By Dr. Mercola
Don't let these large companies fool you. There is no magic alternative to sugar when it comes to sweeteners. There are reports from all over the world from people who report being harmed by sucralose.
For example, there are reports of the following after eating sucralose:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Seizures, dizziness and migraines
- Blurred vision
- Allergic reactions
- Blood sugar increases and weight gain
At the time of my last analysis in 2006, there were only six human trials published on Splenda (sucralose). Of these six trials, only two of the trials were completed and published before the FDA approved sucralose for human consumption. The two published trials had a grand total of 36 total human subjects.
36 people sure doesn't sound like many, but wait, it gets worse, only 23 total were actually given sucralose for testing and here is the real killer: The longest trial at this time had lasted only four days and looked at sucralose in relation to tooth decay, not human tolerance.
Splenda, best known for its marketing ploy "made from sugar so it tastes like sugar," has taken the sweetener industry by storm. Splenda has become the nation's number one selling artificial sweetener in a very short period of time.
Between 2000 and 2004, the percentage of US households using Splenda products jumped from 3 to 20 percent. In a one year period, Splenda sales topped $177 million compared with $62 million spent on aspartame-based Equal and $52 million on saccharin-based Sweet 'N Low.
McNeil Nutritionals, in their marketing pitch for Splenda, emphasizes that Splenda has endured some of the most rigorous testing to date for any food additive. Enough so to convince the average consumer that it is in fact safe. They claim that over 100 studies have been conducted on Splenda. What they don't tell you is that most of the studies are on animals.
There have been no long-term human toxicity studies published until after the FDA approved sucralose for human consumption. Following FDA approval a human toxicity trial was conducted, but lasted only three months, hardly the length of time most Splenda users plan to consume sucralose. No studies have ever been done on children or pregnant women.
Much of the controversy surrounding Splenda does not focus just on its safety, but rather on its false advertising claims. The competition among sweeteners is anything but sweet. The sugar industry is currently suing McNeil Nutritionals for implying that Splenda is a natural form of sugar with no calories.
There is no question that sucralose starts off as a sugar molecule, it is what goes on in the factory that is concerning. Sucralose is a synthetic chemical that was originally cooked up in a laboratory. In the five step patented process of making sucralose, three chlorine molecules are added to a sucrose or sugar molecule. A sucrose molecule is a disaccharide that contains two single sugars bound together: glucose and fructose.
The chemical process to make sucralose alters the chemical composition of the sugar so much that it is somehow converted to a fructo-galactose molecule. This type of sugar molecule does not occur in nature and therefore your body does not possess the ability to properly metabolize it. As a result of this "unique" biochemical make-up, McNeil Nutritionals makes its claim that Splenda is not digested or metabolized by the body, making it have zero calories.
It is not that Splenda is naturally zero calories. If your body had the capacity to metabolize it then it would no longer have zero calories.
If you look at the research (which is primarily extrapolated from animal studies) you will see that in fact 15% of sucralose is absorbed into your digestive system and ultimately is stored in your body. To reach a number such as 15% means some people absorb more and some people absorb less. In one human study, one of the eight participants did not excrete any sucralose even after 3 days. Clearly his body was absorbing and metabolizing this chemical. That is what our bodies are supposed to do.
The bottom line is that we all have our own unique biochemical make-up. Some of you will absorb and metabolize more than others. If you are healthy and your digestive system works well, you may be at higher risk for breaking down this product in your stomach and intestines. Please understand that it is impossible for the manufacturers of Splenda to make any guarantees based on their limited animal data.
If you feel that Splenda affects you adversely, it is valid. Don’t let someone convince you that it is all in your head. You know your body better than anyone else.
The best way to determine if Splenda or sucralose is affecting you is to perform an elimination/challenge with it. First eliminate it and other artificial sweeteners from your diet completely for a period of one to two weeks. After this period reintroduce it in sufficient quantity.
For example, use it in your beverage in the morning, and eat at least two sucralose containing products the remainder of the day. On this day, avoid other artificial sweeteners so that you are able to differentiate which one may be causing a problem for you. Do this for a period of one to three days. Take notice of how your body is feeling, particularly if it feels different from when you were artificial sweetener free.
If you complete the elimination/challenge trial described above and do not notice any changes then it appears you are able to tolerate Splenda acutely. However, please understand that you are not out of the woods yet. The entire issue of long-term safety has never been established. Let's look at the facts again:
- There have only been six human trials to date
- The longest trial lasted three months
- At LEAST 15% of Splenda is not excreted from your body in a timely manner
Considering that Splenda bears more chemical similarity to DDT than it does to sugar, are you willing to bet your health on this data? Remember that fat soluble substances, such as DDT, can remain in your fat for decades and devastate your health. If the above facts don't concern because you believe the FDA would not ever allow a toxic substance into the market then read on.
Please consider that the only organizations between you and potentially toxic side effects are the FDA and the manufacturers of sucralose (Tate & Lyle) and of Splenda (McNeil Nutritionals).
The FDA has a long-standing history of ineffective screening and rampant conflict of interests as demonstrated in their inability to identify Vioxx as too dangerous to be on the market. This mistake cost 55,000 people their lives.
Now the point I want you to understand here, because it is really important, is that Splenda is not a drug and is only a food additive. As such the number of studies required to receive FDA approval is substantially less than drug. Vioxx had an order of magnitude of more comprehensive clinical trials than Splenda ever did, and despite this rigorous approval process it still killed 55,000 people.
So, now you have the primary concerns I have about Splenda, and the choice is yours.
We have more people on our site that have reported adverse reaction to Splenda than were formally studied in the research submitted for FDA approval. It would seem this collection of data is in some ways superior to the data submitted to the FDA for Splenda approval.
You can help us continue our Splenda research by supplying us with your own experience. If you or anyone you know has had an adverse reaction to Splenda or sucralose containing products, please tell us your story.
The following testimonials have been sent to us by people from all over the world who feel they have been harmed by Splenda. We have not researched each of these accounts in-depth, but instead are posting them to draw attention to the fact that Splenda's safety -- or lack thereof -- is not only unknown and severely questionable, but worse still is not even being explored on a sufficient scale.
That Splenda is being marketed so freely and pervasively is most concerning given that there are currently NO large studies underway researching the safety of this artificial sweetener, and Splenda was released with few studies to support its safety. This is the same pattern that occurred with the artificial sweeteners aspartame and saccharine--two sweeteners that are now widely known to cause numerous health problems. In the same way that Splenda was released with few studies proving its safety, few studies were conducted on aspartame and saccharine until the negative health effects began to be seen, raising alarm and prompting investigations into the true (lack of) safety of the products.
If it sounds strange that Splenda could be marketed so widely without any real safety studies, I ask you to consider the source behind the product. Splenda is made from real sugar and is then molecularly modified to be calorie-free (essentially, Splenda is produced by chlorinating sugar). The sugar industry, which is a huge and very powerful government lobby, is profiting quite nicely from this no-calorie sweetener. It is no secret that the U.S. government is influenced by the sugar industry, and it is not a stretch to think that their influence may be the real reason why no real studies have been done.
So, with that in mind, I urge you to take a look at the many Splenda testimonials below, and then ask yourself, is eating this largely experimental product really worth the risk?
Have a sucralose/Splenda story others need to hear?
Please include your name, try to keep it to 500 words or less, and let us know if we can include your email address if published.
Dear Dr. Mercola,
I want to thank you for your Web site and especially for your documentation on the dangers of Splenda. I also want to pass on this testimonial in the hope it may help others.
Last evening after dinner I began to feel flush. My husband commented how red my face was getting and, sure enough, one glance in the mirror confirmed a bright red, tight, shiny visage staring back at me. In the next few hours, my eyes began to swell. I went to bed hoping I could "sleep it off." How wrong I was.
This morning I got up and my face was still red, bright and swollen with puffy eyes. I am a pharmacist and I have seen many anaphylactoid (allergic) reactions before. I began to feel concerned that I too was having one. I have had only one other reaction like this before in my life--to Bactrim.
I went out for my usual morning run but by the first quarter mile, I could barely breathe so I walked slowly back to the house. My right shoulder was burning so I went to the mirror and was horrified to find a HUGE 6 inch by 3 inch welt at the base of my neck (see photo).
