Autism and Glutamate Dysfunction - Avoid The Cause - Race To The Cure
Having a child with autism changes your life forever. Mine changed sixteen years ago as I saw my daughter regress and begin to have medical issues that went unanswered and tragically, it is happening more frequently to other parents today. For those reasons, I have become a seeker of truth and healing by reading and examining past and current information regarding autism and the serious medical issues that it includes. For those of us in the trenches of autism, we know how SICK OUR CHILDREN ARE with issues of sensory overload, severe GI dysfunction, immune dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, mast cell/inflammatory dysfunction, toxic encephalopathy, endocrine system dysfunction and seizures. Another factor involved in much of that, is the issue of immune-glutamatergic dysfunction. I know --- more dysfunction, but that is the medical reality of autism.
So a quick -- Immune-Glutamatergic Dysfunction 101 class -- with Wikipedia:
"Glutamate receptors are synaptic receptors located primarily on the membranes of neuronal cells. Glutamate is one of the 20 amino acids used to assemble proteins and as a result is abundant in many areas of the body, but it also functions as a neurotransmitter and is particularly abundant in the nervous system. Glutamate receptors are responsible for the glutamate-mediated post-synaptic excitation of neural cells, and are important for neural communication, memory formation, learning, and regulation. Furthermore, glutamate receptors are implicated in the pathologies of a number of neurodegenerative diseases due to their central role in excitotoxicity and their prevalence throughout the central nervous system."
Pubmed, the website of medical, peer-reviewed journals, is a great way to read about autism and its many medical dysfunctions, including glutamate receptor issues. In doing that, I started with just the key words, "glutamate receptor dysfunction" and Pubmed showed 7,043 studies. I then decided to see what other medical conditions may also be involved with glutamates - glutamate receptor dysfunction plus the word "seizures" gave me 858 studies; glutamate receptor dysfunction and "schizophrenia" showed 641; glutamate receptor dysfunction with "Parkinson's" had 303; and then typing in "autism" with glutamate receptor dysfunction brought me to 29 medical studies. Not very many compared to the others.
One of the first studies, (HERE) "Postmortem brain abnormalities of the glutamate neurotransmitter system in autism'. went back to 2001. Here was the conclusion: "Subjects with autism may have specific abnormalities in the AMPA-type glutamate receptors and glutamate transporters in the cerebellum. These abnormalities may be directly involved in the pathogenesis of the disorder." That sounds important and so I looked at the other 28 studies to read more. What was interesting and maybe disturbing is that about half of the studies done were in the last couple of years. These two specifically caught my attention and seemed to be a trend:
"Fragile X and autism: Intertwined at the molecular level leading to targeted treatments": (HERE)"Research regarding dysregulation of neurotransmitter systems in FXS, including the metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)1/5 pathway and γ aminobutyric acid (GABA)A pathways, have led to new targeted treatments for FXS. Preliminary evidence suggests that these new targeted treatments will also be beneficial in non-fragile X forms of autism."
Now I am all for treatments but the lack of WHY to much of autism is a cause for concern as well as the dismissal of thousands of parents who witnessed regression after vaccines were given. The autism epidemic rages on, too. This study skips the "why" and goes right to the cure, which obviously will be a cash bonanza for those companies "targeting treatments" but what about targeting the cause of autism? This study also takes autism and rolls it into Fragile X which seems more of a marketing tool - "Preliminary evidence suggests that these new targeted treatments will also be beneficial in non-fragile X forms of autism." In checking on the source of this study : Grant Support:R01 HD036071-13/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
Here was another targeting glutamate receptors to autism but there is no concern or worry as to what caused it: "Glutamate receptor dysfunction and drug targets across models of autism spectrum disorders": (HERE)
The title minces no interpretation - "drug targets." Here also is an indication of what direction they are pointing to - genes - yet because they CAN'T FIND GENES RESPONSIBLE, they will call it "not well understood": "There is strong evidence that metabotropic and ionotropic glutamate receptors are affected in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but there are few candidate genes indicating involvement of these receptors. This suggests that glutamate receptor dysregulation may primarily be involved in the expression of ASD, but is an uncommon etiology."
This study is significant and another example of targeting glutamate and autism: "Targeting neurotensin as a potential novel approach for the treatment of autism" - (HERE) "serum neurotensin levels in children with autistic disorder have been found to be higher than those of normal children. Neurotensin is known to intensify neuronal NMDA-mediated glutamate signaling, which may cause apoptosis in autism. Further, an imbalance of glutamate/GABAergic system in autism has been described. These observations lead to a postulate that neurotensin may accentuate the hyperglutaminergic state in autism, leading to apoptosis. Targeting neurotensin might be a possible novel approach for the treatment of autism."
