Do You Have These Aspartame Withdrawal Symptoms?
By Joanie Blaxter, founder of Follow Your Gut
Diet soda is evil. We all know that by now, right? I mean, after all the FDA has over “10,000 complaints that link aspartame to more than 92 side effects,” so it's not like Coca Cola and Pepsi don't know that.
(By the way, this is a post by Joanie Blaxter, founder of Follow Your Gut, but first a disclaimer: neither Joanie nor I are health professionals, use what you read here as part of your own research and then consult with a natural doc or health professional you trust to find what is best and right for YOU. Read my entire disclaimer here, and also note that there may be affiliate links in this post.)
The list of serious problems and disease conditions associated with this artificial sugar is staggering:
- Birth Defects
- Brain Lesions
- Emotional Disorders
(Source: Aspartame's Hidden Dangers.)
Bizarrely enough, recent research shows that, in fact, diet soda does the exact opposite of why most people start drinking it in the first place.
Diet soda makes us gain, not lose, weight and you're actually better off replacing it with the incredibly toxic glyphosate-and-fructose-laden sugar soda for weight loss. Hard to believe, but statistically true.
Will your diet soda drinker give it up once she hears that? Aahhhh… maybe! But don't count on it.
These folks are hard-core. Let me tell you a story about a much beloved friend who came over to my house for dinner. As soon as she finished her traditional foods meal of fish baked in coconut milk, I was shocked to see her immediately reach into her purse and pull out a diet soda. In fact, I believe she drank two.
It was painful – like watching an alcoholic sneak out to the trunk of her car for “just a nip.”
I had seen her regularly drinking aspartame-laden Diet Coke on her ‘down' time in the afternoon at work, but slipping cans into her purse so she'll have some no matter where she goes?? Based on what I've seen, I'm guessing she drinks 6-8 cans per day.
Since she had mentioned to me that her goal for the year was to get healthier, she agreed to take a look at some links about the dangers of aspartame. Nevertheless, she quickly responded after the first email that she didn't want any more information because “I already know all this!”
At the end of last year Coca Cola introduced Coke Life (an interesting choice of name from my perspective as a health coach), a new diet soda that replaces aspartame with stevia and sugar.
And yet, despite wanting to improve her health, my friend has not yet gone to the aspartame-free version. And, you know, I don't think my friend is alone. I think a lot of diet soda drinkers want to give up aspartame, but don't… or can't.
What it is about aspartame that makes it so hard to give up?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a key sign of substance dependence is when a person continues to use a substance even when he or she knows it's causing physical or mental health problems. And after doing some research on the topic I think I get it now. What my friend needs is NOT more information about how dangerous aspartame is.
What my friend needs is help with HOW to deal with her aspartame withdrawal symptoms.
Not surprisingly, you won't find anything in the “scientific” literature to address this issue. That's because you won't find anything supporting the idea that aspartame creates a physiological dependency to begin with. (I know, I was shocked to realize that most of the studies on the effects of artificial sugar on the body and brain are funded by the manufacturers themselves… NOT!)
So, naturally, there's very little describing the addictive nature of this poison and how to effectively detox from it. Consequently, pretty much what you'll find on this topic will be “only” anecdotal. Nevertheless, I believe…
Aspartame can be HIGHLY addictive!
Just read the shocking 7-DAY DETOX ASPARTAME WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS of a 42-year-old addict with a 5-8 can per day habit for 25 years (not unusual by the way, many diet soda drinkers start as teenagers). Reading these symptoms, do you agree with her doctor that she is perfectly healthy and her symptoms have nothing to do with withdrawing from aspartame?
The first day was a string of severe headaches.
The second and third days were made up of flu like symptoms, a never-ending-headache and extreme fatigue.
The third day brought a slight headache, runny nose and fatigue I cannot begin to describe. I also began to swell in my arms and legs. Little pains and tingles in my left arm and chest began to worry me. My kidneys hurt.
Fourth day, I was through with my headache… But I could not get out of bed! I felt as though I was weighted down or tied down. My kidneys hurt. My eyes, cheeks and lips were swollen. I didn’t recognize myself. My legs and arms were swollen tight. I couldn’t bend my fingers – and bonus!- I had an interesting new rash all over my body…
The next day the rash has overtaken my body and face, but my anxiety was waning. My nose stopped running. I wasn’t as swollen. But, my temper was short. Everything was emotionally heightened and I cried for two days (not typical for me).
The seventh day was so much better. I still have a little raging temper and a swollen joints, but the anxiety has almost gone. I’m thinking more clearly and can communicate my thoughts clearly and concisely again. I think I’m on the road to recovery.
(Source: Aspartame Poisoning.)
Is it any reason most people don't have the ability to muscle their way through such physically and psychologically debilitating symptoms? It would also seem, from this addict's description, that weaning is not a doable plan. Sort of like the alcoholic who can't have “just one drink.” It's all or nothing.
And the FDA is perfectly ok with anyone, including children and teens, buying diet soda! In fact, many diet soda drinkers report starting their addiction as teenagers, especially girls wanting to lose weight.
Why does aspartame have such a strong effect?
Brain chemistry is complicated, so there are multiple answers to that question. However, I believe that the fundamentally addictive aspect of aspartame is that it is a brain excitotoxin that affects the production of dopamine.
Dopamine, ahhhh… what is dopamine?
It's everything, baby. Increasing dopamine is what can give us a rush, a sense of satisfaction, pleasure, etc.
Know what other substances people ingest to induce dopamine increases? Alcohol, heroin, cocaine, you get the idea…
Clinical studies now indicate that artificial sweeteners like Aspartame kill brain cells and, while you won't find anything published on the topic, I personally believe that the way, especially teens, get hooked is that first sip stimulates a clinically addictive high.
Aspartame, and, interestingly, MSG, are both classified as brain cell excitotoxins. As one 2-liter per day diet soda addict said “I crave it, need it. My food tastes better with it.”
Does that sound like a pothead/coke addict, or what? No wonder my friend snuck her cans over to dinner at my house. She probably couldn't taste her delicious food without her aspartame ‘hit!' MSG, by the way, is commonly added to food to make it “taste better.”
