Fibromyalgia

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Many years ago, while working on my first book, I came across some early experiments that indicated MSG could stimulate muscle contractions. At the time, in my practice, I was seeing a large number of patients suffering from muscle aches, pains, and spasms, as well as various other nondescript complaints. In those days we called it myofascial pains. The condition is now known as fibromyalgia.

As with most medical problems for which the medical profession cannot find a ready cause, it was classified as a psychiatric problem secondary to stress and depression. This is the same route they took with chronic fatigue syndrome, even though brain lesions were being seen on MRI scans. I was convinced at the time that the tremendous increase in this disorder was in some way related to the large amounts of food excitotoxins being ingested.

A recent clinical study by Dr. J. D. Smith and his co-workers found that complete or near-complete relief could be attained by removing all MSG- and aspartame-containing foods and

FIGURE 7.2 The heart's electrical system contains numerous glutamate receptors, making the heart very susceptible to injury by food-based excitotoxins such as MSG and aspartate. This may explain the rising incidence of congestive heart failure and sudden cardiac death following ingestion of meals containing high concentrations of monosodium glutamate.

FIGURE 7.2 The heart's electrical system contains numerous glutamate receptors, making the heart very susceptible to injury by food-based excitotoxins such as MSG and aspartate. This may explain the rising incidence of congestive heart failure and sudden cardiac death following ingestion of meals containing high concentrations of monosodium glutamate.

drinks from the diet of fibromyalgia sufferers.247 What makes the study impressive is that these patients had suffered from the disorder for two to seventeen years, and despite numerous treatment attempts were no better until they removed excitotoxins from their diets.

The observation linking excitotoxins to fibromyalgia is further strengthened by the known relationship between exercise and fibromyalgia symptoms. Most physicians treating the disorder have noted that fibromyalgia patients get some relief with regular exercise. It was originally assumed that the release of endorphins from the brain during exercise relieved the pain; after all, it was like getting a shot of morphine daily. But it is also known that exercise plays a major role in clearing glutamate from the blood stream and tissues, and it may be this mechanism that accounts for the improvement caused by exercise.

Recent studies have shown that glutamate receptors also play a role in pain.248 It makes sense that diets high in glutamate would greatly increase pain from whatever cause. You can only wonder how many people suffer from intractable spinal pain or chronic pains from injuries made worse because of excitotoxins in their diet.

In addition to the fascinating discovery that the heart has glutamate receptors, we now know that multiple tissues contain these receptors, including the lungs, kidney, ovary, testes, and endocrine cells.249 This indicates that high consumption of MSG and other excitotoxins in the diet could produce widespread problems in numerous organs. Of special concern is the effect of excitotoxins on the endocrine system.

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