So what are we to think? Well, there is research that came out after that initial 2001, glutamate/autism study that DID CONNECT autism to glutamate receptor dysfunction. It is interesting that these "target to drug" studies do not include them in their references. In 2004, Hornig et al published "Neurotoxic effects of postnatal thimerosal are mouse strain dependent", (HERE) meaning that some mice who were treated with thimerosal, the vaccine mercury, after birth then showed glutamate receptor dysfunction: ""Hippocampal architectu¬re and glutamate receptor and transporte¬r immunoreac¬tivity are disrupted in SJL mice by postnatal thimerosal¬".......NR¬1 and NR2b glutamate receptor immunoreac¬tivity patterns are abnormal in the hippocampi of thimerosal treated SJL mice...... Neuronal glutamate transporte¬r immunoreac¬tivity patterns are abnormal in the hippocampi of thimerosal¬-treated SJL mice......¬Seizure related increases in extracellu¬lar glutamate are noted in temporal lobe epilepsy."
There seems to be an awkward and bewildering irony in here that some of these same companies who want to target drugs for glutamate dysfunction may be companies who are avoiding the target of cause because they also make vaccines which contain thimerosal that target pregnant women (fetuses), infants, toddlers and children. It is no secret that Glutamate is also an ingredient in many vaccines. That may leave a bad taste in the mouth to any who make that connection. As we look at thimerosal as causing glutamate dysfunction, here is another study not about autism but specifically about levels of mercury and the effect on the glutamate system:
"Methylmercury increases glutamate extracellular levels in frontal cortex of awake rats" (HERE)"A current hypothesis about methylmercury (MeHg) neurotoxicity proposes that neuronal damage is due to excitotoxicity following glutamate uptake alterations in the astrocyte. , ......we measured the effects of acute exposure to either 10 or 100 microM MeHg through the microdialysis probe, on glutamate extracellular levels in 15 awake animals. ...... immediate and significant elevations in extracellular glutamate at 10 microM (9.8-fold, P<.001) and at 100 microM (2.4-fold, P=.001). This in vivo demonstration of increments of extracellular glutamate supports the hypothesis that dysfunction of glutamate neurotransmission plays a key role in MeHg-induced neural damage." - This then indicates that a lower dose of mercury can be significantly more excitotoxic. So when we hear that vaccine companies have LESSENED mercury to trace amounts, these researchers have shown that damage still can occur. It would appear that glutamates are highly sensitive to the effects of mercury and this again shows even more evidence to a mechanism of vaccine injury, especially as far as autism is concerned. Is mercury the only cause of glutamate receptor and transporte¬r immunoreac-tivity? It's hard to say as NIH and CDC don't seem to fund those types of studies but here is one from Japan that would make one wonder about MMR:
A case of persistent cerebellar ataxia complicated by conversion disorder--confirmed by positive cerebrospinal fluid glutamate receptor delta2 and epsilon2 antibodies] (HERE) "We recently encountered a 13-year-old girl who developed persistent cerebellar symptoms one month after mixed measles/rubella vaccination, making it difficult to distinguish this condition from conversion disorders. Severe truncal ataxia was the initial manifestation in this case. The patient had no abnormalities in objective tests but began to show extraordinary circadian variations in certain parameters. Her cerebellar symptoms were thus considered to possibly be associated with conversion disorders. Later, she tested positive for cerebrospinal fluid anti-glutamic acid receptor (GluR) delta2 antibody. The lymphocyte stimulation test yielded a positive reaction to GluRdelta2 antigen. In addition, in the chronic stage SPECT revealed reduced cerebellar blood flow. She was thus diagnosed as having persistent cerebellar ataxia due to autoimmune mechanisms and modification of cerebellar symptoms due to secondary conversion disorders. Our experience with this case suggests that checking cerebrospinal fluid for anti-GluRdelta2 antibody is possibly useful for distinguishing between conversion disorders and cerebellar ataxia due to autoimmune mechanisms."
That sure looks like MMR could also be involved in glutamate issues and then damage to the brain. The conversion disorder seems to be in the "hysteria" diagnosis domain, that whenever medicine does not like a symptom, they try to dismiss it as - it's all in your head! Due to actual labs, they then had to admit error here and include the true MEDICAL reason. Poor child had a vaccine reaction from her MMR it appears and let's hope the delay in proper diagnosis did not cause more injury. If you read here (HERE) you can see that cerebellar ataxia is used to describe newly diagnosed children with autism. If you go here (HERE) you can see where cerebellar ataxia and autism are on a list of Immunizations-Neurologic Complications.
Here is another example of research that the pharmaceutical companies targeting drugs also have not included in their references:
"Protective effects of a vitamin B12 analog, methylcobalamin, against glutamate cytotoxicity in cultured cortical neurons" (HERE).
How many children, teens and adults with ASD benefit from taking methyl b-12? MANY do, as doctors who treat the vaccine injuries in autism have known by both research and behaviors that methylcobalamin treats the actual causes of dysfunction.
As the autism epidemic grows, so does the ability to market it while continually avoiding it's cause. Here are recent examples of the big money research coming out of the horrific numbers of autism- "Drugmakers dance with autism" (HERE) and this one, not shy about its purpose - "Epidemiology: Autism Spectrum Disorders" (HERE): "Gain insight to market potential, including a robust 10-year epidemiology forecast of autism spectrum disorder prevalent cases."