I also felt very panicky and shaky and immediately had two bouts of diarrhea in rapid succession. After 15 minutes and a cool shower on tissue that looked scalded, I was having difficulty breathing. I was seen in the local emergency room where the physician immediately gave me a dexamethasone injection in the hip and a prescription for Epi-pen and oral prednisone over four days.
At the time, I didn't know why I looked like I had ingested a sulfa drug. My husband and I tried to figure out what was different in my life over the last 12 hours. Laundry soap? Nope. Cake? Animal dander? No and no. A dear friend came to visit me in my misery and mentioned that I had started to flush at church, several hours before dinner.
I remembered that I had had a cup of coffee and had tried the new creamer sitting by the pot. I remembered the Splenda label on it, which prompted my husband and I to search the Web and we found your site.
The description by Marcia in the testimonial area caused me to burst into tears. Yes, Marcia, there are others like you. I am throwing that stuff out when I get to church! This reaction that I have had looks like a drug reaction! I am appalled an "artificial sweetener" did this to me.
Twelve hours after treatment my eyes are no longer swollen and my face is no longer red, but my neck welt is the same size, same redness and as tender as a sunburn. There are a few blisters in the welt. Even after treatment it still looks this bad! Perhaps the manufacturer of Splenda can sell it as a biochemical warfare agent after it is removed from the market as a food additive.
Thanks for getting the word out!
Lori Hunt, RPh
I also have had horrific effects from Splenda. In May of this year, I started having drop attacks that I thought were strokes or TIAs. Later, they got so severe, I thought they were heart attacks caused by coronary artery spasms. At the time, I had no idea what was causing my attacks because all medical tests were coming back negative. But after several visits to the ER thinking I was having a stroke or a heart attack, I began putting two and two together--whenever I would drink or eat a Splenda product, within a few hours or sometimes even a day or two, my body would go numb and tingly in different areas. I was tested for MS, heart disease, and for brain lesions. Sometimes, it was the entire left side of my body, sometimes my right, sometimes just my legs, sometimes just my arms or my lips or face. It would get worse at night while I was sleeping, then I would wake up and my heart would immediately go into an arrhythmia and race at about 160 beats per minute. I would get dry mouth and extremely nauseous. At this point, I would be terrified and the numbness would get so bad I would not be able to walk. In addition, I would get extreme esophageal reflux, which was not affected by anything, including prevacid, pepcid, etc.
I also had such bad IBS that I was given more drugs to control that. Since May, I have spent quite a lot of money going to doctors, all to no avail and with no diagnosis ever made. Finally, I was told I was having anxiety as no one could figure out what was wrong with my body. I started wondering if it could be all the low carb stuff I was eating, as this was the only change in my life. Around the beginning of May I had started on a "low carb" life-style and started drinking the low carb Slimfast and eating the sugar-free low carb candy that is now so abundant in stores. I quit everything for a while and the symptoms seemed to subside and then almost went away. Last week, for some dumb reason, I decided to retry the Slimfast because of my weight loss goals and today, I had another attack of numbness and a panic attack. During these attacks, I can hardly breathe and my legs and arms are weak, I am dizzy, numb, and my muscles ache horribly. It feels like I am about to die. To say they are severe is an understatement.
Needless to say, I have learned my lesson and will NEVER use sucralose again. It is dangerous and seems like a huge toxin to the body. If just one person reacts this way, it CAN'T be a good thing. It seems like we are being poisoned by these huge conglomerates that don't care about health and only interested in lining their pockets. The price of being thin is definitely not worth losing brain cells or getting huge amounts of neurological and cardiological damage or who knows maybe even death. My digestive track and my arteries were actually going into huge spasms so much so that my doctor and I both thought that I was having angina. My doctor prescribed nitro just in case - even though I have low blood pressure, low cholesterol, and a low body weight. This is how serious things got with my health while ingesting this deadly poison.
I've been following the Paleolithic diet with some success for a couple of years. Last year, when Splenda became more widely available, I started using it pretty regularly. While it's not on my diet, I figured since it was "all natural" and not absorbed by the body I would be just fine.
I hadn't made the connection till now, but I have been unable to lose any weight for the past year which is about how long I've been using Splenda in the form of drinks like Hansen's diet sodas, Big Red, and Diet RC. Furthermore, I've had two unusual episodes of unexplained pain. The first, shortly after Christmas 2003, was very extreme. I had no diarrhea or gas, but I had terrible cramping for several hours. The pain was so unbearable I nearly passed out. I was a pale green color and there were a few moments where everything started to turn white like I would pass out. Since it had been Christmas, I had been eating a lot of goodies (many made with Splenda) and less of my usual healthy veggies and such. I thought maybe I had burst my intestines or something from lack of fiber (the only explanation I could think of for such extreme pain) so I had my boyfriend take me to the emergency room.
When the doctor pressed on my left lower belly I could not help but scream in pain. They gave me a shot of morphine but it only helped me to not mind the pain so much, but I felt it all the same. Thousands of dollars and a CT scan later... absolutely no problems were found. The pain slowly abated after about two days. I felt really crazy but after reading these other testimonials I really wonder if it had something to do with the Splenda. Recently, I have associated Splenda usage and bladder pain. I've been getting all the symptoms--burning, pain, and frequency of a bladder infection. But again, after doing a urinalysis at my doctor's, no infection has been found. I tried drinking a lot of water to clear up the ghost infection (and less Splenda-sweetened drinks and the symptoms went away. But because I never thought there was a connection, I began drinking Splenda again, and now my bladder symptoms are back. My Dad directed me to your site. Thank you for the information. I may have never seen the connection because I was so sure that Splenda was a very safe and natural product.
I have had a terrible ordeal of having horrible stomach problems, indigestion, continual pain, constipation, then diarrhea. I traced it back to diet RC cola, which has Splenda in it. I had tried to switch off of other diet drinks and went to this drink. For four weeks, I have had terrible, terrible abdominal pain, etc. I stopped drinking this and the pain has left. Amazing how this product can have such a profound effect on people. Thought you should know.
Yesterday, I went for an iced coffee with my friends. Since I have been watching my weight, I opted for the Splenda rather than my usual sugar. I finished half the coffee in about five minutes time and immediately my throat felt like it was closing in on me, my arms and legs became completely numb, I was covered in a rash, and thought yesterday was going to be my last day on Earth. I thought I was going to die there in my friend's car. She rushed me to the emergency room where my blood pressure was sky high. I was given breathing treatments and benadryl and was told I was having an allergic reaction to this drug called Splenda. Today the rash still covers me, my throat still feels swollen, and I'm afraid to death that any moment I may get the feeling of my throat closing up. I am a mother of three children and I am highly irate there are no warnings on any Splenda product I've come across. Monday, I will call an attorney and see what my legal rights are.
About six months ago, I decided to try the Atkins diet. They strongly recommend Splenda (right on their home page!) so I went out and got some packets. I also bought flavored water called Fruit20, which contains Splenda. I used these products for three days and started feeling sick. My husband said he'd heard there were problems with Splenda so I did a little Web searching. It didn't take long to find reams of info on how evil this stuff can be. I experienced almost every symptom including bloating, abdominal pain, gas, nausea, headaches, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, depression, and dizziness.
But here's the kicker--I STILL HAVE THEM, even though I haven't consumed any Splenda since those initial three days! Have you ever heard of this? I've been making the rounds to doctors and done several tests. An ultrasound revealed nothing. (Based on my symptoms, gallstones were suspected.) The motility test was slightly irregular but nothing major. Endoscopy suggested acid reflux, but the meds (Nexium, Aciphex, Protonix--I've tried them all) don't work. Based on all this, I'm told I have "nonulcer dyspepsia," which is essentially symptoms without a cause. I told my gastro about the Splenda and he poo-pooed it. I'm at my wits end and have an appointment with my GP to discuss the possibility of clinical depression since it seems this is related to unexplained stomach pain and vice versa.
I am so THANKFUL to have found your site, and the information provided on Splenda. I was tricked into trying it out; like most, reading the "Made from Sugar" claim convinced me. I am, as I write, having horrendous stomach pains, the cause of which I am most certain is Splenda. I have been using it to sweeten my iced green tea (oh, the irony) for a couple of weeks, but just recently I've noticed my body feeling worse and worse. The other night, I went out to dinner with friends, and had a cocktail--which I can normally handle quite well. After returning home, I was parched, and prepared a nice, tall glass of said tea.
