Dangers of Aspartame
Aspartame was discovered in l965 by Searle chemist, “Jim Schlatter”. He was developing this drug for another use and after accidentally licking his finger found that aspartame was sweet. He brought it to his supervisor and his supervisor examined it and said “we will use it as an artificial sweetener”. Aspartame is 150 times sweeter than regular sugar. Today more than 100 million people in the United States consume aspartame. Aspartame was not approved until 1981, in dry foods. For over eight years the FDA refused to approve it because of the seizures and brain tumors this drug produced in lab animals. The FDA continued to refuse to approve it until President Reagan took office (a friend of Searle) and fired the FDA Commissioner who wouldn’t approve it. Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes was appointed as commissioner. Even then there was so much opposition to approval that a Board of Inquiry was set up. The Board said: “Do not approve aspartame”. Dr. Hayes OVERRULED his own Board of Inquiry. Shortly after Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., approved the use of aspartame in carbonated beverages, he left for a position with G.D. Searle’s Public Relations firm. Long-Term Damage. It appears to cause slow, silent damage in those unfortunate enough to not have immediate reactions and a reason to avoid it. It may take one year, five years, 10 years, or 40 years, but it seems to cause some reversible and some irreversible changes in health over long-term use.
Ingredients/Biochemistry of Aspartame
Compound Name – Aspartame
Molecular formula – C14H18N2O5
Molar Mass – 294.31 g
Melting Point – 246.5 C
When I metabolized & broke down aspartame, it yielded 4 chemicals/products below.
Aspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as Excitotoxins (brain cell death). They “excite” or stimulate the neural cells to death. Aspartic acid is an amino acid. Taken in its free form (unbound to proteins) it significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. The excess aspartate and glutamate in the blood plasma, shortly after ingesting aspartame or products with free glutamic acid (glutamate precursor), leads to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain.
The blood brain barrier (BBB), which normally protects the brain from excess glutamate and aspartate as well as toxins, 1) is not fully developed during childhood, 2) does not fully protect all areas of the brain, 3) is damaged by numerous chronic and acute conditions, and 4) allows seepage of excess glutamate and aspartate into the brain even when intact.The excess glutamate and aspartate slowly begin to destroy neurons. The large majority (75 percent or more) of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. A few of the many chronic illnesses that have been shown to contribute to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include:
Multiple sclerosis (MS), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Memory loss, Hormonal problems, Hearing loss, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Hypoglycemia, Dementia (Chronic brain syndrome), Brain lesions, neuro-endocrine disorders, Headaches/migraines, Nausea, Abdominal pains, Fatigue (blocks sufficient glucose entry into brain), Sleep problems, Vision problems, Anxiety attacks, Depression, Asthma/chest tightness.
It is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by pregnant women, infants, and children. The existence of evidence of potential endocrine responses, i.e., elevated cortisol and prolactin, and differential responses between males and females, would also suggest a neuroendocrine link and that supplemental L-glutamic acid should be avoided by women of childbearing age and individuals with affective disorders.
Phenylalanine is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Persons with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot metabolize phenylalanine. This leads to dangerously high levels of phenylalanine in the brain (sometimes lethal). It has been shown that ingesting aspartame, especially along with carbohydrates, can lead to excess levels of phenylalanine in the brain even in persons who do not have PKU.
Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain can cause the levels of serotonin in the brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression. It was shown in human testing that phenylalanine levels of the blood were increased significantly in human subjects who chronically used aspartame.
One account of a case of extremely high phenylalanine levels caused by aspartame was recently published the “Wednesday Journal” in an article titled “An Aspartame Nightmare.” John Cook began drinking six to eight diet drinks every day. His symptoms started out as memory loss and frequent headaches. He began to crave more aspartame-sweetened drinks. His condition deteriorated so much that he experienced wide mood swings and violent rages. Even though he did not suffer from PKU, a blood test revealed a phenylalanine level of 80 mg/dl. He also showed abnormal brain function and brain damage. After he kicked his aspartame habit, his symptoms improved dramatically.
