Aspartame Detox And Withdrawal

aspartame sampe

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:LHcheM

In late 2010, I was having about three coffees per day, each one with an Equal or two. In addition, I’d drink about four or five cups a day of grape drink sweetened with aspartame that I bought from WalMart. This isn’t including any of the other sugar-free products I’d drink or eat occasionally.

At the end of that December, I decided I would stop eating any form of aspartame (also called Equal or Nutrasweet) as a New Year’s resolution.

I was a healthy and fit guy who took vitamins and made my best effort to eat right. I didn’t feel that consuming aspartame fit with my other healthy lifestyle choices.

Aspartame can cause a host of problems, such as headaches, vision problems, fatigue, and depression. However, the worst of aspartame side effects is the impact it has on neurons. It can actually destroy brain cells. Here is an article about more of aspartame’s negative side effects.

This article lists my experience with aspartame detox and withdrawal. I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice. I’m not arguing to ban aspartame and I’d never judge those who use. These are just my experiences that I’ve shared for everyone’s benefit. It’s about being informed and quitting if you desire. If you have problems or questions when giving up Equal consult a doctor.

Quitting Aspartame

On January 1st, 2011, I just simply stopped consuming aspartame of any kind. I didn’t stop gradually; I just quit cold turkey. Was it the best method? I’m not sure. I assumed that quitting aspartame was as easy as giving up any other “food” or drink.

However, as you’ll read below, I was wrong. Looking back, a more gradual detox process would’ve been better. If you’re considering quitting aspartame, try to wean yourself more slowly by cutting back before quitting.

Aspartame Withdrawal

I can’t say if my symptoms were genuine withdrawal, my body detoxing, or some other type of reaction related to quitting aspartame. By far, my biggest aspartame withdrawal symptom was a headache. I have no history of headaches at all (I get about one mild one per year), but the day after I quit aspartame, my head felt horrible!

Along with the pain, came a huge light sensitivity. I couldn’t stand any sort of light. Not only that, but when I closed my eyes, I could still “see” the light from lamps or other bulbs in my mind’s eye. It was awful and I can’t remember ever feeling like that before (or after).

Fortunately, my symptoms only lasted a couple of days. I think it’s because I am generally healthy and followed a simple aspartame detox plan (below).

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Aspartame Detox

First, I drank lots and lots of water. Keeping myself hydrated made sure that any toxins being produced left my body as quickly as possible. It also flushed out any aspartame residue out of my system that much more quickly.

Second, I exercised. It wasn’t the easiest with a splitting headache, but (after taking a few aspirin) I still forced myself to do it. I sweated like crazy, which undoubtedly pushed more junk out through my pores. I always feel better after exercise, so this helped my overall mental health too.

Third, I began to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and cut out other chemicals. Although my diet was generally good, I still wanted to make sure I wasn’t putting new chemicals in my body while I was detoxing the old ones (aspartame). I switched to sucralose (Splenda), but also gave that up as well.

Stevia

I still have a taste for sweet things. For example, I love coffee, but find it too bitter without cream and some type of sweetness. But, without Equal or Splenda as options, I was at a loss. That’s when I discovered stevia.

We’ve written an entire review of this natural herb entitled what is stevia that can tell you more about it. Basically, stevia is an all natural no calorie sweetener. Although the taste is slightly bitter, it doesn’t have near the side effects and possible downsides of aspartame and sucralose.

If you are having some aspartame detox and withdrawal issues, I hope my tips have helped you better deal with it.

About Jonathan Bennett

Jonathan Bennett is a writer, speaker, and business owner. His articles have been viewed millions of times, and have been featured in a variety of publications. Besides writing for The Popular Man, he also writes for The Popular Teen and Popular Teacher.

Comments

  1. It’s December 28 and for my New Year’s resolution I have decided to cut out artificial sweeteners. My doc told me last year to quit drinking diet soda but it was tough. It’s been several weeks without aspartame and now several days without sucralose. No withdrawal symptoms yet but I didn’t drink a ton of diet soda but I did like my diet coke. And I thought Diet 7up with splenda was ok….nope. Not that either. It was also the “light” yogurts and the drink mixes I put in my bottled water that added to the mix.

