Last Updated 22/09/2020

If you read my last post about Chef’s hospitalisation, you’ll know that I wasn’t feeling too good. I’d even asked at the pharmacy for Xanax, I felt that bad. I was experiencing palpitations, shortness of breath ( probably through anxiety), headaches, hot flushes and a few other things that I didn’t mention. All these symptoms could easily be explained by perimenopause, something I most certainly am in the middle of. We have another post on experiences of travel during perimenopause. This post is about MSG and how I think it made my symptoms worse.

Nothing here is medical advice, this post is about personal experience and how I cope.


I’m generally in good health for a 47 year old, I had bloods done recently for thyroid, diabetes, cholesterol, all that was good and an ECG 2 years ago was fine. It’s not long ago that I was running half marathons for fun. So this was weird.

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Do I have anxiety? Yes, diagnosed a few years ago. I was prescribed medication but a second doctor advised me to not take it, so I didn’t. In travel there is a lot of anxiety, I try to manage it through breathing and my mantra – ” Right here, right now, everything is fine.”. It works. It works mostly for flying, even those terrifying flights into Lukla, it works for scary suspension bridges, sometimes. It helps not much with my packing anxiety.

I’ve been fighting these symptoms as best I can, with exercise, relaxation, good diet, all those things that Oprah would tell you to do. I’m not a fan of doctors but if things hadn’t improved, I would have gone.

I thought back to a couple of weeks ago, I was totally relaxed, felt great, no problems. One of the differences was, we were eating in a different place. I thought maybe the lovely view and relaxation of those long lunches would help, so we’ve switched back to eating in that restaurant ( My Way).

I began to feel better. This morning I noticed something on the menu.

We do not use MSG in the preparation of your food.

Could that be it? Could I be MSG sensitive?

I Googled. All of the symptoms I have been experiencing could be down to MSG intolerance. ( Side effects of MSG here) Including a very weird numbness and tingling in my face and scalp that I’ve had a few times this week.

I’m not 100% better since we switched back to eating at My Way, but I’m 85% better. I’ve been hiking up a very steep hill every morning, that could be helping too. It could be coincidence, but I just wanted to put it out there. MSG is widely used in Asia, particularly in Thailand and Vietnam and could be causing you problems. I used to believe that people who fussed over MSG were a bit paranoid, it’s a naturally occurring substance. Maybe I was wrong.

UPDATE : We hit MSG problems again in Vietnam. There’s more on this in our Hoi An section. We got to know which Hoi An restaurants didn’t use MSG fast.

What do you think.  Anybody else had weird symptoms while travelling?

No more posts about being sick for a while I hope! Lots of fun to come. Once Chef is back on his feet we’ve got Malaysia, Legoland and Sri Lanka to look forward to and now I’m well I’m enjoying Ko Phangan again. What a crappy week we’ve had!