METHANOL (WOOD POISON)
Methanol/wood alcohol is a deadly poison. People may recall that methanol was the poison that has caused some “skid row” alcoholics to end up blind or dead. Methanol is gradually released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounters the enzyme chymotrypsin.
The absorption of methanol into the body is sped up considerably when free methanol is ingested. Free methanol is created from aspartame when it is heated to above 86 Fahrenheit (30 Centigrade). This would occur when aspartame-containing product is improperly stored or when it is heated (e.g., as part of a “food” product such as Jello).
Methanol breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin. An EPA assessment of methanol states that methanol “is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formic acid; both of these metabolites are toxic.” The recommend a limit of consumption of 7.8 mg/day. A one-liter (approx. 1 quart) aspartame-sweetened beverage contains about 56 mg of methanol. Heavy users of aspartame-containing products consume as much as 250 mg of methanol daily or 32 times the EPA limit.
The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication, and causes birth defects. Due to the lack of a couple of key enzymes, humans are many times more sensitive to the toxic effects of methanol than animals. Therefore, tests of aspartame or methanol on animals do not accurately reflect the danger for humans. As pointed out by Dr Woodrow C. Monte, Director of the Food Science and Nutrition Laboratory at Arizona State University, “There are no human or mammalian studies to evaluate the possible mutagenic, teratogenic, or carcinogenic effects of chronic administration of methyl alcohol.” It has been pointed out that fruit juices and alcoholic beverages contain small amounts of methanol. It is important to remember, that the methanol in natural products never appears alone. In every case, ethanol is present, usually in much higher amounts. Ethanol is an antidote for methanol toxicity in humans. The troops of Desert Storm were “treated” to large amounts of aspartame-sweetened beverages, which had been heated to over 86 degrees F. in the Saudi Arabian sun. Many of them returned home with numerous disorders similar to what has been seen in persons who have been chemically poisoned by formaldehyde. The free methanol in the beverages may have been a contributing factor in these illnesses. Other breakdown products of aspartame such as DKP, may also have been a factor.
The truth about aspartame’s toxicity is far different than what the NutraSweet Company would have you readers believe. In February of 1994, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the listing of adverse reactions reported to the FDA (DHHS 1994). Aspartame accounted for more than 75% of all adverse reactions reported to the FDA’s Adverse Reaction Monitoring System (ARMS). By the FDA’s own admission fewer then ONE PERCENT of those who have problems with something they consume ever report it to the FDA. This balloons the almost 10,000 complaints they once had to around a million. However, the FDA has a record keeping problem (they never did respond to the certified letter from the WEBMASTER of this site… a major victim!) and they tend to discourage or even misdirect complaints, at least on aspartame. The fact remains, though, that MOST victims don’t have a clue that aspartame may be the cause of their many problems!
Many reactions to aspartame were very serious including seizures and death. Those reactions included
Abdominal pain, anxiety attacks, arthritis, asthma, asthmatic reactions, bloating, edema (Fluid Retention), blood Sugar control problems (Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia), brain cancer, breathing difficulties, burning eyes or throat, burning urination, can’t think straight, chest pains, chronic cough, chronic fatigue, confusion, death, depression diarrhea, dizziness, excessive thirst or hunger, fatigue, hair loss (baldness) or thinning of hair, headaches/migraines, hearing loss, heart palpitations, hives (Urticaria), hypertension (High Blood Pressure), impotency and sexual problems, inability to concentrate, Infection, Insomnia, Irritability, Itching, Joint Pains, laryngitis, marked personality changes, memory loss, menstrual problems, muscle spasms, numbness or tingling of extremities, other allergic-Like reactions, panic attacks, phobias, poor memory, rapid heart beat, rashes, seizures and convulsions, slurring of speech, tachycardia, tremors, tinnitus, vertigo, vision loss and weight gain.