All that night, and the next day, I was plagued by diarrhea, and severe stomach pains. And now, having just finished another glass, here I am with the same result. I cannot help, after reading the stories on this site, but think that Splenda is to blame--I am throwing it out the moment I close this letter.
I have been drinking one or two Propel water drinks (Gatorade water) every day or every other day for just over two months. I was having symptoms but blamed them on a new intense exercise regimen (martial arts twice a week during which time I drank the Propel), stress at work, and stress of dating (I was stressing over a girl at the time).
Here it turns out there is sucralose in Propel. The very real and undeniable symptoms I suffered included fatigue, mild stomach cramps, sudden urge to go to the bathroom (others apparently have suffered outright diarrhea) and at same time often a type of constipation where I feel the strong urge to go to the bathroom but when I try to I can't purge all the way or to satisfaction, irritability, sleeplessness (at 4:44 AM, I felt totally relaxed and awake, like it was 4:44 PM… it's like a strong caffeine or ginseng buzz, and I can't sleep), very tired eyes and headache (I NEVER get headaches but I've had a couple during this two-month period, and I remember thinking it was very strange), inability to concentrate and focus at work and lowered motivation, anxiety (feeling overwhelmed and scared, unable to cope), mild depression, itchy skin (under my armpits and also my scalp, I scratched my head so much that I developed small sores that scabbed over), heightened sensitivity to noises (smallest sounds are irritating), mild physical impotence or reduction of libido.
I drank one even today (before I read the Web site warnings), and so I had the chance to pay attention for signs of the symptoms. They took about five to eight hours to fully set in, I believe, from the time I took the last Propel (I believe symptoms grow, peak and then wane). I am sleepless, just went through a strong urge to go to the bathroom, can't focus, and am impatient and irritable. I also believe it makes you somewhat impotent as well, just like symptoms related to going to the bathroom, I still have my sex drive just like urge to go to bathroom, but can't really perform (am very weak in terms of being able to rise to the occasion and remain hard)… It reminds me of how mood-altering herbs/drugs can often inhibit libido. In fact, the overall effect of Splenda seems on par to me with herbal supplements, like St. John's Wort or Ginseng, as the effects are subtle but undeniable, and out of your control.
Has anyone else noticed a problem with sexual performance due to Splenda?
In the past, I had already read enough [about Splenda] to know I didn't want to use the product… ever. But, for some reason, I felt drawn to read the testimonials. I'm glad I did.
My mother died almost three months ago, and I've had some emotional times, some interference with my work, etc.--the normal grieving process. But, for about the last three weeks, I thought I was going downhill fast. Even when I'd sleep at night, I was still groggy and unable to stay awake during the day. I was irritable and uncomfortable most of the time. My brain didn't work in the "normal" way, I was forgetting things a minute later, couldn't follow-through on tasks in a logical order. This has really been affecting my work. The only days I noticed that I was more like myself were Sundays (I had attributed it to the fact that I always looked forward to going to church).
Several hours after reading through the testimonials, something occurred to me. About three weeks ago, the local bread store had a promotion, and if you bought so much, you got five loaves free...their choice of the free stuff. Well, I ended up with Good Hearth Carb Action Wheat Bread. I never liked it because it doesn't taste good, but it was free, and I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so we ate it. We ate it every day but Sunday the past three weeks (I make "special" meals on Sundays), either for breakfast or lunch, sometimes both. I just assumed they could claim lower carbs because the bread slices were thin and small, about one-third smaller than your average sandwich bread slices. (That's what a lot of "diet" breads do.) It had no taste, though. I was forever adding salt and garlic salt, etc., just to make it palatable.
Yesterday, I was sluggish and late getting up again. We didn't have breakfast at all, and lunch was leftovers. Through the day, I started noticing that my mind was clearing, and I wasn't nodding off to sleep every time I sat down. But, it wasn't until suppertime that I started connecting the dots. The only real difference in our diet the past three weeks has been the free bread. I pulled it out and looked at the list of ingredients, and was mad at myself for not guessing sooner that this stuff has sucralose in it! It also has a great deal of soy, which is probably why it doesn't taste good.
So, the two loaves of bread that are left are hitting the garbage can!
In just one day without the sucralose-laced bread, I can see a definite difference. I was able to get up this morning and my mind is clear. I hope the improvement crosses over to my work!
Laura in LA
Some time ago, I tried Splenda in a packet of hot chocolate. I knew I was allergic to aspartame (made me dizzy), but thought maybe Splenda would be a good alternative. It made my lips itch! This was the oddest thing. I drank about one-third of a cup of this hot chocolate and found that my lips stopped itching, but they felt numb. I swore off Splenda. About a year later, I accidentally purchased a drink with Splenda (labeled as sucralose) and could not endure the strong chemical flavor, undoubtedly from the chlorine. I read all labels carefully and stick with natural sugars in my foods. I'm a runner and figure I'll run off any extra calories, but will be hard pressed to endure another allergic reaction.
About four months ago, I started drinking Diet Rite cola. I drank it for about two weeks and then one day at work I got laryngitis as I finished my second drink that morning. My face and sides of my neck broke out in red itchy hives of varying sizes. Some had a red streak running up from them. I didn't realize the Diet Rite was the culprit until the next afternoon when I drank another cola and again broke out in hives, this time more widespread. No more Splenda for me.
I am writing to you to let others know of my problems with the product Splenda. We have been drinking carbonated flavored water sweetened with Splenda for over a year. During all of this time, my husband and I were always feeling tired, under the weather, lost interest in doing our favorite things, all our joints were aching, nausea, gastro problems, and most recently I had developed this terrible rash on my neck, armpits, and on my chest.
Of course, we just attributed all of this to changes in the weather, or arthritis, allergies, or the "What did I eat?" syndrome, UNTIL--I was doing some research on the Internet and discovered your page! What a blessing! After reading your page, and all of the testimonials from others, we stopped the Splenda water and using it in my coffee IMMEDIATELY! I had sent your page to my sister, who is diabetic, and she was having all of the symptoms also, including the rash! She is discarding all of her Splenda as well.
We have been off Splenda for three days now, my rash is slowly going away, my energy is coming back, and my husband no longer has the nausea that he had experienced for the longest time. When is the government going to take this stuff off the market? And, who can we contact to get this off the market? This definitely is worse than chemical warfare! I hope this bit of information helps someone else out there, and they discard the "POISON" too!
--Terri from New York
I have been doing the low-carb thing for 18 months now. A little over three weeks ago I started to break out in a small itchy rash. At first I thought it was due to some new bras, but couldn't figure why that would be since I had washed them before wearing. Then the rash started to get worse. My scalp was so itchy, I felt like an animal with fleas. Then the rash broke out on my hairline at the back of my neck. It started to appear all the way across on my lower back. The itching and scratching was very intense! I couldn't control the scratching.
It seemed to be worse in the evening and made it harder for me to get to sleep. It also itched more when I first got up in the morning. After going over everything new or different lately that I had touched or been around, it just didn't make sense that this reaction came from anywhere, but from something I was eating. With doing the low-carb thing, I limit my diet to certain foods. So after 18 months of eating practically the same things, I figured I was eating too much of something and my body was reacting. I tried zinc oxide creams and antihistamine sprays to help with the itching, but there was little relief.
The rash started to appear on my upper back and shoulders. With the rash breaking out on my upper arms and both sides of my lower hips I figured this was going to keep spreading until I started to rule out one by one the things I was eating, that I was reacting to. I stopped eating nuts, then cut way down on eggs. The rash seemed a little better in the first two places that appeared, or at least the itching wouldn't start up as often and the scabs I got from scratching myself seemed to be heeling somewhat. The mass of rash on my lower back felt not like skin at all, but like a smooth large thick scar, yet with tiny bumps. It almost feels like something living under my skin that slows down in the daytime but never sleeps.
Since I was cutting out certain foods, I was increasing eating other foods. The Atkins ice cream bars--I would eat two to three of those a day. One day, I had four of them! I thought it might be the ice cream bars, but I didn't want it to be, so I was going to rule that out last before going to the doctor. I knew they would do what I was doing, so I wanted to try it on my own first. I also had Carb Solutions Ranch salad dressing and Atkins candy in the evenings. Atkins pizza tasted good, too! Thought, oh boy… pizza!