    I thought Soda Stream was better with sucralose but I was wrong. I’ll get the sparkling naturals with sugar only and NO sucralose. It will be water and home-made iced tea from now on. No artificial sweeteners. I’d rather stick with plain ole sugar!

    I just went through the kitchen and threw out anything with aspartame. Wish me luck. First I’ll get off artificial sweeteners and then GMO food. One step at a time. :)

  2. Jonathan Bennett says:

    Best of luck with it all Robin! I also gave up sucralose recently. I’ve started using stevia. Have you tried it? It’s a natural zero calorie sweetener. I don’t like the taste as much as Splenda, but it is still pretty good, at least in coffee.

  3. Thank you for the information, following some research I am hoping it’s not too late for me. Many thanks again

    • Jonathan Bennett says:

      Gail, from what I’ve read about aspartame, once you quit there shouldn’t be any lingering effects.

  4. I found out that there is aspartame in Diet Pepsi, my drink of choice.One of which I have been trying to stop drinking for weight loss reasons.

    http://lifewithoutdietpepsi.blogspot.com

    is my blog of which I write about my life without my favorite soda. I did notice I got the headache thing but I knew that was coming because of when I had tried to quit before. The other think I noticed was I had more energy.

  5. I gave up aspartame about a week ago. Since then I have had a mild headache between my eyes but I have been dizzy and nauseated to the point I just want to sleep. And my heart is rapid. Any suggestions?

    • Jonathan Bennett says:

      Melanie,
      I would definitely consult a doctor in your case. Your symptoms seem very extreme and may not be aspartame withdrawal. They could be something more serious.

  6. Ed Downing says:

    To say I was an aspartame abuser is really putting it mildly….
    I drink coffee a lot and didn’t want the calories associated with sugar, plus I work in a factory
    which often hits in the 90′s and drank diet drinks during the heat.
    In December of 2012 I started have vision problems which my ophthalmologist diagnosed as early macular degeneration.(I’m 55) The doctors solution was to inject a cancer drug called Avastin into the eye, the drug lessens the swelling of the blood vessels that cause the leaking into and behind the retina.
    After some research I had found that aspartame has been associated with macular degeneration. So I quit cold turkey. Ouch
    Headaches and sleeplessness began.

    It’s been a couple of weeks, things are now getting back to normal.
    My vision is improving slightly, but I won’t be able to see any real proof until March 25 when the ophthalmologist has a chance to laser scan my eye again. We can then compare the previous tests….

    I elected to not start the eye injections until I’ve had time to see if the lack of aspartame is helping.
    I will keep you informed,

    Ed Downing

    • Jonathan Bennett says:

      Thank you for sharing, Ed. Please update us on your condition and progress.

    • Hi Ed, how have your eyes been doing since you quit aspartame and did your follow up tests show improvement? I too was a heavy user of aspartame (10-12 cans of diet soda per day) and my eyes are having issues related to AMD (drusen in both eyes) and I’m only 38. Pretty scary stuff and I’m trying to detox off all the poisons/toxins.

      • The problem with my right eye persists. However my left has no problems at all. I’ve learned some other things since quitting aspartame. Aspartame inhibits the absorption of iodine. I don’t salt my foods, so iodized salt was not on my radar. I wasn’t getting much from my diet…… I had problems with the heels of my feet splitting and my index fingers having the skin dry and crack. Signs of a thyroid gland not working properly. All because of a lack of iodine. I’m currently taking kelp pills (iodine supplement) which has stopped the dry skin.

  7. Debbie Kelly says:

    I gave up aspartame too.I’m having alot of insomnia and anxiety issues. I caved in and had a half a can two days in a row and the symptoms disappeared

  8. I LOVE coke zero and Splenda (addiction type of love) but I gave up all artificial sweetener after reading all the negative impact on health. My whole body hurt about four days after, for about three days the pain was crazy. I suffer from aggressive arthritis but this pain was so different. Now, about three weeks in, I have relief from that pain. I do see my rheumatologist tomorrow and will discuss the symptoms with her.