Catharina Hedberg, the owner of the Ashram, a wellness retreat nestled in California's Santa Monica Mountains, has seen what she believes is aspartame withdrawal firsthand. She claims that as many as 20 percent of the people who visit the Ashram are “totally addicted” to aspartame, mainly from diet drinks. “Withdrawals are horrendous,” Hedberg says, even among those who drink caffeine-free diet soda.
Before guests arrive at the retreat, Hedberg sends them a packet of literature that, among other things, encourages them to stop consuming diet soda and other products that contain aspartame. Although her observations are admittedly unscientific, Hedberg says that people who drink a lot of diet soda tend to experience nausea (and sometimes even vomiting) one to two days after arriving at the retreat, whereas coffee drinkers typically just get headaches. (Emphasis mine.)
(Source: Diet Soda Addiction: How to Get Off the Can.)
As I said, it's basically impossible to find any kind of published clinical studies on this topic. Nevertheless, chronic diet soda drinkers commonly report similar symptoms when they try to give up their habit.
Common Aspartame withdrawal symptoms include:
Fatigue, foggy thinking, a general sense of being ‘let down' or depressed, headache, nausea, vomiting, sometime flu-like symptoms, and food doesn't taste as good.
How to kick the can?
No matter how much of a hassle it is to go through withdrawal, it will be worth it! Aspartame is not benign; a proven neurotoxin, every sip kills brain cells.
- Repair your gut! Artificial sugar, including aspartame, kills beneficial bacteria in our gut. This causes an overgrowth of the harmful strains. The toxic byproduct of harmful strains living in our gut is like a river of poisons constantly being dumped into the body. This wreaks havoc with the immune system embedded in our intestines (80% is located there) and our liver and kidneys which become extremely stressed trying to filer all these toxins out of the blood stream. My favorite probiotic is the only one that has been shown in clinical studies to actually reduce the number of pathological strains.
- Prepare your body with extra good nutrition to make the detox easier by starting a high fat, moderate protein Traditional Foods diet. Healthy animal fats are very stabilizing to the brain and nervous system. Read more about healthy fats here. Or read Sarah's book, Get Your Fats Straight.
- Most diet soda addicts have underlying low energy, usually with depressive overtones. Get checked for adrenal and/or thyroid compromisation by consulting a good naturopathic physician. To find a naturopathic doctor in your area go here. Read this post for more on healing from depression and anxiety naturally.
- Amino acid supplementation can be extremely helpful. Amino acids are neurotransmitters that help balance out a nervous system overstimulated by exocitotoxins. Once again, consult a good naturopathic physician for more direction on this topic.
- Nearly all psychological imbalances like depression are related to some degree to poor microbiome health. Educate yourself about the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet.
- Acupuncture treatments have been clinically shown to reduce the symptoms associated with drug withdrawal.
- Share in the comments YOUR experience of trying to get off Aspartame?!
- Find better beverage options here!
- Read the book, The Taste That Kills by neurologist, Dr. Russell Blaylock, or
- Watch his entire (1 hr 6 min, start about 10min) video by the same name, The Taste That Kills:
This was a post by my sweet friend, Joanie Blaxter, who is now a regular writer around here! She’s been the Ventura County, California chapter leader of the Weston A. Price Foundation since 2010, and you can contact Joanie here for health consultations. Also, find all her posts here.
I drank diet Dr Pepper for years. I began having terrible headaches on the left side across my eye. I had headaches for months, went to the dr, and was referred to neurology. It occurred to me that maybe the diet pop I was drinking could be the cause of these headaches. So, I stopped drinking diet pop on November 3. The headaches immediately stopped- gone completely. I threw out all the diet pop in the house and didn’t drink it anymore. I didn’t crave it, I had no problems stopping.
In the middle of the night one week later, on November 10th I woke up with severe nausea. I thought I had food poisoning and got out of bed to go to the bathroom. I woke my husband up and told him I was sick. I started to the bathroom when a wave of what felt like adrenaline washed through me and I passed out face first in the bed. I went to the hospital and underwent all kind of tests and blood work- everything came back normal. I went home. Three nights later on Saturday night I woke up with the same feeling of nausea and had another adrenaline rush/near syncope experience. I had two more of these episodes on Monday during the evening and another one Tuesday morning. I went back to the hospital on Tuesday and underwent cardiac testing and blood work again and sent home. Wednesday I had a cardiac event monitor placed to check for arrhythmia that might be causing the syncopal episodes. Wednesday night I began having anxiety like I have never experienced in my life. I felt restless, agitated, like I was crawling out of my skin and/or losing my mind. I had brain fog and couldn’t think clearly. This continued through Friday when I began having waves of panic attacks that seemed to never end. I called my primary care dr, had a virtual visit, and she started me on an antidepressant and a PRN anxiety medication. This brain fog and terrible anxiety continued. Sunday afternoon I had another near syncope episode and was admitted to the hospital. I stayed two days and underwent a full cardiac and neuro work up. Everything came back normal. (During this week I had no appetite and could not eat but a few bites each meal- while crying. I lost ten pounds in 5 days)I had multiple syncopal episodes while in the hospital and continued anxiety and panic attacks. I was discharged on Tuesday 11/22, and went home. That night every time I would drift off to sleep I would jolt awake, or I would feel the sensation of a syncopal episode and felt like I was dying. I had vivid dreams of people talking in my ear and standing around me. I was obsessed with checking my blood pressure because I was convinced that it was bottoming out and causing my syncope. I took my BP and it was 90/48, I made my husband call an ambulance because I was certain I was dying. I went back to the hospital- I was there for an hour for more blood work and an EKG that was normal. I was having so much anxiety and panic that I could not stand the thought of returning to our house. I asked my husband to get us a hotel room for the night. I finally fell asleep around 5am. Wednesday morning we returned home- I made myself drink a lot of water believing that would keep my blood pressure up. I decided to drink half a bottle of diet Dr Pepper since it had sodium. That night I slept the best I have in over a week. Thursday morning- thanksgiving day I felt great. I started thinking about diet Dr Pepper and wondered if that might have been the cause of my problems. I thought everything was behind me and I would be feeling better. That evening/ I felt the familiar wave of syncope come over me and went to rest on the bed. From 8:30pm to 8am I experienced the worst anxiety and panic attacks I can imagine. I tried deep breathing, I listened to panic calming apps in my ear buds, I went through wave after wave of panic with little peace in between. By Friday morning I was exhausted and frustrated since I had felt so good the two days prior. I asked my husband to take all the pills out of the bathroom cabinet to work with him because I experienced what I felt could make someone take a bottle of those pills just to get the panic to end. That day my anxiety didn’t improve much- I was a mess. I ended up going back to the ER that evening with panic/anxiety and was admitted to the psych floor so I could see a psychiatrist ASAP. I spent two nights on the psychiatric unit. During that time, the psychiatrist helped me discover that these symptoms and the reason I felt so good for two days during this week – after drinking diet Dr Pepper-were likely related to aspartame withdrawal. I was discharged on Sunday and returned home with a low dose of PRN Ativan for panic attacks. I had some anxiety again on Sunday night and the brain fog continued. Monday I began to feel much better- just mentally and physically exhausted. I continued with anxiety and brain fog through the middle of December. My husband had to take leave from work to be with me d/t syncope and anxiety. A full 55 days and thousands of dollars in medical bills later, and all symptoms have resolved. Aspartame is evil.
