Study Reveals Link between Chronic Pain and Glutamate Consumption

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A new study reveals that chronic pain is closely linked to high consumption of glutamate, as published in the journal Nutrition on February 16, 2018.

A group of researchers from the University of Michigan, with the help of a pilot study held in Kenya, conducted a research to find the possibilities between chronic pain and consumption of glutamate.

Glutamate is widely used as a flavor enhancer in diets in the Western parts of the world. The team found that people who consumed such a diet suffered from chronic pain, and when these participants cut monosodium glutamate from their daily diets, they reported improved symptoms of chronic pain.

Holton, lead author of the study said, “This preliminary research in Kenya is consistent with what I am observing in my chronic pain research here in the United States. We don’t know what exposure is leading to this susceptibility to dietary glutamate, but this pilot study suggests the need for a large-scale clinical trial, since dietary change could be an effective low-cost treatment option for developing countries.”

They studied the chemical functioning of glutamate in the human body. Glutamate is a common neurotransmitter in the brain. It is known to over stimulate and damage the nerve cells. This chemical also is found to be naturally occurring in food additives.

Glutamate is generally named under several food products such as monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed protein, protein isolate, protein extract, and autolyzed yeast extract, in the U.S.

In Kenya, glutamate is used in food items containing MSG, which is recorded to be largely used in daily cooking.

To put the research to test, the researchers conducted a study on a small test group of 30 participants. They removed MSG from their diet and instead increased their intake of water, or a combination of both, relative to acetaminophen. This resulted in diminishing of their chronic pain.

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