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What Is Aspartame Withdrawal?

Headaches are the most common side effect of aspartame withdrawal.
A diet soda containing aspartame.
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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2014
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Aspartame withdrawal is typically identified as the set of physical symptoms that someone might experience while struggling to break an addiction to the chemical sweetener aspartame. Many experts believe that aspartame presents serious health risks, and some think that it may even be deadly. Aspartame is believed to be highly physically addictive, and withdrawal symptoms can last one month or longer. Headaches are a common withdrawal symptom, but others are said to vary significantly from person to person.

It takes about 14 to 30 days for the average person to get through aspartame withdrawal. The length of withdrawal symptoms may vary, depending on the severity of the individual's addiction, and severe addictions may take longer than 30 days to break. Nausea and muscle pain can also occur. Some medical professionals believe that withdrawal symptoms manifest most often in the part of the body most damaged by aspartame consumption, such as skin symptoms, digestive symptoms, eye symptoms, or cognitive symptoms.

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The most common symptom may be headache. Some experts believe that headaches occur because aspartame damages the brain, and some studies suggest that aspartame use can cause symptoms that mimic those of attention deficit disorder. In 1992, the United States Air Force warned its pilots that aspartame consumption could trigger flicker vertigo, seizures, memory loss, and vision problems during flight. The use of aspartame has been linked to such a wide range of physical and mental symptoms that some professionals wonder if it isn't responsible for the marked increase in the incidence of diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, and depression in the decades since its use as a sugar substitute began.

Addiction to aspartame is believed to be widespread, since this sugar substitute can be found in almost all diet sodas and sugar-free candies. It's used as a substitute for sugar in many processed foods and it's even used in a wide range of popular prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Aspartame has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, attention deficit disorder, and multiple sclerosis, among other diseases. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 10,000 complaints about the adverse effects of this food additive, which appears in a wide range of foods, beverages, and medications. The FDA believes that complaints about aspartame's side effects may comprise as many as 75% of the total adverse reactions complaints submitted for foods and food additives.

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anon949118
Post 15

Splenda has aspartame in it.

anon943316
Post 14

Thank you for this article. I have been addicted to cigarettes and caffeine. I got off all of these with little or no problems or side effects (after many tries).

Not so with Nutrasweet. There are many benefits to quitting I noticed right away. I no longer have headaches, or a constant tightness in my forehead and muscles, plus I am much more easy going and friendly toward others, because I don't feel wired. However, I go through depression when I get off of it cold turkey, and get tired and am not motivated to do much of anything. Sure enough, when I drink a couple of diet sodas, I start feeling better.

It is by far the most addictive thing I have ever been on, but the one thing that is probably the most dangerous. I am going to try to gradually get off of it, as I think this is the best way to go, since I need to function every day.

anon937805
Post 12

I just stopped all aspartame use. It has been a few days. I have been feeling tired and depressed. My body aches so bad. I have to push myself to work at my job. I have had a few bad headaches.

My ears have been ringing for a few months now. The doctor says I have tinnitus. He didn't give me much info other than that. So I looked up tinnitus. I found that there was a connection with tinnitus and aspartame. I have had a lot of the symptoms like major headaches, numbness of fingers and legs at times. I drank a lot of Coke Zero and used sugar substitutes every day.

I really hope this works, but I am getting aspartame withdrawals. I hope I get better soon.

anon933472
Post 11

I drank aspartame for years. I quit drinking it in my coffee and switched to honey (more calories) and I lost 10 pounds immediately. I also noticed my anxiety levels dropped right away.

I had terrible withdrawal feelings of lack of focus, irritability, panic attacks and impending doom. These lasted for weeks. I believe it is a sugar alcohol, so it makes sense that it is a lot like alcoholism. I also believe it makes you retain water and bloat; that's why the weight gain is not related to calories. But I am no scientist. This is my observation. I am glad I quit.

schmitty1
Post 10

I have recently stopped all aspartame; I was having problems getting up from chairs. Since it has been 5 days, today I got up from the couch with no pain and no problems. Although for the past four days, my legs have been giving me a lot of pain.

