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Aspartame, also known as NutraSweet® and Equal®, is an artificial sweetener made from a combination of methanol, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Methanol is wood alcohol, which is highly toxic and causes nerve damage, blindness and death. Even in the smaller doses associated with occasional drinking of for example diet soda, it can cause headaches and fatigue. Aspartic acid and phenylalanine are amino acids, which can be harmful if taken in isolation or in proportions different from that which occurs naturally in protein. Phenylalanine in particular can interfere with serotonin levels and cause depression and lethargy, and phenylketonurics must totally avoid foods containing phenylalanine as well. Following are some links giving useful information on this subject. There is also information on other additives which their manufacturers insist are safe, despite evidence to the contrary, such as rBGH or rBST (recombinant bovine growth hormone). The older artificial sweeteners saccharin and cyclamate also raised serious health concerns, and true to form, its defenders resorted to coverups and derision rather than rationally arguing their point. For example, Theodore Roosevelt said that anyone who thinks saccharin is harmful is an "idiot". Of course, this was a time when smoking was actually considered healthful by many, and medications containing mercury and arsenic were considered safe and effective. "Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain!"
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Page created: October 14, 1998 Last updated: August 6, 2000