Part 2: PMS and MSG: When the Letters of Your Life Don’t Spell Happiness

Go here to read “Part 1: PMS and MSG: When the letters of your life don’t spell happiness.”

My strange symptoms began to multiply.  My inner ears would itch to the point of driving me to distraction!  I developed a bad and itchy hives-like rash near my neck and collarbone that never went away.  I also occasionally had rashes behind my ears.  Ten years earlier, during the years that I had “PMS” badly, nervousness and temper flare-ups caused my husband to teasingly ask if it was a “child-eating day.”  Now, my behavioral symptoms would sometimes be far worse! They included such a sense of intense irritability, a feeling of tightness and tenseness moving up the back of my neck, and severe flare-ups of temper, that it was best on these days if I was not around people at all, and I knew it!

Depression and Migraines
I would suffer extreme depression, which would come over me overnight, and I spent whole days where I couldn’t stop crying, but for no reason.  Migraine-like headaches (without the vomiting) would incapacitate me.  Sleeping them off sometimes helped.  The frequency of one or more of these symptoms, and the unrelenting fatigue that came with them, along with just feeling “unwell” so much of the time,  caused my family to tire of hearing about it, and I tried not to mention my “problems.”

Help, At Last:  There’s A Name For What I Have
I had been praying and praying for help and an answer.  Finally, one week, I was sick with the flu for days, but upon feeling better one day, and with time on my hands, I did some research: I Googled swollen lips, which had been my first symptom, and which still continued.  With a little time and research, the Lord allowed me to finally find part of my answer:  Salicylates intolerance.  (Please make sure to go to this link to read about its symptoms, the foods which trigger them, and a testimony of someone who suffered far more than me.)

All the symptoms I have listed are symptoms of intolerance to salicylates.  Salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals in foods. Foods which we eat every day and consider healthy! Salicylates (sal-iss-a-lates) can occur to varying degrees. Some common  foods containing salicylates are berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries), apples (especially uncooked and with the skin on), apple cider vinegar, grapes, and grape juice–any juice is worse because they are present in a more concentrated form–peppers, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Many foods which I had associated with healthy eating were making me sick.

The Bucket Theory
Over the years I have learned to manage, for the most part, my worst symptoms.  First, I eliminated the foods I had identified as trigger foods:  apples, green peppers, apple cider vinegar, and berries.  I saw relief from the blistered lips.  Occasionally, my lips would still swell.  (I couldn’t stop taking communion!)  The Bucket Theory seems to be my experience.  Starting with an empty bucket, each “drop” (eating a food with salicylates, for instance) didn’t produce any symptoms.  When the bucket became more and more full and finally overflowed, I experienced many symptoms.  When I reduced the contents of the bucket, my symptoms subsided, but reoccurred when the bucket became full again.  Completely removing certain foods from my diet for awhile (berries, for instance, and apple cider vinegar and peppers), plus greatly reducing my intake of tomatoes, (we used to eat a lot of Italian recipes) emptied the bucket a great deal.  Now, I am able to occasionally eat berries without major incident.  Sometimes, I admit, I choose to suffer mild to moderate symptoms, because I love fresh berries!  However, there was one thing that caused more trouble than all the rest, and became Enemy Number 1 for me:  MSG.

MSG and Salicylate Intolerance:  Ugly Stepsisters
MSG is linked to salicylates.  MSG is something which I cannot tolerate well at all.  It causes the migraines, severe mood swings, depression, irritability, and what one mother described in her child as, the “bad and sad” days.  These are days when I can become almost intolerable to live with, by my family, or myself.  Rage, violent mood swings, deep depression and loneliness.  These are some of the worst symptoms.  These are days when I would question “why even bother”.  Another symptom is feeling a deep lack of self-worth.  An excellent site which explains symptoms, and the relation between MSG and Salicylate Intolerance, and gives helpful steps to take if you or a loved one are suffering from any of these symptoms, is: MSG and Salicylate Intolerance.  (By the way, the symptoms of Leaky gut, IBS, and other conditions can be related to salicylate intolerance, as well.) 

First Steps To Help and Healing
  • First thing to do is remove from your pantry, fridge or freezer anything containing food colors, additives or preservatives.  Doing this, I found, was immediately helpful. 
  • Secondly, click on the links I have included here and inform yourself.  And do research online.
  • Thirdly, keep a food diary and symptom chart.  And read labels.
  • Fourthly, avoid MSG (monosodium glutamate) at all costs.
Major culprits containing MSG
Some major culprits containing MSG are Aspartame (Nutrisweet)–I drank a lot of diet pop in my major “PMS” days–canned soups and most broths, (don’t be fooled by their saying “no msg”).  Other things to avoid are Chinese restaurants, most bottled sauces and packaged mixes, and anything which says “caramel coloring” or autolyzed yeast extract. And be very wary of the word “flavorings” or “natural flavors”.

Be aware that your children, because their digestive systems are not fully developed, can be even more susceptible to these naturally occurring chemicals, than you as an adult.  (ADD and ADHD symptoms have been linked to salicylate intolerance also.  Click on the links to read more.) 

I believe that much of what I thought was PMS, and PMS-related depression in my earlier days, was actually salicylate intolerance and sensitivity to MSG.  I encourage you, if you or a family member experience any of these symptoms, to take action!  Read, study, and take some first steps.  Because there is a spectrum of sensitivity, and your bucket may be at differing levels, an elimination diet is the most effective tool I can recommend to you for finding out just which foods are the worst for you, and gaining relief.  Also, you may want to participate in a discussion or forum. Educate yourself.  Talk to others who can help you. Do an elimination diet.  Don’t give up.  You can manage it and you can feel better!

Helpful Websites:


If you think that you may have a food intolerance, or are experiencing some of these symptoms, please click on at least some of these links, read, and begin an elimination diet of the worst offenders in your diet.  Let me know if this article has helped you, or someone you know!
*Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor or medical expert; these are just my experiences, and opinions, and they may or may not be helpful to you. Always consult a doctor if you have any serious concerns about your health.

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4 Replies to “Part 2: PMS and MSG: When the Letters of Your Life Don’t Spell Happiness”

  1. Dear Wendy,

    Thank you so much for your article. I have been suffering with what I was told to be a very bad case of fibromyalgia for the last 7 years with less severe symptoms for 10 years before that. About 5 days ago I stumbled upon Salicylate Sensitivity when doing some more research on Fibromyalgia. I eliminated Salicylates from my diet as well as beauty products, household cleaning products, teas and herbal pain medication that I was taking. Within 2 days my pain decreased tremendously. It is really miraculous. I have so much more energy , more focus, better sleep , I could go on and on. I just stumbled upon your website and I had to write to you. I love your website. This is the first time I have ever left a comment on a website!!! May God be with you my dear sister in Christ!!
    Love, Lisa

  2. Hi Wendy,

    Thank you so much for giving my blog a mention and for getting the information out there about food intolerance symptoms. Our work and the work of others can change people’s lives.

    Stay well and keep smiling.


    1. Eileen,
      You’re so welcome. Food intolerance and MSG-related problems are serious. Many women would be greatly helped by more information.

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