This file is also available in PDF format here

Aspartame - an addictive carcinogenic neurotoxin

The artificial sweetener aspartame (951) is the most controversial and complained about additive in history.

What is aspartame?

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in over 6000 products worldwide. It is found particularly in 'sugar free' and 'diet' products, chewing gum and sports drinks. Brandnames include Equal and Nutrasweet. It may be labelled 951 or "contains phenylalanine". It is also in some dietary supplements and medications, but may not be labelled as such, because in New Zealand these do not yet have to list their ingredients.

Aspartame (L-Aspartyl-L-Phenylalanine Methyl Ester) is made up of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, and bound together with methanol. These break down to formaldehyde (used for embalming and known to cause cancer), formic acid (a venom in ant stings) and DKP (known to cause brain tumours). While aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol occur naturally in various foods, aspartic acid and phenylalanine are usually bound up with other amino acids and methanol is counterbalanced with ethanol. In aspartame these compounds are not bound up (isolated phenylalanine is a neurotoxin), and the influx is readily absorbed into the brain, causing an excess of free radicals and over stimulating brain cells. Ultimately, holes are made in the brain.

For more details, see the books "Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic" by HJ Roberts, MD, 1000 page medical text, Sunshine Sentinel Press (now on special for US$49.95), and "Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills" by Russell L. Blaylock, MD.

What are the symptoms of exposure to aspartame?

The most common aspartame symptoms include headaches, dizziness, poor balance, vomiting or nausea, abdominal pain or cramps, change in vision, diarrhoea, memory loss, fatigue and other neurological symptoms. The 50% phenylalanine in aspartame lowers the seizure threshold and depletes serotonin, and can trigger bipolar or manic depression, mood swings, paranoia, hallucination and suicidal tendencies. Aspartame is a multipotential carcinogen, can trigger male sexual dysfunction and birth defects, and is particularly dangerous for the foetus in the womb.

Aspartame exposure can mimic and precipitate multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and lupus. It can make epilepsy worse and can cause chemical hypersensitivity. An FDA report admits to 92 symptoms including death. There are more, however, in Dr. Roberts' book. Dr Roberts has remarked that every doctor probably encounters aspartame disease in practice.

For the complete FDA list go to

Don't diabetics and those trying to lose weight need to use it?

With over 50 years of experience, Dr Roberts, a diabetic specialist, points out that aspartame can precipitate diabetes, simulates and aggravates diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy, destroys the optic nerve, can cause diabetics to go into convulsions and interacts with insulin. His patients notice a dramatic improvement in their condition when they avoid aspartame. There is no research which proves that use of aspartame helps with weight loss. There is, however, some research that shows it induces carbohydrate craving, which results in weight gain. Safer alternative sweeteners include stevia, xylitol (may be laxative in large doses) and Just Like Sugar®.

Aspartame interacts with drugs

Dr Roberts describes in his medical text how aspartame interacts with Coumadin, Dilantin, antidepressants, other psychotropic agents and all cardiac medications. He discusses various mechanisms for this, including alteration of the blood proteins to which drugs attach, interference with drug action by amino acids and protein, and metabolic abnormalities in the elderly that are known to enhance their vulnerability to drug reactions. Dr. James Bowen describes another process by which aspartame interacts with all drugs and some additives, including vaccines, MSG (621), and other artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (955) and neotame (961).

More details available from

How did aspartame get approved in the first place then?

Aspartame was approved for use as an additive in the US in 1981, even after the FDA refused to approve it for over eight years because it produced seizures and brain tumours in lab animals. Donald Rumsfeld was at the time CEO of Searle, the manufacturer, and used political chicanery rather than science to get the toxin on the market. This happened after Ronald Reagan came to power and a new FDA commissioner, Arthur Hull Hayes, was appointed. Arthur Hayes later became a consultant for Searle and Monsanto, receiving a huge salary.

For more information see and also the Ecologist magazine Sept 05 which contains 17 pages on aspartame, including a detailed timeline.

Why hasn't aspartame been removed from the market place?

For the same reason as tobacco: addiction, profit and greed. Aspartame has an effect on the dopamine system in the brain, creating a 'high' and resulting in addiction. Those addicted to aspartame will notice withdrawal symptoms if they go without, however many symptoms should lessen after some days. Former addicts may become hypersensitive to even small amounts.

More details and stories on addiction can be found at:

The European Union reviewed the use of aspartame in 2002 and concluded there was no reason to change any regulations. Intense scrutiny was applied to a few studies showing adverse effects of aspartame, but was not applied to a number of studies funded by industry which did not show effects. A large number of human studies and clinical reports showing adverse effects were ignored. There were several members of the European Commission Scientific Committee on Food that had ethical and financial conflicts of interest with the food industry that should have disqualified them from participation on the Committee.

The 60-day no-aspartame challenge

If you use products with aspartame, and have physical, visual and mental problems - ailments the doctors can't seem to cure - then try the 60-day no-aspartame test. If you become convinced after this that your symptoms were due to aspartame, contact Food Standards Australia NZ, the NZ Food Safety Authority and email if in NZ. Dr Blaylock's detox programme is at

Other resources

DVD "Sweet Misery a Poisoned World" watch for free at 90 minutes long

CD "The Truth About Aspartame" by Russell Blaylock MD.

DVD "Nutrition and Behavior" by Russell Blaylock MD. Orders for these DVDs and CDs can be made through the Safe Food Campaign. scientific papers on aspartame

Compiled by Alison White, Safe Food Campaign, PO Box 9206, Wellington 6141, ph (04) 476 8607, August 2007. With thanks to Betty Martini, Founder of Mission Possible International, who has researched aspartame over 15 years and has collected many documents and resources.