Your Health with Dr. Richard and Cindy Becker (viewed on KSBI-TV Ch. 52, OKC on Tuesday, July 10, 2007)
Today’s Guest Dr. Russell Blaylock, Neurosurgeon, talks about health dangers of cytotoxins – found in foods and drink which damage our brains and affect behavior.
Dangers of MSG (tasty, cheap & addictive): can significantly affect kidney and liver function. Found in beef jerky, Chinese foods, canned foods and soups. So says an Institute of Mexico animal study. Lab animals given MSG showed toxic degenerative changes within minutes in both livers and kidneys. Previous studies have shown both nerve and eye damage. Granted, these animals received high doses, but it can accumulate in a human and cause same symptoms if that person intakes MSG regularly. People who are susceptible: symptoms include high blood pressure and headaches. Even though MSG can make people very sick (and they don’t even realize the source), food manufacturer’s are not required to disclose it on their labels. It can be disguised as “flavoring agent or SPICE.”
The Center for Disease Control says over 23 million people have asthma. A report from the FDA is warning asthmatics to be cautious if ingesting foods with MSG as it can cause reactions. MSG can be hidden under other names such as AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, TORULA YEAST or NATURAL FLAVORINGS. The symptoms have become so common it has a name: MSG Symptom Complex: numbness, burning sensations, tingling, facial pressure, tightening of the chest, worsening of asthma. The torula yeast is made by a Candida yeast called Candida utilis – this form of Candida makes MSG. This phenomenon then is a form of fungal toxin. We know from previous shows how this is detrimental to health. From the 1950s, MSG use has increased 300 times. Not 300%, but 300 times. It’s in a variety of food products from seasoning packets to chewing gum. If you want to eat MSG, that’s your choice, but food manufacturers should label food appropriately so we can make an informed choice.
Dangers of ASPARTAME: Research from Caesar Melatoni Cancer Research Center in Italy states aspartame may be linked to an increase in leukemia or lymphoma. Aspartame is used in a huge amount of food products and is also called NutraSweet, and Equal. The study was conducted on 8-week old lab rats giving them various amounts of aspartame along with their feed. Aspartame increased rates of leukemia, lymphoma, kidney cancer, uterine cancer, Schwannoma’s nerve cell cancers. They found that aspartame increased the risk of cancer when ingested at levels lower than current acceptable daily intake.
Dr. Blaylock introduction: He’s been a neurosurgeon for 26 years, but turns his attention now to his passion, nutrition and health. They will talk about his new book, Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life.
Dr. Becker (Dr. B): Start with the idea of how Americans don’t really think about what they eat. But that maybe we should be paying attention. Explain what an excitotoxin is and how it damages us.
Dr. Blaylock: An excitotoxin is basically a type of amino acid called glutamate or spartic (sp) acid. When you put these two forms of excitotoxins around a neuron/nerve cell, that nerve cell will gradually increase its “excitation.”
Dr. B: It turns on the nerve.
Dr. Blaylock: Yes, it’s pulling these impulses rapidly. It will do it so rapidly it will burn the cell up and it will die within about an hour. That is how excitotoxins were first described. We’ve since learned a lot about it. We’ve learned it’s the most common neurotransmitter in the brain. It allows brains cells to talk to each other. It’s the excitatory part of our brain – keeps us awake, to think, to remember. It operates through “glutamate receptors” (very complex). We have a whole system of this. Because this particular neurotransmitter is so toxic to the brain, the brain has an elaborate system to keep the levels of glutamate very low outside of the brain cell.
Dr. B: So what you’re saying is that glutamate is normally part of us, but that it’s very well controlled system.
Dr. Blaylock: Yes, it’s extremely controlled because if you lose control, such as in strokes or brain trauma, it starts destroying brain connections and brain cells very very rapidly, which can produce severe brain damage. Most of the damage in strokes and brain trauma is due to excitotoxins being released. When you get meningitis, we find the amount of glutamate in the spinal fluid and brain correlates with how serious the damage and how well you recover.
Dr. B: When you talk about glutamate, I immediate think of MSG – monosodium glutamate. Are you talking about the same thing?
Dr. Blaylock: Yes, the glutamate is part of MSG. So when you feed someone MSG, you get the same toxicity as if you’d been given glutamate. Once you eat MSG, it breaks down into pure glutamate.
Dr. B: So when we eat MSG, what kind of damage can we expect?
Dr. Blaylock: A lot is very subtle. With high doses you can get seizures or death of an animal. You can get obvious brain damage to various parts of the brain. Or, you can get subtle changes to the brain. You start losing connections in the brain, ie to the dendrites and synapses. They start disappearing and retracting, the brain starts malfunctioning. The endocrine system is affected: thyroid hormones, adrenal glands, your growth hormones. Animals on lower doses have endocrine problems: hypothyroid, infertility.
