Aspartame Causes Pain

The artificial sweetener aspartame may be the chemical in our food that is most likely to cause pain. It’s a food additive that cripples.

You may know it best by its brand names: NutraSweet, Equal, AminoSweet, NatraTaste, and Canderel.

It may be the single most poisonous chemical additive in our food. And it can cause pain, pain of all kinds.

We’re most familiar with it as a sweetener in diet soda, and as a sugar substitute in little packets to pour into coffee, tea, and other drinks. It’s also in other beverages of all kinds—powdered drink mixes, lemonade, fruit drinks, hot chocolate, iced tea, sports drinks—and in desserts of all kinds, including Jello, pudding, candy, and frozen desserts.

It’s in breath mints, sugar-free chewing gum, and in regular chewing gum along with sugar! It’s in vitamins, over the counter drugs, and prescription pharmaceuticals, including chewable vitamins and chewable, powdered, and liquid drugs.

You can see it’s a very widespread food additive. Reportedly, it’s an ingredient in some 10,000 food and drug products.



Thousands of complaints to the FDA

But when it was first introduced (in 1981 in dry food and in 1983 in beverages) its side effects quickly became obvious to many people. By 1984, consumers sent about 650 complaints about aspartame to the CDC. By 1995, consumers filed more than 7,000 complaints to the FDA’s Adverse Reaction Monitoring System. Reportedly, 80% of consumer-submitted reports about supplements were about aspartame!

The number one complaint to the FDA was headache, in 1,847 of the reports. Aspartame is, in fact, notorious as a migraine trigger.

There were many other neurological, visual, and gastrointestinal symptoms reported to the FDA, including dizziness (735 complaints), vision changes (362), and seizures (290).

Aspartame is also notorious for causing seizures and causing multiple sclerosis-like symptoms.

But it also causes pain of all kinds!



Documented pain from aspartame

Dr. H. J. Roberts, MD, studied and wrote extensively on aspartame.1 He assembled a database of 1,200 patients who were “aspartame reactors,” and he found results similar to the complaints to the FDA. Again, the two most frequent symptoms were headache (516 patients) and dizziness (376). Serious symptoms included decreased vision (302) and blindness (27), severe depression (281), and seizures (186).

But here let’s focus on the pain symptoms of the 1,200 patients in Dr. Roberts’ database:


Severe joint pain

Abdominal pain

Eye pain

Atypical chest pain

Atypical facial pain

Leg and hand cramps










These are all kinds of pain, pain that went away when the patients stopped using aspartame.



More in the medical literature

In 2010, a team of French doctors published a case report, “Aspartame-Induced Fibromyalgia,” in the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology2. The article reported two cases of dramatic recovery from pain.

The first case was of a 50 year old woman diagnosed with fibromyalgia for ten years. Her “symptoms were not improved by various drug therapies, including analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, carbamazepine, tricyclic antidepressants or by physical therapy,” according to the journal article.

When she traveled out of the country for three weeks, she had a complete remission from pain and fatigue. When she returned home, so did the pain and fatigue.

What did she do differently when traveling? She had neglected to bring aspartame with her! (It sounds like she had been using packets of aspartame to add to coffee or tea.)

She stopped using aspartame and once again had complete symptom relief! Several months later, she tried it once more, and her symptoms returned. She then discontinued aspartame for good.

Three years later, she’d had no symptoms of fibromyalgia since quitting aspartame.

The second case was a 43 year old man with “bilateral forearm, wrist, hand and cervical pain present night and day” for three years. He too had numerous unsuccessful drug and non-drug treatments. When he discontinued his three-times-a-day habit of aspartame—again, it sounds like packets added to beverages—his pain and fatigue disappeared permanently.

This man refused to try aspartame again to test it!

To summarize: Migraine, other headaches, eye pain, joint pain, carpal-tunnel type pain, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, any gastrointestinal pain, and even chest pain: all could be wholly caused or made worse by diet soda, sweeteners, creamers, desserts, chewable vitamins, gum, and thousands of other products containing aspartame!