I was just about to go to the doctor when I read that aspartame withdrawal can cause muscle pain. I drank diet coke for many years and had about seven cans a day. I am on the road to recovery.

anon351609
Post 9

All artificial sweeteners are bad, even Splenda. If you have to have it, switch to Stevia or Truvia (natural sweeteners), or even honey. I have been using artificial sweeteners for two years and my anxiety has increased, I have headaches/dizziness daily, and I have horrible acne that I never had. Stay away from the artificial sweeteners!

anon346766
Post 8

I am currently trying to stop my Diet Coke addiction. I was told that diet RC cola was better. Any thoughts? There's no aspartame in it but it has sucralose. I am having headaches. But m under a lot of stress so not sure about that.

anon346614
Post 7

I am quitting aspartame and on day fur. But I am not quitting caffeine. Aspartame is poison, there is no doubt in my mind, but many of the side effects listed are common with caffeine withdrawal as well.

I am still drinking caffeine in the form of an all natural diet soda I found and although I have some depression, anxiety, pain, etc. I do not have the splitting headaches and fatigue. I would recommend doing it this way. Besides, it is the aspartame we want out of our bodies. We can work on the caffeine later.

anon328265
Post 6

Here are my two cents on the topic: I am a diabetic and as such, I was always under the impression that sugar substitutes were best for diabetics. However, a doctor once told me that he would rather have me drink something that contained real sugar in it and deal with the rise in sugar levels than to drink the toxins in diet drinks.

That led me to doing some research on my own. In 2008, I had such severe heart palpitations that I needed a heart monitor for a 24-hour test. My doctor suggested I take the 21-day challenge. What that meant exactly is giving up aspartame for three weeks to see if my symptoms improve. Well, the result was my heart palpitations all but disappeared. Still, I was addicted to diet sodas and I eventually went back to them.

I found a diet iced tea that was absolutely, hands down the best diet iced tea ever! I would sometimes drink a half gallon jug of it a day! The night before Easter, I was reading about splenda and aspartame dangers and was scared to death about what I read. I decided right then and there to stop, cold turkey. I've gone through these last three days with drinking only water. My body is not used to this at all! I am not a water drinker.

What I noticed over these last few days is severe headaches, almost like migraines. I have popped Motrin in hopes that it would help, but to no avail. I almost went into the hospital because I thought something just had to be very wrong. I spoke to my sister and she told me that it might be a combination of caffeine and aspartame withdrawal symptoms. I never heard of such a thing. I did some further research and apparently I must have be living under a rock, because of course, you can get withdrawal from anything you suddenly stop cold turkey.

It was suggested that you cut back slowly before stopping, which I didn't do. I drank a cup of coffee and although my headache did not magically disappear, it does feel slightly better. I might just drink a cup a day for the next few days to see if my headaches improve.

As for aspartame, I have got to stick to my guns and cut that poison out of my life for good. Nothing about it is good. As for Splenda, it is safer than aspartame but it really is not good for you either. If you look up the side effects for Splenda you will see a long list there. The best thing out there, according to experts, is Sugar in The Raw, which is unbleached, natural sugar. As far as sugar subs go, I was told that Stevia (or Truvia) is better than the rest. The problem with that is that it hasn't had enough long-term research done on it to know about its true side effects.

anon322614
Post 5

I was wondering what was going on with me. I have not had diet soda for six days now. I was drinking about five 20 ounce bottles per day. I'm so glad I am doing this.

literally45
Post 4

@MikeMason-- Your symptoms don't sound that bad. I have migraines, flu-like symptoms (especially fatigue) and dizziness since I quit five days ago. Aspartame is so bad.

Having some caffeine in the form of tea helps. You can also drink Italian soda if you're craving a carbonated beverage.

stoneMason
Post 3

What can I do to ease aspartame addiction and withdrawal symptoms?

I've been drinking soda with aspartame every day for more than twelve years. If I don't drink it, I get a terrible craving for it as well as migraines and sleepiness. I feel like I can't wake up and gather my energy after lunch if I don't have a can of soda.

Is there a way to lessen these symptoms so that I can quit? Is there a safe, healthy drink I can replace soda with during the withdrawal period?

candyquilt
Post 2
@Rebecca68-- I don't know, but Splenda is not aspartame. Splenda is made from sugar molecules. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener and is addictive.

I heard a doctor on TV say that artificial sweeteners like aspartame replace omega 3 molecules in the brain which support the communication between neurons. This is how aspartame is linked with Alzheimer's.

It's interesting if withdrawal from aspartame causes lack of concentration. I think removing aspartame from the diet should improve concentration over time since it will improve brain function.

Rebecca68
Post 1

Can Splenda be addictive?

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