by Dawn Brunke
A version of the following article by Betty Martini
regarding the dangers of aspartame was sent to Alaska Wellness from
several individuals. The article (which has been rewritten for clarity
and accuracy) led me to investigate some of the author's claims and do
further research. It soon became obvious to me that not only is
aspartame poisoning a very serious health threat, but especially
dangerous since it is often not identified as a problem until it's too
What is aspartame? It is
a synthesized compound composed of 50% phenylalanine (an amino acid),
40% aspartic acid (also an amino acid) and 10% methanol (basically,
wood alcohol.) In aspartame, methanol is the bond that holds
phenylalanine and aspartic acid together. Methanol is highly toxic,
especially as it breaks down into formaldehyde (embalming fluid) and
formic acid (ant sting venom). Another breakdown product of aspartame
is diketopiperazine (DKP), which has been implicated in the occurence
of brain tumors in test animals.
The toxic effects of aspartame
are most often cumulative, though immediate reactions can also occur.
Aspartame poisoning has been cited as the cause of many health issues.
This list is very long, but includes such things as headaches, memory
loss, confusion, insomnia, depression and irritability as well as
grand mal seizures and even death. As several researchers have shown,
a major problem with diagnosis is that aspartame not only causes
individual symptoms but can both trigger and mimic entire syndromes
and diseases, from Lyme disease and systemic lupus to multiple
sclerosis and brain tumors. As Mary Nash Stoddard, founder of the
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network, states, "Aspartame is a
prescription for disaster."
Aspartame is currently found
in over 5,000 products worldwide, in everything from diet sodas and
"sugar free" snacks to tabletop sweeteners, chewing gum and
children's vitamins. How did such a potentially toxic ingredient make
its way into so many products? Why is it still being sold? And why are
we still consuming it? Read on.
How Did It Happen?
by Dawn Brunke
In an endeavor to
learn more about this topic, I entered "aspartame" into a
search engine on the Internet. I was surprised to find over 2,000
entries. While there are several sites which claim aspartame poisoning
is nothing more than an urban legend, all too many are posts of
personal case histories, medical reports, consumer awareness articles
and research documents that reveal aspartame to be a very dangerous
substance. How did this happen, I wondered. How did aspartame ever
become available for public use in the first place? Here is a
shortened overview of the history of aspartame, from its discovery to
initial introduction for public consumption:
In 1965, a chemist at
the G. D. Searle Company accidentally discovered aspartame, a
substance which is 180 times sweeter than sugar with no calories. It
seemed to have great potential.
Searle began safety
tests in 1967 in an attempt to get FDA approval for aspartame as a
food additive. Conducting tests for Searle, a biochemist at the
University of Wisconsin fed milk mixed with aspartame to seven infant
monkeys. One died and five had grand mal seizures.
In 1971, Dr. John Olney,
a neuroscientist whose work with MSG (monosodium glutamate) was
responsible for having it removed from baby foods, informed Searle
that aspartic acid (one of the ingredients in aspartame) caused holes
in the brains of infant mice. Searle's own researchers confirmed this
in a similar study.
In early 1973, after
spending tens of millions of dollars in safety tests, Searle applied
for FDA approval of aspartame. One FDA scientist, upon review of the
data, stated that further clinical tests were needed. Nonetheless, in
1974, the FDA granted aspartame approval for restricted use in dry
Objections from consumer
advocates and Dr. John Olney triggered a 1976 FDA investigation, which
found the Searle testing procedures to be "shoddy." In 1977,
the FDA requested Grand Jury proceedings against Searle for
"concealing material facts and making false statements" in
aspartame safety tests.
In 1977, the law firm
representing Searle began job negotiations with the U.S. Attorney in
charge of the investigation, Samuel Skinner. Several months later,
Skinner left the government to take a job with Searle's law firm. This
stalled the investigation for so long that the statute of limitations
on the aspartame charges ran out and the investigation was dropped.
In 1980, a Board of
Inquiry concluded that NutraSweet (aspartame) should not be approved
due to possibly causing brain tumors in animals. In 1981, the CEO of
Searle became part of Ronald Reagan's transition team. He handpicked
the new FDA Commissioner, Dr. Arthur Hayes, Jr. Though three FDA
scientists advised against approval of NutraSweet, Hayes overruled
this and approved its use for dry products.
In 1983, the National
Soft Drink Association urged the FDA to delay approval of aspartame
for beverages since it was known to be very unstable in liquid form.
