is the technical name for the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and
Equal-Measure. It was discovered by accident in 1965 when James Schlatter, a
chemist of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug.
was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. It was
originally approved for dry goods on July 26, 1974, but objections filed by
neuroscience researcher Dr John W. Olney and Consumer attorney James Turner in
August 1974 as well as investigations of G.D. Searle's research practices caused
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put approval of aspartame on hold
(December 5, 1974). In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle and made Searle
Pharmaceuticals and The NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries.
accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported
to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and
death. A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as
being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures,
nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue,
irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart
palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of
taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.
to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the
following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of
aspartame: Brain tumours, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue
syndrome, Parkinsonís disease, Alzheimerís, mental retardation, lymphoma,
birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.
is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. The
book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," by James and Phyllis
Balch, lists aspartame under the category of "chemical poison." As you
shall see, that is exactly what it is.
Is Aspartame Made Of?
Acid (40 percent of Aspartame)
Russell L. Blaylock, a professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of
Mississippi, recently published a book thoroughly detailing the damage that is
caused by the ingestion of excessive aspartic acid from aspartame. Blaylock
makes use of almost 500 scientific references to show how excess free excitatory
amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid (about 99 percent of
monosodium glutamate (MSG) is glutamic acid) in our food supply are causing
serious chronic neurological disorders and a myriad of other acute symptoms.
Aspartate (and Glutamate) Cause Damage
and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the
transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate or
glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much
calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals,
which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive
aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as "excitotoxins."
They "excite" or stimulate the neural cells to death.
acid is an amino acid. Taken in its free form (unbound to proteins) it
significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. The
excess aspartate and glutamate in the blood plasma shortly after ingesting
aspartame or products with free glutamic acid (glutamate precursor) leads to a
high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain.
blood brain barrier (BBB), which normally protects the brain from excess
glutamate and aspartate as well as toxins, is not fully developed during
childhood, does not fully protect all areas of the brain, is damaged by numerous
chronic and acute conditions, and allows seepage of excess glutamate and
aspartate into the brain even when intact.
excess glutamate and aspartate slowly begin to destroy neurons. The large
majority (75 percent or more) of neural cells in a particular area of the brain
are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. A few
of the many chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by
long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include:
disease Parkinsonís disease
to infants, children, and pregnant women, the elderly and persons with certain
chronic health problems from excitotoxins are great. Even the Federation of
American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which usually understates
problems and mimics the FDA party-line, recently stated in a review that:
is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by
pregnant women, infants, and children. The existence of evidence of potential
endocrine responses, i.e., elevated cortisol and prolactin, and differential
responses between males and females, would also suggest a neuroendocrine link
and that supplemental L-glutamic acid should be avoided by women of childbearing
age and individuals with affective disorders."
acid from aspartame has the same deleterious effects on the body as glutamic
exact mechanism of acute reactions to excess free glutamate and aspartate is
currently being debated. As reported to the FDA, those reactions include:
(blocks sufficient glucose entry into brain)
common complaint of persons suffering from the effect of aspartame is memory
loss. Ironically, in 1987, G.D. Searle, the manufacturer of aspartame, undertook
a search for a drug to combat memory loss caused by excitatory amino acid
damage. Blaylock is one of many scientists and physicians who are concerned
about excitatory amino acid damage caused by ingestion of aspartame and MSG.
A few of
the many experts who have spoken out against the damage being caused by
aspartate and glutamate include Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D., an experimental
psychologist specializing in research design. Another is Olney, a professor in
the department of psychiatry,
School of Medicine
University, a neuroscientist and researcher, and one of the world's foremost
authorities on excitotoxins. (He informed Searle in 1971 that aspartic acid
caused holes in the brains of mice.)
(50 percent of aspartame)
is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Persons with the genetic disorder
phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot metabolize phenylalanine. This leads to dangerously
high levels of phenylalanine in the brain (sometimes lethal). It has been shown
that ingesting aspartame, especially along with carbohydrates, can lead to
excess levels of phenylalanine in the brain even in persons who do not have PKU.
not just a theory, as many people who have eaten large amounts of aspartame over
a long period of time and do not have PKU have been shown to have excessive
levels of phenylalanine in the blood. Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the
brain can cause the levels of seratonin in the brain to decrease, leading to
emotional disorders such as depression. It was shown in human testing that
phenylalanine levels of the blood were increased significantly in human subjects
who chronically used aspartame.
single use of aspartame raised the blood phenylalanine levels. In his testimony
before the U.S. Congress, Dr. Louis J. Elsas showed that high blood
phenylalanine can be concentrated in parts of the brain and is especially
dangerous for infants and fetuses. He also showed that phenylalanine is
metabolised much more efficiently by rodents than by humans.
account of a case of extremely high phenylalanine levels caused by aspartame was
recently published the "Wednesday Journal" in an article titled
"An Aspartame Nightmare." John Cook began drinking six to eight diet
drinks every day. His symptoms started out as memory loss and frequent
headaches. He began to crave more aspartame-sweetened drinks. His condition
deteriorated so much that he experienced wide mood swings and violent rages.