Whenever I would grocery shop, I would look for Atkins products to buy because they had Splenda as the sweetener. Now, there are more and more products out there using Splenda. The TV advertises it as being made from sugar, so what can be harmful about that? I finally got on the Internet to investigate Splenda since I have so much of it, and was shocked to read what I read on the subject. I kept looking and came across your site. I read about Marcia who had the itching and rash like me. It took me weeks to put it together, but thanks to your site and all the people like Marcia, it now makes sense. So much for the ice cream bars and the pizza and anything else with Splenda!
Some people mentioned cramping and diarrhea, I had cramping and soft stools about every five to six days. Never thought it was from the Splenda. I guess if you have too much of a 'thought to be' "good thing" for too long, it will come back and bite 'ya. Hopefully, there won't be any other consequences that show up later in my life. I'm looking forward to no more Splenda, watching the rash disappear, and being able to be out in public again without scratching!
UPDATE: I've been off of Splenda and everything else containing sucralose for almost a full week now and my rash and itching are now both gone. I have a little dry skin and scratch marks left from the intense scratching, but lotion is helping that. I feel great now! I hope my experience with Splenda will help someone else the way the stories on your Web site helped me.
I picked out what seemed to be a "too-good-to-be-true" Edy's ice cream… no fat, no added sugar but plenty of Splenda. I ate a moderate amount after dinner and almost immediately an incredibly uncomfortable, ongoing bout of stomach distress began--complete liquification of my insides. I'll spare you the gory details.
The next morning, I awoke with a terrible headache and very tired after being awoken in the night with continued stomach cramps. So I did some research on the Internet and confirmed my suspicions about what is apparently not at all an innocuous sugar substitute. As much as I love chocolate, this is my first and last exposure to Splenda, if I have a choice!
WOW, I must say I am dumbfounded! My name is Millie Wright and I am a single mother of three girls. So it would be natural to be stressed. On July 27, 2004 I woke up and had my normal decaf cup of coffee with two equals. However, later that day, it was not unusual for me to have a craving for something sweet. I opened a packet of Splenda and poured it on my tongue. That is normally what I do when I have a craving. I remember on the Friday before having a panicky, nervous feeling but thought nothing of it.
Well, it was now Wednesday the 28th and I woke up feeling good and somewhat excited about the day and about myself. I had my cup of decaf with two equals and went to work. It was about 9 a.m. when I started to feel a bit nervous and thought that maybe they had served me caffeinated coffee by mistake but as the time went on the panic turned severe. I couldn't breathe. I was so nervous inside I felt like I could jump out of my skin and my vision was impaired. It was the scariest thing I have EVER encountered. I honestly thought that I was going to wind up in a mental ward. I couldn't even take my lunch for fear of getting into a car accident. I went on the Internet to research panic attacks when I came across the harmful effects of aspartame, which led me to look for the harmful effects of Splenda because it was my "choice sweetener."
I wanted to cry when I read the story on this site of the pharmacist. Except for the burn (which I too experienced from Bactrum), our symptoms were so similar. For the past few weeks I have had trouble with my vision, memory loss, forgetfulness, severe thirst, joint pain, and unexplained dizziness. I am 37 and I walk on the treadmill every day during lunch. I am always on the go, active but healthy (so I thought). However, now that I took a good hard look at everything I eat (I have been low carbing for eight years), 50 percent is made with Splenda and 50 percent NutraSweet or Equal!
I am simply devastated. I can't believe that for all these years I thought I was being so health conscious and in turn, I have been poisoning my mind and body. The word has got to get out to people, especially now with the low-carb craze. EVERYTHING has Splenda and/or NutraSweet, and we are poisoning ourselves. If you ever need to get the word out, you can count on me!
UPDATE: It has been a couple of weeks since I have had any [Splenda] and the one time I decided I couldn't have my coffee without it and just one wouldn't hurt… WRONG. I suffered another panic attack worse than the first!
Port Saint Lucie, FL
My name is Michelle Karn and I am 19 years old. I live in Rhode Island. My entire life I have had the option of drinking diet sodas and other supposed "diet" drinks and foods. Each time I consume Nutra Sweet, Splenda, or any type of sweetener, I get a migraine that lasts all day. Normally, I avoid anything I believe contains sucralose but sometimes I am fooled. Beverages claiming "less carbs" in their title instead of "diet" catch me off guard. For example, the Coca Cola C2. Trying this beverage caused me to have a migraine for eight hours. Obviously, this chemical is harmful if simply drinking half a liter can cause such pain. Who knows what long-term effects the regular intake of this chemical could be. There are people who have been fooled with the notion that diet soda is better than regular for your body because it doesn't contain sugar. People should be more aware of what the results can be.
The important thing is for me to be aware of all the different foods that contain this substance and avoid it completely. There should be a requirement for all these foods to have a warning or at least a bold marking that this food/beverage contains this substance as I have noticed that sometimes it is only listed in the ingredients, not anywhere else on the packaging.
-- Michelle Karn
I learned several years ago that I was highly reactive to aspartame so I began carefully reading labels and have eliminated it completely from my diet. The symptoms I was having (mild seizure-like reactions) disappeared. I lost the ability to communicate and to even recall the names of my children for several minutes with each episode. That was a frightening occurrence. Recently, I discovered sucralose and believed from the testimony of others, who spoke with authority even though they didn't really know, that it was safe.
It is not. I began having the same reactions to the sucralose as I was having to the asparatame. Thankfully, I have begun to research it and find that it is as dangerous for me as is aspartame. My doctor thinks I should have an EEG and MRI as I did three years ago, and I may do that just to prove to myself that I am OK, but I will be surprised if they find anything this time either. I will not, under any circumstances, ingest any product that uses artificial sweeteners of any kind. I am a believer!
Joint and body stiffness… difficulty walking because of the pain… eating low-carb bars with Splenda… feel that this is the problem's origin.
I was shocked to read your stories on Splenda and other low-calorie sweeteners. I also have had reactions to this product but never made the connection. My coworker somehow found your Web site and told me to read it. I would come to work after drinking coffee with low-calorie sweeteners and started breaking out in hives and my stomach would get upset. I noticed also when I would drink diet drinks that I had the same problem. Not all the time but most of the time. And I would have no energy and want to sleep all the time. I quit drinking and eating anything with Nutra Sweet or Splenda. I just thank my coworker for finding this article. There is no telling what I was doing to my body.
--Rhea S Plemmons
I have worked in a Baltimore hospital for 25yrs. I am in no way an alarmist or one to jump on conspiracy theories. But I strongly believe that Splenda is fatal if used over a period of time. My symptoms were/are:
I stopped using Splenda products and half of these symptoms after 2 weeks decreased or disappeared
Click Here to Read More Splenda Testimonials
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Have a sucralose/Splenda story others need to hear?
Please include your name, try to keep it to 500 words or less, and let us know if we can include your email address if published.
I have been suffering on and off for over two years from intense itching all over my body. It would go away for a while after I decided to stop taking in anything suspicious. I blamed it on beer, chocolate, caffeine, laundry soap, chlorine in the home water system, and just plain getting older. I could never quite pin the exact cause down. I went to my doctor, who even took a biopsy and couldn't determine anything, then I went to a dermatologist who also was completely stumped. Then I read your testimonials and discovered someone had a reaction very similar to mine. I stopped taking any foods made with Splenda and now four weeks later, my itching is gone and I can definitely link my reaction to this poison.
I thought, like many others, that it couldn't be my Diet-Rite, or my hot chocolate, because, after all, it's made from sugar! What could be more pure?! I found that Splenda caused me to be super sensitive to other things, which made it more difficult to isolate. Also, it took over three weeks for most of it to work out of my system. Now, I realize that my joint aches and pains were also linked to Splenda. My knees, and shoulders were getting very painful to move and now they feel great! I can't believe this is marketed as the best thing since sliced bread! I saw an ad with smiling children drinking Splenda-laced soda pop and eating Splenda-laced ice cream, happy presumably, now that they're being poisoned just like adults. It's downright scary! I feel like making up signs with the skull and crossbones overlaid on the Splenda logo and leaving them in grocery stores. This should not be allowed to continue being sold or used! Thank you again, for saving my sanity and most likely, my life!