When stored in temperatures above 85 degrees F., aspartame was found
to break down into DKP and formaldehyde, two known toxins. Other suits
were also filed with the FDA objecting to aspartame approval. When FDA
Commissioner Hayes resigned in 1983 under controversy (for taking
unauthorized rides on a General Foods jet - General Foods being a
major customer of NutraSweet), Searle's public relations firm promptly
hired Hayes as a consultant.
In the fall of 1983, the
first carbonated beverages containing aspartame were sold for public
As the NutraSweet
Company's patent on aspartame ended in 1992, there are now many
companies that use aspartame in their products. Monsanto Inc., a
billion-dollar multinational company now owns the NutraSweet Company.
Monsanto is also the maker of genetically engineered soybeans, many
industrial and agricultural chemicals, as well as bovine growth
hormone (known as BGH, a genetically engineered hormone used to
increase milk production in cows). As with aspartame, there have been
many objections to the use of BGH as it has been shown to cause a wide
variety of health problems in cows. Many believe that by ingesting
milk, humans are also susceptible to these problems. But that is
As J. A Barua and A. B.
Bal, an associate opthalmologist and surgeon, noted in a 1995 Indian
medical journal, "Scientific reasoning and a large body of
evidence indicate that this product should not be in the market.
However, paradoxically, use of aspartame containing products are on
the rise." The authors suggest that there are many reasons for
this. First, aspartame tastes better than Saccharin and is thus
preferable as a sugar substitute by both the diabetic population and
diet-conscious population. There is also a strong desire to become or
remain slim, and thus diet products are highly valued. There is a lack
of awareness of the adverse effects of aspartame, both by the general
public and the medical community. This, in turn, leads to consumer
confidence in the product's safety. Finally, aspartame is well
protected by the strong clout of the billion-dollar drug and chemical
companies which manufacture and sell it, as well as by those companies
who use it as an ingredient in their products.
The authors conclude,
"It must be kept in mind that aspartame is not an essential
life-saving drug but a food additive meant to pamper our sweet
tooth." It is for this reason that some refer to aspartame as the
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
- Includes many articles and research documents regarding aspartame
poisoning, and links to diabetic alternatives to aspartame and support
- For a more complete look at the history of aspartame.
-- Links to case histories and documents on aspartame toxicity as well
as recent news articles.
- Features article by Mary Nash Stoddard, founder of Aspartame
Consumer Safety Network Inc. For more info, write: P.O. Box 780634
Dallas, TX 75378 or call 214-352-4268.
-- For another view, here's the Company Line regarding Aspartame.
The Dangers of Aspartame:
A Disease and World Epidemic
by Betty Martini
Dr. H. J. Roberts, M.D.,
F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P., internationally known medical consultant,
researcher and world expert on aspartame, has declared aspartame
disease to be a world epidemic. Dr. Roberts, who has authored many
books on the subject, presented his findings at the First
International Conference on Emerging Diseases (held in March l998 in
Atlanta, Georgia), which was attended by doctors and scientists from
91 countries of the world.
I have lectured on the
toxic effects of aspartame (marketed in this country as
"NutraSweet," "Equal," and "Spoonful")
for several years. In 1995, at the World Environmental Conference, I
began to address the relationship of aspartame poisoning to
individuals who have been misdiagnosed as having multiple sclerosis
(MS). I presented case histories of individuals who were diagnosed as
having MS though, upon abstaining from aspartame, found that their
symptoms disappeared. How is this possible? First, it important to
realize that when the temperature of aspartame exceeds 86 degrees F.,
the wood alcohol in aspartame coverts to formaldehyde and then to
formic acid, which in turn causes metabolic acidosis. (Formic acid is
the poison found in the sting of fire ants). As methanol toxicity
mimics multiple sclerosis, some people have been diagnosed with having
multiple sclerosis in error. Though multiple sclerosis is not a death
sentence, methanol toxicity is. (This has been found to be especially
prevalent among Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi drinkers, especially in those
who drink three or more 12 oz. cans per day.)
It has also been found
that aspartame can trigger cases of systemic lupus. Just as with
misdiagnosed MS, the individual usually does not know that aspartame
is the culprit. With continued use of aspartame, the lupus may be
aggravated to such a degree that it becomes life threatening. While
aspartame-triggered lupus does not reverse, many individuals have
found that, upon elimination of aspartame, they become asymptomatic.
