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Jeff Sutherland

Twice the Energy with Half the Stress

Aspartame: Avoid It Like the Plague

A friend with bipolar disease recently had severe mood swings. Eliminating the borna virus had helped previously and no borna virus was present, although there were a number of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections in the brain. His physician put her finger on what appeared to be the major contributory cause, half a dozen or more diet drinks a day.

Aspartame is well known to be a potent neurotoxin and recent studies show it aggravates your weight condition by limiting the ability of your body to monitor calories. One of my family members was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while drinking large amounts of diet drinks. The same tests that produced the diagnosis showed she no longer had the disease after she stopped. The number of FDA complaints about aspartame are thousands of times the number of complaints about ephedra (maybe millions of times). Don’t drink this stuff!

BITTERSWEET: Is this the beginning of the end for aspartame?


Is the writing finally on the wall for aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in diet and sugar-free drinks and foods? There’s been a very effective campaign to keep the lid on a devastating catalogue of diseases linked to the sweetener, but in recent weeks we’ve noticed a few straws in the wind.

Some brave souls have put together a film, Sweet Misery, which documents “one of the most pervasive, insidious forms of corporate negligence in history”, as a spokesman has put it.

And now academics are getting in on the act, and have shown how aspartame can lead to overeating. A study by Purdue University found that artificial sweeteners disturb our natural abilities to monitor calorie intake.

Not that any of this is revelatory. Government agencies have known for decades that aspartame is deadly. It was once on the Pentagon list of bio-warfare chemicals submitted to Congress and, in 1984, Dr Woodrow C Monte observed: “Methanol (one of the breakdown products of aspartame) has no therapeutic properties and is considered only as a toxicant. The ingestion of two teaspoons is considered lethal in humans.” But his warning came too late. Aspartame had been approved in the States two years earlier as a safe food additive.

It took centre stage once saccharin was discredited after studies showed a link between it and bladder cancer. Aspartame was seen as a good substitute – and one that packed a kick for all those with a sweet tooth, as it is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Its rise continues unchecked today, especially as its patent has recently expired. Around 5,000 products on the market contain the sweetener, and the list is growing by the day, and includes diet sodas, fruit drinks, frozen lollies, instant breakfasts, chewing gum, cocoa and other instant drinks, supplements, drugs, and yoghurt.

Because it is a food additive, no post-marketing trials of its safety are needed. It’s not even listed as an ingredient on some products such as vitamin supplements. Even so, aspartame accounts for more than 75 per cent of adverse reactions to food reported every year to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some of these reactions are very serious, including death.

Despite these alarm calls, it’s been down to individual scientists to investigate the dangers of aspartame. Aspartame is a dipeptide (that started life as a drug for peptic ulcer). It’s made up of L-phenylanine (50 per cent), aspartic acid (40 per cent) and methanol (10 per cent). Some claim that phenylanine on its is a health hazard, and that certainly becomes more likely if it breaks down to methyl ester which, in turn, becomes methyl alcohol or methanol (remember, two teaspoons is lethal.) If it doesn’t kill you, methanol can cause blindness. The US Environmental Protection Agency advises daily maximum methanol consumption of just 7.8 mg – and yet many cans of diet sodas contain twice that, and a diabetic using aspartame all day could consume 30 times that amount.

So what causes this breakdown? High heat and prolonged storage have both been shown to transform aspartame into a more dangerous substance. An interesting study linked Gulf War syndrome to diet soda drinks that were kept out in the hot desert sun.

The evidence is becoming too overwhelming for the authorities to continue to ignore this sweetener. It’s now been linked to multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, migraine and headache, brain cancer, chronic fatigue and epilepsy.

The history of aspartame with citations on publications can be found on Here is an excerpt:

The discovery of aspartame is reported in the well-known publication, Science (Cloninger 1970)… G.D. Searle approached Dr. Harry Waisman, Biochemist,Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the University ofWisconsin’s Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Laboroatory ofMental Retardation Research and a respected expert inphenylalanine toxicity, to conduct a study of the effects of aspartame on primates. The study was initiated on January15, 1970 and was terminated on or about April 25, 1971. Dr.Waisman died unexpectedly in March, 1971.

Seven infant monkeys were given aspartame with milk. One died after 300 days. Five others (out of seven total) had grad mal seizures. The actual results were hidden from theFDA when G.D. Searle submitted its initial applications (Stoddard 1995a, page 6; Merrill 1977; Graves 1984, page S5506 of Congressional Record 1985a; Gross 1976b, page 333 of US Senate 1976b).