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MSG and Aspartame - A Personal Story

By Dick Allgire, Medical Newscaster, Hawaii  Posted by Stephen Fox (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
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By Dick Allgire, Medical Newscaster, Hawaii

2/12/2008 11:54:38 AM

There is a bill being considered at the Hawaii State Legislature that would ban aspartame. This will come to a vote on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008. It doesn't look good. Quoting an email from Dr. Betty Martini:

"Although Rep. Josh Green sympathized with supporters who have been affected by the artificial sweetener aspartame, he was unable to immediately pass a bill that would ban the artificial sweetener aspartame in food products without concrete evidence showing a connection between aspartame and medical ailments. We can't take numerous amounts of products off Hawaii store shelves without evidence of a connection, he said."

I’ve been a television news reporter for 34 years and I have won the Hawaii Medical Association Distinguished Medical Reporting Award five times. I didn’t win those awards for going on TV and telling people how to be healthy. I won the awards for reporting the AMA company line; the newest drugs, the latest surgery, and the most advanced methods of zapping cancer with radiation.

So here’s my health story. I suffered from migraines and panic attacks. Doctors prescribed drugs for both conditions.

Since my teenage years I endured excruciating migraines, a type of headache called Cluster Headaches. These are also known as “suicide headaches” because the pain is so intense you want to kill yourself. On many occasions I went nearly delirious with pain and beat on my own head in a frustrated, impotent rage. My doctor told me he knew of a patient who tried to claw his own eye out because of the pain. Imagine an “ice cream headache” -- when you drink a very cold, icy drink too fast and have a searing pain for a few seconds. A cluster headache is many times worse than that, but it lasts several hours. For these headaches physicians prescribed opiates and also put me on a cousin of LSD known as Sansert (Methysergide maleate). This drug gives you hallucinogenic dreams. The doctor told me I had to take it. The dreams were really wild, a Technicolor acid trip every night. So my doctor basically prescribed a mild form of LSD to prevent my headaches. What the doctor didn’t realize was that cluster migraines are not caused by a lack of Sansert.

Later in my adult life I started getting panic attacks. It is impossible to describe a panic attack. Your heart starts beating out of control, it feels like you cannot get a breath of air into your lungs, and you have a feeling of absolute terror as the more you try to breathe the less you feel like you can get a breath, you lose muscle control and feel like you are going to convulse and drop dead in the next few seconds. It is like someone just injected you with a powerful drug that makes you feel as scared and miserable as is humanly possible. Hence the name Panic.

The panic attacks had me leaving work and fleeing to an emergency room. Doctors assured me I must take Paxil. I asked them about the number of patients on SSRIs who have committed suicide. The doctors assured me that I had to take Paxil or risk a nervous breakdown. What the doctors didn’t understand was that panic attacks are not caused by a lack of Paxil. But according to mainstream medicine headaches required the hallucinogenic Sansert and panic attacks called for an SSRI. Take 10 minutes to write a prescription, get the patient out the door, next patient, a new prescription.

I had heard several interviews with Dr. Russell Blaylock and I began to wonder about food additives. So I did my own research. I found out things my doctors didn’t know. I read as much as I could find about Asparatame and MSG.

Could Aspartame and MSG have caused my excruciating headaches and paralyzing panic attacks?

I used to drink one diet Pepsi with lunch every day at work. I used to eat sugarless candy containing aspartame. I used to chew sugarless gum, also loaded with aspartame. When I read about this drug and learned that Mr. Donald Rumsfeld helped inflict this poison on society I decided to stop ingesting it. I stopped. Instead of drinking one diet soda per day, I drank water with lunch. I threw out the sugarless candy. I stopped chewing gum. I now read every label of everything I consume. I don’t eat aspartame.

MSG was a hard one. It is in everything. I am a vegetarian and I used to cook with a powered vegetable broth that I purchased at my local “health food” store. The main ingredient was “hydrolyzed protein.” I looked that one up and discovered it is MSG. MSG has many hidden names. (Do an Internet search for “HIDDEN MSG”) Those bastards!

I now make my own vegetable broth. It’s easy. Two onions, chopped, three carrots, chopped. One stalk of celery, chopped. Six cloves of garlic. Drizzle some olive oil and toss on some sea salt. Roast in the oven until everything begins to darken and caramelize. Toss the veggies in a pot with about 8 cups of water and simmer for an hour. Strain and you have a great broth for soups, stir-fries, and it has no MSG. Does it take time and effort? Yes. Does it beat writhing on the floor with a pounding, excruciating headache? Absolutely.

I stopped eating at restaurants. This is difficult when you’re a news reporter on the go. I take my own food with me. I know about 5 places in Honolulu that don’t use MSG. When I go to the grocery it takes longer for me to check out because most of the food I buy does not have a bar code. The checkout clerk is usually bewildered by kale or Swiss Chard and has to look up the code. I buy fresh whole foods. I make just about everything I eat from scratch.

Guess what? I stopped having migraines and panic attacks. Now this is what we call “anecdotal” evidence. It is not a scientific study and no medical claims can be made from my personal testimony. I won’t even put this on the local news as a story. But when I eat something with “autolyzed yeast” or “natural flavoring” I get knocked down with terrible headache. I also realized that my heart would race and my breathing would become labored after consuming anything with aspartame, even one diet soda. The more you clean up your diet the more sensitive you become.

Do not wait for the government to take action. You are in charge of your own health. No one is going to do it for you. We hear so much about “health care” costs, but think about it -- if you are truly healthy you don’t need care. There is no cost incurred from health and wellness. Health “care” is Orwellian doublespeak.

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For stepping forward, again.You are an angel. ... by Lisa Long on Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 at 11:09:59 PM
Thank you for writing about your experience with M... by Oh on Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 9:41:40 AM
Hawaii Lawmakers' Plan to Ban Aspartame: Updat... by Stephen Fox on Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 12:02:07 PM