Dangers of aspartame

Sweet, but Sour

Every time someone buys a soft drink they make a choice: With toxins or without?

Of course, you could make a case that virtually all soft drinks contain toxins. But there’s one particular toxin that prompted this e-mail from an HSI member named Imelda: “I would love to see you write your views on aspartame.”

Coincidentally, the very week I received Imelda’s e-mail, this one arrived from a member named Gerald: “Aspartame is a known nerve toxin and is sold under the guise of a diet supplement. Why isn’t something being done about that?”

Actually, there is something being done. At the grass roots level, anyway. A quick search on the Internet yields many web sites that offer detailed warnings about the dangers of aspartame. But I’ve got a feeling that Gerald wants to know about “something being done” on an official level. And the “something” on that level is: Not much.

Aspartame goes in problems come out

In the world of harmful food additives, aspartame is probably the most notoriously harmful of them all. Better known by its brand names – Equal and Nutra-sweet – research shows that aspartame may mimic or worsen diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and depression.

In 1994 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a list of 61 reported adverse reactions to aspartame, including: chest pains, asthma, arthritis, migraine headaches, insomnia, seizures, tremors, vertigo, and weight gain.

The surprising item on that list is “weight gain,” given the fact that aspartame is the sweetener used in most diet sodas. In fact, according to one study, aspartame may actually STIMULATE appetite, prompting cravings for calorie- rich carbohydrates.

But weight gain is nothing compared to some of the horror stories out there.

One man’s story
On an HSI Forum thread titled “Fear The Turtle,” a member named John shares some of the details of how a steady intake of diet soda prompted a debilitating hormonal reaction to aspartame. The details are no less than tragic, although John was fortunate enough to discover the source of his physical and neurological disorders in time to take the necessary action to nurse himself back to relative good health. I say “relative” because apparently he will never fully return to the robust health he once enjoyed.

John’s story is fascinating, and you can read the full account of his case history (along with several others) on a web site called “Aspartame Poisoning Information Site” (aspartame.ca).

FDA-approved poison

According to an article on aspartame by Dr. Joseph Mercola, methanol is the probable trigger for most of the adverse reactions associated with aspartame. When aspartame is combined with the enzyme chymotrypsin in the small intestine, methanol is released and breaks down into formaldehyde, a potent neurotoxin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers methanol to be a “cumulative poison” and recommends a safe consumption of no more than 7.8 mg per day. If you drink a one-liter beverage containing aspartame, your body creates seven times that amount – about 56 mg of methanol.

But it gets even worse. Because if the product containing aspartame is heated to a temperature above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, “free methanol” is created, speeding up the absorption of methanol, and magnifying the effects of the neurotoxins. Nevertheless, in 1993 the FDA approved the use of aspartame in food items such as gelatin desserts that require heating well over the 86-degree range.

The result? People are hurting – people like John, whose life will never be the same. According to the FDA’s Adverse Reaction Monitoring System, approximately 75 percent of all complaints received about food additives are aspartame related. That’s right: 3 out of every 4! And yet the FDA still refuses to acknowledge the evidence that aspartame is essentially poison.

Something fishy

If, like Gerald, you’re wondering why the FDA hasn’t taken some sort of action against a food additive as dangerous as aspartame, you’re not alone. In fact, there are quite a few web sites that put forth something of a conspiracy theory that involves a high-profile government official, a major pharmaceutical firm, and some corporate-political string pulling that has supposedly created an FDA “hands off” policy concerning aspartame.

I can’t confirm the accusations behind this theory, so I’m not going to open that can of worms here. Suffice it to say that in spite of the clear dangers of aspartame, FDA officials have ignored calls for a ban and have resisted efforts to establish a warning label for aspartame, stating (completely contrary to all the evidence) that the complaints against the sweetener aren’t sufficient enough to warrant such a warning.

But really, what good would a warning label do? Does the average consumer actually read the fine print on his can of diet Mountain Dew?

What’s needed here is not an FDA regulation, but rather some Water Cooler Regulation. Visit John’s website for the whole story. Then, tell your friends and family about the dangers of aspartame. Spread the word. As always, feel free to share this e-Alert with them. In time, people may wise up and start choosing their drinks without the special interest- sponsored toxins.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

“Reported Aspartame Toxicity Effects” Holistic Healing Web Page, holisticmed.com
“Aspartame – Avoid It” Dr. Joseph Mercola, mercola.com
“Menthanol – AKA Wood Alcohol or Poison – 10% of Aspartame” Dr. Joseph Mercola, mercola.com