Aspartame: A Sweet and Deadly Tale
I love aspartame. I consume mass quantities of it on a daily basis. I crave aspartame. I am a junkie. My thirst for aspartame has made it possible for manufacturers of the sweet substance to justify their supply. I am an aspartame pusher by proxy. I am seduced by its zero calorie decadence, and its convenient availability. I love aspartame, but it does not love me.
as·par·tame (as′pər tām′): noun
an artificial, low-calorie sweetener, CHNO, about 200 times sweeter than sucrose, used in the manufacture of diet soft drinks, packaged cereals, etc.
I have known about the dangers of aspartame. I have read about it and pondered the consequences. And yet, I’ve shoved it aside. Because I am an aspartame addict, I was not interested in dwelling on the negative. There were times when I swore I’d make the change. My addiction to Diet beverages seemed to be saved when my drug of choice became available in an aspartame free variety. But it tasted horrible, so back to denial for me.
Over the past year, I’ve been feeling pretty run down. Lots of headaches, not a lot of energy. Body aches have become normal. My memory isn’t what it used to be. My motivation has been on the decline. I’ve been full of excuses. Perhaps it was lack of sleep, not enough veggies, not enough vitamins, not enough exercise, poor circulation, that time of the month, etc etc etc ad nauseum. The probable answer always popped into my mind, but I ignored it. Certainly this couldn’t be the result of my beloved aspartame!
And as a woman who values the sharing of hidden truths… as one who prides herself being able to think against the herd mentality… as an individual who has a website DEDICATED to uncovering and exposing hidden realities… I’ve avoided this topic. Until now. To know what I know about aspartame and not share it with my readers, regardless of my own unwillingness to face facts, would be intellectually dishonest… and shameful.
Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, and several other artificial sweeteners. It is made up of three parts: Methanol, Aspartic Acid, and Phenylalanine. When inside the body, it is broken down into Formic Acid, Formaldehyde, and methyl alcohol. Interestingly, Formic Acid can be found in Pesticides, and of course Formaldehyde is used for embalming fluid.
Aspartame was discovered by accident in 1965 when James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug. It was approved for consumption by the FDA in 1974. But, neuroscience researcher Dr John W. Olney and Consumer attorney James Turner appealed that decision. Based on their claims as well as an ongoing investigation into the practices of the Searle Company, approval was put on hold. Aspartame was officially approved for dry goods in 1981 and beverages in 1983.
According to the aspartame apologist site aspartame.org:
Aspartame has been extensively studied in animals and humans for more than two decades. In 1981, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved aspartame, it noted: “Few compounds have withstood such detailed testing and repeated, close scrutiny, and the process through which aspartame has gone should provide the public with additional confidence of its safety.” FDA has affirmed the safety of aspartame 26 times over a period of 23 years.
Now, why on this lovely green Earth would the FDA approve something that is toxic? They wouldn’t, right? Right! Oh by the way, I have some swamp land in Siberia I’d like to sell you.
Aspartame: A Sweet and Scary Bedtime Story
Once upon a time there was a man named Donald Rumsfeld. Oh! You’ve heard of him? Well, I’ll keep our introduction brief. Actually, I’ll just show a picture of him and if it doesn’t ring a bell, Google him. I’ll wait.
Before Rummy was all of the things that we know him for today, he was the Chief Executive officer of G.D. Searle and Co, a position that he acquired in 1977. His years as Chief Exec. were fruitful. He managed to use his considerable clout to convince the FDA to approve his loving little product, affectionately named NutraSweet. How did he do it?
It is important also to note that the studies done to determine the safety of aspartame were horribly botched, almost as though (GASP!) they were intended to be biased toward the claims of the Searle Co. Even those directly involved in the investigation later expressed reservations about the quality of the research and experimentation.
Shortly after leaving her post, Senior Scientist of the FDA Bureau of Foods Task Force, Jacqueline Verrett openly stated, “It seemed pretty obvious that somewhere along that line they (bureau officials) were working up to a whitewash.”
But, despite botched experiments and shoddy research, the FDA findings were accepted and approval of Aspartame chugged forward, on to the next stage.
In June of 1979, the acting FDA Commissioner, Sherwin Gardner selected the 3-person Public Board of Inquiry. The panelists were Peter J. Lampert, M.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Pathology, University of California (San Diego), Vernon R. Young, Ph.D., University of Nutritional Biochemistry, M.I.T., and Walle Nauta, M.D., Ph.D., Institute Professor, Department of Psychology and Brain Science, M.I.T.
