IS ASPARTAME O.K. DOCTOR?
My patients have often asked me whether taking aspartame is OK. At the time, I thought that it was, as I had read that it was present in over 6,000 foods, and was consumed by more than 100 million people worldwide, so naturally I assumed it must be OK. Being an inquisitive mind, however, I decided to do a little background research into Aspartame. I was horrified with what I discovered, and would like to share this with you so that you can be a little more informed, and share this wisdom with your patients, loved ones and family.
Aspartame was discovered by accident in 1965, when James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company was testing an anti-ulcer drug. Aspartame was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. Aspartame is the synthetic sweetener that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar and is added to most of the diet products, as well as other foods.
SYMPTOMS OF ASPARTAME TOXICITY
Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods. Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death as disclosed in a February 1994 Department of Health and Human Services report. 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.
According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting aspartame:
Brain tumours, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.
Aspartame 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.
ASPARTAME AND BLINDNESS
Many people today say their ophthalmologists have said they were going blind but don’t know why, and diabetics in particular are thought to have simple diabetic retinopathy. The methanol in aspartame converts to formaldehyde in the retina of the eye. It causes retinal detachments, blurring of the vision, double vision, floaters, flashes, black spots, optic neuritis, tunnel vision, etc. Dr. H. J. Roberts on a radio program recently said aspartame destroys the optic nerve.
Over the past few years Dr. Morgan B. Raiford, M.D. D.Sc (Med) in Ophthalmology has observed the fact that any portion of the central nervous system can and is affected. Since the chemical PHENYLALANINE is mixed up with some metabolic mess, we have seen symptoms of varying hue in the extremities, sensations of dullness of the intellect, visual shadows, evidence of word structure reversing and some hearing impairment is noted by the individual. This can and will in time cause problems in learning. The medical community must alert itself that we have a problem that has surfaced, and must be investigated further. Certainly, the mega-profit making pharmaceutical companies that produce drugs are not interested in conducting this type of research. Also, parents must be alerted to the side effects of this toxic product and its adverse reactions.
DIKETOPIPERAZINE (DKP) AND BRAIN TUMORS
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 which was similar to N-nitrosourea, a powerful brain tumour causing chemical. Some authors have said that DKP is produced after aspartame ingestion. It is definitely true that DKP is formed in liquid aspartame-containing products during prolonged storage.
DIABETES AND HYPOGLYCEMIA
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is actually recommending this chemical poison to persons with diabetes. According to research conducted by H.J. Roberts, M.D., F.A.C.P.,F.C.C.P., a diabetes specialist, a member of the ADA, and an authority on artificial sweeteners, aspartame:
1) Leads to the precipitation of clinical diabetes.
2) Causes poorer diabetic control in diabetics on insulin or oral drugs.
3) Leads to the aggravation of diabetic complications such as retinopathy, cataracts, neuropathy and gastro paresis.
4) Causes convulsions.
Dr. H.J. Roberts, has treated many patients with diabetes mellitus and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) in his capacity as a Board-certified internist and an endocrinologist (member of the Endocrine Society). Since both groups should abstain from sugar, Dr. Roberts initially rejoiced that these persons had an acceptable and presumable safe sugar substitute in aspartame. Unfortunately, many patients in his practice, and others seen in consultation, developed serious metabolic, neurological and other complications that could be specifically attributed to using aspartame products. This was evidenced by:
*The loss of diabetic control, the intensification of hypoglycaemia, the occurrence of presumed insulin reactions (including convulsions) that proved to be aspartame reactions, and the precipitation, aggravation or simulation of diabetic complications (especially impaired vision and neuropathy) while using these products.
*Dramatic improvement of such features after avoiding aspartame, AND the prompt predictable recurrent of these problems when the patient resumed aspartame products, knowingly or inadvertently. He has cited many instances of severe complications in patients with diabetes and hypoglycaemia caused by the use of aspartame products in his books and scientific articles. Here are a couple of illustrations:
*A 21 year-old insulin-dependent teacher suffered more frequent insulin reactions both at school and at home, while drinking many aspartame colas daily. He reported: When we cut down on aspartame, I stopped having so many reactions. A diabetic man suffered severe changes in vision when he was drinking four litres of aspartame soft drinks daily. An ophthalmologist assured him that there was no detectable diabetic retinopathy. The patient then chanced to read an article about aspartame-related eye problems. He promptly improved after avoiding these beverages, an unlikely event if the problem was primarily a diabetic retinopathy.