One more account of Splenda-induced sickness including anxiety and panic, diarrhea and vomiting. I started the Atkins diet and was using Splenda, but not too much--a couple packets a day plus what is in the Atkins bars and shakes once a day. Well, my anxiety from years ago returned and I ended up with my first panic attack in years. Plus, I was so ill one evening, I couldn't get off the toilet for almost an hour. I have changed my diet around, eliminating and re-adding things until I can only identify the cause as Splenda. I can't believe they say this stuff is OK for small children!! It makes me furious!!
My dentist told me to use Splenda in my coffee instead of sugar. Now it seems I am losing my sense of taste. Is this from Splenda? I'm going back to sugar. This is too freaky.
I had been eating the Atkin's "Advantage" bars for a long time (but only several a week). The label says that they are sweetened with sucralose, which is the other name for Splenda. Last fall when my husband was on a hunting trip (and I wanted a break from cooking) I drank a lot of canned Atkin's shakes, and they contain tons of sucralose. At the end of the week, one evening, I had unbelievable wretching/vomiting for five hours straight. I could not even get off of the floor. The next day I went on the Internet and did a search for Splenda and sucralose and found that I was not alone. Go to www.mercola.com and type in "Splenda" or "sucralose" on Dr. Mercola's search engine. There are around 30 testimonies about it telling of all the adverse reactions that people are having from using it.
Among the many symptoms were "wretching/vomiting". At that time I totally quit using anything with Splenda or sucralose in it. Note: While you are on Dr. Mercola's Web site, type in "Nutrasweet" or "aspartame" (the Diet Coke sweetener) and read about what a poisonous substance THAT is. It has caused blindness and even death.
Three weeks ago (my husband was on a fishing trip this time) I bought some "Lo-carb banana muffins" at the health food store. I didn't check the label, but trusted the "health" food store. I ate one muffin that afternoon and one more in the morning. What happened to me was unbelievable. My left hip joint and the surrounding muscles became so extremely sore that I had to walk as if I were crippled. Lying on my left side caused excruciating pain.
At the time I thought that I had developed a combination of osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia (but OVERNIGHT?). I even bought a book called "The Arthritis Cure." I also went on a total cleansing diet, which soon eliminated the symptoms. I prayed for understanding. Finally (after a week) I tracked down what had happened to me. The label on the muffin package said that they contained "sucralose." I printed out and re-read the testimonies on Dr. Mercola's site and was amazed to see that others had experienced these same symptoms, plus many others, including depression and panic attacks.
Unfortunately, with the "Low-Carb Craze" Splenda and sucralose are in everything now. I saw regular Pepsi at WalMart yesterday with a sign that said: "1/2 the sugar." I looked at the label and sure enough, it said: "sucralose."
The problem is that people won't believe it unless they have experienced it themselves. When I tell people about it, they say that sucralose doesn't bother them, that I must have an allergy to it or a sensitive body. Well, believe me, it affects EVERYONE, whether they believe it or not! The whole world is looking for cures for cancer, arthritis, MS, MD, and all those terrible diseases. Do they want to check out the chemical poisons in our food supply? Oh, no! Of course not! Big business is too worried about the almighty dollar!
--originally posted on Barbara Dewey's Web site www.ChristianNewsletters.com
I have been using Splenda for quite a few years. I ended up, about six years ago, with anxiety and over the past two years I have been having flushing, feeling cranky, having cold chills, feeling like my skin is hot and ended up with high blood pressure. The worse part was the heavy feeling and stiffness I was having in my legs. Most times I could hardly bend down to pick things up I felt so tight and stiff in my legs and feet.
I just read a forward that was sent to me last week on aspartame and it dawned on me that the Splenda might be causing my problems. I phoned the company in the Toronto area about a year or so ago to ask about it and they told me it was made from the pure sugar cane and was safe to eat. Since I came off of it within the last four days I can hardly believe how good I feel. Hopefully, this will touch other people and make them realize that we are poisoning ourselves for those companies to get rich.
I have just recently started researching the dangers of Splenda. About two years ago I began drinking Fruit20 water made by Veryfine. That's when my problems started, but I didn't start putting things together until just now. Two years ago I got Bells Palsy on the left side of my face. One week into that I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia because of the excruciating pain along with the palsy. Still kept drinking the water ... long story short. Fourteen months later I got Bells Palsy on the right side of my face along with trigeminal neuralgia on the right side also--now I'm bi-lateral, doctors seem to think this is rare ... still kept drinking the water and mixing with meds, pain gets worse, and now they tell me I have a neurological disorder called Atypical Facial Pain with the bonus disorder of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome ... still kept drinking the water.
I finally get smart and start thinking about my two-year history and think about the Splenda in the water and that leads me to you. I truly in my heart think I have been poisoned by either Splenda or aspartame, although I do not knowingly use aspartame.
Putting my whole story in an e-mail is very difficult, but I have stopped drinking the Fruit20 for six days now and at least my feet have stopped tingling. Hopefully, some of the other things that are going wrong are reversible. I am only 44 years old. I believe they need to take this awful product off the market.
UPDATE: I stopped using Splenda on June 1, 2004 and any aspartame that I may have been getting in error (I now read all labels). I am now pain free, which is amazing because I was using a morphine patch for the pain and percocet for the break-through pain. I stopped using pain meds on July 4, 2004 and have only had to use 1 1/2 tablets of percocet since then. I must have gotten one of the two poisons when I went out to eat but the pain comes back within two hours of ingestion.
--Cynthia A. Schmidt
I began having migraines every day and this continued for six months until I figured out that they began when I started using Splenda. I stopped using it and the headaches have stopped.
Monday, on the advice of a physician, I started eating an occasional container of yogurt sweetened with Splenda, and using one packet of Splenda in the morning to sweeten a morning smoothie. I want to stress that the amount that I have so far ingested is miniscule--two packets and perhaps three yogurts in all.
I have a history of depression, but have been going through a particularly stable phase for quite a few years. By Tuesday, I noticed some signs of a depressed effect creeping up, but I thought I could exercise and meditate and head it off.
By Wednesday, I noticed that I had become remarkably irritable with my children. By Thursday, I called my husband at work to tell him that I was afraid I would either commit homicide or suicide. I felt fatigued, apathetic, hateful and unable to engage in my daily work.
By Friday, I was obsessed with hateful thoughts, leading me to contemplate immediately divorcing my husband and abandoning my children. This is despite ceasing consumption of Splenda after Wednesday morning.
Thank heavens I found your testimonials so I can see that these unwanted emotions are reactions to the Splenda; now I can steel myself to ride them out instead of acting on them. I will be speaking with my physician at the earliest opportunity to warn him about my symptoms and the symptoms listed in your other testimonials.
I had problems with Splenda quite a few years ago, so I'll do my best to describe my experiences. I'd had real sugar all my life until I moved out of home. At that point I thought I'd be healthier using Splenda in my coffees and on my breakfast instead of using real sugar. It didn't happen immediately for me, but after a couple of weeks of regular use, one night after dinner I fell very ill. I had sort of a stitch feeling like when you go running. I decided to walk it off and felt a bit nauseous and faint. That night I experienced food poisoning-type symptoms and basically kept running back to the bathroom for most of the night.
That was my most severe reaction. I put it down to the meal I had that night and continued along as normal. The next few times I didn't throw up or anything, but I really wished I could! My stomach had that stitch feeling again and it felt like gases were swirling around in my stomach and were trapped. I was unable to release the gas and had to suffer for a few days at a time. I tried Buscopan, Panadeine, Forte, Mercyndol and anything I could get my hands on to alleviate the pain. On separate occasions I spent nights in the Hospital Emergency Ward, twice receiving a Buscopan combination injection.
I went to the GP the first few times and then was referred to a gastrointestinal specialist. I had tests for my gallbladder and my large bowel. All test results were fine. I kept a food diary in an attempt to find a pattern, but nothing was found.
Then I read something about phenylananine and aspartame allergies and even though Splenda was supposed to be made from sugar, I decided to go back to the real stuff and avoided anything "diet." Since doing that I have not experienced the stomach problems once. All that money spent on specialists and drugs and that's all it took.
Dear Dr. Mercola,
I wanted to thank you for posting your article regarding sucralose, and to inform you of my reaction to eating it today.