  9. I’ve been drinking 8-10 Diet Dr. Pepper’s a day for the last 8 years or so. Ya, I have a problem. I knew I was addicted, I didn’t know it was killing me, until recently. Chronic fatigue, depression, irritability, night sweats, and panic attacks began ruling my life. Medical science couldn’t find a thing wrong with my body. My chiropractor suggested it may be aspertame poisoning…worth a try in my book. Today makes 3 days since my last DDP and guess what? I feel amazing! Oh I have an annoying headache right between my eyes and I’m irritable from not getting my fix and ya my moods are a bit swingy right now. But I have been sleeping like a baby and my energy returned almost immediately. I feel like me again! I can’t wait to see the me I can be once this stuff is completely detoxed from my system!

  10. Lindsay Nicholson says:

    I gave up aspartame, (cold turkey) about 2 weeks ago. Since giving it I’ve felt much better within myself. I found it interesting when you say you sweating loads when excerising was that just due to working out more or due to detoxing from the aspartame. I excerise regularly anyway but since giving up I am sweating so much whilst at the gym. After reading what you’ve put I’m hoping its a good thing. I am going to up my water intake too just help flush everything out.

  11. Thank goodness I have never been an artificial sweetener user. I try to keep my drinks simple. Water, coffee, wine. That’s about it. I used to use cream and sugar in my coffee, but I knew that much sugar wasn’t good for me. So I forced myself to drink my coffee black for a week, and I started liking it. Now, that’s just how I drink it. You may want to give it a try. You can get used to consuming foods and drinks that just aren’t sweet. It’s worth a try. Good luck to you all. I commend you in your journey to better health!

  12. Hello! Glad to have found this board. I gave up Diet Coke four days in a row. I had participated in a “green” event this weekend and day five was a doozy. I had the worst headache, an anxiety attack and I was so discombobulated that I didn’t know which way was up. I knew it wasn’t a caffeine withdrawal, it was the aspertame withdrawal. The funny thing is, everyone said it was typical caffeine withdrawal. After reading the posts and others on the web, I KNOW for sure I was having aspertame withdrawal.

    I am going to wean myself from Diet Coke. Acutally, I already did, but never made the final wean from one/day. On Saturday, I drank 6 ounces of a Diet coke (couldn’t finish the 12 oz can) and as I sit and type this, there is a 12-oz can on my desk. I had just enough to take away the headache and I am about to refill my 20 oz. water cup.

    I started juicing 10 days ago and wanted to change every thing for the better. It’s best to do baby steps. I love juicing and already my body is feeling the benefits of this healthy drink every morning. (My basic is 3 carrots, 1 tomato and 1 green apple. I’ll add in radish, kale, lime, parsnip or beets if I had it on hand.)

    I know now that aspertame is not good and I am surprised that every adverse health condition I have could most likely be caused by the ONE diet coke/day that I have. Time for a change. Thank you!

    p.s. The true fact is, after drinking just 6 ouces of Diet Coke on Saturday, I ended up overeating on Saturday AND Sunday, because I wasn’t satisfied. When, when I went the four days without a Diet Coke, even though I had a headache and was juicing, my appetite was happy and I felt good all day.

    One question (sorry for the long letter). Is it okay to take acetaminophen or other headache medicine when the headache comes back?

  13. I absolutely adore my Diet Coke…this is going to be rough. 3 years ago I had an event which landed me in the hospital for 8 days. On day 8 they sent me home with a walker which I used for 2 months. Today they say I’m having migraines without pain. If there are too many things going on around me I feel drunk. This includes trouble walking and talking. The triggers can be visual, audio or stress. I have abou 8 of these a day. I can’t work and I’m on disability.
    I’ve decided to get away from aspartame to see if it makes a difference. Wish me luck!