Disturbing on many levels. We have seen research ignore and deny and some of the loudest deniers of vaccine injury causing autism have been those who profit: Offit Cashes In: Closing the Books on the Vaccine Profits of a Merck-Made Millionaire (HERE) Another vocal denier who profits, shown by Jake Crosby, here at Age of Autism : "David Gorski’s Financial Pharma Ties: What He Didn’t Tell You" (HERE) What makes this interesting and relevant are these two paragraghs:
"Three years ago in another cancer (melanoma), Dr. Gorski's collaborators found that glutamate might have a role in promoting the transformation of the pigmented cells in the skin (melanocytes) into the deadly skin cancer melanoma. More importantly for therapy, it was found that this protein can be blocked with drugs, and, specifically, in melanoma cell lines and tumor models of melanoma using a drug originally designed to treat ALS and already FDA-approved for that indication (Riluzole) can inhibit the growth of melanoma.”
Also, according to the Gorski lab, “Our second area of interest is the role of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) in breast cancer,” which relates directly to the therapy linking the use of Riluzole to breast cancer treatment. However, the description concludes, “In addition, we have noted that mGluR1 is expressed on vascular endothelial cells and have preliminary evidence that its inhibition is also antiangiogenic, thus linking our laboratory’s two interests and suggesting a broader application for metabotropic glutamate receptor targeting in cancer therapy.” In other words, David Gorski’s entire research focus, including a patent still listed in his name for which he admits receiving drug company money, ties into finding new uses for a drug made by Sanofi-Aventis, while the university housing his lab is in partnership with the company."
I have reported on melanin/pigmetary issues and even brought up families that had both autism and melanoma here- (HERE) Since patents and pharmaceutical companies seem to be part of Dr. Gorski's collaborations, his vocally denying vaccine injuries in autism should be no surprise. Exposing those who deny and obfuscate vaccines in the plight of so many sick children has become very important as they truly stand in the way of STOPPING the epidemic and instead DENY its cause and the safe treatments, like vitamins, minerals, diets, and detoxification. Glutamate is considered a toxin. Researching its involvement in autism should lead back to the cause of autism and not to the bank.
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.
Thank you for posting this. It was really helpful to have all of the academic resources in one place. I was looking into it because I have ASD/ Asbergers and I was prescribed Lamotrigine which is a glutamate inhibitor! Lamotrigine is also used as a mood stabilizer in treating bipolar disorder and an anticonvulsant used in treating epilepsy.
I have found the medication to be extremely helpful for me. It helps in reducing sensory overload, mood swings, and anxiety - while improving my memory, learning ability, concentration, and social communication. Many studies have been done to show how glutamate inhibitor medication therapy can improve neurological symptoms of autism.
Regarding your comment about lack of research to the cause of autism, research is required to determine whether medication therapy is effective in "targeting" before a conclusion can be drawn about the effects of deficiency.
Glutamate exotoxicity + glutamate inhibitor = relief of neurological symptoms
This then tells us that glutamate exotoxicity is the cause of those symptoms.
Since autism is often complex with a wide range of symptoms varying by individual, it is going to be a while before the 'cause of autism' is academically published. Now that we know that glutamate exotoxicity is the cause of some of the neurological symptoms associated with autism, we can look into what causes glutamate exotoxicity. As people have mentioned in the comments, avoiding foods high in glutamate can also help!
The same can be said for gluten sensitivity! Higher levels of gluten have been associated with autism symptoms like GI distress, autoimmune issues and even neurological disturbances. Avoiding food containing gluten has been show to improve these symptoms.
I know this post is 8 years old and there has been a TON of research published since then. Definitely worth looking into (:
Posted by: Amelia | January 25, 2019 at 07:02 PM
I have Aspergers and GAD1 mutations. I have found taking Lemon Balm (GABA transminase inhibitor), Agmatine (NMDA receptor blocker) and Phenibut (GABA analogue) to be life changing. I also try to avoid glutamates in my food.
Posted by: Kimber | May 03, 2017 at 06:54 PM
Are digestive enzymes high in glutamate? If a child lacks particular enzymes, what should you do instead?
Posted by: nivola | July 29, 2016 at 12:42 PM
I'm so excited to have found this amazingly informative article! I've been researching glutamate dysfunction for some time and this article answers so many questions for me. And thank you to all who've responded here with more helpful information. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Posted by: Joanna Malanos | February 14, 2015 at 05:51 PM
I agree with the warnings about free-glutamate (nicknamed MSG even if there is no MS in it) foods. After reading about the story of the founder of unblindmymind.org and her no-longer-autistic daughter, I read more about the excitotoxins that are allowed in our foods because they are naturally occurring in the body after all, with no regard to the fact that the brain has to keep very tight restrictions on the glutamate it uses as a neurotransmitter. You shouldn't just add a pile of extra glutamate to such a delicate natural balance, and the more we strive to make our foods flavorful in the cheapest and easiest way (add MSG), the more Autism we're going to see, as well as other disorders. The author of this article is right, alarming issues pop up and become more and more prevalent, and we all go crying to the drug companies for help instead of asking what are we doing wrong? and shouldn't we stop doing it?