Aspartame can destroy
the brain, optic nerve and central nervous system, as well as wreak
havoc on other organs of the body. At lectures, I often identify some
of the 92 documented symptoms from the FDA report on aspartame. As I
sometimes say, "If you are using aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal,
Spoonful, etc.) and suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms,
shooting pains, numbness in your legs, cramps, vertigo, dizziness,
headaches, tinnitus, joint pain, depression, anxiety attacks, slurred
speech, blurred vision, or memory loss - you probably have Aspartame
In one such lecture, the
Ambassador of Uganda was in attendance. He told me that Uganda's sugar
industry is adding aspartame to sugar. He also said that one of the
industry leader's sons could no longer walk - due, in part, to product
usage. (Another effect of aspartame poisoning is the hardening of the
synovial fluids.) We have a very serious problem.
In l986, the Community
Nutrition Institute petitioned the FDA to ban aspartame as a number of
aspartame-users were going blind. How? The methanol in the aspartame
converts to formaldehyde and then formic acid in the retina of the
eye, leading to optic nerve damage and/or destruction. Unfortunately,
the FDA ignored this petition. Our group continually receives case
histories of individuals who have serious eye problems, retinal
detachments and blindness from aspartame. The late Morgan Raiford,
M.D., ophthalmologist and specialist in methanol toxicity, reported
that if it was still in the "wet stage," vision could
return. Indeed, some have regained their sight upon elimination of
Physician and author,
Dr. H.J. Roberts, realized what was happening when aspartame was first
marketed as he found that his patients (particularly those with
diabetes) increasingly presented with memory loss and confusion. He
linked it to the breakdown of aspartame in the body. Dr. Roberts
realized that the amino acids in aspartame (aspartic acid and
phenylalanine) are neurotoxic as isolates (unaccompanied by other
amino acids normally present in our foods) as they penetrate the blood
brain barrier, attack and destroy neurons, and produce multifold
neuropsychiatric complications, including depression, brain tumors,
Alzheimer's disease, seizures, and a long list of other disabilities.
Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon, likewise found that the
ingredients of aspartame "stimulate the neurons of the brain to
death, causing brain damage of varying degrees." Dr. Roberts has
been investigating this problem for nearly two decades, and has
published several books and clinical reports on the subject.
Aspartame Disease is
partially the cause of what is behind some of the mystery of the
Desert Storm health problems. On the television program "60
Minutes," it was reported that the military could not understand
the "burning tongue" sensation that many service men and
women experienced. Because of lack of water, several thousand pallets
of sodas (including diet sodas) were shipped to the Desert Storm
troops. The diet drinks sat in the 120-degree F. Arabian sun for weeks
at a time on pallets. As noted, when aspartame reaches a temperature
of above 86 degrees F., it breaks down. The methanol coverts to
formaldehyde and formic acid, which feels like a burning sensation on
the tongue. The burning tongue sensation is another symptom of
Aspartame has also been
linked to birth defects. Dr. Roberts found that consuming aspartame
(by either the man or woman) at the time of conception can cause birth
defects. Dr. Louis Elsas, Professor of Pediatrics at Emory University,
also testified to Congress that aspartame is both a neurotoxin and
teratogen (triggers birth defects).
There have been three
Congressional Hearings on aspartame. Many individuals have testified
of their personal horrors of aspartame poisoning. Physicians, such as
Dr. Elsas and others, have testified. The Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has over 10,000 complaints against aspartame, more than against
any other food additive. Nothing has been done, however. The drug and
chemical lobbies have very deep pockets. There are now over 5,000
products containing this chemical.
There is absolutely no
reason to take this product. It is not a diet product. In fact,
Australian author, Dr. Sandra Cabot, M.D., wrote that the use of
aspartame does not lead to weight loss, but (paradoxically) weight
gain, "as it causes unstable blood sugar levels which increase
the appetite and cravings for sweets/sugar." It should be noted
that the formaldehyde breakdown of aspartame is often stored in the
fat cells, particularly in the hips and thighs.
Stevia, a sweet food,
not an additive, which helps in the metabolism of sugar and would be
ideal for diabetics, has now been approved as a dietary supplement by
the FDA. For years, the FDA has outlawed this sweet food because of
their loyalty to Monsanto. Clearly, Monsanto (the company that now
owns the NutraSweet Company) is aware of the neurotoxic effects of
aspartame and knows how deadly it is. They help to fund several trade
organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and the
American Dietetic Association. Monsanto also gives funds to the
American Medical Association.
If it says "Sugar
Free" on the label, don't even think about it! Senator Howard
Hetzenbaum wrote a bill that would have warned of the dangers of
aspartame consumption, especially to infants, pregnant mothers and
children. The bill would have also instituted independent studies on
the problems existing in the population (such as seizures, changes in
brain chemistry, changes in neurological and behavioral symptoms). The
powerful drug and chemical lobbies killed the bill.