Action Steps

Conduct an experiment to find out if this seriously bad chemical is causing pain for you.

Conduct an experiment

To find out if it does or doesn’t contribute to your pain, you need to find and remove aspartame from your diet for a long enough period of time.

Unfortunately, the experiment seems a little complicated–because of the reportedly 10,000 products that aspartame might appear in.​

Think of yourself as a scientist conducting a controlled experiment. An experiment that might pay off big!

​The big prize: becoming free of pain.

How long does it take?

How long should your experiment last?

Dr. Roberts found that nearly two-thirds of those who were sensitive to aspartame improved within two days, but that complete symptom relief took longer.

I think most people would see an effect within two weeks.

However, I do agree with the common recommendation of avoidance for sixty days. That’s because aspartame reactions can sneak up on you and, in many people, go away slowly.

An avoidance period of sixty days allows enough time for delayed effects to disappear, for any physical withdrawal to complete, and for aspartame to be eliminated as much as possible from your body.

“I don’t drink diet soda”

If you don’t drink diet beverages or eat diet desserts, I still recommend checking your other groceries, vitamins, over-the-counter drugs, and prescriptions.

Aspartame is such an easily identified source of pain that you owe it to yourself to spend the brief amount of time to read the ingredient lists on your groceries and medications, as spelled out in the next section.

Step by step

Here’s a suggested step-by-step plan to conduct the experiment. Because aspartame is so addictive and is found in so many places, I’ve broken it down into phases.


Phase One: Beverages

Step 1: Read the labels

Read the labels on all your beverages and sweeteners.

Examine the labels on your beverages: soda, lemonade, sports drinks, flavored water, flavored milk, beverage mixes such as Crystal Light; in fact, anything liquid that you drink.

Also examine the sweeteners and creamers that you add to your beverages.

Look for and read the ingredients list. Here’s what you’re looking for:


Ingredient list names
Aspartyl phenylalanine methyl ester
Phenylalanine [a component of aspartame]

Brand names
Equal Spoonful
NatraTaste Blue

Warning label
All aspartame-containing products will also have a warning on the label:
“Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine”

(Phenylketonuria, or PKU, is a genetic disorder; phenylalanine causes brain damage in people with PKU.)

Step 2: Find substitutes

Find substitutes for beverages and sweeteners containing aspartame.

Next, find substitutes for the duration of your experiment. What beverages could you drink instead?

Consider simply substituting regular soda or sugar packets.

Or, consider minimizing the number and type of beverages you drink, as long as none of them contain aspartame and you don’t add aspartame sweetener to any of them.

Or, consider drinking nothing but water. The benefit of this would be to simplify your life and maximize the chances of getting out of pain quickly. This is because beverages have a lot of ingredients with pain-causing potential, such as caffeine, flavorings, other sweeteners, and sugar. (It would, however, make it more difficult to know if aspartame was the sole problem.)

Step 3: Taper

Taper from beverages and sweeteners containing aspartame.

To minimize withdrawal symptoms, I recommend gradually tapering off from the beverages, if possible. Allow at least a month to taper from a daily beverage habit, and longer if necessary.

Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms, whether from aspartame or caffeine. Withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, joint pains, and any other symptom that aspartame can cause. Be aware of the possibility of: cravings, nervousness, fatigue, dizziness, tremors, insomnia, irritability, depression, or memory loss.

Yes, aspartame is a seriously bad chemical. The fact that quitting aspartame can cause these kinds of symptoms proves that aspartame is addictive and affects brain and nerve function.

Other Artificial Sweeteners

In 2015, Diet Pepsi changed its sweetener from aspartame to a mix of two other artificial sweeteners. Kool-Aid uses those sweeteners as well.

You might see these artificial sweeteners on labels:

Other Artificial Sweeteners

Acesulfame potassium

Are they any healthier than aspartame? Probably not. Can they cause pain in some people? Most likely. Will they cause pain in you and do you want them to be part of your experiment? That’s up to you.


