Doctor's Note

For more on sweeteners, check out these videos:
Aspartame and the Brain
Aspartame-Induced Fibromyalgia
Neurobiology of Artificial Sweeteners
How Diet Soda Could Make Us Gain Weight
Erythritol May Be a Sweet Antioxidant

And check out my other videos on sweeteners

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Vitamin B12: how much, how often?

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on sweeteners. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

    • cw

      What do you think is the real cause of vertigo ??? Thanks

    • It would be good to get an understanding and opinion of what the lesser evil might be between Aspartame sweetening and Sugar?

  • wickedchicken

    There are so many studies, reviews and meta-analyses on pubmed to say aspartame is fine, that I really don’t understand the point of reporting one random study that says it is bad. One can’t just cherry-pick to suit personal views. Legitimate science is about telling the full picture. I have watched/read all your aspartame info, perhaps the next step might be to put it all in a greater context, and explain why in a greater context it is harmful enough that it should be removed from the world food supply [making reference to EFSA and world food safety authorities not banning it, and in fact approving it due to their conclusion of its safety to human health.]

    I don’t think aspartame is great or anything, and I don’t consume many aspartame containing foods/drinks, but I am trying to discover the truth behind it all, and not interested in being mislead due to the few weak studies scandalising it.

  • PaulB

    Aspartame, that’s my name! Ask me again and I’ll tell ya the same!!

  • VeganNutritionist


    Something to consider. EFSA, FDA, and other food safety agencies also state that meat, dairy, eggs, and thousands of processed food are safe for consumption, despite enormous evidence than such foods lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other auto-immune diseases. Do you really trust them to tell you what is safe to eat or not? If it is not a whole, plant-based food, then you are damaging your body without consuming the nutrients to protect it.

    • Indyguy

      So why do humans have incisors??? I eat plenty of meat, fish, poultry, but I also eat lots of greens. Nothing mass produced, however. I think your vegan ways are a little misleading for people considering that for millions of years people have survived on meat. We cannot live without protein…

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Vitamin B12: how much, how often?!

  • jegarst

    Your link for ‘Vitamin B12: how much, how often?!’ doesn’t work

  • Ronald Chavin

    Vegans consume substantially more methanol every day than people who eat both plants and animals. Methanol breaks down in our bodies into lactic acid, formic acid, and formaldehyde, which are 3 substances that vegans consume substantially more of every day than omnivores. The following studies indicate that aspartame is completely safe:

    It’s not good science to form conclusions based on anecdotal stories. Many small stores that specialized in selling more than 10 different kinds of artificial sweeteners have gone out of business. These stores tell me that people who purchased various artificial sweeteners complained of severe side effects – everything from fibromyalgia (pain) to diarrhea to other bizarre occurrences. Aspartame was NOT one of their best-selling sweeteners (the giant supermarkets had much lower prices for aspartame). The criminal boss doesn’t have enough money to pay his members adequately for the work that he requires them to do. He therefore must pay his members in other ways such as encouraging them to become jealous of somebody and then satisfying that jealousy with malicious actions. Things that only the middle class can afford – such as artificial sweeteners, cellphones, cars, and state-of-the-art appliances – become their targets. Instead of tougher laws against unhealthy foods, we have tougher laws restricting cellphone usage and enforcing car seat belts. Appliances and high-tech gadgets suffer mysterious breakdowns caused by the criminals’ misuse of their tracking radars. Many of these anecdotal reports against aspartame are fabricated by members of the mafia and never really occurred. In other cases, the fibromyalgia (pain) was caused by tracking radar. I think that aspartame is completely safe but I personally use sucralose (Splenda) to avoid giving the criminals an excuse to shoot me with their tracking radars. Very recently, I’ve learned to enjoy my white tea and green rooibos tea without adding any Splenda.

    • Ronald Chavin

      If anybody doubts that the criminals can influence science, simply search the Pubmed database for all scientific studies on the safety of smoking marijuana. Incredibly, about 75% of these PubMed studies will conclude that smoking marijuana is completely harmless to our health. Only 25% of these PubMed studies will tell us the truth, namely, that smoking marijuana is extremely harmful to our health. The criminals derive a large proportion of their total income from marijuana sales.

  • EatItAll

    Aspartame makes me sick. if I am careful and don’t ingest any I am fine. Once I eat something with aspartame (and its in a lot of foods) I get migraine head aches and stomach pains that lead to serious vomiting. IF its going to be in food it needs a warning label.

    • Sully

      you may have phenylketonurics please be careful! It can lead to serious health issues!!

  • Mano

    I wish to ask the doctor whether taking aspartame can bring situation similar to “Parkinson Decease”. I have been taking sweetener with aspartame and now I have tremor in my right arm and left leg. Further, I have white spots in my body.

    • Sully

      If you haven’t already gotten that checked out, please know that those are signs that you cannot process and break down aspartame and you may be a phenylketonuric, which just means you cannot deal with these amino acids. This can lead to serious health issues like brain damage and seziures!

  • Mano

    I recently sent a message and the tremor left arm and right leg.

  • Melissa Ann

    IS there any updated information on Aspartame (as of 2013) ?

  • Michelle Belonge

    My 67 year old mother has been using nutra sweet and it contains aspartame…We never read up on artificial sweetners until a friend of mine became ill because of the use of artificial sweetners that contained aspartame….My mother is on 21 medications a day and has trouble walking,dizziness,trouble remembering and stomach pain….She drinks Diet Mt. Dew everyday and Im beginning to think that this poison “aspartame” has something to do with all of her health problems…She has a Dr. appt this week and I am definitely going to do some research….As for now she is off all artificial sweetners and only drinking bottled water…This is day 2 of the water test…I hope and pray that it is not the “aspartame” that is triggering all these symptoms for bad health problems…

    • william

      just stop drinking artificial stuff. All of these studies are for healthy people. If you mother is taking meds with cola then the problem is obvious.