I bought a low-carb bar called "Ultimate Lo Carb" by Biochem at a local health food store. I have been eating foods low in starchy carbs and thought this might be a good snack bar. Well, almost immediately after eating eat I became nauseous. Then my stomach starting cramping and I began dry heaving.
I wondered what could have caused this and decided to try and read the label. The only ingredient I did not recognize was "sucralose."
So, I jumped on the internet and did a search for it and found your article. In the meantime I was heaving and feeling even worse. Well, I am allergic to chlorine, as well as having a liver that doesn't function very well (I take a natural supplement called "Lipogen" for liver support as prescribed by my ND), and when I saw what you had to say about sucralose, I figured that was what was causing it.
I kept feeling worse, and I decided I needed to get it out of my system and took some ipecac (maybe not the best move, but the only thing I could think of). By the time the syrup got into my stomach the heaving was getting worse and intestinal distress was setting in. It was like eating bad seafood. I nearly died of food poisoning by crab legs a number of years back, and this was the closest thing to that feeling.
Finally everything in my system started coming out, and my body didn't stop until my entire digestive tract was cleared out. I have never reacted this violently to anything I have eaten except for when I have had food poisoning.
Something needs to be done to get this product off the market.
I can't help but be convinced that the FDA takes payoffs. No ethical person could approve the use of things like MSG (another thing I cannot tolerate eating), which is classified by the FDA as an excitotoxin and is known to be harmful to the central nervous system. I will do everything to get people to read your article and get the word out on the FDA's latest blunder.
Dear Dr. Mercola,
I first visited your Web site about a year and a half ago when I realized that I was getting sick after two days of using Splenda. I had stirred one or two packets of granulated Splenda into a glass of iced tea and immediately became nauseous. The feeling came on so strongly the first day that I didn't even finish the tea, but didn't yet connect it to what I was ingesting.
The second day, I had taken my iced tea with me in the car and was driving to the store. It was a very hot day and as I was driving I became increasingly ill. I parked in the parking lot, opening the car door and immediately vomited. When I got home I searched the Internet for Splenda articles and found your site. I threw out my Splenda and didn't think much more of it.
However, I work at Starbucks and we have recently started carrying the granulated Splenda packets for customer use (as we also have Sweet 'n Low, Equal, and Sugar in the Raw). I was pretty upset to find that we were carrying this product that I had such a strong reaction to, and have tried to educate my co-workers about it after I heard one of them telling a customer that it was great, and is safe because it is made from sugar (which is NOT true!).
We also have been getting in Jones bottled sodas and received a case for sampling. I took a bottle of sugar-free black cherry (again, not thinking anything of it because I regularly drink diet coke) and was almost finished with it when I began to feel sick again. Thinking "oh no," I looked at the label and sure enough, "sweetened with Splenda!" Splenda has got a lot of contracts with food companies now, so please, check labels of the food you buy. The Splenda logo is all over lately.
I wrote to the Splenda people about my experience and was brushed off. They replied saying, "Splenda has no known side effects." I encourage every one of you who has had a negative experience with Splenda to write them--they can't deny all of our experiences!
I was recently diagnosed with diabetes and my doctor highly recommended eating foods with Splenda in it--funny, he told me to stop taking my herbs who are prescribed under a homeopathic doctor because of the side effects. Of coarse I kept taking my herbs because I am getting better on them. I started eating foods with Splenda and had severe intestinal cramping and diarrhea, kind of like flu symptoms. I thought I had an intestinal virus until some people told me about the Splenda side effects. I eat plain sugar in very small amounts now--it's probably safer.
I have a friend who has been feeling short of energy for about 6 + months and has been getting painful boils under her arms and breasts--not just a few. Something told her to stop the Splenda as it might be causing some problems. Within a week she had her old energy back and all the boils disappeared.
About a year or so ago I stopped at a drug store and bought a Pure protein bar and ate it in my car while driving. Within moments, my hands started itching and my vision started to fade to black. I knew I was about to lose consciousness, so I quickly pulled off the highway and ran into a restaurant to ask for help. I collapsed on the floor soon afterwards and went into a seizure. I could understand everyone around me, but I could not communicate verbally for some time afterward; all I could do was repeat one syllable over and over.
Meanwhile, the paramedics came and took me to the hospital. I was covered with hives and shaking uncontrollably. I was injected with steroids and many other medications and observed for a few hours while I went through an inner hell. Needless to say, the cost of the Pure protein bar, when all was said and done, was around $3,000.
I didn't know, until today looking at your Web site, what sucralose was. Yesterday my sister had a reaction to yogurt that contained Splenda--her eyes started itching, then turned beat red. I went online to look up Splenda and now realize why I ended up in the hospital last year.
"I stopped using Splenda some time ago now. Whenever I used it in coffee or tea (especially in coffee) I always seemed to suffer bloating and develop a sick feeling in the stomach."
I have had chronic diarrhea and my neck has been itching and swelling for about year. I went to a doctor on a number of occasions and had a series of uncomfortable and embarrassing tests. I also changed my diet. Nothing helped until I ran across your Web site last week and saw the picture of the lady with the red, inflamed neck. It looked just like what had happened to me on a couple of occasions this year (no one knew what was causing it). The picture prompted me to try cutting out the Splenda and suddenly all of my symptoms disappeared.
I only used about three packages of Splenda with coffee in the morning and rarely one or two with tea in the evening, but it was enough to make me sick every day. The GI symptoms were like food poisoning. We are exposed to so much poison these days, how can we tell which ones are making us sick? Thank you for helping me to feel better.
Pat in Oregon
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By Dr. Mercola
If you still believe sweeteners like Equal and NutraSweet are safe, you'll want to pay very close attention to this special report.
You're probably aware of the dangers of consuming too much sugar and that sugar is not healthy for you. You might have been led to believe that artificial sweeteners like aspartame are safer and less likely to cause you to gain weight.
Well, neither of those beliefs is true.
Slick marketing of products containing aspartame by giants in the food industry -- especially marketing that sends the message it's healthy to consume these products -- might be giving you a false sense of security.
You might even be convinced you're doing the right thing for your health and the health of your family by using products artificially sweetened with aspartame.
You couldn't be more mistaken.
It's not pleasant to learn that corporations, government-sponsored regulatory agencies, and politicians are more interested in lining their pockets than protecting your health and the health of your loved ones. But unfortunately, these are serious issues that you must consider for your and your family's safety.
Manufacturers, marketers, and others with financial interests have successfully convinced millions of consumers the chemicals used in artificially sweetened products are safe. Don't believe them! The arguments used to convince you these ingredients are healthy and "natural" will be addressed later in this report.
For now, just keep in mind that the reason you feel products containing aspartame are safe is a direct result of deliberate deception on the part of big business and government. Remember:
If you're consuming a food or beverage created in a lab instead of by nature, you can be assured your body doesn't recognize it. This opens the door to short-term and long-lasting health problems for you and your family.
If you already avoid aspartame, the information you're about to read will confirm the wise choice you've made, and cement your resolve to stay away from any product that contains this potential toxin.
Like an omen, aspartame was discovered in 1965 entirely by mistake. That's right ... by mistake.
G.D. Searle chemist James M. Schlatter was at work in his laboratory developing a drug to treat peptic ulcer disease. The story goes that Schlatter accidentally spilled one of the chemicals he was using onto his finger. He licked his finger clean, and in doing so discovered the sweet taste of the aspartame he had spilled.1
This inauspicious beginning heralded the birth of what has become one of the most potentially dangerous and controversial food additives in human history.
As you're about to learn, the tale of how aspartame got to market is a disturbing one. It reads like a crime mystery. One you would assume is based on the author's over-active imagination. Except it's all true.
The approval process for aspartame was said to have been riddled with scandal, bribes, and other shady dealings within the pharmaceutical industry, large American corporations, and the FDA. Initially, the FDA strongly denied the approval of aspartame products. Reasons given were sound and included:
How aspartame got to market despite initial FDA concerns and evidence of its neurotoxicity is a study in good timing, heavy financial investment, and the impact of political clout.
Aspartame studies were on the rise just after cyclamate was pulled from the U.S. market and saccharin was under serious scrutiny. The disappearance of cyclamate left a void it appeared saccharin might not be poised to fill.