Wow, I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through Mary. Thank you very much for sharing here to hopefully help others.
God bless you and I’ll pray your 2022 is so much better!
I am going through this experience right now, and this is the very first story I have found that resonates with me. No doctors I have visited listen when I say that I have quit aspartame cold turkey, and am going through withdrawal symptoms. I KNOW this is what it is. So difficult. If you know of any support groups or doctors that can help, and if you are still out there in comment world, please reach out here.
Maybe search on Facebook for groups specific to Aspartame withdrawal?
I used to think this stuff was relatively harmless, even if it messed with dopamine a little from what I knew of it.
I had switched from aspartame drink energy packets(that wal-mart sells, did like at least 4 a day,plus non-caffeine ones.) to some other ones that use other sweeteners, to eliminate that as the reason I’m losing hair. Could not find any pubmed papers on it, but was recommended by some aloplecia sites. Figured why not try it. can’t hurt, right?
Since then I’ve gotten muscle cramps, nausea, my body hurts, and at the longest time I was without it so far,my jaw was literally chattering along with my body shaking. Have a jello cup with that stuff in it? 30-40 minutes later most of it subsided. started to get body shakes again, and confirmed it was aspartame withdrawal with another jello cup.
I think my withdrawal effects are more due to that aspartame ALSO interferes with things related to acetylcholine (Which I DID find a pubmed article for) rather then the dopamine part since my concentration is as usual.(I have ADHD, I would be able to tell if low dopamine was the cause of my side effects. Have a suspicion that since I’m on wellbutrin, aspartame was not able to become “addictive” through that means,so it is purely physical withdrawal for me. )
I’m going to have to taper off this. Ideally I’ll be purely on tea with stevia at the very end, but it’ll be a process.
Thanks for sharing that Amanda, I hope you’re able to get off it soon.
I’m so glad to find this today! I begin to tapering Aspartame this week and it’s horrible. I only take one bag per day in my morning coffee for up than 20 years. I have bad arythmia for 2 days with low blood pressure. I feel dizzy and ligthhead and I only cut half of a bag one day and take a full one the next day for a week.
It’s a really addictive chemicals.
It’s good you’re weaning slowly Nancy!
MJ Westbrook says
I gave up diet coke so many times it’s not funny. It was easy back when I was pregnant, I knew I didn’t want my kids drinking it. In fact, my daughter has never drank any soda. (thankful!) but now I”m in my late 50s, dealing with weight gain, high cholesterol, general aches in joints, and still headaches. I don’t know what finally led to my decision to give up this time. But reading articles and knowing that it CAN be an addiction made me feel better- sort of! I have an addiction to diet coke. I knew what it was doing to me. I didn’t care. I knew I’d feel better if I gave it up. I didn’t care. I cracked my can open after taking my morning meds. and it made me feel soooo good. It’s been almost a week here, and thanks to the internet and support, I know I won’t go back to it. Not for special occasions, not for just one, NOTHING. I am an addict. I used to kiss my bottles. Nope. NO MORE! Even giving away my diet coke shirts. SO ready to enjoy my life- with no bloating, no aches, SLEEPING like I should, less migraines, clearer skin and more energy. Giving up sugar for lent in a few weeks, I”ll let you know how THAT goes! lol after a weekend of migraines and flu like symptoms, sugar can’t be that hard, can it!?!!!
Wow MJ, I am SO SO SOOOOO happy that you’ve finally done it and that you now see it for the evil that it really is. Giving up all sugar, that will be tricky too, but you can do it, maybe I’ll join you and also give that up for Lent this year! But I’ve been doing great really watching my portions. Once you switch to real food it’s so easy to eat too much sometimes because it tastes SO good and knowing it’s better for you, BUT since I don’t move that much each day (too much work time on the computer), I need to watch that. We all have something we can be better at!
I’d just like to share my story of giving up diet coke cold turkey. I had my last drink 5 days ago and I am feeling this overwhelming sense of malaise and low mood ever since. I’m wondering how long this will last. I feel close to tears.
MJ Westbrook says
Hang in there! one day at a time- everyone is different, but it should taper off in a few days! GREAT job!!!
