‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ is Real

Lovers of Chinese food may have experienced a headache or feeling sick after eating a meal from a takeaway or restaurant, but might not know it’s a real syndrome. What doctors used to call ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’ is actually a reaction to monosodium glutamate (MSG), a seasoning commonly used in Chinese food. Now renamed MSG symptom complex, it happens when the flavouring causes symptoms like headache, sweating, nausea, tiredness or a rapid heart rate.

Scientists have not produced convincing evidence of the negative health effects of eating MSG, and it is considered safe to eat by the US Food and Drug Administration. But MSG symptom complex is real, medics say, and avoiding foods which contain it is the best way to stop it happening to you.

However, the seasoning is found in popular foods like hot dogs, canned foods and crisps as well as Chinese food, so may be hard to avoid for many.  London-based GP and writer Dr Jane Leonard has revealed drinking ginger or peppermint tea, as well as staying hydrated and taking painkillers is the best way to help yourself if you do fall victim to MSG.

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