Cindy B: Can MSG have a cumulative effect? It seems MSG is in everything. We may be ingesting it and not knowing. Can we flush it out?
Dr. Blaylock: It helps some. There was a study by the Federation of American Experimental Biologists which found that humans are getting the same amount of MSG as the lab animals. But we’re five times more sensitive to MSG than animals.
Dr. B: I know I am.
Dr. Blaylock: We’re 20 times more sensitive than a monkey, five times more sensitive than a mouse. (Dr. B and Cindy B express frustration that it’s even in the food supply, and he responds:) well, food manufacturers were putting it in food (1945) before the studies were conducted. In 1958, an ophthalmologist discovered effects of MSG when researching how MSG might HELP the eye, but he discovered that it was destroying the nerves in the retina. In 1968, Dr. Olney (sp) added to the research by finding further damage to the brain.
Dr. B: How much more MSG is being used compared to when introduced in 1945? Is our exposure increasing?
Dr. Blaylock: Yes. In 1972, 162,000 tons were in the food supply. Every decade, that amount doubles. So when you have a teenager eating chips, soups with MSG, that each meal is the same amount used on the experimental lab rats which created harm.
Cindy B: What other names does MSG go under, so that we can recognize it on labels?
Dr. Blaylock: Unfortunately, what the federal government did was say that if it’s not 99% MSG, food companies can call it what they want. So it can say: hydrolyzed protein (a vegetable protein), autolyzed yeast, soy protein extract or isolate, vegetable protein isolate, natural flavors, spice, carageenan.
Dr. B: Does it matter the amount with regard to the severity, say if someone with a strawberry allergy reacts to strawberries. Strawberries are good, but if you have an allergy, they aren’t. Does MSG affect everyone or only certain people?
Dr. Blaylock: It’s not an allergic reaction. It’s a toxin or poison. All toxins affect people differently. Arsenic is a poison – given the same amount, different people will react differently, but they will react because it’s poison. MSG is a toxin and everyone is damaged by it. Some are extremely sensitive, others are not. The more you consume it, the more you will be damaged.
Certain conditions in which the toxicity is elevated: if your blood sugar falls (hypoglycemic) – it’s highly toxic. If you have a disease, it is too.
Dr. B: How does our body tell us we’re getting too much in our system? What are the symptoms? (Commercial break)
Cindy B: We were talking about all the names MSG is hidden under, and it upsets me the FDA lets us do that in America. We think the FDA is supposed to protect us? I know I can’t tolerate it, I know Dr. B can’t either. I thought I was just “allergic”, but you’re telling us otherwise.
Dr. Blaylock: One of the early names for the toxicity was Chinese restaurant syndrome. About an hour or so later some people would get a warm feeling in the middle of their chest; it can spread to your arms and face. You feel flushed, your heart beats faster, you can get nauseous, some people can develop severe diarrhea. They have a sense of impending doom/that they are dying in extreme conditions.
That’s not the damaging part of MSG. In addition to severe headaches or seizures, some people have a fast beating heart or arrhythmias, which send you to the Emergency Room and kill you. So you can have these obvious signs, but what are really dangerous are the subtle symptoms. You don’t know anything’s wrong.
Dr. B: Right. You can go for years eating the jerky, the soups and things, and not suspect.
Dr. Blaylock: Yes, some people won’t get the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” – they may eat MSG for years, they eat it, they feel fine. Maybe they have a little trouble with talking or thinking. I had a patient who was going to give a speech after his lunch, and he couldn’t finish a sentence. Some people don’t even get that. What’s happening is damage to certain MSG hypersensitive cells in the brain – so they don’t notice anything right away. It’s cumulative: it’s destroying the cells and connections. It’s a principle of neurology: you really don’t develop symptoms until you’ve destroyed about 80% of the neurons in a particular part of the brain.
Cindy B: Is there no warning sign?
Dr. Blaylock: No warning sign. For instance, in Parkinson’s Disease: until you lose about 80% of the substantia niagra of the brain, you really don’t have a lot of symptoms.
Dr. B: so there’re redundancies and backups that protect us to a degree.
Dr. Blaylock: It’s when you lose that last 10 or 20% that you have a rush of symptoms. No. It started decades ago.
Dr. B: Over the last 20, 30, 40 years, us Americans have been gaining weight. Can these excitotoxins be leading us to gain weight? The brain controls how we eat, is there a connection there?
