Go to any medical institution that has an online website, such as Mayo Clinic and MedicineNet, and you’ll find aspartame is always listed as a potential trigger for migraine headaches. Aspartame is an artificial, non-nutritive sweetener that is found in Equal, Nutrasweet, diet colas and in over a thousand other food products, vitamins, sports drinks and chewing gum.
Studies have shown that one out of every three women have headaches associated with aspartame. Some people have actually had seizures that have been attributed to aspartame and most of them experienced severe headaches just before. Other symptoms associated with aspartame include: depression, insomnia, tinnitus, memory loss, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, vision problems, heart palpitations, anxiety attacks, vertigo, irritability, weight gain, seizures, brain tumors and even more. People with hypothyroidism, diabetes, hypoglycemia and hypertension are at greater risk for getting a headache after consuming aspartame. I am hypoglycemic and cannot tolerate aspartame at all and do get headaches whenever I consume it.
About 10% of aspartame is broken down into methanol in the small intestine. This methanol is then absorbed and is converted into formaldehyde. Scary, huh? Fruit juices and alcoholic beverages also contain methanol but they have another substance called ethanol that blocks the conversion of methanol to formaldehyde. Aspartame does not have this protection. Experiments have shown that consumption of aspartame causes a build up of formaldehyde in the brain, kidneys and liver as well as other parts of the body.
About 40% of aspartame is broken down into aspartic acid. Again, because aspartame is quickly absorbed it can spike the levels of aspartate in the blood plasma. Aspartic acid is called an excitotoxin which can cause damage to the brain and nerve cells. High levels of excitotoxins can damage areas of the brain not protected by the blood-brain barrier, causing neurotoxicity. Excitotoxins can also be found in MSG and when combined with aspartame can increase the negative effects of this substance on the brain.
Another substance found in aspartame is phenylalanine. This is an amino acid that is commonly found in foods. The phenylalanine in aspartame, however, is absorbed more quickly than that found in natural foods and can spike blood plasma levels of phenylalanine. This adversely effects the production of neurotransmitters in the brain.
And finally, another product of aspartame that may be dangerous to your brain, is partylphenylalanie diketopiperazine (DKP). A very long couple of words. Some scientists are concerned that the DKP in aspartame may cause brain tumors. There is, however, almost no research yet on this substance.
Here’s a little political information about the approval of aspartame by the FDA. Aspartame was discovered in 1965 and there was a lot of controversy over the health risks associated with it. In l980 the Board of Inquiry of the FDA denied a petition for approval of aspartame. But in l981 a newly appointed FDA Commissioner, Arthur Hull Hayes, ignored the ruling and approved aspartame for dry goods. It was recorded in the Congressional Record of 1985 that Donald Rumsfeld, the CEO of Searle Laboratories, said he would do everything he could to get aspartame approved. Rumsfeld at that time was on President Reagan’s transition team and the day after taking office appointed Hayes. No FDA Commissioner in the previous sixteen years would allow aspartame to be approved. It looks to me as if aspartame was pushed through without regard to the dangers it could cause to our health.
I don’t know about you, but I think there is enough evidence out there concerning adverse effects of aspartame and lack of proof that aspartame is not dangerous to keep me away from this substance. And as I said at the beginning, I always have a headache when I consume aspartame. If you have recurring migraine headaches and consume aspartame regularly, you might want to consider that it may be the cause.
If you are curious about aspartame and other excitotoxins such as MSG, you should google excitotoxins and read some of the information. It’s scary stuff. I don’t touch either of these substances and haven’t, at least knowingly, for the last 15 years.