    • After years of consuming over 4 cans a day of diet coke and/or diet dew I have quit CD turkey. Day 3 today and I feel line death. My head has never felt such throbbing odd pain. My eyes can’t seem to focus and I have waves of dizziness and nausea. I know I should probably attempted to do this gradually but I would have never stopped. I read withdrawal symptoms can last up to a month. I hope not…

  14. I was drinking a 2 liter of Coke Zero or Diet Dr Pepper a day. I LOVE Coke Zero, but I received a text from my cousin about aspartame poisoning. I had almost every single side effect. I got so angry at myself that I quit cold turkey. I did have a packet of Splenda with some iced tea last night, but I am sick of putting chemicals in my body. The scariest side effect of the Aspartame was the weak legs. It scared me half to death. Quite honestly, I don’t want to put any more soda in my body ever again. Not worth it.

  15. i have quit aspartame for 4 days now. i have an annoying headache and feel lightheaded and cant sleep. cant wait for this to go. aspartame nearly killed a guy at work a few years ago by destroying his liver. i have started a low carb diet also. the problem is that i like a drink. now what can i drink in a pub? my drink is usually jamesons and diet coke. what can i replace it with that has no aspartame in and is low in calories and carbs?

  16. I was drinking 2+ liters of coke zero cherry daily. A month ago my feet began to burn. I was convinced I had neuropathy. All my lab work is negative including A1C, CMP, CBc, complete thyroid profile, and CRP. I Had worked out 5x weekly. I have quit drinking most anything but water. My feet still burn but possibly better. If I am experiencing toxicity how
    Long until it resolves?

  17. Sandy Tipps says:

    I have been drinking Diet drinks since I was 18. Started out drinking TAB and Diet Pepsi w/o caffeine was my latest. I am now 55 years old and after reading all the info on aspartame have quit cold turkey-last 3 days. No headache-but bloating has gone away. I was diagnosed with Bi-polar with severe panic attacks at age 25-hoping this will help relieve those issues. My whole body aches-I have gained over 75 pounds in 10 years. Would love to spend the rest of my life enjoying it without anxiety-excessive weight and all of my body hurting. Not to mention the fact I have dentures from the Diet drinks rotting out my teeth!

  18. I began giving up my Diet coke addiction 24 hours ago. After talking to a friend that told me of his issues with aspartame, i decided i would try the cold turkey method. I was drinking about 2 liters a day, and was waking up with a headache nearly every morning. I also noticed my depression getting worse, moodiness more often, and a loss of energy. Hoping to see good results from giving up my soda!

  19. In the past 3 months I somehow gained 30 pounds. The only real lifestyle change I can think of that has happened in this time frame was I started drinking diet soda more often. Is it possible that my weight gain is linked to this?

  20. Jonathan Bennett says:

    Ben,
    Although weight gain can be unique to an individual, there is a recent study that shows obesity linked to diet soda: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/10/diet-soda-health-problems/2507219/

  21. Kelly Tanner says:

    I am going to give up my 6+ Diet Cokes a day in a week… (after my vacation for Labor Day). I am scared. I have bi-polar disorder, anxiety attacks, fibro, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, neuropathy, degenerative disc disease, colitis, GERD, graves disease and have had a tumor removed with my ovaries 6 years ago. I am overweight and weak. My right side falls asleep all the time. I am 40, my memory is ok, but my vision is deteriorating. I work full time and I am a full time mom. Diet Coke is not only a physical addiction, but an emotional one. I wake up, and I feel terrible, I drink a Diet Coke. It gives me what I’m sure is a false high. But nonetheless, helps me get going. I usually have to keep drinking them to get through the day. I drink a lot of water, so I’m not sure if I’m getting the worst of the symptoms. I would love to feel better. Feel normal. If anyone has any suggestions for coping with the detox/withdrawl, I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thanks!

