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What You Should Know about Aspartame and Migraines

If you had a migraine, it's better for you to avoid sodas. Diet sodas sweetened with aspartame, at any rate. In case that word doesn't ring a bell, how about NutraSweet? Equal? Little blue packages in the sugar bowl on restaurant tables?

If you were to go solely by the information about aspartame that you can find on the internet, you might every well think this product was created by the devil himself. Truly, the amount of web space devoted to attacking aspartame and its brand name NutraSweet is phenomenal. The product has been vilified like almost no other product on the market, blamed for everything from memory loss to schizophrenia. Although the jury is still out on aspartame's culpability in relation to many dangers, there is no getting around the fact that aspartame has been linked to migraines in many studies.

Aspartame is used in NutraSweet, an artificial sweetener. But aspartame isn't really a sweetening agent. What aspartame does is release an amino acid neurotransmitter in the brain called aspartame. In essence, though approved by the FDA as a sweetener, aspartame is really a drug.

The New England Journal of Medicine, a world-renowned medical journal, has conducted studies that have found a connection between heavy consumption of diet drinks sweetened with aspartame and migraine headaches. One study in particular seems heavily slanted toward finding a connection as those taking part reported having headaches on 33% of the days in which the study was conducted as opposed to the control group which reported headaches on only 24% of the days.

One scientist who has conducted research came to the startling conclusion that 90% of all migraines are caused by allergic reactions to food or food additives. His findings also suggest that aspartame is the most common food additive related to migraines. Another study came to an equally amazing conclusion that 10% of all migraines are related to aspartame consumption. A study conducted at the Univ. of Florida came to perhaps the most jaw-dropping conclusion of them all, finding that aspartame increased the frequency of migraine headaches in over fifty percent of the patients who took part in the study.

Despite all these studies, however, no conclusion has yet been drawn which firmly establishes what it is about aspartame that causes migraines in headache sufferers. The prevailing theory has to do with a biochemical known as seratonin. You may have heard that word before. Indeed, seratonin pops up quite in medical stories as it seems play a part in conditions ranging from appetite loss to mood alteration to sleep problems. When it comes to migraines, seratonin is thought to play a part through the lowering of levels of it in your body thanks to the effects of aspartame, thereby exacerbating pre-existing conditions that cause migraines. So it?s really no so much a case of aspartame being the cause of migraines, but rather being a quick-drawing finger on the trigger.

Believe it or not, but there's also a danger from ceasing your intake if aspartame. Doesn't that figure? If you are currently drinking a large amount of diet sodas or using a lot of NutraSweet in your coffee or tea, the one thing you don't want to do is suddenly stop for a few months and then go back. Many people report that they quit having headaches after stopping their use of products containing aspartame. Then they resumed their use of aspartame and were unfortunate enough to find that the headaches returned and were far worse than before.

Naturally, the makers of NutraSweet dispute any connection existing between their product and migraines. Then again, they dispute any connection between aspartame and any health concern. The bottom line is that enough complaints have been filed with the FDA and enough studies have been conducted to establish at the very least a large amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting a connection. And since even the big two soft drink makers have products diet products that sweeten with Splenda? a sweetener with no bitter aftertaste? there really isn't any reason at all to take the risk.

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