Chinese Restaurant Syndrome
Alternate Names : CRS, MSG Allergy, MSG Symptom Complex
Chinese restaurant syndrome (CRS) occurs in some people after they eat foods containing the food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) - a common ingredient in Chinese food.
What is going on in the body?
MSG is a commonly used flavor enhancer. It is found in a variety of foods, including Chinese dishes. In 1968, a researcher identified a set of symptoms that occurred in certain people after they ate foods containing MSG. Thus, the term Chinese restaurant syndrome was coined. Although similar to an allergic reaction, CRS is more of an intolerance to or side effect of MSG. True life-threatening symptoms are extremely rare. Less than 15% of Americans are sensitive to MSG.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
CRS is caused by eating foods containing high amounts of MSG. A person who eats foods containing MSG on an empty stomach increases the amount absorbed into the bloodstream. This results in an increased risk of CRS. The intensity and the duration of symptoms are directly related to the amount of MSG ingested.