Aspartame Disease mimics symptoms or worsens the following diseases such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), parkinson’s disease, lupus, multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), diabetes and diabetic complications, epilepsy, alzheimer’s disease, birth defects, chronic fatigue syndrome, lymphoma, lyme disease, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Panic Disorder, Depression and other Psychological Disorders
How it happens
Methanol, from aspartame, is released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounters the enzyme chymotrypsin. Free methanol begins to form in liquid aspartame-containing products at temperatures above 86 degrees F and also within the human body.
The methanol is then converted to formaldehyde. The formaldehyde converts to formic acid, ant sting poison. Toxic formic acid is used as an activator to strip epoxy and urethane coatings. Imagine what it does to your tissues!
Phenylalanine and aspartic acid, 90% of aspartame, are amino acids normally used in synthesis of protoplasm when supplied by the foods we eat. But when unaccompanied by other amino acids we use [there are 20], they are neurotoxic.
That is why a warning for Phenylketonurics is found on EQUAL and other aspartame products. Phenylketenurics are 2% of the population with extreme sensitivity to this chemical unless it’s present in food. It gets you too, causing brain disorders and birth defects! Finally, the phenyalanine breaks down into DKP, a brain tumor agent.
Methyl alcohol is probably the first component of aspartame released within the small intestine, and is rapidly absorbed. Blood and methanol concentrations correlate with aspartame intake.
Humans are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of methanol than animals because several enzymes required for its metabolism have been lost during evolution and are not present in humans.
The toxicity of methanol is enhanced by its slow rate of oxidation — only 1/7 that of ethyl alcohol — occurring mainly in the liver and kidneys. Even though the half life in human volunteers ingesting small amounts (1-5 ml) is about 3 hours, complete oxidation to carbon dioxide usually requires several days.
The body attempts to detoxify methyl alcohol by oxidizing it to formaldehyde (a deadly neurotoxin and Class A carcinogen), and then to formate or formic acid within minutes. Formate and formaldehyde each may contribute to toxicity and nervous system/immune dysfunction through various mechanisms. One is the conjugation of formaldehyde with human serum albumin (F-HSA) to form a new antigenic determinant. Patients with multiple health complaints who had been exposed chronically to formaldehyde develop anti F-HSA antibodies and elevated Tal cells (antigen memory cells).
In other words, Aspartame converts to dangerous byproducts that have no natural countermeasures. A dieter’s empty stomach accelerates these conversions and amplifies the damage. Components of aspartame go straight to the brain, damage that causes headaches, mental confusion, seizures and faulty balance. Lab rats and other test animals died of brain tumors.
Aspartame is particularly serious in gum because aspartame is a drug with small molecules, works like nitroglycerin, goes through saliva straight to the brain. Some have had a grand mal seizure on one piece of sugar-free gum. Aspartame in chewing gum is absorbed directly though the buccal mucosa of the tongue, mouth, and gums, making it a far worse poisoning than even if it were given intravenously. The nerves serving this area and their vascular supply derive directly from the brain, so the Aspartame absorbed through them goes directly into the brain, by passing the spinal cord and blood brain barrier.
The intact Aspartame molecule and its diketopiperazine form are vastly worse poisonings than any of the other poisonings, which arise from it during digestion, and liver processing of the digestive blood, which is delivered directly to the liver via the portal vein. The other poisonings, as mentioned, are indeed horrendous but Aspartame from gum is far worse, making even the smaller amounts contained in chewing gum strikingly dangerous and damaging. This is doubtless why Wrigley placed it in all their products!
Aspartame, via ingestion into the digestive tract, is made into some ten other poisonings by the digestive processes, and then excepting that which is delivered directly to the pancreas, they are transported straight to the liver via the portal vein, where they then are very partially dealt with, and partially reprocessed. Afterwards, they are sent in somewhat lesser concentration to the entire body, lessening the amount that eventually goes to the brain. The amount getting to the brain from either source is devastating to it in many ways. Aspartame is most certainly devastatingly toxic when ingested, but a like amount is immensely worse when obtained from chewing gum.
Note: sometimes aspartame can be listed by its number (951).
