / often has hydrolyzed vegetable protein added to it), kombu, miso, and soy sauces all contain MSG.

Sources of MSG include: MSG, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plan Protein, Plant Protein Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein, Autolyzed Protein, Autolyzed Yeast, and Hydrolyzed Oat Flour.

Additives frequently containing MSG: Malt extract, Malt Flavoring, Bouillon, Broth, Stock, Flavoring, Natural Flavoring, Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring, Seasoning and Spices.

Additives that may contain MSG or Excitotoxins: Carrageenan, Enzymes, Soy Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Isolate, and Protein Concentrate. Protease enzymes of various sources can release excitotoxin amino acids from food proteins.

Combine MSG and aspartame as so many do by diet and 1 + 1 = 3 for toxicity. And when the blood-brain barrier is degraded*, the brain is wide open to selective necrosis of neurons sensitive to glutamate and aspartate. Mothers in particular take note: children including the unborn are wide open to brain damage, having an imperfect or non-existent blood-brain barrier.

* Dietary deficiences, concussion, stroke, genetic factors, heat stress, hypoglycemia, etc. In particular, hypoglycemia in the brain hugely impairs the ability of neurons to clear toxic quantities of glutamate and aspartate (does not necessarily require systemic hypoglycemia).

Excitotoxins, Neurodegeneration and Neurodevelopment

by Russel L. Blaylock, M.D.
See also a video by Dr. Blaylock on excitotoxins and neurotoxins.

There are a growing number of clinicians and basic scientists who are convinced that a group of compounds called excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, learning disorders in children, AIDS dementia, episodic violence, lyme borreliosis, hepatic encephalopathy, specific types of obesity, and especially the neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and olivopontocerebellar degeneration.1

An enormous amount of both clinical and experimental evidence has accumulated over the past decade supporting this basic premise.2 Yet, the FDA still refuses to recognize the immediate and long term danger to the public caused by the practice of allowing various excitotoxins to be added to the food supply, such as MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and aspartame. The amount of these neurotoxins added to our food has increased enormously since their first introduction...

These toxins (excitotoxins) are not present in just a few foods, but rather in almost all processed foods. In many cases they are being added in disguised forms, such as natural flavoring, spices, yeast extract, textured protein, soy protein extract, etc. Experimentally, we know that when subtoxic levels of excitotoxins are given to animals in divided doses, they experience full toxicity, i.e., they are synergistic. Also, liquid forms of excitotoxins, as occurs in soups, gravies and diet soft drinks are more toxic than that added to solid foods. This is because they are more rapidly absorbed and reach higher blood levels.

It should also be appreciated that the effects of excitotoxin food additives generally are not dramatic. Some individuals may be especially sensitive and develop severe symptoms and even sudden death from cardiac irritability, but in most instances the effects are subtle and develop over a long period of time. While the food additives, MSG and aspartame, are probably not direct causes of the neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's dementia, Parkinson's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, they may well precipitate these disorders and certainly worsen their pathology as we shall see. It may be that many people with a 1 propensity for developing one of these diseases would never develop a full blown disorder had it not been for their exposure to high levels of food borne excitotoxin additives. Some may have had a very mild form of the disease had it not been for the exposure. Likewise, food borne excitotoxins may be harmful to those suffering from strokes, head injury and HIV infection and certainly should not be used in a hospital setting.

... Unfortunately, for the consumer, the corporate food processors not only continue to add MSG to our foods but they have gone to great links to disguise these harmful additives. For example, they use such names as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, vegetable protein, textured protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, soy protein extract, caseinate, yeast extract, and natural flavoring. We know experimentally that when these excitotoxin taste enhancers are added together they become much more toxic than is seen individually.10 In fact, excitotoxins in subtoxic concentrations can be fully toxic to specialized brain cells when used in combination. Frequently, I see processed foods on supermarket shelves, especially frozen or diet foods, that contain two, three or even four types of excitotoxins.


...There is also evidence that several nutrients can significantly reduce excitotoxicity. For example, combinations of coenzyme Q10 and niacinamide have been shown to protect against striatal excitotoxic lesions. Methylcobolamine, phosphotidylserine, picnogenol and acetyl-L-carnitine all protect against excitotoxicity as well.

Of particular concern is the toxic effects of these excitotoxic compounds on the developing brain. It is well recognized that the immature brain is four times more sensitive to the toxic effects of the excitatory amino acids as is the mature brain.This means that excitotoxic injury is of special concern from the fetal stage to adolescence. There is evidence that the placenta concentrates several of these toxic amino acids on the fetal side of the placenta. Consumption of aspartame and MSG containing products by pregnant women during this critical period of brain formation is of special concern and should be discouraged. Many of the effects, such as endocrine dysfunction and complex learning, are subtle and may not appear until the child is older. Other hypothalamic syndromes associated with early excitotoxic lesions include immune alterations and violence dyscontrol.


WIND: well worth a read, particularly for parents.

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