Since my visit to Dr Penny back in November, when she recommended cutting down on my caffeine intake to deal with the palpitations I was suffering from, I’ve mostly followed her guidance, and mostly been free from the symptoms. The only exceptions have been on a few occasions following visits to a Chinese restaurant (and I love Chinese food), when I’ve sometimes lain awake half the night with those nasty sensations in my chest.
I made a mental note to keep an eye on this reaction and try and identify if it really was a consistent result of eating Chinese food. It now looks as if it might be. After a week of not seeing much of each other, Alison and I went out last night to the Xian Restaurant in Summertown – one of our favourites – and enjoyed a great meal. And I paid the price: awake most of the night with worse than usual symptoms of palpitations, thirst, breathlessness. It looks like it’s for real.
According to various websites, Medline Plus, Suite 101, About.com Wikipedia, “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” is a not unusual reaction to Chinese food. Incredibly, there seems to be no conclusive proof that MSG (monosodium glutamate) is the culprit: though it’s hard to imagine what else is present in Chinese food, that isn’t there in most other cuisines.
My physician, Bride, recommends that the best way to check this out is to add small quantities of MSG to my food and see if I can replicate the symptoms (“But what if I overdose on it?!”) Her husband wisely points out that it would need to be a blind test. He knows that my powers of autosuggestion are such that if I know I’ve added it, I will certainly suffer the expected effects.
In the mean time… oh, bugger.