Posted by: TyRAN* | February 11, 2015 at 04:57 PM
Here is a list, according to Dr Amy Yasko, of foods to avoid. Googling can bring you more information -- best of luck.
Foods to Avoid
Sources of MSG
• Hydrolyzed protein or hydrolyzed oat flour
• Sodium caseinate or calcium caseinate
• Autolyzed yeast or yeast extract
• Glutamic acid
• Monosodium glutamate
Excitotoxic Food Ingredients
• Autolyzed anything
• Autolyzed yeast
• Autolyzed yeast extract
• Calcium caseinate
• Carrageenan (or vegetable gum)
• Chicken/pork/beef “base”
• Chicken/pork/beef “flavoring”
• Disodium caseinate
• Disodium guanylate
• Disodium inosinate
• Dough conditioner(s)
• Guar gum
• Hydrolyzed anything
• Hydrolyzed oat flour
• Hydrolyzed plant protein
• Hydrolyzed protein
• Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
• Kombu extract
• Malt extract
• Malt flavoring(s)
• Malted anything
• Malted barely flour
• Malted barley/barley malt
• Meat flavorings (chicken, beef etc.)
• Monosodium glutamate
• Natural flavor(s)
• Natural flavoring(s)
• Plant protein extract 1-cysteine
• Seasoned salt
• Seasoning(s) or spices
• Smoke flavoring(s)
• Sodium caseinate
• Soup base
• Soy extract
• Soy protein
• Soy protein concentrate
• Soy protein isolate
• Soy sauce
• Spice mixes that contain glutamate
or MSG as an ingredient
• Textured protein
• Vegetable gum
• Whey protein
• Whey protein concentrate
• Whey protein isolate
• Yeast extract
Food Products That Commonly Contain Excitoxins and Other Harmful Ingredients
Clearly, you can’t always avoid everything on these lists. But you can regard these foods and
ingredients with suspicion, as they have been known to cause problems. Even if you do not
eliminate them entirely, you can pay special attention after your child has eaten a potentially
troublesome food and look for and note an immediate negative reaction (within the next twentyfour
hours.) On the other hand, there can also be a long term cumulative effect, so don’t think
that in the absence of an immediate problem, your child can tolerate that food.
It may not always be possible to avoid every single item on these lists, but you can and should
monitor your child’s intake of foods that damage the nerves.
Foods That Damage the Nerves
• Anything enzyme modified
• Anything fermented
• Anything protein fortified
• Anything ultra-pasteurized
• Anything vitamin enriched
• Anything with corn syrup added
• Anything with milk solids
• Baked goods from bakeries
• Barbeque sauce
• Certain brands of cold cuts/hot dogs
• Body builder protein mixes
• Bottled spaghetti sauce
• Boullion (any kind)
• Canned and smoked tuna, oysters,
• Canned soups (certain brands)
• Canned refried beans
• Canned, frozen, or dry entrees and
• Caramel flavoring/coloring
• Chili sauce
• Chocolates/Candy bars
• Citric acid (when processed from
• Corn chips (certain brands)
• Dough conditioners
• Dry milk or whey powder
• Egg substitutes
• Flavored chips (certain brands)
• Flavored teas, sodas
• Flowing agents
• Fresh and frozen pizza
• Fresh produce sprayed with
Auxigro—instead choose organically
• Fried chicken from fast food sources
• Frostings and fillings
• Gravy Master
• Instant soup mixes/Stocks
• Kombu extract
• Low-fat/Diet foods
• Many salad dressings/Croutons
• Most salty, powdered dry food mixes
• Non-dairy creamers
• Parmesan cheese
• Salted peanuts (certain brands)
• Powdered soup and sauce mixes
• Processed cheese spread
• Ramen noodles
• Restaurant gravy from food service
• Restaurant soups made from food
service Soup base
• Sausages/Processed meats/Cold cuts
• Seasoned anything
• Skim, 1%, 2%, non-fat, or dry milk
• Some bagged salads and vegetables
• Some peanut butters
• Some spices
• Soy sauce
• Supermarket turkey & chicken
• Table salts
• Tofu and other fermented soy
• Tomato sauce/Stewed tomatoes
• Whipped cream topping substitutes
• Worcestershire sauce
• Xanthan gum/other “
Posted by: Teresa Conrick | October 03, 2013 at 07:07 AM
Can you please suggest what kind of foods to eat and what food to avoid as my son is high in Glutamate and Aspart..he is ASD diagnosed and what are the possible treatments that I can look into? thank you
Posted by: Sowmya | October 03, 2013 at 06:07 AM
While I find many of the comments very helpful, I would like to add that by mere elimination of Free Glutamic Acid FGA (MSG, Maltodextrin, Yeast extract . . food additives!) a change most likely will occure. It is a simple way to make a big impact on your child's life and of your family.We have recently done this and there is a completely different, happier, child in our home!
