Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Red Clover Blocks Damage from MSG
(The Best Years in Life) You've probably been reading about the hazards of excitotoxins. One of the most deadly of this group is neurotoxic monosodium glutamate (MSG), found in many processed foods and used heavily by almost all restaurants. So what can you do when friends or family want to eat out and this knowledge can spoil the fun? A recent study has found that pre-treating yourself with a supplement of red clover (Trifolium pratense) before eating food laced with this neurotoxin can block damage from MSG. This is good news indeed.
What did the researchers find?
Researchers have long known that estrogen is protective of neuronal growth, differentiation and survival of neurons in both men and women. Genistein, diadzein and other isoflavones have been shown to mimic the pharmacological actions of estrogen, due to their similarity. Researchers in Italy got the bright idea that the natural mixture of phytoestrogenic isoflavones found in red clover could protect the brain from glutamate toxicity. They used a human cortical cell line to test the efficacy of red clover. Neuronal viability was determined and neuronal membrane damage was quantitatively measured.
Exposure of the cell cultures to glutamate resulted in a concentration-dependent decrease in neuronal viability. Concentrations of glutamate ranging all the way down from 5 to 0.5 mm were toxic to the cultures. However, when the cells were pretreated with 0.5, 1 and 2 mug/ml of the isoflavone enriched fraction from red clover, there was a significantly increased cell survival rate and significantly decreased indication of cell damage.
These results indicate that red clover blocks damage from MSG. In addition, the pretreatment prevented the usual morphological disruption of neurons caused by glutamate as shown in microscopic inspection.
More about MSG
MSG is a food additive found in almost all commercially prepared food. It supercharges the taste of food, but not in the way you would think. MSG works by fooling your brain into thinking the food you are eating tastes really great. MSG is an excitotoxin to the brain. When food is consumed that contains MSG, the brain is so over stimulated that it produces mass quantities of dopamine, creating a chemical rush that gives a brief sensation of euphoria. Because MSG is highly addictive, we keep coming back for more and end up overeating. In the process we end up destroying our brain cells too.
Companies that sell processed food love MSG because it makes cheap ingredients taste great. And because MSG comes from a natural amino acid, it can be added to foods labeled natural or organic. It is very difficult to find any canned or packaged soup, dried soup mix, prepared meal, fast food, junk food, or Chinese food that does not contain MSG, It's in prepared gravy, salad dressing, seasoning blends and mixes, canned beans, bullion cubes, broths, chili and stews. It's found in many items sold at your favorite health food store, such as the various flavors of Kettle chips, and Garden of Eatin's chips.
Because the food buying public does not want to consume MSG, food processors have gone to extremes to be sure you don't know it is in their products, and this has been allowed by the FDA. You will seldom see MSG listed on the label, because it is disguised by other names such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, hydrolyzed yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, torula yeast, yeast extract, and even natural flavor.
Even the upscale Harry and David's in the local mall sells many items laced with MSG, usually disguised as some form of yeast extract.
Processed food for children contains high levels of MSG, such as canned or packaged spaghetti with sauce, alphabet soup and chicken noodle soup, microwaveable cups, packaged dinners and much more. A meal of this food can raise the blood level of excitotoxins to a value proven in primates to destroy brain cells. A child's brain is four times more sensitive to damage by excitotoxins than is the brain of an adult.
About red clover
Red clover is a wild perennial herb that grows in meadows throughout Europe and Asia, and is now naturalized in North America. It's a close relative of the clover you probably find in your backyard. The red flowers offer the therapeutic benefits and are dried for use. They are sweet to eat.
Red clover isoflavones, the source of the phytoestrogens used in the study, are water soluble compounds that mimic the actions of estrogen because of their ability to fit into estrogen receptors. They are produced from the same pathway in which all flavonoid compounds in higher order plants are produced.
According to Phyllis and James Balch in Prescription for Nutritional Healing, the isoflavonoids in red clover fight infection, suppress appetite, and purify the blood. They have expectorant, antispasmodic, and relaxing effects and are good for bacterial infection and inflamed lungs. They are beneficial for inflammatory bowel disorders, kidney problems, liver disease, skin disorders and a weakened immune system.
Red clover has been a traditional herbal treatment for cancer due to its immune boosting properties. Other recent research has found evidence that it prevents the growth of cancer cells. Red clover is frequently prescribed by natural healers as a treatment and preventive for breast cancer in women who have been frightened away from estrogen replacement by the efforts of drug companies to sell them estrogen blocking drugs.
Supplementing with red clover
No serious side effects from red clover have been reported in humans. Red clover is available as teas, tinctures, tables, capsules, liquid extracts, and extracts standardized to specific isoflavone content. Whole herb supplements are generally considered the most conservative way to supplement. Red clover is highly affordable.
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About the Author:
Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.
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