Even though he did not suffer from PKU, a blood test revealed a phenylalanine
level of 80 mg/dl. He also showed abnormal brain function and brain damage.
After he kicked his aspartame habit, his symptoms improved dramatically.
Blaylock points out in his book, early studies measuring phenylalanine build-up
in the brain were flawed. Investigators who measured specific brain regions and
not the average throughout the brain notice significant rises in phenylalanine
levels. Specifically the hypothalamus, medulla oblongata, and corpus striatum
areas of the brain had the largest increases in phenylalanine. Blaylock goes on
to point out that excessive build-up of phenylalanine in the brain can cause
schizophrenia or make one more susceptible to seizures.
long-term, excessive use of aspartame may provide a boost to sales of seratonin
reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and drugs to control schizophrenia and
(aka wood alcohol/poison) (10 percent of aspartame)
alcohol is a deadly poison. Some people may remember methanol as the poison that
has caused some "skid row" alcoholics to end up blind or dead.
Methanol is gradually released in the small intestine when the methyl group of
aspartame encounter the enzyme chymotrypsin.
absorption of methanol into the body is sped up considerably when free methanol
is ingested. Free methanol is created from aspartame when it is heated to above
86 Fahrenheit (30 Centigrade). This would occur when aspartame-containing
product is improperly stored or when it is heated (e.g., as part of a
"food" product such as Jello).
breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is a
deadly neurotoxin. An EPA assessment of methanol states that methanol "is
considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is
absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formic acid;
both of these metabolites are toxic." They recommend a limit of consumption
of 7.8 mg/day. A one-litter (approx. 1 quart) aspartame-sweetened beverage
contains about 56 mg of methanol. Heavy users of aspartame-containing products
consume as much as 250 mg of methanol daily or 32 times the EPA limit.
from methanol poisoning include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea,
gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses,
numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioural disturbances, and
neuritis. The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision
problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields,
blurring of vision, and obscuration of vision, retinal damage, and blindness.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA
replication and causes birth defects.
the lack of a couple of key enzymes, humans are many times more sensitive to the
toxic effects of methanol than animals. Therefore, tests of aspartame or
methanol on animals do not accurately reflect the danger for humans. As pointed
out by Dr. Woodrow C. Monte, director of the food science and nutrition
, "There are no human or mammalian studies to evaluate the possible
mutagenic, teratogenic or carcinogenic effects of chronic administration of
so concerned about the unresolved safety issues that he filed suit with the FDA
requesting a hearing to address these issues. He asked the FDA to "slow
down on this soft drink issue long enough to answer some of the important
questions. It's not fair that you are leaving the full burden of proof on the
few of us who are concerned and have such limited resources. You must remember
that you are the American public's last defence. Once you allow usage (of
aspartame) there is literally nothing I or my colleagues can do to reverse the
course. Aspartame will then join saccharin, the sulphating agents, and God knows
how many other questionable compounds enjoined to insult the human constitution
with governmental approval." Shortly thereafter, the Commissioner of the
FDA, Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., approved the use of aspartame in carbonated
beverages, he then left for a position with G.D. Searle's public relations firm.
been pointed out that some fruit juices and alcoholic beverages contain small
amounts of methanol. It is important to remember, however, that methanol never
appears alone. In every case, ethanol is present, usually in much higher
amounts. Ethanol is an antidote for methanol toxicity in humans. The troops of
Desert Storm were "treated" to large amounts of aspartame-sweetened
beverages, which had been heated to over 86 degrees F in the Saudi Arabian sun.
Many of them returned home with numerous disorders similar to what has been seen
in persons who have been chemically poisoned by formaldehyde. The free methanol
in the beverages may have been a contributing factor in these illnesses. Other
breakdown products of aspartame such as DKP (discussed below) may also have been
1993 act that can only be described as "unconscionable," the FDA
approved aspartame as an ingredient in numerous food items that would always be
heated to above 86 degree F (30 degree C).
DKP is a
by-product of aspartame metabolism. DKP has been implicated in the occurrence of
brain tumours. Olney noticed that DKP, when nitrosated in the gut, produced a
compound that was similar to N-nitrosourea, a powerful brain tumour causing
chemical. Some authors have said that DKP is produced after aspartame ingestion.
I am not sure if that is correct. It is definitely true that DKP is formed in
liquid aspartame-containing products during prolonged storage.
Searle conducted animal experiments on the safety of DKP. The FDA found numerous
experimental errors occurred, including "clerical errors, mixed-up animals,
animals not getting drugs they were supposed to get, pathological specimens lost
because of improper handling," and many other errors. These sloppy
laboratory procedures may explain why both the test and control animals had
sixteen times more brain tumours than would be expected in experiments of this
ironic twist, shortly after these experimental errors were discovered, the FDA
used guidelines recommended by G.D. Searle to develop the industry-wide FDA
standards for good laboratory practices.
DKP has also been implicated as a cause of
uterine polyps and changes in blood cholesterol by FDA Toxicologist Dr.
Jacqueline Verrett in her testimony before the U.S. Senate.