Phase Two: Groceries and Restaurants

Step 1: Read the labels

Read the labels on all your groceries.

Look at the other foods that you buy at the grocery store. Especially: desserts, candies, snacks, gum, toppings, yogurt, fruit products, dairy products, anything with a sweet flavor.

Read the ingredient list, looking for any of the aspartame names, on any item in the grocery store before you buy it (and also on your food at home before you eat it).

Step 2: Find substitutes

Find substitutes for any desserts or other foods that contain aspartame.

In the grocery store, find a substitute for each food that you have to reject—find a similar product without aspartame on its ingredient list.

Step 3: Pay attention in restaurants

Pay attention in restaurants.

Once you’ve started reading labels in the grocery store, you probably have gotten a feeling for the kinds of foods that might contain aspartame.

In restaurants, watch for beverages, desserts, fruit concoctions, and dairy foods that resemble the food products you’ve had to reject. Ask questions.

Chain restaurants and fast food places have websites that list the ingredients of their foods, including desserts.


Phase Three: Vitamins and Over-the-Counter Drugs

Step 1: Read labels

Read labels on vitamins and over-the-counter drugs that you buy

Look at the vitamins and over-the-counter drugs that you use.

The most likely to contain aspartame are chewable vitamins, chewable tablets, powders, and liquids.

  • Read the ingredient list on the package
  • Look for warnings for phenylketonurics
  • Look for a “package insert” (a leaflet inside the box) with information about “other ingredients”

In package inserts, it is possible that aspartame was used but not mentioned; however, phenylalanine will be listed with a warning.

Step 2: Find substitutes

Find substitutes without aspartame.

Read labels at the drug store, online, or with the help of a pharmacist to find substitutes for temporary use during your experiment.



Phase Four: Investigate Medications

Investigate your prescription medications.
Important! Do not stop taking any medications! Discuss with your doctor whether he or she can prescribe a substitute.

Check the package insert of your medications or consult your pharmacist. This is for your own information as you decide how to proceed.

Again, the typical types of medications that contain aspartame are chewable tablets, powders meant for mixing, and liquids.


Phase Five: The Experiment

You’ve tapered from beverages, found substitutes for favorite foods, considered what you order in restaurants, examined your vitamins and over-the-counter drugs, and discussed medications with the pharmacist and your doctor.

The Experiment: Avoid aspartame

Avoid aspartame for the length of time that you decide.

When you feel ready, begin a total avoidance of aspartame for the length of time that you decide. I recommend deciding on the length of time before you start.

  • Many reactors find some pain relief within a few days of discontinuing aspartame
  • You will probably know within two weeks
  • It will take 60 days to answer conclusively if aspartame affects you.

If you can’t change medications with the consent of your doctor, don’t stop taking them. Just avoid the other foods in hope of getting enough enough information for when you speak to your doctor next.

(Optional): A test

You should now have a good idea how aspartame affects you.

If you’re not sure, or want absolute proof, run a test.

After you’ve avoided aspartame for at least two weeks (but preferably sixty days), try it again.

Try a Diet Coke or two, pour a couple packages of Equal, drink a few glasses of Crystal Light, go back to your previous usage:

Your body’s reaction will tell you whether aspartame contributes to your pain!




Aspartame Disease: An FDA-Approved Epidemic
H. J. Roberts, M.D.

How Aspartame Became Legal: The Timeline
Rich Murray

Aspartame-Induced Fibromyalgia, an Unusual but Curable Cause of Chronic Pain
R. Ciappuccini, T. Ansemant, J.-F. Maillefert, C. Tavernier, P. Ornetti
Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology 2010; 28(Suppl.63): S131-S133
PMID: 21176433

Leaked Podesta Emails Confirm Suspicions about Aspartame Dangers
Dr. Joseph Mercola
November 9, 2016