Dr. Blaylock: There’s a very strong connection very well known in research literature. In 1968, Dr. John Olney, who discovered excitotoxicity, was doing his experiment and his research asst asked if he noted that all the MSG research animals were obese. Well the doctor was too busy researching the brain affects to notice. But the more MSG fed to the animals, the more they became obese. Now it’s a standard way to create obesity in a lab animal. When the researcher wants to study obesity and they want an animal model, they feed it MSG. They become obese as adolescents or adults, and the obesity is the same as what we’re seeing in this country. It’s associated with Metabolic Syndrome, Type II diabetes; it’s hard to remove weight by diet or exercise. It’s all the characteristics of this obesity epidemic. It’s produced by feeding MSG to small children or pregnant women. In humans, remember, we’re five times more sensitive than the lab animals. It’s consistent among species: there’s not one species it does not affect if fed as an infant.
Dr. B: MSG can lead to dementia, obesity, cancer, heart disease.
Dr. Blaylock: the cancer connection is very interesting. They’ve recently discovered that one of the worse malignancies of the brain, Glioblastoma Multiforme, if it’s exposed to glutamate; the tumor grows much faster and invades more intensely. Since then they’ve also discovered other tumors including breast cancer, thyroid cancer, melanoma, colon cancer. All of these cancers have glutamate receptors on them, so when exposed to glutamate the cancer grows much faster and it spreads. In fact, the prognosis for melanoma is directly related to the number of glutamate receptors it has on it. The prognosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the throat, which is a highly malignant cancer, is directly related to the number of glutamate receptors. SO, the size of the tumor, the invasion of the tumor, the metastasis of the tumor, the prognosis of the patient is directly connected to glutamate.
Cindy B: Is this widespread or known by oncologists?
Dr. Blaylock: It’s in their research journals. There have been numerous research projects where this is being worked on. In fact, in melanoma research, it is well known that this particular type of glutamate receptor determines whether this type of cancer will be curable or not curable. If you have any of these types of cancers and you’re consuming MSG in your diet, then you’re making your cancer grow a lot faster and making that cancer incurable.
You asked about oncologists. I checked the diets that oncologists were recommending in major centers and I found out they were recommending diets that contain very high levels of glutamate, not knowing the connection.
Dr. B: After the commercial, we’ll talk about aspartame. But in this short minute before the commercial, Dr. Blaylock, what can we do about this on a personal level about our diet?
Dr. Blaylock: Eat freshly prepared whole foods. Don’t buy processed food. Don’t let your children eat it, don’t keep it in the house.
Dr. B: It’s a powerful product isn’t it? I thought it could give you headaches and that’s it. More on aspartame when we return.
Dr. B: Aspartame. Is it a viable substitute for sugar?
Dr. Blaylock: No. It should never have gotten approval. In fact, the original studies done by the company who made NutraSweet showed that it increased brain tumor incident 47-fold in experimental animals. It increased malignancies of the lymphatics, prostrate, testes, breast – but the worst were the brain tumors. The scientists on the panel for approval voted against it. They thought the incidence of brain tumors were far too high, that the product should not be used. Well, the commissioner who was the head of the FDA at the time overrode their decision. Within 3 or 4 months he resigned his position and took a job with the PR firm that handled NutraSweet. That’s the story of how it got approved.
Dr. B: Does the aspartame molecule resemble the MSG molecule? Does it latch on to glutamate receptors like glutamate does?
Dr. Blaylock: The thing is, aspartame is made with two amino acids and methanol, which is alcohol, methyl alcohol. Well, methyl alcohol is a recognized poison recognized by the government. It’s wood alcohol.
Phenylalanine is an amino acid associated with mental retardation in excess (PKU) and aspartic acid is an excitotoxin. Researchers were mixing for some other reason and accidentally tasted it and discovered the sweetness of it. It didn’t work out for the product they were researching, but they decided to market it as a sweetener.
Dr. B: So we know it’s involved with increased risk for cancers, but I’ve also heard of a woman who had a diet soda and had seizures. Does that really happen?
Dr. Blaylock: Yes, that was another symptom associated with it. The company that made aspartame commissioned a research study in the 1970s on monkeys, so it’d be as close to humans as possible. They fed them low, medium and high doses of aspartame and they all had seizures, and most of them died. The company paid the researchers hoping for a different outcome for approval from the FDA. Instead they hid the report.
Dr. B: I used to drink diet soda hoping to lose weight. Does it really help you lose weight?
Dr. Blaylock: Ironically, 80% of the complaints the FDA receives is about aspartame. And one of the complaints is about weight gain. Subsequently, researchers did find that it made people more obese.
Cindy B: Why?
Dr. Blaylock: the answer is that there are glutamate receptors in the body, including the pancreas; it has to do with insulin secretion. So if you consume aspartame with aspartic acid in it, it activates those receptors, you secrete too much insulin, you get hypoglycemic, and it makes you hungry, and then you start snacking.
Dr. B: That’s exactly what happens to me! I feel like I need to eat something, I have this burning in me that needs food.
