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Research results

MSG carries significant health risks. I remove acid-reflux causing foods from my diet. One substance that may cause problems is MSG—monosodium glutamate. Does MSG cause heartburn? Chinese restaurant food often contains MSG.

Tip:MSG causes stomach problems and weight gain in rats. The animals developed ulcers and gained body fat.

Tip 2:Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is a medical term that refers to stomach problems in those who eat Chinese food at restaurants.

Tip 3:Chinese Restaurant Syndrome symptoms include diarrhea, heartburn, ulcers and stomach pain.

Medical research

Heartburn is often caused by GERD

I found an interesting medical reference about monosodium glutamate and stomach symptoms. The study was done on rats. These test rats were given MSG for ten to thirty days—about a month.

And:The rats developed ulcers in their gastrointestinal tracts. The rats also became fatter, with "an increased body weight."

An excessive consumption of MSG can cause a "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" and gastritis, gastric and duodenal ulcers.

Effect of long-term monosodium glutamate administrationNote

The study found that MSG definitely causes symptoms much more serious than heartburn in the rats—including gastric ulcers, which are associated with heartburn symptoms. This syndrome is called a "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome."

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome:Gastrointestinal complaints caused by MSG at Chinese restaurants.

Detail:It includes diarrhea, heartburn, abdominal pain and ulcers—in the categories of gastritis and gastric ulcers.

Caution: exclamation mark

Perhaps most concerning is that MSG causes an increase in body fat. And an increase in body fat and body mass index will also cause an increase in heartburn symptoms and even GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Thus:MSG will cause heartburn in direct and indirect ways. It increases body mass. This indirectly promotes reflux.


I have a sensitive stomach. And I experience frequent heartburn enough that I use long-term Prilosec. My symptoms are usually well-controlled. But a meal at a Chinese restaurant, or even a Thai restaurant, can provoke symptoms.

PrilosecGERD Incidence

Painful sensation:Heartburn is not a pleasant feeling. And the memory of these Chinese restaurant meals is rarely pleasant.

Strong and healthy: tips

But:The other day I had lunch at a Thai restaurant. The food was actually not superb, but also not bad.

I ate the whole meal, and felt bloated and uncomfortable for several days. It is unclear if the meal caused "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" or even "Taiwanese Restaurant Syndrome." The medical study cited above indicates it could.

Heartburn and Diet


MSG causes weight gain and also stomach symptoms, including ulcers and heartburn. However the problem is difficult to fully solve. This is because people don't eat MSG alone. Instead they eat it in complex meals.

Also:Other parts of the meal—such as food quantity, spices, or gluten content—may be more important when considering heartburn.