Aspartame Poisoning and Stevia
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Kay Harper
Posted on: August 06, 2006

I received an email from a friend that aspartame poisoning is showing up a lot in Americans. He also stated that a herbal sweetener called stevia is good. How can I buy this herb?

Aspartame is the main sweetening ingredient in NutraSweet, a product of Monsanto. Because aspartame is in widespread use and its market is huge, we hesitate to express our own opinions on the product. But here is what Ray Sahelian and Donna Gates say in their book, "The Stevia Cookbook" (available from Richters):

"... [A]spartame is comprised of phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methonol, or wood alcohol, which, when ingested, breaks down into formaldehyde. Aspartame has been the prime suspect in a variety of symptoms chronicled in thousands of consumer complaints to the FDA and the Dallas-based Aspartame Consumer Safety Network. These include gastrointestinal symptoms, headaches, rashes, depression, seizures, memory loss, blurred vision, slurred speech, and other neurological disorders. Of course, just because a person experiences a particular symptom after ingesting a particular substance doesn’t automatically make the substance the culprit. It could be just coincidence."

Stevia has a much longer history of human use than aspartame. Some people, myself included, believe that a long history of traditional use is often a strong indicator that a herb is safe to use. There are however claims in the medical and scientific literature that stevia use has its own health issues, but many people believe that these claims are unfounded and are, at worse, attempts by the artifical sweetener and sugar lobbies to discredit a natural product which is unpatentable and presents a serious threat to the artificial sweetener and sugar industries.

Richters sells stevia ready-to-use extract in powder form, suitable for use in beverages, desserts, baked goods, etc., and we sell dried stevia leaves which you can add to herbal teas. We also carry stevia plants and seeds to grow your own. For more information, please see:

http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?product=X6030

And what about Splenda? Is it also a killer?

Splenda is another artificial sweetener with a very different chemical composition compared to aspartame. Known as sucralose, it is similar to the ordinary sugar molecule, sucrose, except for the addition of three chlorine atoms. This chlorination of the molecule has raised concerns about the safety of the product. For more details see the website of the Splenda Toxicity Information Center:

http://www.holisticmed.com/splenda/

McNeil Nutritionals, the manufacturer of Splenda, claims that the product is safe:

http://www.splenda.com/page.jhtml?id=splenda/newspromotions/press/safety.inc

For more information about these artificial sweeteners and about stevia, please see the relevant Wikipedia entries:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splenda

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia

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