Posted by: Cat L. | February 23, 2012 at 12:52 PM
In the words of the Boondock Saints.... re: Kitty Genovese -- "As you all may remember, a long time ago, almost thirty years ago, this poor soul cried out for help time and time again, but no person answered her calls. Though many saw, no one so much as called the police. They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away. Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men. "
Posted by: Cindy | April 07, 2011 at 02:08 PM
For infants the highest levels of Glutamate exposures by far are infant formulas!!!
The Perfect Storm: Commercial Infant Formula + Vaccines = Autism
MSG IN INFANT FORMULA
Weston A. Price Foundation (www.westonaprice.org)
By Jack Samuels
From time to time, we are asked whether infant formulas contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG) and processed free aspartic acid – both neurotoxins, particularly toxic to the vulnerable nervous system of the infant.
Results of analyses of five formulas purchased in Canada are shown in Table 1. Brands are listed in alphabetical order. Ingredients of products sold in the United States and other countries may vary. The manufacturer of Enfalac sold in Canada uses the product name Enfamil in the United States.
Test results in milligrams per ounce (oz.)
Aspartic Acid Glutamic Acid
Carnation Good Start .028 .077
Enfalac Iron Fortified .019 .390
Hypoallergenic 5.505 29.671
Isomil Soy Formula .039 .025
Similac Lactose Free .006 .007
In a brochure for their Enfalac (Nutramigen) formula line, Mead Johnson Nutritionals states that infant formula requirements are as follows:
1-week-old infant — 6 to 10 bottles of 2 to 4 oz. formula
3-month-old infant — 4 to 5 bottles of 6 to 8 oz. formula
Taking an average of the formula requirements given by Mead Johnson Nutritionals we find that the average requirements would be:
1-week-old—8 bottles of 3 oz. formula = 24 oz. formula per day
3-month-old—4.5 bottles of 7 oz. formula = 31.5 oz. formula per day
Tables 2 and 3 show the amounts of neurotoxic glutamic acid and neurotoxic aspartic acid that would be ingested daily by an average infant on each of the analyzed formulas for ages 1 week and 3 months.
Grams of aspartic acid and glutamic acid that would be
ingested daily by an average 1-week-old infant
Aspartic Acid Glutamic Acid Total
Carnation Good Start .0007 .0019 .0026
Enfalac Iron Fortified .0005 .0096 .0100
Hypoallergenic .1348 .7263 .8611
Isomil Soy Formula .0010 .0006 .0016
Similac Lactose Free .0002 .0002 .0003
Grams of aspartic acid and glutamic acid that would be
ingested daily by an average 3 month old infant
Aspartic Acid Glutamic Acid Total
Carnation Good Start .0009 .0025 .0034
Enfalac Iron Fortified .0006 .0125 .0131
Hypoallergenic .1769 .9533 1.1302
Isomil Soy Formula .0012 .0008 .0020
Similac Lactose Free .0002 .0002 .0004
FORMULA SOLD IN THE USA
In so far as we know, there has been no study of quantities of neurotoxic amino acids (glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and L-cysteine) present in infant formula sold in the USA. So we picked two cans of formula off our grocer's shelves to illustrate the fact that formula sold in the USA has its share of MSG-containing ingredients. The ingredients are shown in Table 4. Those known to contain MSG or create MSG during processing are shown in bold. L-cysteine is noted in italics because it, like glutamic acid and aspartic acid, is a neurotoxic amino acid.
Ingredients in infant formula sold in the USA
Nestlé Carnation Good Start (Easy to Digest Comfort proteins): Water, enzymatically hydrolyzed reduced minerals whey protein concentrate (from cows's milk), vegetable oils (palm olein, soy, coconut, high-oleic safflower), lactose, corn maltodextrin. . .
Enfamil Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Formula: Water, corn syrup solids. . . casein hydrolysate, modified corn starch. . . carrageenan, L-cysteine. . .
The Canadian Study leaves no room for doubt that ingredients that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG) and free aspartic acid — known neurotoxins— are used in baby formula. The fact that neurotoxins are present in baby formula is of particular concern since the blood brain barrier is not fully developed in infants, allowing neurotoxins to be more accessible to the brain than is the case in healthy adults.
The amounts of aspartic acid and glutamic acid found in the formulas analyzed in the Canadian Study have been listed separately in the tables. However, in studies using experimental animals, neuroscientists have found that glutamic acid and aspartic acid load on the same receptors in the brain, cause identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, and act in an additive fashion.
You will note that the level of neurotoxins found in the hypoallergenic formula was far greater than the level of neurotoxins found in the other formulas. In reviewing the literature on hypoallergenic formulas, we have found short-term studies that concluded that hypoallergenic formulas are safe because babies tolerated them and gained weight. However, we have not seen any long-term studies on the safety of hypoallergenic formulas. We believe that well designed long term studies would demonstrate that infants raised on hypoallergenic formulas, as compared to infants who are breastfed or fed on non-hypoallergenic formulas, will exhibit more learning disabilities at school age, and/or more endocrine disorders, such as obesity and reproductive disorders, later in life. Long-term studies on the effects of hypoallergenic formulas need to be done.