The Public Board Of Inquiry voted unanimously to reject the use of aspartame until additional studies on aspartame’s potential to cause brain tumors could be done. You see, they had become concerned by one test that revealed a significantly high number of rats exposed to aspartame had died of cancerous tumors.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. This same year, Searle Co. decided to push for aspartame approval again. It takes little imagination to assume that this could be attributed to our friend Rumsfeld’s close Republican Party ties. Patty Wood- Allott, a former Searle Co. salesperson testified that Donald Rumsfeld told his sales force that, if necessary, “he would call in all his markers and that no matter what, he would see to it that aspartame would be approved that year.” (Gordon 1987, page 499 of US Senate 1987)
In March of ’81, a 5 member panel was established to review the findings of the Public Board of Inquiry. Three of the members were very concerned about the test results concerning Aspartame. These three members were Satva Dubey (FDA Chief of Statistical Evaluation Branch), Douglas Park (Staff Science Advisor), and Robert Condon (Veterinary Medicine). They wrote a letter to the panel lawyer with their concerns. Dubey was so worried that he flatly stated that he could not recommend approval for aspartame. He then went on to say that “key data appeared to have been altered”(Gordon 1987, page 499 of US Senate 1987).
Now, we can see where this is leading. With three no votes on aspartame in a five member panel, aspartame would have bitten the dust. It was at precisely this time that it was decided to bring in a sixth member. Convenient! With the now 3 to 3 deadlock, the fate of aspartame was in the air.
On July 18, 1981 aspartame was approved for use dry foods by FDA Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. overruling the Public Board of Inquiry and ignoring the law, Section 409(c)(3) of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 348), which says that a food additive should not be approved if tests are inconclusive (Federal Register 1981, Farber 1989, page 38).
The following year, aspartame was submitted for approval in beverages and children’s vitamins. Those charged with reviewing an amendment to extend the patent for Aspartame were then Representatives Henry Waxman and Orrin Hatch, as well as Senator Robert Byrd. (familiar names again, no?) After having received copious campaign contributions from G.D. Searle Co, a soft drink action committee, and the like…. well, results were predictable. Senator Hatch repeatedly blocked hearings looking into the safety of aspartame.
I believe it is also telling that between 1979 and 1982, four FDA officials who took part in the aspartame approval process left the FDA shortly thereafter and took jobs in industries that are closely linked with Searle and NutraSweet.
Acting FDA Commissioner, Mark Novitch approved aspartame for use in carbonated beverages and carbonated beverage syrup bases (Federal Register 1983). The FDA Commissioner, Arthur Hull Hayes was out of town the day that the approval was signed. Shortly after this final aspartame approval took place, Hayes left the FDA after accusations of “improprieties”, and soon thereafter was hired as an a high paid consultant with G.D. Searle’s public relations firm, Burson Marsteller.
As lengthy as this history lesson has been, it is actually the quick and dirty version. Far more dubious and nefarious activities took place in the years of aspartame’s “trials”. At the end of this article I will list a variety of websites that helped to compile this list, and that expand upon what we’ve already discussed.
Alright. Deep breath! Phew! Thanks for sticking around for the history lesson. There have been many more scandals and roadblocks since in the attempt to get a new trial for aspartame, and they are all equally troubling. That said, let’s get to what we do know about aspartame. At the end of the day, we’ve learned that we cannot depend upon the government to make the right choices, therefore we must arm ourselves with knowledge, spread that knowledge, and take care of ourselves.
Here is the FDA’s Own (!) list of the possible reactions recorded from exposure to Aspartame:
Abdominal Pain Anxiety attacks arthritis asthma Asthmatic Reactions Bloating, Edema (Fluid Retention) Blood Sugar Control Problems (Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia) Brain Cancer (Pre-approval studies in animals) 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 feel unreal flushing of face Hair Loss (Baldness) or Thinning of Hair Headaches/Migraines dizziness Hearing Loss Heart palpitations Hives (Urticaria) Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Impotency and Sexual Problems inability to concentrate Infection Susceptibility Insomnia Irritability Itching Joint Pains laryngitis "like thinking in a fog" Marked Personality Changes Memory loss Menstrual Problems or Changes Migraines and Severe Headaches (Trigger or Cause From Chronic Intake) Muscle spasms Nausea or Vomiting Numbness or Tingling of Extremities Other Allergic-Like Reactions Panic Attacks Phobias poor memory Rapid Heart Beat Rashes Seizures and Convulsions Slurring of Speech Swallowing Pain Tachycardia Tremors Tinnitus Vertigo Vision Loss Weight gain Aspartame Disease Mimics Symptoms or Worsens the Following Diseases 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
According to the website Aspartamekills.com, this is how it works:
How it happens:
Methanol, from aspartame, is released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounters the enzyme chymotrypsin (Stegink 1984, page 143). Free methanol begins to form in liquid aspartame-containing products at temperatures above 86 degrees F.. 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.
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.
Now that we know how what it does and how it works, I want to share with you the following full documentary. I watched it several weeks ago and tried very hard to forget it. I haven’t been able to. I’ve begun researching the process of aspartame detox, and hope to soon report to you that I am aspartame free.
Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World
(NutraSweet and Equal are trademarks of the NutraSweet Co., once owned by the G.D. Searle Co. and now owned by Monsanto Chemical Co.)