Please pass on this
information to those you know, including your physician. What else can
you do? Here's a beginning:
- Write a detailed
The Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20807
(Please send a copy to Mission Possible, address below, for our
- Take all
aspartame-laced products back to the retailer and ask for a full
- Write the food
manufacturers to request they delete aspartame from their
Betty Martini is the
founder of Mission Possible International, a worldwide volunteer force
that warns consumers of the dangers of aspartame. Phone (770)242-2599,
For their warning flyer,
or send a large self-addressed stamped (6 stamps) envelope to: Mission
Possible, 9270 River Club Parkway, Duluth, GA 30097
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Taste That Kills" by Dr. Russell Blaylock (Health Press
(NutraSweet) Safe? A Medical, Public Health and Legal Overview"
by Dr. H. J. Roberts (Sunshine Press, 1-800-814-9800)
Update on Aspartame
Brunke, Alaska Wellness Editor
may be one of the most toxic substances in our food supply
the March/April 1999 issue of
Alaska Wellness, we published three articles on the artificial sweetener
aspartame. Specifically, the articles looked at the numerous health
problems that may develop from our ingestion of aspartame (the key
ingredient in NutraSweet and Equal) and how it is added to so many of
our everyday products—nearly 6,000—in everything from low-calorie
drinks and sugar-free snacks to chewing gum, yogurt, cereal, and even
toxic effects of aspartame are varied. It has been connected to
mimicking the signs of or worsening the following: chronic fatigue and
immune deficiency syndrome, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy,
attention deficit disorder, panic disorder and more. The toxic effects
of aspartame use may include dizziness, ringing in the ears, migraines,
confusion, irritability, depression, insomnia, rapid heart beat, chest
pains, memory loss, weight gain, hair thinning/loss, abdominal pains,
food cravings, hypertension, increased infections and much more. (See
links below for further information.)
following article includes a summary of the history of aspartame as we
printed it in our 1999 issue,
along with some new research and information. As with the history of
many other known toxins (such as MSG and fluoride),
it is distressing to see our government’s involvement in allowing such
substances to be used by big industries and sold (and, in some cases,
even touted as ‘healthy’) to the general public—every one of us!
It has been said that aspartame may be one of the most toxic substances
in our food supply today and that aspartame related problems may be
seriously compromising our health, often without our knowledge.
was discovered accidentally in 1965 by a scientist at the G. D. Searle
Company. Because it is nearly 200 times as sweet as sugar and has no
calories, it looked to have enormous potential, especially in the diet
began safety testing aspartame in 1967, in hopes of getting FDA
approval, but encountered many problems—the animals that were fed
aspartame (most usually small monkeys) kept dying. Searle spent tens of
thousands of dollars in testing, and applied for FDA approval in 1973.
Although several scientists found Searle’s testing “shoddy” and
recommended that further testing was necessary, the FDA granted approval
for use in dry foods.
from consumer advocacy groups finally sparked the FDA to re-investigate
aspartame in 1976, leading to a Grand Jury proceedings
against Searle for "concealing material facts and making false
statements" in their safety tests.
get this: In 1977, Searle’s law firm offered a job to the U. S.
Attorney in charge of the investigation, Samuel Skinner. Skinner
accepted the job and left the government, thus stalling the
investigation so long that the statute of limitations ended and the
investigation was dropped.
1980, a Board of Inquiry asserted that aspartame should not be approved
due to the possibility of its causing brain tumors in animals. However,
in yet another sneaky government-big business move, the CEO of Searle
became part of Ronald Reagan’s transition team. This former head of
Searle handpicked Dr. Arthur Hayes, Jr., as the new FDA Commissioner.
Over the strong objection of three FDA scientists, Hayes approved the
use of aspartame in dry products.
the story get any worse? Yes, it can. In 1983, the National Soft Drink
Association urged the FDA to delay the approval of aspartame in
beverages since it was known to be very unstable in liquid form. (When
stored above 85 degrees F., aspartame breaks down into diketopiperazine
and formaldehyde, two known toxins.) Other objections were also
filed with the FDA regarding aspartame approval. When a controversy
regarding taking unauthorized rides on a General Foods jet (General
Foods being a major customer of NutraSweet) forced FDA Commissioner
Hayes to resign in 1983, he was promptly hired as a consultant to
Searle’s public relations firm.
it happened that the first carbonated beverages
containing aspartame were sold for public consumption in 1983.
is still under investigation and still very controversial. Most
recently, scientists at the independent European Ramazzini Foundation
for Cancer Research presented new results from their three-year study of
the effects of aspartame on nearly 2,000 rats. Their research concluded
that aspartame is a “multipotential carcinogen,” causing
dose-related cancer of the kidney and tumors in the peripheral nerves,
mainly the cranial nerves of the head. Earlier data from the same study
linked aspartame to an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma in female
rats at doses that were “very close” to the acceptable daily intake
the researchers also found that though the rats fed aspartame ate less
food than those rats in the control group, there was no difference in
weight between the two groups.
various manufacturers of aspartame have objected to these latest
findings, claiming insufficient investigation and biased results, there
is no denying that the same type of results with regards to the dangers
of aspartame has been found in study after study, in numerous countries
around the world.
