Dangers of Aspartame Artificial Sweetener

Author: Thomas C. Weiss - Contact: Contact Details
Published: 2013/02/22 - Updated: 2023/09/21
Peer-Reviewed: N/A - Publication Type: Informative
On This Page: Summary - Main Article - About/Author

Synopsis: Aspartame accounts for more than 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported by the U.S. FDA. A number of these reactions are very serious and include seizures and even death. It is important to note that in 1993, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved aspartame as an ingredient in several food items that would always be heated to above 86 degrees F.



"Aspartame" is the technical name for an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in some foods and beverages and sold by the words "NutraSweet," "Equal," and "Equal-Measure," "Canderel," and "Spoonful." The substance was discovered by accident in 1965 by James Schlatter, a chemist of the G.D. Searle Company, as he tested an anti-ulcer medication. In the European Union, it is codified as E951. It was first sold under the brand name NutraSweet; since 2009, it also has been sold under the brand name "AminoSweet." Aspartame is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose or table sugar. Due to this, even though aspartame produces four kilo-calories of energy per gram when metabolized, the quantity of aspartame needed to make a sweet taste is so small that its caloric contribution is negligible.

Main Digest

Aspartame accounts for more than 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A number of these reactions are severe and include seizures and even death. Some of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by this substance include:

  • Rashes
  • Nausea
  • Vertigo
  • Fatigue
  • Tinnitus
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Joint pain
  • Irritability
  • Numbness
  • Depression
  • Tachycardia
  • Weight gain
  • Memory loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of taste
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle spasms
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Vision problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headaches/migraines

Researchers and doctors studying the adverse effects of aspartame have stated that certain chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by using aspartame. Using products containing aspartame can worsen conditions such as multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, lymphoma, mental retardation, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and congenital disabilities.

What Aspartame is Made Of?

Aspartame is made up of three chemicals - aspartic acid, methanol, and phenylalanine.

A book titled, 'Prescription for Nutritional Healing,' by Phyllis and James Balch lists aspartame under the category of, 'chemical poison.' As a person, I have chosen to exclude this toxic group of chemicals from my life and all other artificial sweeteners to the best of my ability. In my opinion, this 'product,' if used on the battlefield, would comprise chemical warfare.

Professor of Neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi, Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, published a book detailing the damages caused by consuming aspartic acid in aspartame. Dr. Blaylock used nearly 500 scientific references to demonstrate how excess free excitatory amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid in the food supply are causing serious and chronic neurological disorders and many other acute symptoms.

Article continues below image.
Aspartame molecule diagram.
Aspartame molecule diagram.

How Aspartate and Glutamate Cause Damage

Aspartame and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in a person's brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartame or glutamate in a person's brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. The influx triggers excessive 'free radicals,' which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is the reason they are called 'excitotoxins.' They 'excite,' or stimulate a person's neural cells and kill them.

Like a sneaky predator, this substance kills 75% or more of a person's neural cells in a particular area of their brain before any clinical symptoms of chronic illness are even noticed. Just a few of the many chronic illnesses that have been demonstrated to be contributed to through exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include the following:

  • ALS
  • AIDS
  • Epilepsy
  • Dementia
  • Hearing loss
  • Memory loss
  • Brain lesions
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hormonal problems
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Neuroendocrine disorders

The risks to infants, children, women who are pregnant, seniors, and people who experience certain chronic health issues from excitotoxins are immense. Even the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which commonly understates problems and parrots the FDA line, stated in a review that:

"It 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."

Aspartic acid from aspartame has the same disastrous effects on a person's body as glutamic acid.

Phenylalanine - A Chemical in Aspartame

Half of the substance aspartame is the chemical 'phenylalanine.' The chemical is an amino acid, and people with the genetic disorder 'phenylketonuria (PKU)' cannot metabolize it, leading to dangerously high levels of phenylalanine in their brains, sometimes lethal. It has been demonstrated that consuming aspartame, particularly carbohydrates, may lead to excess levels of phenylalanine in a person's brain - even in those who do not have PKU. People who have consumed large amounts of aspartame and do not have PKU have been shown to have excessive levels of phenylalanine in their blood.