To put these figures in perspective, consider that in an FDA-sponsored study dated July, 1992 entitled "Safety of Amino Acids Used in Dietary Supplements," the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology concluded, in part, that "...it is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by pregnant women, infants, and children. . . and. . . by women of childbearing age and individuals with affective disorders." (MSG is called glutamic acid or L-glutamic acid when used in supplements.)
Consider also, that a press release dated May 27, 1999, which discussed the European Commission marketing authorization for RotaShield(R) Rotavirus Vaccine (since removed from the market) stated, in part, "RotaShield(R) should not be given to infants who are hypersensitive to latex or. . . monosodium glutamate."
During the 1960s, the food ingredient "monosodium glutamate" was routinely added to baby foods. The industry "voluntarily" ceased the practice after Congressional hearings in which concerned researchers warned of serious adverse effects. However, for some years following the elimination of "monosodium glutamate," hydrolyzed proteins were used in place of "monosodium glutamate." Hydrolyzed proteins always contain MSG.
Many consumers now know to avoid baby foods with hydrolyzed proteins. Yet how many parents realize that MSG lurks in every bottle of formula given to their infants? Babies on hypoallergenic formulas receive about 1 gram of total neurotoxins per day, a level at which many MSG-sensitive individuals experience adverse reactions.
For further information on MSG, see www.truthinlabeling.org.
About the Author
Jack Samuels and his wife, Adrienne Samuels, PhD, are founders of Truth in Labeling, a nonprofit organization dedicated to accurate labeling of MSG and the removal of MSG from use in agriculture. For further information, see their website at www.truthinlabeling.org.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts,
the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2001.
Posted by: AutismGrandma | March 31, 2011 at 08:24 PM
see STOP CALLING IT AUTISM (google) and his theory on Vitiligo. I think its SV40 virus, and I have it, and I have two with autism. It may also be related to XMRV. We all have that. Severe Oxidative stress can cause vitiligo, bingo!
Posted by: kathy blanco | March 31, 2011 at 06:08 PM
My family all take opiods - hydrochodone occasionally - my husband all the time.
It does not knock him out or slow him down - just the opposite - he gets a lot done but he is on the go from one thing to the next. It is like his mind races, that is not exactly normal either.
Hydrocodone also helps on the stomachs/bellies. A severe pain lower down - for my son or daughter, that last for days and days - finally they take a half of a hydrocodone, and when the drug wears off - the stomachache is gone too for good- well months at any rate.
Posted by: Benedetta | March 31, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Angie and Carol Thanks.
Tereasa: My cousin - according to my Aunt that visits me yearly - has vitaligo.
She mentioned this since she is observing my husband who has it too, along with an immune dysfunction, mitochondrial myopathy and so forth.
My cousin is a past war veteran of the time of Desert Storm, and because of what has happened to my family I suspect the anthrax vaccine.
My cousin has what his mother describes to me Parkison Disease, he is in a wheel chair and recent nursing home resident. I suspect not Parkison but ALS. A decade ago he was having his GI track operated on to remove "well my Aunt doesn't know" she says infection, but I suspect inflamation.
But this pigment thing, this eating away of our pigments!!!And then Gorski's looking at cancer drugs that actually have something to do with pigment??? You are really on to something!
Posted by: Benedetta | March 31, 2011 at 10:43 AM
Wow, Teresa. This is really good. Bet you wish you had time to go back to school for medical research.Course, maybe there's no need. You're doing amazing job right now.
Posted by: Maurine Meleck | March 31, 2011 at 08:25 AM
Yes, MSG was in Chinese food and in bouillon cubes (and Corn Nuts), but my understanding is that the equivalent is still in foods in large amounts. They may not be sodium salts, but as Russell Blaylock says, it isn't the sodium that's hurting you.
Glutamates, it appears, are in almost every processed food, disguised as "natural flavor," "spices," "yeast protein," "hydrolyzed yeast," to name just a few.
According to Blaylock, glutamates are naturally present in the brain in only small quantities. When free glutamate is in food, it can easily pass the blood-brain barrier and cause neurons to go into assault mode (my term) and actually fire themselves to death. The damage is being done whether you get a headache or not.
I'm just starting to learn about this now. I recommend you check out Blaylock's book or the internet.
Posted by: Carol | March 31, 2011 at 08:07 AM
Benedetta, yes and it's not a stupid question, how else does anyone know if they don't ask! It's everywhere! And awesome article!
Posted by: angie | March 31, 2011 at 07:52 AM
BRAVO!!!!! So glad the world is catching up. I would love to add that while not curative, mother nature provides her own glutamate antagonist to lower these level of excitotoxin and give the receptor matrix some relief: marijuana. You wonder why it seems to do so much for fibro patients, autistic kids (see uf4a.org), alzheimer's, MS, epilepsy... They are all glutamate disorders.
Posted by: David | March 30, 2011 at 11:16 PM
"Glutamate is considered a toxin. Researching its involvement in autism should lead back to the cause of autism and not to the bank."