  22. I have been drinking Diet Pepsi for 25 years, 32 plus ounces/day. After missing my periods for a few months at age 43 I decided to give up aspartame. I stopped drinking in cold turkey. I had horrible withdrawl symptoms, so bad that I ended up getting an MRI. I had headache, dizziness, tingling in my hands and feet, frequent urination and general anxiety. Its amazing that this can do this to your body. I urge people to discontinue using aspartame. I drank white tea, ate lots of green veggies and almonds. I also took epson baths. My symtoms decreased after the first week but probably lasted almost three. So happy to be free of this addiction!

    • I’ve suffered from migraines for the past 5 years. However, when I started taking Elavil 5 years ago they went away. Last May (5 months ago) my family physician suggested that I switch from regular to diet soda. About that same time my psychiatrist began tapering me off of Elavil. She wanted to clean house on some of my many psych meds. I didn’t put 2 & 2 together until just yesterday. About the time I was decreasing my Elavil & increasing my aspartame intake (via diet soda) I began getting non-stop headaches, a general feeling of fogginess & vision issues (numerous floaters & flashing lights in the corners if my eyes). I’d never had ocular migraines in the past. So my family physician increased my Elavil back to my previous level. It didn’t help with the headaches or vision issues. Next he tried changing my blood pressure medication to one that is also used for headaches. Still no change. Last week he have me a prescription for Imitrex, now a third med specifically for migraines. He told me to try it & have me a referral to a Neurologist. Still didn’t help. All the while my anxiety is becoming uncontrollable. I still have headaches. I’m tired ALL the time. I’m failing at my attempt to eat healthy. I can’t exercise because the headaches, tiredness & vision issues are becoming impossible.

      So this takes me to yesterday. Had my usual coffee in the morning. Took my daughter to a doctor’s appt. Had a drink from Starbucks. Slight headache but amazed that ibuprofen actually helped a little. Didn’t have a diet soda until 4pm. Literally halfway through the can and…here comes the dreaded headache. I’ve been doing research on all types of headaches recently. This one didn’t seem to follow stress…so probably not a tension headache. Don’t feel stopped up at all…so probably not a sinus headache. It finally dawned on me that it occurred only AFTER consuming diet soda. So I researched aspartame & voila my symptoms are right in front of me. I call my niece because she’s seriously health conscious. I’m finding arguments on both sides of the aspartame issue. She also works at an optometrist office. She gives me the low down on aspartame.

      So here I go aspartame free!! I only used it heavily for 5 months. Hopefully I won’t have such serious withdrawals. However, I would go through hell just to know that there is a light at the end of this tunnel!!!

      • Kelly Tanner says:

        Connie,
        YOU CAN DO THIS!! I have been aspertame free for 5 weeks today. I can say my “fibromyalsia” is gone. I have a ruptured disk in my neck, so that still bugs, but seriously, I feel so much better. I have been drowning myself in water to detox. I have lemonade as a treat with REAL sugar, but NO more Aspertame. You have to be careful with foods too. I was shocked to find out how many foods have aspertame.
        You will have Strange withdrawl symptoms, but you can do this. I was drinking about a 12 pack a day of Diet Coke, and I did it! YOU can TOO! Hugs and prayers your way!!

  23. This is the start of week 3 without diet soda. It’s been pure, physical hell but I am determined that I will never drink another diet soda again. The aspartame caused horrific body aches, and the withdrawal is even worse. But I know it’s going to be worth it.

  24. starting my detox today…after numerous MRIs for visual acuity issues, ear ringing, imbalance issues, tingling in my face….I am eager to take the poison out of my body. If I would have know any of this I would have not gone to the numerous drs…..ent, eye, nuerologist…it has been a nightmare trying to figure out what was going on with me. Any tips on the detox process would be appreciated. Thanks for all of the insight.

    • Jonathan Bennett says:

      Joan,
      I hope this is the source of your issues and you can get past it. Although you should consult with a doctor, personally I found drinking lots of water, eating naturally, and getting my body moving very helpful.

