(NaturalNews) If you are into healthful eating, it can be tough when friends or family want to go out to the local restaurant to eat. You know most of the food there is laced with monosodium glutamate (MSG), and this knowledge can really spoil your fun. Now a new study has found that pre-treating yourself with a supplement of red clover before you go out can nullify the potential for brain damage from MSG.
The June 5, 2008 edition of Phytomedicine reports a study based on an idea generated by the knowledge that estrogen has been shown to affect neuronal growth, differentiation and survival. Genistein, diadzein and other isoflavones have been shown to mimic the pharmacological actions of the steroid estrogen, due to their similarity of structure. So, researchers hypothesized 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 the red clover. Neuronal viability was determined and neuronal membrane damage was quantitatively measured.
The results obtained indicated that exposure of the cell cultures to glutamate resulted in concentration-dependent decreases in neuron viability. Concentrations of glutamate ranging from 0.01 to 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 and significantly decreased release of cellular lactate dehydrogenase, an indicator of cell damage. This indicates that the neurons treated with red clover isoflavones were protected from the cell death induced by glutamate exposure. In addition, the pretreatment with the isoflavone enriched fraction prevented the morphological disruption caused by glutamate as shown in microscopic inspection.
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 fools your brain into thinking the food you're eating tastes really great. MSG is an excitotoxin to the brain. When we consume food containing MSG, it excites the brain into the mass production of dopamine, creating a drug rush that gives us a brief sensation of well being. And 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.
Food processors love MSG because it makes cheap ingredients taste great. And because it comes from an amino acid, it can be added to foods labeled 'natural' or 'organic'. It's very hard to find any canned or packaged soup, dried soup mixes, prepared meals, 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. Stores that cater to the health conscious carry many of these MSG containing items.
Because the food buying public does not want to consume MSG, food processors have gone to extremes to be sure that 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. Here are the names of some of the disguises:
Most processed food for children also contains high levels of MSG, such as canned or packaged spaghetti, alphabet soup and chicken noodle soup, microwavable 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 find in your front yard. The red flowers offer the therapeutic potential and are dried for use. They are sweet to eat.
Red clover is a valuable source of nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Its isoflavones are the source of the phytoestrogens in the above noted study, water soluble chemicals that act like estrogens in the body because of their ability to fit into estrogen receptors.
Isoflavones are a class of organic compounds and biomolecules with antioxidant properties. They are produced from a branch of the general phenylpropanoid pathway which produces all flavonoid compounds in higher order plants.
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 also 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 ability to stimulate the immune system. Recent research has found evidence that it prevents the growth of cancer cells and is highly effective in treatment for prostate and liver health. Red clover is frequently prescribed by natural healers as a treatment and preventative for breast cancer because of its ability to fit into estrogen receptors in the breast.
Some studies have also suggested that the red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre and perimenopausal women. It may protect against heart disease in several ways, and has been associated with an increase in HDL cholesterol in pre and postmenopausal women. One study found that menopausal women who took red clover supplements had more flexible and stronger arteries. Red clover may also have blood thinning properties which help prevent blood clots. It also appears to improve blood flow.
Supplementing with red clover
No serious side effects from red clover have been reported in humans. Infertility has been noted in grazing animals that consume large quantities.
Red clover is available as teas, tinctures, tablets, capsules, liquid extracts, and extracts standardized to specific isoflavone content. It may also be prepared as an ointment for psoriasis, eczema, and rashes. Whole herb supplements are generally considered to be the most conservative way to supplement. Organic red clover supplements are available from the large online supplement stores and are highly affordable.
About the author
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.