You hit the nail on the head! I wish I could believe that the pharma companies that have created the epidemic in the first place will be able or willing to stop themselves from continuing the charade in order maximize shareholder value (and their own stock options). But it would be counterintuitive from a psychological point of view (who wants to realize they are responsible for a genocide?) or a corporate one.
Posted by: Garbo | March 30, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Is this that same stuff that is in Chinese food, and in those bouillian cubes (that I stopped using just this past winter)?
Sorry if it is dumb question, and I sound so stupid, I just know that MSG really makes all my family stiff, and muscle achy more than usual.
Posted by: Benedetta | March 30, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Sent via email- thanks.
Wow! I have ME/CFS. The results of much of my research indicates that glutamate plays a vital role in the CNS dysfunction in this illness:
Note: NMDA=n-methyl-d-aspartate (sound similar to aspartame? you got it!) Glutamate and aspartate both function at the NMDA receptor (and AMPA too if I remember correctly.)
1. Glutatmatergic excitotoxicity is being found in many neurological diseases; it's the hottest thing in neurology right now.
2. Glutamate is being studied intensively in seizure disorder. Keep in mind that GABA agonists (see below the inhibitory action on NMDA/glutamate) are used as anti-seizure medications.
3. Elevated glutamate levels are found in ME/CFS and FMS
4.Levels of one of the main inhibitory systems for glutamate, beta endorphin, are low are low in ME/CFS and in FMS (with some variation in the studies; it's not known if this is a subset issue or a testing procedure issue.)
5. GABA is the other main inhibitory system for glutamate; Lyrica and Neurontin are GABA agonists
6. The most effective palliative medications found are generally NMDA/glutamate antagonists; this includes the above GABA agonists (which are not direct antagonists but do have a major effect nonetheless,) selective NMDA antagonists such as Dextromethorphan and others, cannabinoids, and opiate pain medications. Which ones help seems to vary and may be a function of of the specific etiology of ME/CFS that you have (since there are puted subsets; viral, OP poisoning, acute marine ciguatera, spinal stenosis, Lyme, etc.) and there may be individual variation as well.
7. The main cause of the cognitive issues in ME/CFS appear to be caused by an micro-seizure occurring approx. every 3 seconds (for probably less than a 1/10th of a second; just a guess on my part from experience.) All of the specific findings in neuropsych studies fit exactly what one would expect: problems with focus and attention, long term potentiation in memory, executive function and impulsivity, startle reflex (normal people are able to maintain vigilance for at least 5 seconds when they experience something that puts them on edge before a startling event; for instance someone sneaking up behind you to go "Boo!" and you hear them coming whereas with ME/CFS are not able to maintain this vigilance for that long and startle inappropriately. It is because we are going through this micro-seizure in the intervening seconds and we in essence “forget” about staying vigilant so we don't startle), etc. In essence it's a micro absence seizure and when your brain is doing a "soft reset" every few seconds, it makes all these normal cognitive functions more difficult by putting us into an intensive ADD like state 24 hours per day (and since glutamate is excitatory, it adds to the “wired-tired” effect, along with adrenal exhaustion.)
8. The article by the EEG expert who found the micro-seizure described it as an, "alpha wave intrusion." This is the same phenomenon found in the alpha/delta wave sleep anomaly studies. This explains why NMDA antagonists help with sleep; they are blocking the micro-seizure as well as helping with hyperalgesic pain. Surprisingly, this also includes opiate meds (in fact, these may be the most effective palliative medication for a subset of ME/CFS and FMS patients due to primary deficiency and it has dual roles in affecting endorphin receptors as well as non-selective antagonism of NMDA/glutamate. It's a very contradictory and paradoxical effect but explains why we have such positive reactions to opiates with far less side effects than normal and little or no psychoactive effect; in essence it's completely normalizing. Certainly, it would make sense that endorphins would also be involved with sensory gating at baseline levels [it appears that elevated levels from our own brains or from taking medications are what cause the “pain killing” effect with which most people are familiar] Of course most doctors would recommend this be a last resort medication due to the current climate regarding opiates.)
9. Hyperalgesia is in essence a sensory gating dysfunction in which light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and a general physical sensitivity is increased and the normal ability to "filter" out sensory input is decreased. It is also increasingly being understood as a by-product of the excitotoxic damage process (unfortunately ME/CFS patients also have to contend with the pain being produced physically in the muscles due to micro-circulatory dysfunction and resulting metabolic impairment.) This is the main aspect of the pain syndrome that NMDA antagonists seem to help while minimally helping with other sources of pain (i.e., the physical pain and stiffness being created in the muscles.) It's been noted that, like post-polio, ME/CFS and FMS require more pain medications post surgery (2X as much for 2x as long;) I would submit that for a subset of us, this is because we are in endorphin deficiency in the first place and a normal dosage is only getting us to a "normal" sensory gating level (giving us the typical level of pain meds for post-surgery is like giving a normal person NO medications.)
