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July 6, 2004

Posted 1:06 AM Eastern

The controversy over aspartame, found in all diet soft drinks, popular diet lemonade products, pudding and more than 5,000 food products, continues to draw concern in light of recent media reports. Aspartame, distributed by G. D. Searle & Co., has been called on the carpet by the FDA in the past for making misleading and potentially dangerous claims about their products.

Decades ago, Dr. John W. Olney informed G.D. Searle that aspartic acid caused holes in the brains of mice. Dr. Olney insisted Searle replicate studies in his office. They showed brain damage. Searle never gave those studies to the FDA nor did Searle inform the FDA of this study until after aspartame's approval. None of the tests submitted by G.D. Searle to the FDA contradicted these findings (Olney 1970, Gordon 1987, page 493 of US Senate 1987).

Now comes a new movie, 'Sweet Misery,' which chronicles the medical horrors of aspartame. Claims have been made that aspartame may produce an MS-like syndrome as well as Parkinson's symptoms, i.e. shaking. Dr. Betty Martini, who has spent decades on this issue brings up the case of Michael J. Fox and Parkinson's. According to Dr. Martini, Fox is a former Diet Pepsi spokesman and reportedly is addicted to that product. "Indeed, how could Michael Fox develop Parkinson's at the age of 30, an old man's disease? But aspartame (NutraSweet/Equal, etc.) can precipitate Parkinson's and as a neurotoxic drug even interacts with L-dopa."

A recent press release promoting the release of this film states:

"A current review of recent peer-reviewed scientific studies have disclosed a pathophysiological mechanism to explain this connection. As far back as 1996 it was shown that the lesions produced in the myelin sheath of axons in cases of multiple sclerosis were related to excitatory receptors on the primary cells involved called oligodendroglia. Recent studies have now confirmed what was suspected back then. The loss of myelin sheath on the nerve fibers characteristic of the disease are due to the death of these oligodendroglial cells at the site of the lesions (called plaques).

"Further, these studies have shown that the death of these important cells is as a result of excessive exposure to excitotoxins at the site of the lesions.

"Normally, most of these excitotoxins are secreted from microglial immune cells in the central nervous system. This not only destroys these myelin-producing cells it also breaks down the blood-brain barrier (BBB), allowing excitotoxins in the blood stream to enter the site of damage. Aspartame contains the excitotoxin aspartate as 40% of its molecular structure. Numerous studies have shown that consuming aspartame can significantly elevate the excitotoxin level in the blood. There is a common situation during which the excitotoxin exposure is even greater.

"When aspartate (as aspartame) is combined in the diet with monosodium glutamate (MSG) blood levels are several fold higher than normal. With the BBB damaged, as in MS, these excitotoxins can freely enter the site of injury, greatly magnifying the damage. So, we see that dietary excitotoxins, such as aspartame and MSG, can greatly magnify the damage produced in multiple sclerosis. Likewise, excitotoxins have been shown to breakdown the BBB as well.

"Of equal concern is observation that we know that about 10% of the population (based on autopsy studies of elderly) have MS lesions without ever developing the full blown disease, a condition called benign MS. A diet high in excitotoxins, such as aspartame, can convert this benign, subclinical condition into full-blown clinical MS. The amount of excitotoxins consumed in the average American diet is considerable, as shown by several studies. In addition, the toxin methanol is also in the aspartame molecule. Methanol is a axon poison. Combined toxicity of the aspartate and the methanol adds up to considerable brain toxicity and can convert benign, subclinical MS into full-blown MS. Once the MS becomes full-blown, further consumption of excitotoxins magnifies the toxicity, increasing disability and death.

"Recent studies have also shown that even single exposures to these food-based excitotoxins can produce prolonged worsening of neurological lesions. In addition, it has been demonstrated that autoimmune reactions (as occurs with MS) greatly magnifies the toxicity of aspartate and glutamate (the excitotoxins). We also know liquid forms of excitotoxins are significantly more toxic because of rapid absorption and higher blood levels. In the face of this connection between excitotoxicity and the pathophysiology of MS, it would be ludicrous to allow further use of this excitotoxin containing sweetener."

Several highly credentialed doctors appear in this newly released movie, i.e. Dr. Russell Blaylock, Dr. John Olney and Dr. Ralph G. Walton, to name a few. Also in the film is Arthur Evangelista, a former FDA investigator who exposes the medical horrors as a result of the use of aspartame in food and drinks. Those who have seen Sweet Misery used adjectives like "incredible" and encourage everyone to see the world's main experts on aspartame 'expose the and rebut the propaganda put out by the pharmaceutical industry in an attempt to cover up this horrendous public health hazard.'

Others in the field of medicine who were directly involved with the making of this film maintain, "Anybody who sees this movie will now know the whole story."

G.D. Searle has maintained since approval by the FDA that aspartame is a safe product and discounts claims to the contrary.

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When aspartate (as aspartame) is combined in the diet with monosodium glutamate (MSG) blood levels are several fold higher than normal. With the BBB damaged, as in MS, these excitotoxins can freely enter the site of injury, greatly magnifying the damage.