Despite the claims of Monsanto and bedfellows
1. Methanol from alcohol and juices does not get converted to formaldehyde to any significant extent. There is very strong evidence to confirm this fact for alcoholic beverages and fairly strong evidence for juices.
2. Formaldehyde obtained from methanol is very toxic in *very small* doses as seen by recent research.
3. Aspartame causes chronic toxicity reactions/damage due to the methanol to formaldehyde and other break down products despite what is claimed otherwise by the very short, industry-funded experiments using a test substance that is chemically different and absorbed differently than what is available to the general public. “Strangely enough”, almost all independent studies show that aspartame can cause health problems.
4. A common ploy from Monsanto is to claim that aspartame is “safe” yet a few select people may have “allergic” reactions to it. This is typical Monsanto nonsense, of course. Their own research shows that it does not cause “allergic” reactions. It is there way of trying to minimize and hide the huge numbers of toxicity reactions and damage that people are experiencing from the long-term use of aspartame.
Given the following points, it is definitely premature for researchers to discount the role of methanol in aspartame side effects
1. The amount of methanol ingested from aspartame is unprecedented in human history. Methanol from fruit juice ingestion does not even approach the quantity of methanol ingested from aspartame, especially in persons who ingest one to three liters (or more) of diet beverages every day. Unlike methanol from aspartame, methanol from natural products is probably not absorbed or converted to its toxic metabolites in significant amounts as discussed earlier.
2. Lack of laboratory-detectable changes in plasma formic acid and formaldehyde levels do not preclude damage being caused by these toxic metabolites. Laboratory-detectable changes in formate levels are often not found in short exposures to methanol.
3. Aspartame-containing products often provide little or no nutrients, which may protect against chronic methanol poisoning and are often consumed in between meals. Persons who ingest aspartame-containing products are often dieting and more likely to have nutritional deficiencies than persons who take the time to make fresh juices.
4. Persons with certain health conditions or on certain drugs may be much more susceptible to chronic methanol poisoning.
5. Chronic diseases and side effects from slow poisons often build silently over a long period of time. Many chronic diseases, which seem to appear suddenly, have actually been building in the body over many years.
6. An increasing body of research is showing that many people are highly sensitive to low doses of formaldehyde in the environment. Environmental exposure to formaldehyde and ingestion of methanol (which converts to formaldehyde) from aspartame likely has a cumulative deleterious effect.
7. Formic acid has been shown to slowly accumulate in various parts of the body. Formic acid has been shown to inhibit oxygen metabolism.
8. The are a very large and growing number of persons are experiencing chronic health problems similar to the side effects of chronic methanol poisoning when ingesting aspartame-containing products for a significant length of time. This includes many cases of eye damage similar to the type of eye damage seen in methanol poisoning cases.
Toxicity Effects of Aspartame Use Selection of Health Effects from Short-term and/or Long-Term Use Note: It often takes at least sixty days without any aspartame NutraSweet to see a significant improvement. Check all labels very carefully (including vitamins and pharmaceuticals). Look for the word “aspartame” on the label and avoid it. (Also, it is a good idea to avoid “acesulfame-k” or “sunette.”) Finally, avoid getting nutrition information from junk food industry PR organizations such as IFIC or organizations that accept large sums of money from the junk and chemical food industry such as the American Dietetic Association.
If you are a user of any products with aspartame, and you have physical, visual, mental problems… take the 60-day no aspartame test. If, after two months with no aspartame your symptoms are either gone, or are much less severe, please get involved to get this neurotoxin off the market. Write a letter to the FDA, with a copy to Betty Martini (for proof of how the FDA doesn’t keep proper records). Write your congressmen. Return products containing aspartame to the point of purchase… for a FULL refund. Make a big stink if they WON’T give you a full refund! Tell all your friends and family… and if they stop using aspartame and also “wake up well”… get them involved in the same way.
Aspartame is an “approved sweetener” because of a few greedy and dishonest people who place profits above human life and well-being. With the FDA and our Congress culpable, only an INFORMED and ACTIVE public will affects its reclassification from “food additive” to TOXIC DRUG, and removed from the human food chain.