Excessive levels of this chemical in a person's brain can cause their levels of serotonin to decrease and lead to emotional disorders such as depression. It was demonstrated through human testing that phenylalanine levels in the blood were significantly increased in human subjects who chronically used aspartame. Even a single use of this substance raised a person's phenylalanine levels. In testimony before Congress, Dr. Louis J. Elsas demonstrated that high blood phenylalanine can be concentrated in portions of a person's brain and is particularly dangerous for infants and fetuses. Dr. Elsas also demonstrated that rodents metabolize this chemical far more efficiently than people, found in readily available aspartame.

Methanol - Another Chemical in Aspartame

'Methanol,' also referred to as 'wood alcohol,' a poison, comprised 10% of the product sold as aspartame. Methanol is a deadly poison. Some might remember methanol as the poison that caused some alcoholics to end up blind or dead. Methanol is gradually released into a person's small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounters the enzyme, 'chymotrypsin.'

Absorption of methanol into a person's body is considerably increased when free methanol is ingested. Free methanol is created from aspartame when heated to above 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 Centigrade. Such would be the case when a product containing aspartame is not stored appropriately or when it is heated - such as a part of a product like Jello.

Methanol is a chemical that breaks down into formaldehyde and formic acid in a person's body. Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin. An Environmental Protection Agency (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."

The EPA recommends a limit of consumption of this chemical of 7.8 mg. a day. Yet a one-liter container of soda pop containing aspartame contains around 56 mg. of methanol. So much for the Food and Drug Administration! Heavy users of products containing aspartame consume as much as 250 mg. of methanol daily, or 32 times the EPA's suggested limit. The symptoms of methanol poisoning include:

  • Chills
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Neuritis
  • Dizziness
  • Blindness
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Ear buzzing
  • Misty vision
  • Memory lapses
  • Retinal damage
  • Blurring of vision
  • Obscuration of vision
  • Behavioral disturbances
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Progressive contraction of visual fields
  • Numbness and shooting pains in the extremities

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen; it interferes with DNA replication and causes birth defects. Due to a lack of a couple of key enzymes, people are several times more sensitive to the toxic effects of methanol than animals. Because of this fact, tests related to aspartame or methanol on animals do not accurately reflect the dangers related to their consumption by human beings.

Soldiers during Desert Storm were offered large amounts of beverages sweetened with aspartame. The beverages had been heated to over 86 degrees F. in the Saudi Arabian sun. A number of these soldiers returned home with numerous disorders similar to what has been seen in people chemically poisoned by formaldehyde. The free methanol in the beverages might have contributed to the illnesses these soldiers experienced. Additional breakdown products of aspartame such as DKP might also have been a factor.

It is important to note that in 1993, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved aspartame as an ingredient in several food items that would always be heated to above 86 degrees F. I guess corporate dollars matter more than your health.

Diketopiperazine (DKP) - A Byproduct of Aspartame

'DKP' is a byproduct of aspartame metabolism and has been implicated in the occurrence of brain tumors. When 'nitrosated' in a person's stomach, DKP produced a compound similar to 'N-nitrosourea,' a powerful brain tumor-causing chemical. DKP is formed in liquid aspartame-containing products during storage.

FDA Toxicologist Dr. Jacqueline Verett has also implicated DKP as a cause of changes in blood cholesterol and uterine polyps during her testimony before the United States Senate.

Recently, the Advisory Group on Future Priorities for the International Agency for Research on Cancer's Monographs Program has recently recommended that the potential carcinogenicity of aspartame to humans be evaluated with high priority within the next 2.5 years.

Resources That Provide Relevant Information

Author Credentials:

Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida.


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Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2013, February 22). Dangers of Aspartame Artificial Sweetener. Disabled World. Retrieved December 7, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/fitness/nutrition/foodsecurity/aspartame.php

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