Simply and bluntly stated: For about the last four weeks, I’d been feeling as though something was just not quite right with my brain. Initially, I thought I was just having a senior moment as I’ll be 65 next month, but as the “feeling,” I’ll call it for lack of a better word persisted, I started trying to figure out what was going on in/to my head/brain. If I had to describe it today, I would say it was like my brain was at a full charge with no way to release that energy. I knew something was going on, and I felt it was not a stroke, brain tumor or anything because the symptoms for those issues did not exist. Since I have a very strict food intake regime, I felt I needed to look at what had changed in my life during those last few weeks. Almost immediately, I thought about my increased intake of iced coffee which I make at home. Prior to these symptoms of what I’ll refer to as “brain fog,” I would have one of the medium Starbucks drinking cups (the plastic ones with lid and straw I’d purchased at one of the stores I’d visited), and I’d top it off after drinking a few sips and that was it for any given day UNTIL a few weeks ago when I started routinely drinking the iced coffee throughout the day and night. I’d pre-make two 32-oz. containers of the beverage which consisted of regular coffee mixed with about four heaping tablespoons of non-dairy creamer, French Vanilla creamer, AND 18 packets of the Wal-Mart knock-off brand of Sweet-and-Low poured into a drinking cup filled with crushed ice. I started this routine of drinking more iced coffee because I’d decided to give up soft drinks. Fast forward about three weeks, and I knew something was not right. My thought process was a mess. I was struggling to just not forget things. Simple things. I’d often find myself retracing my steps to retrieve something I’d forgotten in the car, somewhere in the house, at a family members’ home, etc. My head felt “engorged,” as if it was jammed full of “something.” So, I started educating myself about aspartame, and there it was all over the internet: My symptons. Yesterday, I decided no more iced coffee with any sugar-free anything. Today, less than 24 hours later, I’m feeling so much better, and I’ve no doubt in my mind that the aspartame was the culprit. It is shocking to think that my no-calorie sweetener could do this to me or others. I just hope I will continue to progress, and that people can learn from my experience.
Quitting cold turkey.
I had my last diet soda (in particular diet coke) last Saturday. My week was migraine dense, emotional and HARD. It’s all I’ve thought about. However today I came to a real over the hill moment. I ended up in hospital with my little brother and my other half bought me a diet coke as he thought I might need it. It’s still in the bag. Unopened and going to stay that way. I have suffered with palpitations today, which I think could be to do with caffeine reduction but hey. Good look to you all on your detox.
Wow Victoria, this is awesome!!! Don’t forget to try homeopathy for your migraines and keep us posted as to how you’re doing.
Dont quit completely cold Turkey I started drinking tea which helped with the head and body aches
I ran into this information because I was looking for specific information regarding the gut issues I am now having after having given up diet soda and coffee for about 4 days. Which is that my gut has swollen up and just nothing was moving in there. It was so painful and feverish to the touch and it just kept getting more and more swollen, even after the headache, fever and most of the flu-like symptoms were gone.
I drank some soda and some coffee. Actually, had a bad reaction after the coffee (which had no sweetener in it) and not after the diet soda. But, then, finally, I could go to the bathroom a little bit.. But, mostly, my gut is just one big block of non-moving numbness, unless I press on it. Then, it is a big screaming ball of pain and numbness intermingled.
I quit drinking diet soda before, at different times, but, I had always tapered down until I got to the point where I was drinking so little of it that I could just walk away. This is the first time I went cold turkey and this is the first time I have had these major symptoms.
Has anyone else just had their gut swell up and stop working – or seem to – from quitting diet soda?
Joanie Blaxter says
Hi Arletta, Yes, actually I have heard of constipation being a reaction to quitting aspartame, but I think you’ll get pretty quick relief using this spore probiotic (https://www.perfectsupplements.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=JT-Probiotic&Click=48707). It has to do with the fact that all artificial sugars, including aspartame, kill gut bacteria and induce gut dysbiosis. When we get an overgrowth of pathological microbes in the intestines, they produce an excess of toxins which can irritate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is responsible for peristalsis and when it becomes inflamed, peristalsis slows down or ceases. In contrast, caffeine stimulates peristalsis. That give you an idea why diet soda has caffeine in it? Start on the probiotic and eat a really clean diet – absolutely no GMO foods, avoid RoundUp (glyphosate) and industrial cleaners in your environment and antimicrobials of any sort. Eat plenty of grassfed meats and animal fat and lots of low starch veggies. These are the foods that will feed primarily good bacteria so their numbers can rise and take territory from the bad guys. Do let us know how you do on this approach!
Rebecca Adams says
Ok, so I’m not actually a consumer of diet drinks, only water but I do consume coffee and many years ago I fell foul to aspartame believing that I was consuming too much sugar! I have 2 sweeteners per cup so this averages 12 sweetners per day. As a chronic migraine sufferer my Neurologist advised I stop using aspartame (caffeine is not a migraine trigger for me) So, my first attempt in 2015 was horrendous. By the end of day one I got a migraine and 14 days later I still had it along with facial pain, including pain in my ears, jaws, teeth, gums and a burning nose. I had nausea and vomiting, irritability, anxiety, mood swings and hot flushes. I took myself to A&E the first time ever for a migraine (I’ve had them for 35 years) but I actually thought there was something very wrong with my brain and I was concerned that this was not just a migraine. They did a MRI scan which actually revealed MS lesions but nothing else untoward. Diagnosis was severe unilateral migraine with possible neuralgia type headache. Reassured I didn’t make the connection with aspartame, as the withdrawals were very similar to a typical migraine cycle but severe. I was discharged with morphine and stayed with a friend. By day 2 this horror of symptoms disappeared and I believed it was the morphine until I saw sweetners in my friends kitchen , which she had been putting in my coffee. I’d forgotten about the aspartame withdrawal and suddenly everything fell into place. Horrified I saw my GP who confirmed that aspartame withdrawal is as bad as withdrawing from an illegal substance. His advice was to wait until my head had completely settled and they had sorted out the MS. I did a lot of research on aspartame and couldn’t actually comprehend how dangerous this substance was. Well it’s now 2018 and MS being dealt with I decided to give it another go. 24 hours in and bam the same agony so I gave in and am using it again. My GP wants to withdraw me slowly this time and has put me on a withdrawal programme. I feel so angry with the company’s responsible for using this poison and for not informing the consumer about the dangers of consumption. I’m actually dreading this but I have to stop using this muck. Any pointers to make this a little easier on my brain would be welcome
Joanie Blaxter says
Rebecca, search online for “multiple sclerosis gut microbiome” and you’ll find many scholarly articles linking MS to having an overgrowth of pathological bacteria in the intestines. I’m guessing that gut dysbiosis is the primary underlying contributor to your 35 years of migraines and the precursor to the MS and is why the aspartame affected you so severely. I encourage you to also add spore bacteria into your diet (go here: https://www.perfectsupplements.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=JT-Probiotic&Click=48707). START SLOW and read this article I wrote for Kelly to get the basics: https://kellythekitchenkop.com/is-my-probiotic-really-helping-or-wasting-money/. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions! I can refer you to a clinician who has expertise working with these strains. If you introduce this gut-cleaning probiotic, I think at the very least you can expect to see you migraines decrease if not disappear. Please let us know of any changes in your MS symptoms!
