The Dangers of Aspartame

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Aspartame, sold as NutraSweet or Equal, is an artificial sweetener, present in over 6000 products. It is responsible for a host of health problems, including brain diseases, migraines and psychological ailments.

This video will familiarize you with some of the terrifying side-effects and health problems you could encounter if you consume products containing this chemical.  Dr. H. J. Roberts has called aspartame “an ignored epidemic” -- his database contains over 1,300 reports of adverse reactions to aspartame.

For more information on the dangers of aspartame, visit

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

NutraSweet is sold in over 100 countries, found in over 5000 products, and is consumed by over 250 million people. It’s found in most diet sodas and a good portion of chewing gum.  

How safe is it? 

Consider this:  There have been more reports to the FDA for aspartame reactions than for all other food additives combined.

Aspartame is a Danger to Your Brain

Early safety studies of aspartame identified potential neurotoxic side effects. In one study, out of seven monkeys fed aspartame mixed with milk, one monkey died and five of the remaining had grand mal seizures. Other have shown that aspartic acid, one of the main ingredients in aspartame, causes damage to the brains of infant mice.

In an analysis of 166 articles about aspartame published in medical journals, 91 percent of the independent studies -- 84 out of a total of 92 -- found at least one adverse health effect in its outcome.  In contrast, all 74 of the studies that were conducted by individuals with strong financial ties to the success of aspartame concluded that aspartame posed no health risks.

Those industry-funded studies were highly flawed; among many other problems, the subjects were given pure aspartame administered as capsules or in cold water. No consumer will ever ingest aspartame in this form.


Aspartame has three components: phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol (wood alcohol). Those who defend the chemical argue that phenylalanine and aspartic acid are a harmless and natural part of your diet. Phenylalanine and aspartic acid are indeed amino acids that are normally supplied by the foods you eat.  However, they can only be considered natural and harmless when they are consumed in combination with other amino acids, fats, and carbohydrates in the form of real food.

When phenylalanine and aspartic acid are consumed as free amino acids, they enter your central nervous system in abnormally high concentrations, causing excessive firing of brain neurons and potential cell death. This concept has been termed  “excitotoxicity” by Dr. Russell Blaylock, a prominent neurosurgeon.

Blindness and Cancer

Potentially even more worrisome is the 10 percent of aspartame that is absorbed into your bloodstream as methanol. The Environmental Protection Agency defines safe consumption of this dangerous substance as no more than 7.8 milligrams per day, which is the amount found in half a can of diet soda. Methanol poisoning can result in fatal kidney damage, blindness, multiple organ system failure and death.

The manufacturers of aspartame again defend the methanol by claiming it is found naturally in many foods. But in nature, methanol is bound to pectin, a form of fiber. As a result of this bond, your body is not exposed to methanol, nor does it break it down. However, your body does absorb the pectin-free methanol in aspartame, and further breaks it down into formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde can accumulate within your cells, and react with other cellular proteins such as enzymes and DNA. Formaldehyde can cause cancer in laboratory animals and likely causes cancer in humans. There is no known threshold level below which there is no threat of cancer.

Over 10,000 Complaints

The FDA has received over 10,000 complaints regarding adverse reactions to aspartame. By the FDA’s own admission, less than 1 percent of those who experience a reaction to a product ever report it. This means that the 10,000 documented accounts probably mean that there are roughly a million people who have experienced reactions to aspartame.

While a variety of symptoms have been reported, almost two-thirds of them fall into the neurological and behavioral category consisting mostly of headaches, mood alterations, and hallucinations. The remaining third is mostly gastrointestinal symptoms.

Are You Having a Reaction?

If you think you may be having a reaction to aspartame, you might want to consider doing an elimination/challenge with it. First eliminate it (and all other artificial sweeteners) from your diet completely for a period of one to two weeks. After this period, reintroduce it in a significant quantity. For example, use it in your beverage in the morning, and eat at least two aspartame containing products the remainder of the day. Avoid other artificial sweeteners on this day.

Do this for a period of one to three days. Notice how your body is feeling, particularly if it feels different than when you were artificial sweetener free. Nearly two-thirds of aspartame reactors experienced symptomatic improvement within two days after avoiding aspartame. With continued abstinence, their complaints generally disappeared.

Lastly, report your reaction to any aspartame product by calling the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area.