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Independent expert answers
on psychiatry and psychology

Chinese Food Syndrome - Glutamate - Ephedra

Abstract: Chinese food often contains glutamate, a neuro-transmitter which can cause panic attacks.

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Chinese Food Syndrome - Glutamate - Ephedra

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question  Local help Info


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Question(s): 
Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 25 Jul 2008.

Last weekend I was out with my wife to a chinese restaurant. After dinner I felt suddenly rather uncomfortable with sweating, dizziness, heart palpitation. Was this a first panic attack?

Answer:

No, I do not think so. These are rather typical symptoms caused by a hypersensitivity to glutamate. Glutamate is used in chinese food to improve the taste of the food. However, it is a neurotransmitter of the brain and can cause the symptoms which you described.

Your example shows that psycho-active substances can causes symptoms similar to anxiety disorder. Some medication for asthma (theophyilline, oral sympathomimetics) or psychostimulants and some antidepressants have similar effects on the brain. Some herbal remedies and over-the-counter pills have psycho-stimulating ingredients (like ephedra) and might cause similar symptoms.

Any kind of "energy drinks" should also be considered, because they contain psychoactive substances like caffeine or guarana.

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