I found this post when looking for information on withdrawal symptoms. Most websites talk about and average of 7-10 days of intense symptoms.
I’m going on 20 days of extreme fatigue like I’ve never experienced. It’s becoming disruptive. I had the dizziness and other symptoms but for me the fatigue is horrible.
Joanie Blaxter says
@ Snoogadooch One of the things I’ve learned since writing this article is how artificial sugar kills beneficial bacteria in the gut. Read this article and try using the probiotic recommended in it. It’s the most effective one I’ve found and I think it will help with the detox symptoms: https://kellythekitchenkop.com/is-my-probiotic-really-helping-or-wasting-money/
Daniel C. says
On January 23, 2017 I drank my last diet Mountain Dew and diet soda period. I wanted to do this because I thought aspartame was making my bp go up and the cause of pain in my hip areas making it tough to do my job. On Jan. 27 I woke up for work and my heart was racing and having awful heart palpitations. I have PVC’s anyway but this was out of control. I haven’t had them that bad since I got diagnosed with high blood pressure 4 years ago. Needless to say my bp was also elevated as well as my pulse never got below 100 bpm the entire weekend. I was freaking out. Sunday I decided I might as well quit caffeine to as I was drinking 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day on top of 2-3 diet mountain dews a day.
I did some research and found out that there was such a thing as aspartame withdrawal. So, throw in the caffeine withdrawal and the fact that my cardiologist put me back on the Atkins diet to lose weight and help with my blood pressure and my body has been put into shock. Today is February 5 and I am still having heart palpitations periodically off and on through the day as well as headaches. I have had the frequent trips to the bathroom for bowel movements if you know what I mean. I have also had a couple nights where I woke up in a puddle of my own sweat. I have had a couple nights where I had trouble sleeping. It’s been pure hell but I am determined to get through this. I read where it takes aspartame 30 days to get out of your system. Well, I am in this for the long haul. No more aspartame, no more coffee, no more caffeine period. The elevated heart rate and heart palpitations drive me crazy. I do remember the last time I started the Atkins diet I had elevated heart rate and heart palpitations for a few days. So I guess my sister was right. I just threw to much to soon at my body and it’s going to take time for my body to adjust. I just hope that all that I have gone through is well worth it.
I do know I never had this problem before I stopped the diet soda. I exercise 5 days a week and have been for over a year. My heart rate just doesn’t ramp up for no reason. That’s how I know it’s aspartame and caffeine detox. I hope my story will help someone out there. No you are not going to die. Hang in there, you will make it through. Thanks for all the posts here. This site has really helped me out.
Joanie Blaxter says
Hi Daniel! Thanks for being such a model of persistence and for recording your story here so others can learn! The only other thing I would add is, now that you’ve gotten most of the caffeine and aspartame out of your system, you’ll want to repair the damage the aspartame did to the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Read this article and try the recommended probiotic. It’s the most effective one I’ve found. And let me know what you think!
Amber Marshall says
So glad to have found this article today. I am in my withdrawal right now.
I was addicted to Coca-Cola. Chugging a 2l a day minimum. I gained alot of weight due to a medication that messed up my metabolism. I switched to diet coke as a way to lose weight. My consumption increased two fold in a year and I have been drinking a 12 pk a day for 11 years. My hair is like straw, my intestinal system is a mess, bloated and gasy. My pee is thick and weird, I was dependant on it. I tried several times to taper. Unsuccessfully. I switched to the Coca-Cola Life which is sweetened with stivia. It was ok to get off the diet coke. That was 6 days ago. My withdrawal symptoms are intense.
Flu like symptoms, intense headaches, joint pain muscle pain, numbing of my extremities, nausea, loss of appetite and diarrhoea.
Yesterday I had two pops and a cup of tea. And headaches. Caffeine withdrawal today. Headache starting, neck and shoulders are almost seized. I am so sick. When does this end? Did I screw up and extend this withdrawal period by using the other pop to kick the aspartame first? I guess it’s too late. The important thing is these symptoms will eventually end and I will have beaten it. But omg this sucks so bad!!!
Wow Amber, I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this! I’m not sure how long it lasts, but I’m thankful you’re at least on your way, good job!!!
Joanie Blaxter says
Amber, you are amazing!! And something that I recently learned that may help you detox more effectively – try incorporating spore bacillus (this probiotic) into your program. Turns out that artificial sugar interferes with the ability of the bacteria in our gut to communicate properly. Read about how to improve your microbiome in my article and please do let me know if it helps your detox process!!! I so want you to get through this phase as quickly and painlessly as possible. https://kellythekitchenkop.com/is-my-probiotic-really-helping-or-wasting-money/
Kristin Johnson says
I’ve been drinking diet sodas and artificial sweetners for almost 20 years. Around the time i started I developed thrombocytopenia which I still suffer today. Coincidence? Starting to doubt it. Now I have terrible anemia and need to start iron transfusion. Yesterday I started the journey to go cold turkey from artifical sweetners (and vaping) I still had my coffee with no sweetner. I feel like death…Headache, light sensitivity, brain fog…it look me a good 2 minutes to remember how to spell jaw this morning. Wtf? It’s going to be a rough week considering I have no idea how the iron infusions will affect me. I just hope with thathe paired with quitting vaping artificial sweetnere and limiting my drinking I’ll finally start feeling human again and stop brushing like I get beaten everyday.
Joanie Blaxter says
Kristin, you are so on the right track! I just also really encourage you to get assistance from a naturally oriented practitioner. Do you have someone you trust? I suspect appropriate testing may give you more information about what’s going on in your body. Try going here: https://www.naturopathic.org/AF_MemberDirectory.asp?version=2. If you can’t find someone through that site, email me through my website and I’ll give you some references for practitioners who will work with you over the phone.
Jeanmarie Todd says
I just shared it. I have at least two sisters-in-law who are long-time diet soda addicts.