10. Hyperalgesia can be conceived as being similar to what occurs in meningitis and encephalitis. It MAY be that the reason this occurs in meningitis and encephalitis is at least partly due to inflammatory spinal compression and stenosis resulting in a CCSVI-like ischemic condition. I base this on the observation of the spinal stenosis subset of ME/CFS and FM and hypothesize that compression on the dorsal horn of the spinal cord may be a large part of this. Several post-mortem studies on ME/CFS patients have demonstrated evidence of hemorrhaging in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and the dorsal horn is where sensory information is passed to the brain.
11. Excitotoxic damage has been found to be the result of a number of processes (which helps explain why there are a number of subsets) including transient ischemia, infection, and chemical poisoning. All of these are potential factors in ME/CFS; especially ischemia. A number of studies have demonstrated problems with circulation and metabolism in the brain, especially the brain stem where the spinal cord meets the brain; it's possible that this would have an effect on the dorsal horn mentioned above.
12. Research is indicating that ME/CFS patients have diastolic cardiomyopathic and circulatory dysfunction. This appears to inhibit muscle metabolism to the degree that the only energy supply we effectively have is the glycogen supply directly available in the muscles since replacement glycogen and oxygen for aerobic metabolism is being increasingly shut down during activity (the more you do of even very light activities, the worse it gets.) This has such an effect that we experience a cyclical, reactive to activity (unless you are severe in which it's happening constantly) crash that most people call "raggedy Andy/Ann fatigue." I am convinced that this is caused by our metabolic issues and the inability to get replacement glycogenic energy to the muscles which results in something similar to a "bonk" (or as runners call it, "hitting the wall.) This causes a drop out in blood pressure and ischemia in the brain (remember the part about transient ischemia causing excitotoxic damage?) and is why we have such a strong need to sit or lie down when we have been active for too long. The fact that we retain some limited amount of anaerobic function (dependent on glycogen) explains why we look so normal and retain short term strength at the expense of endurance. “Pure pain” FMS patients (20% of total) lack the cardiomyopathic features and this explains why some FM patients do not experience post-exertional problems (in essence a mostly pure excitotoxic process.)
13. One small subset of FM includes the dietary excitotoxin subset (very likely concentrated in the pure pain FM group) of patients who have been found to have compromised blood brain barriers (BBB) and have no protection from MSG and aspartame. The fact that direct application of these chemicals results in hyperalgesia from excitotoxic damage could stand as a chemical proof. Interestingly, it appear that most normal folks do not have to worry about getting any type of poisoning from dietary excitotoxins since most have intact BBBs (unless some other potential effect is discovered.)
14. ME/CFS and FMS patients experience prominent muscles twitches (fasciculations) and I recently discovered that the same phenomenon in meningitis is centered in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord; the same part of the brain implicated above in autopsies of ME/CFS patients.
So, autism community, does any of this sound familiar? Hyperalgesia and extreme sensory gating issues? I have wondered about the similarities between autism and ME/CFS and FM for many years. I used to work with a child who experienced autism and there seemed to be something undefinable that made me feel like much of what this young boy went through was similar to what I experienced. Now it seems that we are finding those connections, and it makes a great deal of sense. There is a lot of potential for translational medicine in these fields and one has to wonder if it might be a good idea for there to possibly be a medical “super-conference” attended by experts in these fields and other closely related illnesses. Glutamate may be “brain food” but in excessive levels, it's toxic.
Posted by: ME/CFS | March 30, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Thanks for a fantastic article, Teresa. The full paper you mentioned regarding MB12's protective effects on neurons can be found here:
This paper has long fascinated me as my son was a huge MB12 nasal spray responder. Their work appears to show how MB12 protects the neurons from excitotoxicity, perhaps re-establishing proper regulation of the calcium channels. This fits in well with Dr. Richard Deth's work with MB12 and neuron phospholipid methylation. His work also seemed to show the importance of MB12 in proper opening and closing of the calcium channels and their synchronization with those on other neurons.
Many of our kids have protein maldigestion and may be on elemental diets or supplementing meals with elemental formulas. One thing to watch for, elemental formulas like Neocate and Elecare have very high levels of free-form glutamate and aspartate (both are potentially excitotoxic non-essential amino acids but make up over 15% of the amino acid total in elemental formulas). In some kids they could conceivably cause problems with excitotoxicity. We use a custom formulation with low levels of both with great success.
Posted by: Jeff C. | March 30, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Outstanding work Theresa. Our recovered daughter's DAN! Dr. repeatedly told us she was a "glutamate kid" so we started treating her with GABA about 1.5 years into biomed treatment and WOW what a miracle it was for her. Her anxiety/excitability improved dramatically. We also were doing b-12 treatment at the same time. Over time we were able to stop both the GABA and the B-12.
I believe the GABA was very effective in treating the symptoms associated with her glutamate dysfunction and the B-12, over time, was key in getting her body working properly to repair the root problems.
Posted by: Pamela | March 30, 2011 at 09:30 AM
To my dismay, I realized that I've been feeding my kid large amounts of glutamate, disguised by deceptive labelling on processed foods. I think I've even been feeding her glutamate in her vitamins.
This paper by Russell Blaylock throws some light on excitotoxicity and autism:
Posted by: Carol | March 30, 2011 at 06:10 AM