*A 46 year-old man with insulin-dependent diabetes had been in good control for three decades until he began using several aspartame sodas and packets of tabletop sweetener daily. He summarized his experience in these terms: My diabetes went haywire, and I had terrible insulin reactions. His diabetes was fully controlled within one week after abstaining from aspartame products.
*A 12-year-old boy with known diabetes required multiple hospitalisations for diabetic coma while consuming considerable aspartame products. Physicians at a university hospital had difficulty in stabilizing his insulin requirements while he used them.
Dr. Roberts has discussed some of the reasons aspartame might aggravate diabetes and hypoglycaemia in his books. The possible mechanisms include the following:
* Marked changes in appetite and weight as reflected by paradoxical weight gain or severe loss of weight.
* Excessive insulin secretion and depletion of the insulin reserve.
* Possible alteration of cellular receptor sites for insulin, with ensuing insulin resistance
* Neurotransmitter alterations within the brain and peripheral nerves
* The toxicity of each of the three components of aspartame (phenylalanine; aspartic acid: the methylester, which promptly becomes methyl alcohol or methanol), and their multiple breakdown products after exposure to heat or during prolonged storage.
ASPARTAME AND HEADACHES
For the past few years, numerous side-effects have been observed due to Aspartame in a Central Texas medium-small town General Practice by Dr. James B. Hays, M.D. These side effects have been grouped into two types. The first, more numerous type consists of headaches which are related to dosage and length of exposure and accounts for at least two percent and probably ten percent of frequent Aspartame users as initially observed. More recent experience suggests that this figure is potentially higher, that is, with more Aspartame exposure over a longer period, this outside figure may be much higher and the theory that almost everybody can get headaches from prolonged and higher dosage is a tempting theory. It appears to be simply dose-related.
The headaches were bilateral, severe, generally daily or at least on days that significant amounts of Aspartame were ingested. The headaches did not resemble migraine at all – they rarely were described as throbbing and were at best described as tension, fatigue, caffeine withdrawal type headaches and a big hangover all combined.
JOINT PAIN AND ASPARTAME USE
Dr. H.J. Roberts, M.D. found that 58 patients, who consumed moderate to large amounts of aspartame, experienced joint pain requiring analgesics. This association seems convincing in light of (1) the prompt improvement of both these pains and other aspartame-associated complaints after abstinence from aspartame, and (2) their prompt recurrence following aspartame re-challenge, known or inadvertent.
Clinicians should inquire about aspartame use in all patients who present with unexplained join pain or the exacerbations of rheumatologic disorders. A therapeutic trial of aspartame avoidance is warranted before ordering expensive studies, consultations and potent drugs.
GULF WAR SYNDROME AND ASPARTAME USE
I will finish on this last note, which I also find a fascinating correlation. The soda pop companies sent truckloads of diet pop to the Persian Gulf where one soldier said they sat for as long as 8 weeks on pallets in the 120 degree Arabian sun, and that they drank them all day. At 86 degrees aspartame liberates methanol in the can! Desert Storm Syndrome symptoms are identical to Aspartame Disease: Memory loss, vision loss, chronic fatigue syndrome (methanol breaks down the immune system), joint pain, headaches, manic depression, dizziness, equilibrium problems, confusion, etc. The CFIDS Network (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Immunologic Disease) said 6000 of the troops have already perished! I wonder how many of them died from aspartame?
Aspartame consumption is not only a problem in the US, but also here in Cyprus. I have personally seen it in children’s vitamins being sold freely in Cyprus. It is being sold in over 70 countries throughout the world.
ASPARTAME CAN BE FOUND IN:
- instant breakfasts
- breath mints
- sugar-free chewing gum
- cocoa mixes
- coffee beverages
- frozen desserts
- gelatine desserts
- juice beverages
- milk drinks
- pharmaceuticals and supplements
- shake mixes
- soft drinks
- tabletop sweeteners
- tea beverages
- instant teas and coffees
- topping mixes
- wine coolers
For those that want to do some additional research, try these sites:
http://www.dorway.com - over 500 journal and scientific articles on Aspartame
http://www.aspartamekills.com - the mother site for aspartame poisoning. Pulls no punches, and packed with information.