At the time of the cyclamate ban, the "diet" market was a $1 billion dollar per year business in the U.S.2 Manufacturers of diet products were in a mad scramble to find a substitute product that would insure they left not a dollar of that billion on the table.
G.D. Searle spent tens of millions of dollars to conduct the necessary approval tests on aspartame. Not surprisingly, studies funded by Searle and other groups with a financial interest in aspartame found no adverse health effects. However, independent studies delivered evidence that aspartame consumption did indeed create health problems in test subjects.
In addition to its enormous financial investment in favorable study results, Searle developed what can be fairly described as a diabolical political strategy to insure the FDA would end up with a positive view of aspartame.
G.D. Searle provided the FDA with over 100 aspartame studies in early 1973. Later that same year, the FDA asked for additional studies. Searle complied, and in June 1974, the FDA granted preliminary approval for the restricted use of aspartame.
The study findings submitted by Searle were immediately challenged by Dr. John Olney, a neuroscientist who was instrumental in getting monosodium glutamate removed from baby foods, and Jim Turner, an attorney and consumer advocate.3
In August 1974, Olney and Turner filed the first formal objections to the approval of aspartame. Their petition prompted the FDA to initiate investigations into Searle's lab practices.
The investigations ultimately led to concerns within the FDA about the validity of the studies submitted by Searle. Investigators uncovered substandard testing procedures and manipulated test data. In fact, what investigators found at Searle was an unprecedented incidence of bad testing procedures and inaccurate results. Final approval of aspartame was delayed.
Based on the results of these findings, in January 1977, for the first time in history, the FDA requested a criminal investigation into a food manufacturer for willfully misrepresenting results in their safety tests of a product. The FDA asked the U.S. Attorney's office to examine Searle's handling of aspartame testing.4
In August 1977, the FDA published a report by Jerome Bressler which pointed to specific issues with Searle's aspartame safety studies.5
The Bressler Report revealed stunning examples of very bad research. A few examples included:
In 1979, the FDA established a Public Board of Inquiry (PBOI) to rule on safety issues with aspartame, with the result that NutraSweet would not receive final approval pending further investigation into its link to brain tumors in animals.
During the 1977 criminal investigation initiated by the FDA, the law firm representing G.D. Searle arranged to hire away the U.S. Attorney leading the investigation. Samuel Skinner went to work for Searle in July. Skinner's resignation from the U.S. Attorney's office stalled the investigation into Searle's aspartame studies until the statute of limitations expired. The investigation was subsequently abandoned.
In March 1977, Donald Rumsfeld was hired as the CEO of Searle -- yes, the same Rumsfeld that was the Secretary of Defense in the Bush administration. He brought with him additional political clout by appointing several of his D.C. associates to top management positions.
In January 1981, Rumsfeld proclaimed he would get aspartame approved within one year.6 Worthy of note is the fact Rumsfeld was part of newly elected President Ronald Reagan's transition team -- a team which had carefully selected Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes Jr. as the new FDA Commissioner. Two months later, in March, Dr. Hayes appointed an internal panel to review the 1979 decision by the Public Board of Inquiry that ruled thumbs down on final approval of NutraSweet.
Three of the five members of Dr. Hayes' panel advised against approval of aspartame, citing on the record that Searle's safety study tests were flawed. Hayes then appointed a sixth member to the panel who tied the vote three-three. Dr. Hayes then cast the deciding vote in favor of approval.
Hayes, an official with no background on the subject of food additives, claimed aspartame was safe for proposed use, and had undergone more testing and scientific scrutiny than most additives on the market. Shortly after approving this drug he resigned from the FDA panel and was hired by the manufacturer of aspartame for a position in which he was paid several hundred thousand dollars per year.
So, despite all the game playing and countless unresolved safety issues, aspartame was approved for use in soft drinks in the fall of 1983. Less than a year later, the FDA had recorded 600 consumer complaints of headaches, dizziness and other health-related reactions from aspartame consumption. The unprecedented number of complaints caused the FDA to call in the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). The CDC concluded adverse reactions to aspartame were occurring in "unusually sensitive" individuals, but there was not enough evidence to prove existence of wide-spread health problems attributable to its consumption.7
Aspartame goes by the brand names NutraSweet and Equal. It is one of the first generation of artificial sweeteners and is 180 times as sweet as sugar. At the end of 2008, aspartame was found in over 6,000 products including:
Carbonated soft drinks
Puddings and fillings
Powdered soft drinks
Sugar-free cough drops
Products containing aspartame are sold in over 100 countries and are consumed by over 250 million people worldwide. The scientific name for aspartame is 1-aspartyl 1 phenylalanine methyl ester. It has three components:
The two primary components of aspartame, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, are amino acids that are combined in an ester bond. You normally consume these two amino acids in the foods you eat. These amino acids are harmless when consumed as part of natural unprocessed foods. However, when they are chemically manipulated and consumed out of the normal ratios to other amino acids, they can cause problems.
Your body initially breaks down the ester link between the two amino acids to turn them into free amino acids. The neurotoxic effects of these chemicals in their "free form" can result in immediate health consequences such as headaches, mental confusion, dizziness, and seizures.
Your body does require small amounts of these amino acids to function properly. However, the high concentration of these chemicals in the form of aspartame floods your central nervous system and can cause excessive firing of brain neurons. Cell death is also possible.
This is a condition called excitotoxicity. Your body doesn't recognize phenylalanine and aspartic acid in their free form, but your system will try to manage them through metabolization. Whenever your body tries to process an unrecognizable substance, the stage is set for health problems. The chemicals in aspartame will be absorbed by your intestinal cells, where they will be broken down into other amino acids and byproducts. A large percentage of the absorbed chemicals will be used immediately in your small intestine.
Ultimately, aspartame will be fully absorbed into your body. Ten percent of what is absorbed is the breakdown product methanol (wood alcohol). The EPA defines safe consumption of this toxin as 7.8 milligrams a day, which is the amount found in about half a can of diet soda.
It's not the amino acids themselves or the methanol that are toxic to your system. It's the breakdown products they turn into along the way -- either during transport, on the store shelf, or during the metabolization process.
Stored at warm temperatures or for a prolonged period of time, phenylalanine turns into diketopiperazine, a known carcinogen. Methanol can spontaneously break down to formaldehyde, also a toxin, which can accumulate in your cells and result in severe health consequences.
Methanol is found naturally in some of the foods you eat. However, it is never bound to amino acids in nature, as it is as an ingredient in aspartame. In nature, for example, methanol is bound to pectin. Pectin is a fiber which allows the methanol to pass through your body without being metabolized and converted to formaldehyde.8
Since methanol in aspartame has no natural binder, nearly all of it turns into formaldehyde in your body. Formaldehyde (which is used in, among other things, paint remover and embalming fluid) is a poison several thousand times more potent than ethyl alcohol.
The EPA has determined formaldehyde causes cancer in humans. Specifically, it is known to increase your risk of breast or prostate cancer. Incidents of both types of cancer have been on the rise at a pace closely associated with the expanding use of aspartame throughout the world.9 The EPA has also concluded there is no known "safe" level of formaldehyde in your body -- risk depends on the amount and duration of your exposure.
The end waste product of formaldehyde is formate. An accumulation of formate in your body can cause metabolic acidosis, which is excessive acidity in your blood. Metabolic acidosis can cause methanol poisoning and can result in blindness, fatal kidney damage, multiple organ system failure, and death.10
Your body converts the amino acid phenylalanine to neurotransmitters that regulate your brain chemistry. These important neurotransmitters are:
However, if your system is flooded with phenylalanine as a result of an aspartame overdose, the resulting increased levels of neurotransmitters can cause problems in the physiology of your brain -- problems which have been linked to a variety of psychiatric disorders. You can also be prone to anxiety attacks, depression, headaches, seizures, and tremors.
If you consume too much aspartame in a short period of time, you might also experience immediate reactions including nervousness, sweating, feelings of fear, and heart palpitations. In pregnancy, the concentrating effects of the placenta can magnify phenylalanine levels in a baby's blood by as much as four to six-fold, and can reach levels so high that cell death results.11 It's not much of a stretch to be concerned consumption of high doses of this chemical during pregnancy could result in birth defects.
The genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU) is a condition in which your body is unable to use phenylalanine at all. If a toxic buildup occurs, it can result in mental retardation. People with PKU must avoid all sources of phenylalanine, including aspartame.
