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Anxiety, Palpitations, Perimenopause and MSG.

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If you read my last post about Chef’s hospitalisation, you’ll know that I wasn’t feeling too good. I’d even asked at the pharmacy for Xanax, I felt that bad. I was experiencing palpitations, shortness of breath ( probably through anxiety), headaches, hot flushes and a few other things that I didn’t mention. All these symptoms could easily be explained by perimenopause, something I most certainly am in the middle of. We have another post on experiences of travel during perimenopause. This post is about MSG and how I think it made my symptoms worse.

Nothing here is medical advice, this post is about personal experience and how I cope.


I’m generally in good health for a 47 year old, I had bloods done recently for thyroid, diabetes, cholesterol, all that was good and an ECG 2 years ago was fine. It’s not long ago that I was running half marathons for fun. So this was weird.

Do I have anxiety? Yes, diagnosed a few years ago. I was prescribed medication but a second doctor advised me to not take it, so I didn’t. In travel there is a lot of anxiety, I try to manage it through breathing and my mantra – ” Right here, right now, everything is fine.”. It works. It works mostly for flying, even those terrifying flights into Lukla, it works for scary suspension bridges, sometimes. It helps not much with my packing anxiety.

I’ve been fighting these symptoms as best I can, with exercise, relaxation, good diet, all those things that Oprah would tell you to do. I’m not a fan of doctors but if things hadn’t improved, I would have gone.

I thought back to a couple of weeks ago, I was totally relaxed, felt great, no problems. One of the differences was, we were eating in a different place. I thought maybe the lovely view and relaxation of those long lunches would help, so we’ve switched back to eating in that restaurant ( My Way).

I began to feel better. This morning I noticed something on the menu.

We do not use MSG in the preparation of your food.

Could that be it? Could I be MSG sensitive?

I Googled. All of the symptoms I have been experiencing could be down to MSG intolerance. ( Side effects of MSG here) Including a very weird numbness and tingling in my face and scalp that I’ve had a few times this week.

I’m not 100% better since we switched back to eating at My Way, but I’m 85% better. I’ve been hiking up a very steep hill every morning, that could be helping too. It could be coincidence, but I just wanted to put it out there. MSG is widely used in Asia, particularly in Thailand and Vietnam and could be causing you problems. I used to believe that people who fussed over MSG were a bit paranoid, it’s a naturally occurring substance. Maybe I was wrong.

UPDATE : We hit MSG problems again in Vietnam. There’s more on this in our Hoi An section. We got to know which Hoi An restaurants didn’t use MSG fast.

What do you think.  Anybody else had weird symptoms while travelling?

No more posts about being sick for a while I hope! Lots of fun to come. Once Chef is back on his feet we’ve got Malaysia, Legoland and Sri Lanka to look forward to and now I’m well I’m enjoying Ko Phangan again. What a crappy week we’ve had!

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Wednesday 30th of June 2021

Always avoid MSG. It accumulates in your brain and kills brain cells, and weakens and injures your nervous system. Search up Medical Medium and MSG or here is link for Medical Medium info on MSG


Tuesday 2nd of July 2019

Yes , i get anxiety from msg. One time i ate at jack in the box and i went home and flipped out. I was pacing like a dog at the pound! My pupils were huge . And the next day i was at a chinese restuarant and suddenly felt so gnarly like i was under demonic possesion it was obvious to me what it was. Couldnt sleep for a week. So i have started avoiding any fast food places and i still get normal anxiety but after a few deep breaths it goes away. But msg causes a long sorrowful feeling. I hate it. Last week i ate a roast beef sandwich and im still detoxing. I dont care what anyone says, this stuff is junk and probably contributes to why the world is mad, anxious and aggressive.

Alyson Long

Tuesday 2nd of July 2019

I don't know if I put it in the post yet but I was talking to a Vietnamese woman and she said there are different kinds of MSG. The good stuff doesn't affect her but the cheap stuff from China does. I've not had it in a long time, we check everything for MSG these days.

Annie Cheng

Monday 13th of August 2018

Just saw this post. I am sure you are feeling better now, Alyson! Otherwise, lots of fluids, rest and let it pass out of your system as quickly as possible.

I am Asian and my family are all sensitive to MSG. I can tell it's in a dish or not from just one bite. My family (my husband and I with two kids) just spent 2 years traveling the world to 30 countries and the first phrases we learned in every new language was always "Please do not add MSG"! Don't worry, even some Asians can't tolerate MSG. And it's bad anyway. So just ask.

Alyson Long

Monday 13th of August 2018

What I do now Annie is just use a translator app on my phone and type in something like " If I eat MSG I will die!!!" Very handy in Vietnam :)


Friday 16th of February 2018

Hi Alyson,

After feeling good for two weeks in Thailand, I am experiencing similar symptoms now that we are in Luang Prabang. I had recalled you wrote about this and found your entry. So yeah, heart palpitations, nervousness, my teeth feel weird....sort of tight. My hub thinks it’s from slight dehydration which I admit to falling prey to very easily, but I’m not sure. I saw the woman making my omelette put some kind of powder into it so I’m thinking it’s pretty common. All I know is how uncomfortable this feels. Upping my water, electrolyte powders and coconut waters and will see if this helps. Also may have to stay away from street’s to feeling better for all of us.

Alyson Long for World Travel Family

Friday 16th of February 2018

Send me an email please.I can help.

Bianca Taylor

Wednesday 26th of April 2017

Thank you so much for this post. I just came across it via one of your other posts and clicked through. We are in Phuket now and I also started feeling nauseas, headaches, rash you name it and didnt know what it was then one of the russian locals told me they dont eat the Thai food because of a chemical they put in, I quickly found out it was MSG.

My problem now is this, I cant eat any Thai street food because I dont know how to tell them to leave the MSG out. What do they call it here ?

Or what do we do now food wise, it gets expensive only eating western food ? Bianca

World Travel Family

Wednesday 26th of April 2017

I've found many Thai restaurants that say " MSG free" or similar on the menu. We don't eat a lot of street food, I'd rather sit down, but when we do I've not had any problems. I guess because , if it's there, it's a little bit, not in every meal, every day for weeks on end. Last year in Thailand, for 6 weeks, I had no problems at all. Our favourite place to eat in Chiang Mai was MSG free, but I ate everywhere else and never even thought to check to be honest. It's by no means in everything, your Russian is wrong.

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