Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills

By Russell L. Blaylock MD
Russell Blaylock is a nationally recognized, board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author, and lecturer. His book, Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills, was and is cutting-edge science about the damaging role of excitotoxins including glutamates on the brain. Despite the fact that the book was published in 1997, many of the subjects that he wrote about back then are still not understood enough by neurologists today. Sadly, many doctors don't realize how much certain kinds of food can directly affect both physical and neurological health, even though there are hundreds of peer-reviewed medical journal research articles to back up this claim.

Excitotoxicity is the process by which nerve cells are damaged or killed by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamate. Excitoxicity can cause encephalopathy and seizures as well as neurological symptoms of ADHD, autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, PANS/PANDAS, mood disorders, learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s, strokes and headaches.

Glutamate is the most well known excitotoxin. Most people think of MSG (monosodium glutamate) when they hear the word “glutamate”, but they don’t realize that just because a label doesn’t list MSG that a food can be hiding other forms of glutamate and excitotoxins, including:

  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet)
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Aspartic acid
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Yeast extract
  • Gelatin
  • Barley malt
  • Bouillon
  • Natural flavoring
  • Artificial flavoring
  • Soy sauce

All that is to say that a processed-food diet contains an enormous level of excitotoxins. However, they are even present in natural foods such as tomatoes, chicken skin, bone broth and seaweed in the form of glutamate,

In this book with almost 500 sources and references, Dr. Blaylock walks us through the ins and outs of what excitotoxins are, how they affect the brain and why foods that contain them are so addictive. The brain will literally crave substances that will kill brain cells. That’s a scary thought when you realize that foods that contain either artificial and/or even natural flavors contain excitotoxins and that these foods are designed to be addictive so that we’ll buy more of them.

He also explains how people who have reactive hypoglycemia are more likely to have symptoms of neurological damage such as seizures caused by excitotoxicity. In the book, he explains this effect on Alzheimer’s patients, but the same could be said for those with autism and other neurodeveopmental disorders. Because this book was published in 1997, the autism epidemic had not reached the rising crescendo where it is today, so he didn’t expand on it specifically at the time, although he has in later writings and lectures.

Finally, he offers recommendations for protecting the brain from excitotoxin damage with the addition of specific supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and vitamin C. He recommends supplements such as CoQ10 for stimulating mitochondrial energy production so that the brain’s source of energy is stabilized, and he also has suggestions for nutritional supplements that can improve brain function and stabilize the blood-brain barrier. A whole chapter is dedicated to protecting the developing brain of fetuses and young children from the harms of excitoxins, and one wonders if we’d have the same epidemic of neurodevelopmental disorders in children that we see today if we’d all known about Dr. Blaylock’s work and heeded his warnings.

Sources & References

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