Joanie Blaxter says
@ Kristal and Jeanmarie Thank you so much for sharing this post!! I agree, the only way we’re going to see action from the FDA is by sharing our testimonials with one another about the addictive qualities of artificial sugar. It’s poison, and especially poisonous for our kids growing brains, and needs to be banned the grocery shelf and removed from all foods permanently!
Kristal Sweet-Kyle says
Shared. I try to tell people but they just think your crazy. They think it wouldn’t be on the shelves if it wasn’t safe. SMH!
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
I wonder why no one is sharing this post… I wonder if it’s because it strikes too close to “home” for so many?
I’m detoxing from an 18 diet cokes a day habit. Feel like death…tired, dizzy etc. help!
Joanie Blaxter says
Jody, giving up 18 Diet Cokes a day is a huge biochemical change for your body! You’re totally on the right track. I just really encourage you to also be working with a naturally oriented practitioner. To find a naturopath in your area: Try going here: https://www.naturopathic.org/AF_MemberDirectory.asp?version=2. If you can’t find someone through that site, email me through my website and I’ll give you some references for practitioners who will work with you over the phone.
I’m a week and a half aspartame free and still going through withdraw. I drank 5-10 coke zero’s a day for about five years, plus four cups of coffee a day with 3 or 4 sweetener packets each. I am still drinking coffee, but with no sugar or sweetener. Migraines first, followed by a stiff neck, sore throat, depression/mood swings. Throat pain, migraines gone. Now, I feel extremely fatigued and lightheaded. It’s almost like my body needs something bad, a very hard to explain feeling. I hope I’m almost there. Aspartame is evil, that’s all I can say. Good luck to everyone out there and it’s great to read forums with other people going through the same thing/support.
Joanie Blaxter says
Gooooooooooooo Mike! And I also really encourage you to be doing this withdrawal under the care of a good naturopathic physician. It’s wisest to be getting testing done on your blood sugar levels, etc. Don’t know a good doc? Try going here: https://www.naturopathic.org/AF_MemberDirectory.asp?version=2
Michelle Goldsmith says
How about we just stay away from soda and all artificial sweeteners? What’s wrong with plain water? Okay, so some water isn’t fit to drink and some filters take out all the minerals. Boil it, let it sit in clear glass jugs in some sunlight with the lid off (covered with cheesecloth or some other mesh). The water will be clean, clear, have lots of natural minerals, and be free of most contaminants. Granted, this will not prevent lead or other heavy metals getting through, but one should be testing the water periodically for that sort of thing anyway. Water is the best for you. Some people claim they don’t like water, but that’s usually because their palette has been completely tainted by all the other stuff we drink. Give it a try!
There are new soft drinks out that contain stevia and erythritol. One brand is Zevia. I live in the midwest US, and bought some at Meijer. I have not tried it yet, as I am on the HCG diet right now and can only use stevia alone for a sweetener. Check out Zevia.com
Joanie B says
I really agree with Michelle’s comment below. Recent studies have suggested that every time we consume an artificial sweetener, be that stevia, aspartame, whatever, the taste of sweetness itself stimulates the brain to produce insulin. This not only stresses out the pancreas due to overproduction of insulin, but also increases our appetite as our blood sugar levels crash.
My suggestion? Keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible. Increase your consumption of healthy fats in combination with moderate levels of protein. Drink fresh, clean water. Preferably not during meals, since it waters down your digestive juices.
Kathy Steere says
Just stop drinking soda!
Joanie Blaxter says
I second that Sophie! And while I think it’s never too soon to get rid of the aspartame, be careful about withdrawing from caffeine too quickly. You may want to read my article on migraines https://kellythekitchenkop.com/how-to-stop-a-migraine/. Turns out that the pain of a migraine comes from the expansion (re: inflammation) of the blood vessels in the head which press against nerves. Caffeine makes the vessels temporarily CONTRACT, thus relieving the pain of a migraine. That’s why all over-the-
counter, migraine analgesics contain caffeine. Overall the most effective detox for aspartame withdrawal is to go on a hypoallergenic diet and remove all the most common inflammatory foods: GMO’s, pasteurized dairy, gluten, soy, eggs and the nightshade family. And, of course, stay away from the aspartame, you’re doing great there!
Sophie! You can do it!! I know it’s going to be hard for a little while! Take some epsom salt baths and drink apple cider vinegar in water to encourage the toxins out. also, think about doing a heavy metal cleanse, like the one global healing center has–you should look that one up–it pulls the toxins out through your feet while you sleep and ou take a high quality zeolite.
Think about it! it might make a difference in the amount of time you are feeling side effects.
Hope this helps!
Thanks for this article. I’m going through the withdrawals right now – 2 days in. I’ve been having chronic migraines for the last few months and my doctor told me that they were most likely caused by the aspartame and caffeine in Diet Pepsi and Coffee.
Wish me luck
Joanie Blaxter says
Wow, Angela, congratulations, that is absolutely fascinating! So do you think some how you had the underlying nutritional deficiency all along?
Hi,I quit Diet Coke 10 days ago unintentionally. Have drank Diet Coke daily 2-6 can a day depending on the craving.I am now 47.i have tried to give up several times but go back to it.10 days ago I was sure I was severely anaemic by self diagnosis linked to research and a reccomendation of nature best website with there high quality supplement.I increased my iron by taking an iron and vitamin C supplement.But increasing the iron to 21mg a day as recommended for 3 months(not 14mg the RDA by a nutritionist online).As soon as I started taking the supplement which I take daily the craving for Diet Coke stopped immediately.I had one headache per day lasting approx; 20 minutes for approx 5 day.The severe cramps in toes caused by nerve damage side of one foot partially numb.,side effect of back surgery ,extremely painful especially when wearing closed in footwear.stopped immediately,hair stopped falling out, raising of blood pressure rash(severe),part of EDS which I am a carrier stopped immediately, have amazing energy. and cognitively I am less forgetful .I have to remember to take the supplement by midday the latest as I have so much energy I struggle to sleep.If I am unable to take it due to the above. I take a high dose vitamin C otherwise the severe cramps reappear.I am absolutely pleased with the results.I have not craved Diet Coke at all and I drink lots of filtered water and carry a bottle of filtered water with me regularly.
