It seems that people have always had a “sweet tooth” to some extent.
So much so, that much of the Caribbean and the American south was covered with sugar plantations throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.
This need for something sweet has carried on to the present-day. Unfortunately, sugar, as sweet and delicious as it is, is also very effective at packing on the pounds.
So, when James Schlatter, a drug researcher at G.D. Searle and Co., stumbled upon aspartame in 1965, it was instantly studied as a substitute for sugar.
According to Aspartame.org, which is a member The Calorie Control Council, an international non-profit association representing the low-calorie food and beverage industry, the artificial sweetener is currently “consumed by over 200 million people around the world and is found in more than 6,000 products.”
Controversy over Safety and Toxicity
However, since the artificial sweetener was approved by the FDA in 1974, there has been controversy around its safety and toxicity.
After it hit the market in 1985, several complaints against the artificial sweetener arose. However, the government maintained that aspartame is safe for human consumption. Yet, opponents of the artificial sweetener state that the government’s investigation and subsequent approval were corrupted due to a conflict of interest.
Nevertheless, the Aspartame.org maintains, “The safety of aspartame has been affirmed by the U.S. FDA 26 times in the past 23 years.”
Many people, including some doctors and researchers, are not convinced.
In article by Dr. John Briffa for The Epoch Times, the link between Aspartame side effects and fibromyalgia is explored. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome usually characterized by fatigue and chronic pain in the muscles and in tissues surrounding the joints.
Two Cases Linking Aspartame to Fibromyalgia
Braiffa cites two cases from Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology journal published in December 2010.
In the first case, a woman suffered from the syndrome for years. While on vacation she discontinued her aspartame consumption and her symptoms ceased. When she returned home, she resumed consuming aspartame and her symptoms returned.
In the second case, a man suffered from fibromyalgia for three years. His doctor removed aspartame from his diet and his symptoms ceased. In reference to these two cases Braiffa states:
“Case studies such as these don’t prove that these individuals’ symptoms were due to aspartame. [snip] Certainly, should I see an individual suffering from generalized pain andfibromyalgia in the future, I’ll be making doubly sure I ask about their consumption of aspartame and will be advising them to stop it as a matter of course.”
Side Effects of Aspartame
In a recent article found at The Gleaner, Dr. Janet Star Hull stated the following were common Aspartame side effects:
–> Nervous system: epileptic seizures, headaches, migraine, severe dizziness, unsteadiness, memory loss, drowsiness and sleepiness, numbness of the limbs, slurring of speech, hyperactivity, restless legs, facial pain, tremors, attention-deficit disorder and brain tumors.
–> Eyes/Ears: blindness, blurring or decreased vision, bright flashes, and decreased night vision, pain in the eyes, bulges in eyes, ringing or buzzing sounds, hearing loss.
–> Psychological/Psychiatric: depression, irritability, aggression, anxiety, personality changes, insomnia, phobias.
–> Chest: palpitations, shortness of breath, high blood pressure.
–> Intestinal: nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain.
–> Allergies: wheezing, asthma, itching, skin rash.
–> Diabetes: Aspartame can precipitate diabetes, worsens blood sugar control, may cause diabetics to have seizures and interact badly with insulin.
Aspartame aggregates diabetic retinopathy, damages the optic nerve and promotes blindness. The free methyl alcohol it produces causes neuropathy and increases the risk of diabetics losing limbs.
However, Aspartame.org contends that these allegations are false – proven not only by the FDA, but also by other food safety organizations.
“Recently, several governments and expert scientific committees (including the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission, the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency, the French Food Safety Agency and Health Canada) carefully evaluated the Internet allegations and found them to be false, reconfirming the safety of aspartame. In addition, leading health authorities, such as the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, The National Parkinson Foundation, Inc., the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Lupus Foundation of America, have reviewed the claims on the Internet and also concluded that they are false.”
The organization also states the artificial sweetener has received a clean bill of health from the National Cancer Society and the American Diabetes
This controversy has been going on for nearly three decades and there is no sign of it letting up any time soon.