Dr. Blaylock: And people who are hypoglycemic, who we call reactive hypoglycemic are about 45-50% of the nation, if they consume it, they get hungry, they start snacking, they gain weight. Same thing will happen with MSG.
Cindy B: So it’s not that it affects your body’s fat, it just makes you hungry, you snack and you don’t realize it.
Dr. B: Does it cause hypoglycemia in the brain, too?
Dr. Blaylock: Yes, it’s exactly like MSG creating lesions in the brain that have to do with obesity. There’s a nucleus in your hypothalamus that regulates your food intake, and we know that’s where leptin is. There are leptin receptors in the nucleus. It is one of the most sensitive parts of the brain to MSG and aspartic acid from aspartame. It destroys the leptin receptors so you no longer respond to it and you gain weight.
Dr. B: Have food manufacturers disguised aspartame like MSG on food labels?
Dr. Blaylock: There are a few names like NutraSweet or aspartame, but that’s basically it, aspartame. It’s easier to find than MSG.
Dr. B: Are there nutrients we can emphasize to help repair damage?
Dr. Blaylock: Of course, the first thing is eliminating the MSG and aspartame. You have to be a label reader and eliminate the offenders. Next you repair with omega-3 fatty acids, most important is DHA. DHA directly blocks excitotoxicity and also repairs/rebuilds cells and synapses. Flax oil does not work as well because it doesn’t have the enzyme to convert it to the DHA. Both MSG and aspartame dramatically promote free radical generation in the body. Your body can be flooded chronically for decades after single doses. This is one the exciting things they’ve found about MSG: If fed to a newborn animal, they develop high levels of free radicals all the way to the time they’re adolescents. So that’s like us eating it as a baby/toddler and then when we’re teenagers we’re still producing free radicals all over the body. It has a long-term effect. That’s why you need antioxidant vitamins and a good diet full of flavanoids and eating your vegetables and fruits. If you eat a good, clean diet, you’re producing a network of antioxidants. There are different kinds of free-radicals and they’re in different parts of the cell. You need vitamin C, A, beta-carotene, other carotenoids, K, etc operate together to neutralize free radicals and repair cells so they can return to normal. The longer your cells have been damaged, the longer it will take to repair.
Cindy B: And fish oil?
Dr. B: And ginkgo biloba?
Dr. Blaylock: Yes on the fish oil, and there has been extensive research about ginkgo.
Dr. B: It’s one of my favorite supplements. I take it and “whoosh” my mind clears.
Dr. Blaylock: Ginkgo is a powerful protectant against excitotoxicity; it improves the functioning of the brain cells, promotes the growth of the synapses and dendrites, blood flow, antioxidant, and reduces lipid peroxidation which is the oxidation of the fatty parts of the brain. It also helps with memory loss and Alzheimer’s.
Dr. B: Do some of the medications we take have a similar affect on our brains?
Dr. Blaylock: Some medications have an excitatory effect, and can increase the sensitivity. That’s the problem as there are a lot of things we do such as taking vaccines with mercury in it. Mercury is one of the most powerful stimulants for release of glutamate in the brain. It does so at extremely low concentrations. It also interferes with that protective system I talked about. It is highly sensitive to mercury. It is producing severe brain damage and it’s staying there for decades. Mercury is difficult to remove. It poisons the removal system for glutamate.
Dr. B: What’s the old saying? “Mad as a hatter.” When they used to treat beaver hats with mercury – it drove them nuts.
Dr. Blaylock: to a state of dementia, right. Then you think about the amalgam mercury in the teeth.
Dr. B: So eat clean and organic foods, lean, clean meats, too, right?
Dr. Blaylock: If you eat organic, make sure you wash your fresh fruits and vegetables. And eat organic meats. Here’s a secret about meats: if you have a hen or turkey, they’re injected with hydrolyzed protein. You can read on the label that it’s injected with 10% hydrolyzed protein (glutamate!).
Dr. B: It has been used as a tenderizer, hasn’t it?
Dr. Blaylock: Exactly.
Dr. B: Are you still practicing neurosurgery?
Dr. Blaylock: I practiced neurosurgery for 26 years. I’ve always been interested in nutrition and the brain. When I was a neurosurgery resident I did a lot of research on nutrition and brain healing and saw some dramatic effects. But most neurosurgeons were not interested despite the obvious correlation. Medical patients would do much better if they would concentrate on their nutrition.
More MSG info: bit.ly/9ieXAK
Article re: Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) and hidden MSG: bit.ly/HVPMSG
Quote: "Monosodium Glutamate - FOREIGN sources of MSG usually contain gluten-containing grains, U.S. food producers may be importing this product. U.S.-source MSG usually utilizes a source substance of cane, beets or tapioca starch. A small percentage of producers may be using wheat gluten."
Edited to add that MSG in the U.S. likely does not contain gluten: bit.ly/hswjjX