The second largest component of aspartame is aspartic acid. Aspartic acid functions as a major excitatory neurotransmitter in your brain. People who suffer from depression or have brain atrophy have been found to have low levels of aspartic acid in their bodies. As you might expect, the chemical is found in abnormally high levels in people who suffer from seizures and strokes. In very high doses, aspartic acid can cause brain damage.
The term excitotoxicity was coined by Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon.12 It describes the ability of certain amino acids like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartic acid to literally excite cells to death.
The scientific community has shown widespread acceptance of Dr. Olney's concept of excitotoxins and its link to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Unfortunately, the FDA refuses to acknowledge the connection between free form amino acids and excitotoxicity. Consequently, no demands have been made of food manufacturers to eliminate chemicals like MSG and aspartic acid from the food supply.
Excitotoxins can also encourage the production of free radicals. Free radicals can damage tissues and organs throughout your body and may accelerate diseases like arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, and coronary artery disease.13, 14
Your blood brain barrier (BBB) is a system of capillary structures that prevent toxins from entering your brain.If you have diabetes, hypertension, or are a smoker, your BBB may be compromised and you might experience a heightened reaction to aspartame. Unborn children and infants up to one year of age have incomplete and not well-insulated BBB's. Excitotoxins enter their nervous systems easily and quickly. Babies under a year are four times more sensitive to excitotoxins than adults.
During the first year of life, irreversible brain damage can result from chemicals in breast milk that have crossed the unborn child's blood brain barrier. And yet -- few if any pregnant and breastfeeding women are warned of the dangers of consuming artificial sweeteners.
You might not realize you're having a reaction to aspartame. In fact, most people don't make the connection, and a tremendous amount of time and money is spent by aspartame "reactors" (people sensitive to the chemical), trying to find out why they are sick. To determine if you're a reactor, eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet. If you typically consume aspartame in caffeinated drinks, you'll want to gradually reduce your intake in order to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms. After one to two weeks of being artificial sweetener-free, take note of how you feel, especially as compared to when you were consuming the sweeteners.
If you don't notice any significant difference in how you feel, it's likely you're able to tolerate aspartame acutely, meaning your body doesn't have an immediate, adverse response. However, this doesn't mean your health won't be damaged in the long run by this chemical and its breakdown products. My advice is to remain artificial sweetener-free, whether or not you notice an immediate difference in your health. If you notice a positive change in how you feel after stopping aspartame, chances are your body has a particular sensitivity to this toxin.
Formate, which is the waste product of formaldehyde, is suspected of inducing poly chemical hypersensitivity (PCS) in some individuals. If your body develops acute sensitivity to multiple chemicals, you may be unable to tolerate relatively low exposure to preservatives, perfumes and other substances, many of which are unavoidable as you go about your daily life.
Whether or not you're an aspartame reactor, keep in mind aspartame is completely metabolized by the human body, and its byproducts can create a serious risk to your health. Neurological damage can occur from long-term aspartame use.
There have been more reports to the FDA for aspartame reactions than for all other food additives combined. And, there are over 900 published studies on the health hazards of aspartame. You can find a list in the National Library Medicine Index. There are also some 10,000 documented reports of adverse reactions to aspartame, including death. Since it is estimated only about one percent of people who experience a reaction report it, it is safe to assume at least a million people have had a reaction to this chemical. Migraines are by far the most frequently reported reaction. Other commonly reported symptoms of an aspartame reaction include:
Change in mood
Change in vision
Convulsions and seizures
Change in heart rate
Nausea and vomiting
Fatigue and weakness
Aspartame has been implicated in a number of diseases, and there is special concern among doctors and scientists regarding the role aspartame plays in migraine headaches, epilepsy, and neuropsychiatric disorders. Aspartame has been identified as a definitive causative factor in the following serious health concerns:
• Migraine Headaches
Aspartame has been shown to trigger migraines, and to cause more frequent, severe headaches in regular sufferers. This is especially true with long-term exposure to the chemical.
In the mid-1990s, a hotline was established specifically for pilots to report acute adverse reactions to aspartame. The hotline received several hundred calls from pilots complaining about reactions to the chemical, including many who suffered grand mal seizures while in the cockpit. In 1992, the United States Air Force issued a warning to pilots to avoid products containing aspartame because it has been linked to seizures and vertigo, dizziness, sudden memory loss, and gradual loss of vision.
Seizures are a primary side effect of aspartame consumption. As if that weren't disturbing enough, they occur in people who've never had a seizure before, and disappear just as quickly when aspartame consumption is stopped. MIT conducted a survey of 80 seizure sufferers. Survey results showed the role aspartame played in those seizures met FDA criteria for an imminent hazard to the public's health.15 This measure is what the FDA normally relies upon to pull unsafe products from the market. Products other than aspartame, apparently.
A study begun at Northeastern Ohio University to determine whether aspartame was linked to depression had to be halted. Can you guess why?
Nearly a third of the test subjects in the depressive group dropped out due to the severity of their reactions to aspartame consumption. Two others left the study due to serious eye problems -- one developed a detached retina that ultimately led to blindness, and the other experienced a bleeding conjunctiva of the eye.
• Visual Changes
The individual ingredients in aspartame as well as their breakdown products can do serious harm to your retina and optic nerves. Aspartame has been linked to blurred vision, eye pain, visual hallucinations, and blindness. Formaldehyde is known to cause retinal damage, and methanol poisoning can lead to changes in your vision and ultimately, blindness.
According to Dr. H.J. Roberts, an expert on aspartame who has treated hundreds of patients with sensitivity to the chemical, the visual problems seen in frequent aspartame users are identical to those found in people who developed methanol poisoning from wood alcohol during the era of prohibition.
• Brain Cancer
The subject of aspartame and cancer continues to be controversial. However, there is sufficient evidence of a link to warn off anyone who is concerned about maintaining good health. On the heels of its approval for use in diet soda in 1983, over a million pounds of aspartame was consumed. Less than a year later, in January 1984, the incidence of brain cancer took off at a rate far higher than any other type of cancer.16
According to the National Cancer Institute, there was a 10 percent increase in malignant brain cancer in 1985 -- just two years after aspartame flooded the market in diet beverages. Young women who drink large quantities of aspartame-laced diet drinks are especially susceptible to developing three specific types of brain cancer:
◦ Primary lymphoma
• Aspartame and Weight Gain
Would it surprise you to learn aspartame may cause you to gain weight? It's true -- products marketed as "reduced calorie," "sugar-free," and "diet" can actually sabotage your weight control efforts.19 The two main ingredients of aspartame, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, stimulate the release of insulin and leptin -- hormones which instruct your body to store fat. In addition, a large intake of phenylalanine can drive down your serotonin levels. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that tells you when you're full. A low level of serotonin can bring on food cravings which can lead to weight gain.20
I hope this report has convinced you one of the worst things you can put into your body, or feed to your family, is the artificial sweetener aspartame. You can read more about aspartame and other artificial sweeteners in my comprehensive book, Sweet Deception, as well as in the outstanding book by H.J. Roberts, Aspartame Disease -- An Ignored Epidemic. I also recommend you watch the excellent documentary Sweet Misery.
You'll also want to be on the lookout for this modified version of aspartame, as it likely carries similar health risks to the original. Neotame is chemically related to aspartame, but has greater heat stability and is 72 times sweeter.
If you consume a lot of "diet" products, you probably have cravings for sweet foods and beverages. Why? Because if your body isn't receiving the fuel it needs in the right combinations, you'll develop sweet cravings. To optimize your diet, you'll want to determine your nutritional type, and begin to eat the kinds of foods your body requires.
When you are eating right for your nutritional type, your sweet cravings will disappear. There may also be an emotional component to your cravings. If so, you'll need to address it, as well. I highly recommend the Meridian Tapping Technique, or MTT. You can find links to information about nutritional typing, MTT, and a wealth of other resources to help you kick your artificial sweetener habit at my website, www.Mercola.com.
I can't overstate the importance of avoiding aspartame to your short and long-term health, the quality of your life, and the lives of your loved ones. I hope you'll take this information to heart and eliminate aspartame and other artificial sweeteners from your diet.
If you have experienced an adverse reaction to any aspartame product, call the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area. For more information on the dangers of aspartame, visit http://aspartame.mercola.com.