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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Willis-Ekbom Disease (RLS) Nightwalkers beware of MSG!

The Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation is an excellent resource for anyone experiencing the symptoms associated with this disease.  Formerly known as the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation, the Foundation has officially changed their name to reflect the seriousness and more global symptoms people frequently experience with this disease.  The WED Foundation distributes their quarterly publication to their members, which always contains valuable, cutting edge information.  The WED Fountation also conducts Webinars that are open to their members.


In the WED Foundation Winter 2013 edition of "Nightwalkers -- In search of a good night's sleep" there is an article titled "Can MSG Affect WED/RLS?" authored by Norma G. Cuellar DSN, RN, FAAN, Professor, Capstone College of Nursing, University of Alabama.  In this article Professor Cuellar discusses the hazards of MSG, which most often can be found in Chinese food and in processed foods.  According to Professor Cuellar MSG contains the salt of glutamic acid, which is naturally found in many foods such as vegetables and seaweed.  It is possible to develop glutamic acid toxicity if too much MSG is consumed; the body also has the ability to produce glutamic acid.  In addition, MSG has been known to cause allergic reactions that include skin reactions, headaches, dizziness or more serious reactions such as irregular heart rhythms, seizures and depression.  Professor Cuellar goes on to say that "MSG has been associated with cognitive disorders, endocrine dysfunction, migraine headaches, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Alzheimer's disease, autism, obesity, addiction, and sleep disordered breathing."  Food manufacturers are required to list MSG in the ingredients list on packaging labels so be sure to read the labels.  MSG continues to be added to processed foods and Chinese food despite the evidence that this food additive can be detrimental to your health.

MSG intake has additional health implications for those of us that are 'Nightwalkers'.  Glutamic acid is a neurotransmitter that may impact dopamine metabolism; dopamine is linked to WED/RLS symptoms.  A number of studies have demonstrated losses of dopamine in the brain following the intake of MSG.  There are currently no studies that have included WED patients so there is no research supported evidence that MSG affects WED symptoms, but some patients have reported improvement in their symptoms after eliminating MSG from their diet.

MSG is a food additive that has long been known for adverse effects therefore it is beneficial for everyone to avoid processed foods containing MSG.  But for those people that are the 'Nightwalkers' the implications are even greater.  To be informed about the latest information about WED, join the Willis-Ekbom Foundation and get connected to a community of people that provide support to one another and provide leadership for cutting edge WED/RLS research.  Blessings to you as you search for a good night's sleep!


Cuellar, Norma G., DSN, RN, FAAN, Professor, Capstone College of Nursing, University of Alabama. Winter, 2013.  Nightwalkers -- In search of a good night's sleep, pg 9.
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