  25. I gave up aspartame a month ago. What a trip. My legs have been cramping every nite cannot get into a comfortable position to sleep. I keep hoping soon it will stop. Already I can sleep a few hrs without problems a plus for me after sleeping 4 hrs a nite for years. Keeping a positive outlook that the leg pains will go away forever. Drinking water and ice tea to flush out anything left of the aspartame.

  26. I have quit drinking diet cokes. I expected the headache because of the caffeine but I did not expect the gnawing sensation in my stomach. I have been drinking more water and am also trying to cut out the sweets mainly chocolate. Has anyone else had the hunger sensations? Amy in GA. Thanks for your input.

  27. Coca Cola makes diet coke with splenda

  28. Gloria Rombough-Kron says:

    I’ve been drinking about 3L of diet coke a day for almost 25 years. I quit cold turkey on January 1, 2014. The headaches are over but the joint and muscle pain has me in tears some days. Does anyone know how long this can last and what I can do to help detox ?
    Many thanks ! Gloria

  29. Colleen Lockwood says:

    I decided to quit drinking diet sodas the first day or so of February as a small thing I could change on my weight loss journey with Weight Watchers. I have been completely off of diet drinks since February 16, 2014. I am in hell. I have headaches that start in the base of my skull and travel down my neck and into my shoulders. I have trouble sleeping and now my stomach is bothering me. It almost feels like the flu.I exercise regularly and have been drinking tons of water, I’m just praying the symptoms don’t last too much longer. I’ve read it could last as many as 60 days. Is that true?

  30. I’m glad this thread is still active. I’m feeling pretty desperate and could use some good news. I’ve been a big diet coke drinker for the last 8 years and I think slowly but surely it instilled a bad anxiety disorder in me. I find it terrifying to do things I used to not give a second thought about, like applying for new jobs, going to interviews..or even the concept of a new job. Have seen doctors about depression in the past and some of that’s taken care of, but I’m hoping this anxiety is aspartame related so that I can do something about it, like quitting! Thanks to anyone with input!

  31. Vincent Costen says:

    I quit diet sodas & aspartame 2 weeks ago, and a week into it my body started to ache after any work/excersize… even just light household chores. Finally I realized what was happening, I was having withdrawals. Didn’t add them all up until I saw them here-
    Light headed/dizziness, muscles aching, headaches, sensitivity to light, irritability, flu-like symptoms, and my body is craving fast-food. More than ever. Regular food does nothing for me, but if I eat some fast food, I genuinly feel satisfied. Now I know the reason, and am starting to open my eyes to this problem. My body doesn’t know any better… We’ve been sold & fed the wrong foods all along. So glad I found this information and other people with similar stories, was starting to think it was just me.

  32. Chewed Orbits and Extra for years. Started Jiu Jitsu training about 7 years ago but found I’d be sore for days and sometimes weeks afterwards which really stunted my training. I figured I was just getting older and accepted it. Gave up Orbits a month ago and I swear to you my body became 20 years younger. I’ve gone to class now 7 times in 10 days. It’s miraculous. I can’t believe it took me this long to realize that I was slowly poisoning myself. Get this stuff OFF the market.

  33. I tried getting off of it cold turkey, and boy did I get depressed and tired. But, I felt better in many ways, with less muscle tension, greater concentration, and less anxiety. I did go back to it again (but not as much) because I couldn’t take the depression, but plan to quit again, this time gradually tapering off of it, to avoid that depression again. I may just use those packets of Nutra sweet in water, maybe start with 4 a day, and go down one packet a week until I am off of it completely.

    • Thank you all for this information. I thought I was falling apart. I suspected it was aspartame withdrawals. My body aches so much right now. It has been five days. Hopefully, it will get better soon. I thought I was doing the right thing by using the sugar substutute. Wow, was I wrong!

  34. Kathy Hall says:

    I have been free of Aspartame for a couple of weeks now. I am 100 percent better. I was hurting all over. If I sat down I hardly could get up. I had every ailment that aspartame caused. The dr said I had fibromyalgia. Nope, I was poisoning myself. Sprite zero, trident gum. I am so glad I stopped consuming Aspartame.

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