Neuroexcitotoxicity #7: Aspartate and Aspartame. Is it safe?

July 01, 2010

 Neuroexcitotoxicity #7:  Aspartate and Aspartame.  Is it safe? 

Competency Brain Health Reference:  Russell Blaylock and “The Taste that Kills” 

 We know glutamate.  90% of excitatory neuro-effects in the brain are run by glutamate.  It’s a small amino acid that is found in food and protected from getting into our brain by the blood-brain barrier.   Too much glutamate and many critically sensitive cells fire repeatedly until they are exhausted to death.  Turns out aspartate is a “ditto”.  It’s a small amino acid, just like glutamate, that sets off the glutamate receptors in your brain, just not as powerfully as glutamate does.  But it can be neurotoxic, just like glutamate.  Oh, dear. Where do we naturally find aspartate?  Simple enough.  In all protein, it’s a component amino acid.  When we digest proteins, we digest all of them together, slowly over as much as 12 hours, in balance with each other.  If we need more, our body can make it so it's not one of the 8 “essential” amino acids we have to get from food.  

Now, we have added a new and unique source of aspartate in the form of an artificial sweetener called aspartame.  Aspartame is made up of two amino acids bonded together with a methanol group on the side.  Aspartate and phenylalanine.  The packet warns that the phenylalanine might be toxic but says nothing about the aspartate. There is incredible controversy about the introduction of aspartame.  One more time, pretty good research showed aspartame to cause brain cancer in rats, only to have the FDA ignore those findings.  More disturbing have been the neurological findings that many people experience.  

There are abundant anecdotal and published series about aspartame that this column can’t address, except to note the dramatic stories the FDA receives.  Migraine neurologists have claimed that one of their first actions with migraine sufferers is to take them off aspartame, to much beneficial effect.  The Air Force recommends its pilots to not drink diet sodas before flying (Flying Safety Publication May 1992). The late Dr. M. Adrian Gross, a former senior FDA toxicologist, stated in his testimony before Congress: "Beyond a shadow of a doubt, aspartame triggers brain tumors" and "therefore, by allowing aspartame to be placed on the market the FDA has violated the Delaney Amendment, which forbids putting anything in food that is know to cause cancer...And if the FDA itself elects to violates its own the law, who is left to protect the health of the public?" As part of the environment we live in, aspartic acid, added to extra glutamate, results in extra neuroexcitotoxicity.  We have had a surge in brain cancers in America in the last 30 years, as well as a surge in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  Enough already. 

 WWW:  What will work for me.  You just can’t drink or eat foods with aspartame.  Get rid of the blue stuff.  Almost all diet sodas are just plain dangerous.  Find something different and unique for your soft drink needs.  Take a lemon to work and make fresh lemonade with Stevia.  Make sun tea.  But read the label.  Aspartame has to go.  You weren’t protected by your watchdog food agency.  You have to protect yourself. 

Column written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI, 53045 (262-784-5300)