Aspartame is marketed in Australia under the trade names of 'Equal" and 'Nutrasweet". Elsewhere also as 'Spoonful" and 'Equal Measure". Reports indicate that it is consumed by more people than any other synthetic product in history.(1) In 1992, 14 million pounds (6.4 million kilograms) were consumed.
Contained in: Antibiotic syrups, chewable and effervescent vitamins, foods of all description, diet drinks, lipsticks and many unlabeled products. There are no restrictions on its use in foodstuffs.
Composition: Methyl alcohol (10% by weight), aspartate and phenylalanine.
Decomposes to: Formaldehyde and formic acid.
Relatives: Monosodium glutamate. Aspartates and glutamates differ by one methyl group and have similar undesirable effects.(2)
Toxic Effects: Aspartates and glutamates are both excitatory amino acids. When excessive amounts of these are present in the brain they act as a neurotoxin destroying brain cells.
The phenylalanine component when combined with the aspartic acid from the aspartate and the methyl alcohol can deplete serotonin from the brain.
High levels of phenylaline are associated with abnormal brain function and brain damage. Levels may reach 30-40 times normal in certain susceptible individuals producing PKU even In adults.
Medium to high doses in monkeys produced grand mal seizures in all test animals within 218 days.
Symptomatology: Memory loss, depression and irritability, tinnitis, flicker vertigo(3), flicker-induced epileptic activity, seizures, gradual loss of vision, dizziness, increased appetite(4). Possibly also periperal neuropathy joint pain, fatigue, liver damage but these are unconfirmed.
In extreme cases it may induce suicidal tendencies. Brain cell damage may result in the symptoms of Alzheimers and Huntington's Chorea.
1. Mullarky, B.A & Newman, A.V "The hidden Effects of Aspartame" Informed Consent Sept/Oct 1994 3539
2. Letter to Barbara Mullarky from Ralph Dawson Jnr, PhD, Assistant professor, University of Florida Dept. of Pharmacodymanic's(29 Jan, 88)
3. Flying Safety - a publication of the US Air force
4. Increased appetite by producing chemical changes in the brain. Leeds (England) University study.