Was drinking 4-6 pepsi max daily for years, stopped a couple of weeks ago but the last week have had an upset stomach, anyone else had this since quitting? Im tempted to start drinking again to see if my tummy trouble eases!
Joanie Blaxter says
Leigh, congratulations on quitting! That’s a huge accomplishment. You are officially in detox. My guess would be that the stomach ache is most likely related to quitting aspartame, but, honestly, why even consider returning to a substance that actually kills brain cell? You’re already two weeks clean, don’t set yourself back. How about ginger tea? Or the homeopathic nux vomica? You might want to consider acupuncture to help restore balance to your body’s biochemistry. Don’t give in now, keep going!
I have been addicted to diet soda since I was a teenager. I am now forty nine years old. I live in Australia and I am currently withdrawing from Pepsi Max. I have been diagnosed with Crohn’s colitis and with SLE lupus and discoid lupus. I strongly believe that diet soda is responsible for at least the lupus.
The withdrawal I am experiencing is extreme. I had to stop drinking Pepsi Max as I holidayed in Bali and it is unavailable there. I drank two to three cans of diet coke or coke zero per day instead. I slowly got down to one can per day by the end of my holiday.
When I returned home I quit diet soda cold turkey. The first day I experienced extreme migraine and nausea. I was curled up in a ball crying from the pain. I had to take very strong pain killers and the migraine was still present! I ended up begging my husband to run out and buy one small bottle of diet soda to see if that was what was wrong.
Sure enough the soda eased my headache! My migraine disappeared! I am 100% determined to never drink diet soda again as I believe that the companies which produce these products know of the effects but won’t admit them. I can see a long future of lawsuits when all the cases of aspartame poisoning and addiction come to light.
During my addiction I have never been the healthy weight that I was in my twenties. I believe that diet soda can cause weight gain as it leads to craving more sugar.
My addiction was severe and I carried Pepsi Max with me everywhere. I drank up to four litres per day…. that’s about twelve cans!
I warn everyone to stay away from aspartame as I believe it is poison. This product is designed to be addictive… no doubt.
Joanie Blaxter says
Thank you so much for this post!!! Keep telling your story. And my suggestion is to document all the effects you experience when trying to detox, dates, symptoms, etc. You’re right. It’s important that everyone understand how strong are the effects of the chemicals they put in these drinks which get marketed to children.
All aspartame has been banned from my home for many years, as we determined that is was causing my daughter once a week or oftener migraine headaches. No diet drinks…..no migraines.
I found your theory about “first sip stimulates a clinically addictive high” interesting, because even over 30 yrslater I can remember my very first sip of diet coke with aspartame. I was a teen working at a fast food joint when the stuff first came out and we got it in the fountain. I tried it, and it gave me a rush, sure did.
Joanie Blaxter says
Thank you for saying that Leah! I’ve spoken to others who say something similar but it’s good to hear someone speak from personal experience.
Cindy Sweitzer Reynolds says
unfortunately it isn’t just diet pop that contains this….almost everything sugar free has aspartame….the food industry seems to prefer that sweetener and I so wish they would change it!!! Diagnosed Diabetic a year ago, I have had to change my eating habits and gave up sugar altogether but the sugar free products that you buy are filled with this poison….why can’t they use stevia or erythritol or something other than aspartame??? even the flavoring you buy to add to water has the stuff in it….I do not want to consume it …..but the food industry has us under a barrell….very few alternatives….it needs to change and we need to demand that they change!!!
How right you are! I have learned to be a rabid ingredient reader for not just aspartame but other problematic foods such as HFCS.
Joanie Blaxter says
Cindy – As a diabetic, keep in mind that what is being talked about more and more is that anything that tastes sweet no matter how supposedly benign – like “stevia or erythritol” – is, in fact, a problem for diabetics.
The reason is that our bodies are basically hardwired NOT to consume much in the way of sweet foods. When we do, the brain says “Oh, sweet food. Ok, that means calories are coming.” So it tells the pancreas to produce insulin in response to the sugar rush that it’s expecting. And if what you’ve consumed is a no or low calorie sweetener, now you have to eat something sweet anyway to balance out the insulin rush.
The only answer for all of us, but most especially diabetics, is we HAVE to be willing to give up that sweet tooth. My suggestion? EAT MORE GOOD FAT!!!! Like butter, coconut oil, tallow, lard. Eat moderate animal protein in combination with substantial fat and you won’t believe how much better you feel while losing that sweet tooth forever!
Random Snarky Commenter says
Most important line in this whole blog that is loaded with affiliate links is “neither Joanie nor I are health professionals.”
Hey readers, if you were wondering about the commenter above ^^^ — read this: https://kellythekitchenkop.com/how-to-recognize-a-troll/
Great article. My niece was addicted to diet soda. She resented the articles I sent to her. So I stopped sending them and said I’d say prayers that she had the mental and physical strength to quit because diet soda is so toxic to the body and brain. She suffers from psoriasis and had a huge flare-up. That convinced her that her body was toxic, so she went to a nutritionist/naturepath who told her the first thing she needed to do was quit the diet soda habit and eliminate all artificial sweeteners and ingredients from her diet. My niece also found out she had food intolerances, but not necessarily food allergies. According to her doctor, some people have food intolerances when they combine certain foods together. My niece is doing better now and has lost some weight without even trying. I’m so glad she finally woke up about the toxic stuff she was ingesting, especially the diet soda.
Brett Michael Christoffel, author says
I too was aspartame’s biatch for far too many years, 4-7 per day, and once I had the chance to back off of it, after being educated on it, I was still having a couple a week out at dinner etc. Then I got to watch someone else who was owned by it. That made it easy to divorce myself from it and this was almost a year ago and I could not be happier. Amazing how wonderful clean water tastes:)
Such a great way to explain, Brett! Yes, I was owned by diet Coke. I wish I had had your experience early in my beginning addiction.
Joanie Rocks says
I agree Lori! It’s especially important to remind each other about how wrong is so much of what we’re told about new products when they’re first released on the market. I remember when diet soda was promoted as “healthy” too! And my sister commented about how it has always been pushed at diabetics. Thanks again for sharing.