      We think that our bodies are these engines and we just have to do an oil change (doctors appointment) once in a while. Truth is that health begins every day and continues throughout the night. If you drink a litre of cola before you go to bed rather than a herbal tea or simply water, your body is running on dirty motor oil rather than clean healthy water…….

      water is the key to life. People are not thriving because they are replacing water with cola and milk.

  • zach

    Is diet soda harmful to body because it contains Aspartame?

    • Toxins

      Aspartame is indeed quite harmful to consume so yes, diet soda is best avoided.

  • sweta joshi

    Hello doctor,
    I am having regular headaches in rear part of head and also i m having lot of hair fal. I have a baby of 15 months old and i m also working for 10 hours….kindly suggest me the reasons and also ways to reduce the headache and hair fall also.
    Thank you for your time and concern.
    Sweta Joshi

  • michelle w.

    I have had a brain anuerysm and I drink a dt. mtn. dew or diet coke 2-3 times a day can this be affecting my health and thinking badly? And what is considered safe as far as diet drinks?

    • Toxins

      No soda can be considered truly healthful.

    • william

      yes. Jesus. Yes. stop drinking cola and drink water.

      you drink about 2 cases of cola a week. that is a lot!!!!

    • IDIOTS!!

      2- 3 times a day!?!?! are you an idiot?! drinking that much fizzy drinks will make you OVERWEIGHT and ill. not necessarily the aspartame, its the sugar and fat your consuming!!! JESUS. people are so stupid these days!! what kind of a person asks what drink is healthy?!

  • Mary Beth Mowry

    I have serious problems I go every day with headaches and get “episodes” where I become temporarily paralyzed I only drink about one Diet Pepsi maybe once a week and don’t believe that is enough to cause aspartame poison but a friend told me to look into it since the symptoms fit can you clear this up for me. I was discharged from the ICU without a diagnosis and still suffer episodes each getting more severe than the last These headaches are taking over my life Any way you can help shed some light on my situation since the doctors around here seem to have no clue?

    • Thea

      Mary Beth: Since this is so serious, if this were me, I would stop all artificial sweeteners of any kind right away. Just a lay person’s advice.

      I also thought you might want to check out the following page:

      PCRM is a well respected group whose diet recommendations fit perfectly with the NutritionFacts perspective. PCRM also does original clinical research. The information they provide is generally super-high quality.

      The above page identifies 12 common trigger foods for migraines. I don’t know if you have migraines or not, but again – your condition sounds so serious, I would think it would be a good idea to try the very safe and generally effective food elimination diet. (Ie, follow the “2 week test” described on the above page.)

      Finally, if you are not already eating a whole plant food diet as recommended by Dr. Greger/NutritionFacts and PCRM and many others, that is highly recommended. A diet is not a magic cure, but it seems to work wonders for a vast variety of conditions. Simply eating a truly healthy diet *may* stop whatever is messed up in your body. And what’s the harm? Even if it doesn’t cure your episodes, it would only make you healthier on all other fronts.

      Hope this helps.

  • Barbara

    I have avoided artificial sweeteners for decades. My chewing gum of choice was Juicy Fruit which I used a lot. Unbeknownst to me, the formula for the gum was changed from having sugar to having aspartame. Although the packaging design was changed it never occurred to me to look at the ingredients and i kept using. For about 2 years I started to experience escalating episodes of migraine headaches, severe abdominal pain, insomnia, and other symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). One idle day, i chanced to read the ingredients in gum and discovered the aspartame. I quit using the gum and within days, all of my symptoms went away. It has been five years since i stopped and haven’t had a migraine or stomach cramp since. After eating aspartame it metabolizes into methanol and then into formaldehyde. why would anyone in their right mind eat formaldehyde?

    • Thea

      Barbara: Those are some serious symptoms/effects. I’m glad you were able to figure it out!

      One thing I was told a couple years ago (I don’t know if it is true) is that companies are required to change their packaging within X months of a change of ingredients. I used to think that package changes were strictly marketing. Now I pay close attention to package changes as potential indications of content change.

      You paid a big price for the change that Juicy Fruit made. Who would have ever thought to blame the gum? Good sleuthing on your part. Thanks for sharing.

  • Patricia Parker Oliver…/02p-0317_emc-000199.txt‎

    Here’s a link to a government study on aspartame.

  • destini clinkscale

    Does aspertame really cause headaches?

    • JacquieRN

      Several studies do link headache and aspartame for some but no all people.”It appears that some people are particularly susceptible to headaches caused by aspartame and may want to limit their consumption.”(Neurology 1994). “Aspartame, an artificial sweetener added to many foods and beverages, may trigger headaches in susceptible individuals.” (Headache 2001).

  • destini clinkscale

    Does aspertame cause headaches?

  • hmsim

    I had an awful experience with severe non-stop ear ringing and vertigo. Once the vertigo began to hit on a weekly basis, it struck me to take inventory of my food and beverage intake. Through eliminating the flavoring packs that I had newly incorporated into my “better eating plan” to increase my water intake and all other sources of aspartame laced food and drinks I recovered. I have been vertigo free for nine months and almost completely free of ear ringing depending on if I get lazy about reading those food labels and take in artificial crap. I see a vegan lifestyle on the horizon!

  • Kyle

    Okay I want to know the exact problem of aspartame and is it called something else on the back lables