1996, Dr. Ralph G. Walton, Chairman at the
and Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Northeastern Ohio Universities
College of Medicine conducted an analysis of peer-reviewed medical
literature regarding aspartame. Specifically, Walton investigated 164
studies, 74 of which had aspartame industry-related sponsorship and 90
which were funded without industry money.
the 90 non-industry studies, 83 (or 92%) found one or more problems with
aspartame. Of the remaining 7 studies, 6 were conducted by the FDA.
(And, given the history of how various government officials were offered
jobs by the aspartame industry following approval of the substance, many
consider these findings to be not much more than industry-sponsored
the 74 industry-sponsored studies, all claimed that no problems were
found with aspartame. No big surprise there, and many compare it to
tobacco industry research, in which tobacco companies don’t find a
link between cigarettes and cancer, though independent studies most
two doctors noted in a 1995 Indian medical journal, "Scientific
reasoning and a large body of evidence indicate that this product should
not be in the market. However, paradoxically, use of products containing
aspartame is on the rise." The doctors suggest that there are many
reasons for this, the main being a lack of awareness of the adverse
effects of aspartame, both by the general public and the medical
community. In addition, aspartame is obviously well protected by the
strong clout of the billion-dollar drug and chemical companies which
manufacture and sell it, as well as by those companies who use it as an
ingredient in their products. The doctors conclude, "It must be
kept in mind that aspartame is not an essential life-saving drug but a
food additive meant to pamper our sweet tooth." It is for this
reason that some refer to aspartame as the "Sweet Poison."
What Can You Do?
are several excellent websites that focus on the dangers of aspartame,
such as www.holisticmed.com.
The following information on avoiding aspartame comes from their site,
as does the Healthy Sweetener User Guide below.
aspartame can sometimes be tricky as it is found in so many products and
because its existence is sometimes hidden on food labels. That is,
aspartame may be lumped with other ingredients as “inactive
ingredients” on a food label. Other times, it is not listed at all,
although you may spot it if you see the warning “Phenylketonurics:
Contains Phenylalanine," which indicates aspartame is used in the
can be found on the ingredients list in the following products: soft
drinks; over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs (commonly listed
under "inactive ingredients"); vitamin and herb supplements;
yogurt; instant breakfasts; candy; breath mints; cereals; sugar-free
chewing gum; cocoa mixes; coffee beverages; instant breakfasts; gelatin
desserts; frozen desserts; juice beverages; laxatives; milk drinks;
shake mixes; tabletop sweeteners; tea beverages; instant teas and
coffees; topping mixes; wine coolers—and the list goes on.
is important to check labels carefully and compare ingredients against
the list of known sweeteners to avoid (below). If you have children, you
may want to pay special attention to cereals, candy, gum, etc. Also, be
aware that your children may be given aspartame or other artificial
sweetener-containing foods or drugs at school without your knowledge.
Talk to the school director and to the local PTA to assure that this
does not happen.
Many people find it much easier to avoid toxic sweeteners by shopping at
health food stores or in the healthy foods section of your grocery. Many
health food stores have banned artificial sweeteners (especially
aspartame) for obvious reasons. But it is still important to check
labels as some health food stores are unknowingly selling aspartame,
acesulfame-k, and sucralose.
Sweetener Use Guide (courtesy
can be used in very small amounts while transitioning to healthier
(Stevia is also safe for diabetics)
Root (small amounts)
Syrup (Without Added Sugar)
Alcohols (Xylitol*, Sorbitol)
in small amounts. Avoid if you have bowel disease.
Many diabetics can use some amount of healthy caloric sweeteners such as
evaporated cane juice. Check with your healthcare practitioner for more
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
~ Includes many articles and research documents regarding aspartame
poisoning, and links to diabetic alternatives to aspartame and support
~ Links to case histories and documents on aspartame toxicity as well as
recent news articles.
~ Features an article by Mary Nash Stoddard, founder of Aspartame
Consumer Safety Network Inc.
~ For the company view, here's the folks who make and sell aspartame, in
the form of NutraSweet.