When I was in my early 20’s and 30’s I believed what came out of the media. I did not believe that the government would allow anyone to harm us, and now I know that is not true. I worry about all the kids who are put on this poison by their well-meaning parents!
This is really important information, Kelly. I was addicted to diet sodas and know just how much they can take over your life.I began with some diet 7Up back in 1989, then had my 8th child in 1992 and wanted to lose weight. I had begun to buy diet Coke on the rare occasions when my husband and I would go out to eat. It was NASTY stuff, but I was determined to eat ‘healthy’ and I knew diet pop was better for me because I read it everywhere. Of course, that was way back before I knew the truth.
Around 1996 I began to go to a fast food restaurant to ‘run away’ for an hour or two by reading, get myself a diet Coke (only $1.00 with free refills), and pretty soon I found myself having to make that ‘run away’ trip as I needed that Coke. I would eventually make it a daily ritual every morning and drink all the diet Coke I could hold, then fill up for taking with me.
For Thanksgiving and Christmas I got my ‘fix’ down at the Dairy Mart where I purchased the largest drink they had (44 oz). I would get grumpy and anxious if I was unable to get my diet Coke every day~ and lots of it. I justified this by saying that my husband had his Mt. Dew and this was what I liked. I did not like the tinny taste of the cans and the fountain pop just tasted so much purer than what I could get at the store.
In January of 2002 I got email, and a friend of mine sent me info on Aspartame poisoning. I just thought it was garbage and did not want to read it, so I just left it there.
I had been having problems for about 3 years with swelling in my left foot and ankle. I do have problems with my feet (I have very flat feet, which now I wear braces for as the bones have shifted), and so I just dealt with it, but the pain was often over the top and made walking difficult. For 9 months my foot was so swollen that I would have stitch marks from my shoes at the end of the day.
In April of 2002 I decided to read the article my friend sent me as I had read a couple of small articles on how dangerous Aspartame could be for one’s health. I opened the email and went to the web site that she had sent a link to. Oh my gosh! There it was in black and white that one of the symptoms of Aspartame poisoning was swelling in legs and feet. I knew then I had to get off of the soda immediately. I was in my early 40’s and I had a life I wanted to live.
The next morning when I awoke, I ate a piece of toast and downed 2 aspirin. I knew I was going to get a killer headache if I did not do this as I’d gone off of caffeine before in my early 20’s and knew the withdrawals caused headaches. For the rest of the day I sat around and watched movies with the kids as I felt like a Mack truck had hit me and I was wiped out feeling. I knew that I was detoxing from the caffeine. I took aspirin every 3.5 hours with a bit of food (I was taught to never take aspirin on an empty stomach). I felt tired and exhausted, and I was craving that diet Coke. Instead, I drank water.
I felt better the next day, but it would take me 3 days to detox the caffeine out of my system. I am sure the Aspartame, too, but my symptoms were all caffeine related. At least, I believe so. On the 4th day I was back to myself. I had joined a gym a couple weeks before, so I worked on getting in shape. I was no longer drinking a half gallon or more of soda a day (even if it was diet) and I lost a whole 4 pounds that month! That was it. And it was discouraging, but I kept away from the diet soda. In the meantime, my left foot and lower leg stopped swelling and they quit hurting like they’d been hurting (all over pain).
Six weeks later, I was cleaning out my bedroom closet and it was hot outside! Late May and hot. When I was finished, covered in sweat, I decided to go cool off at my local fast food place. I also decided I ‘deserved’ a diet Coke. I bought one, filled it up with ice and drank it down. Ahhh, did that taste good! I hadn’t had one for 6 weeks and it was like heaven! I filled the cup up with ice again and drank more slowly, savoring it. Then I filled it up with ice again and only filled the cup half way. I had had maybe an entire cup of soda as the ice took up most of the volume in the cup. I had done this on purpose so I would not drink so much. I reluctantly tossed the cup in the trash and went home. I was cooled off and I felt a bit guilty for ‘going off the wagon” after doing so good for 6 weeks.
I awoke the next morning with swelling in my left foot and leg! That had been gone since about a week after I had quit drinking the diet pop. That scared me. I knew then that I was truly suffering from Aspartame poisoning and resolved to never drink/eat it again. I have been completely off of all sodas for the past 13 years, drink (spring) water 99% of the time, and though I have had problems with my feet (structural from incredibly flat feet), I have never had the same swelling or pain that I had had back around 1999-2003. It completely vanished when I stopped ingesting Aspartame.
I’m sorry this is very long, but I wanted to share my story in order to alert others to the very real dangers of addiction and poisoning of drinking diet sodas. I have shared this story with many people over the years, but most refuse to believe it, especially those who do drink diet soda. If I can help one person realize they are poisoning themselves, then I will be happy to have helped.
Lori, don’t apologize, I’m so glad you shared, because some may not believe how dangerous it is until they read a real story from someone, so thank you!
Thank you, Kelly, I just hope others will see themselves and get off the ‘fix’.
Cheryl Slyter says
Lori, I just read your story. I have been dealing with swollen leg/ankle problems for the last year or so. Going to give up Diet Coke & see if it helps. Need to anyway, but this might explain my issue. Thank you for sharing & opening my eyes. I feel you are a guardian angel that I just met over the internet 🙂
Hi Cheryl, I think you will see a difference. I know I did, and I was truly in denial! Once I read about the symptoms I’d had, it truly scared me! I just want to help others! God bless.
Grace D says
Kelly! Thanks for posting!
One thing you didn’t mention (although I’m sure it’s the movie clip but I didn’t get that) is that Parkinson’s connection to diet soda.
My diet soda addiction ended when I was pregnant with my first child and I found that I couldn’t handle a whole can after that. And I am so thankful! I was addicted from age 16 to 20 and I found real food and kicked my diet soda addiction to the curb!
If you are addicted to soda because you love the fizz, try kombucha or water kefir or seltzer water if you won’t/can’t/don’t want to ferment!
Grace D from PA
I have a friend who attributes his MS to Aspartame poisoning.
Yes, I’ve heard that too Grace, thanks for the reminder!