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Alan J. Robinson robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Tue Nov 28 15:27:41 EST 1995

On Wed, 22 Nov 1995 22:36:13 -0500, 
Mark Gold   <mgold at max.tiac.net> wrote:

>>From: jerikse at news.luc.edu (Jason L. Eriksen)
>>Newsgroups: bionet.neuroscience
>>Date: 22 Nov 1995 19:35:59 GMT
>>Much as your concern is touching, I am not convinced that the magnitude of
>>aspartame hazards are near what you are proposing.  In fact, I think that
>>they are minor, and while a few individuals may have problems with
>>the metabolism of aspartame, for the majority this product is safe.

>Fortunately, there was some independent research perfomred on 
>aspartame by researchers who were actually interested in legitamate 
>tests.  Almost without exception, these studies have shown adverse 
>reactions to aspartame.
>These studies helped prove that aspartame can cause some minor
>to serious *acute* reactions caused by aspartame.  There are a large 
>number of people who are experiencing very serious reactions and
>sometimes permanent damage from long-term use of aspartame.  Grand mal 
>seizures, MS-like symptoms, severe depression and memory loss, vision 
>loss, chronic fatigue, arthritic-like conditions, etc.
>How do I know?  I receive many emails and letters from such people and
>many thank you's for tremendous improvements and sometimes cures
>after a period off of the junk.  An amazing "placebo effect" if I 
>ever saw one!  Of course, not everything is caused by aspartame and
>in many cases, aspartame may be only a contributing factor or no
>factor at all.  But out of concern for my fellow persons, I always 
>suggest getting off aspartame as a good initial step in improving 
>one's health (and helping to prevent future health problems).


The information that I have seen calling for the ban of aspartame 
assumes that the problem is straight methanol toxicity.  There are 
two other possible toxicity mechanisms which I think are more likely - 
both may be operating together in some individuals.

Both involve a genetic susceptibility which results in periodic 
dysregulation of the basic brain monoamergic (dopamine, 
norepinephrine, and serotonin) pathways.  These dysregulations 
probably underly a broad spectrum of neuropsychiatric and autoimmune 
medical conditions.  Because there are many interconnected excitatory 
and inhibitory pathways with heavy negative and positive feedback, 
the resulting brain states and response to psychotropic agents can be 
very complex and erratic.

Because aspartame is related to phenylanaline, in turn related to 
tyrosine and dopamine, ingestion of aspartame with ensuing metabolism 
could alter brain dopamine levels directly, leading 
to dysregulation - the first mechanism.

The second mechanism is a hypersensitivity reaction to a xenobiotic - 
small organic molecules such as hydrocarbons from petroleum 
products seem to be the most common trigger of this type 
of hypersensitivity.

These types of hypersensitivities have been just one part of many 
related controversies in medicine stretching as far back in time as 
the Ancient Greeks, who came up with the bizzare explanation that 
unexplainable pathology of this sort in women was the result of a 
wandering womb.  In the 19th century Sigmund Freud studied hysterical 
paralysis under Charcot at the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris.  Freud's 
equally bizarre sexual explanations for this phenomenon have had the 
effect of setting back some areas of science and medicine from 50 to 
100 years, and it will take at least another 100 years to clean up the 
mess that he created.

The reason for mentioning all this is that many researchers' and 
clinicians' knowledge of this area of medicine is hopelessly 
incorrect and out-of-date, and this unfortunately includes recent 
graduates from the most prestigious medical schools.  However, there 
have been enough advances in basic science in the last 10 years that 
at long last reasonable explanations seem to be at hand.  Moreover, we 
also appear to have a treatment in hand for both the susceptibility 
and the hypersensitivities, based on a combination of dopamine and 
serotonin indirect agonists. 

If researchers you work with are interested in more detail, I would be 
happy to fill them in on these developments in science and medicine - 
I've spent a lot of time finding my way around the literature.


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