recent aspartame (methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid) symptoms in English professor: Kristi Siegel: Rich Murray 2010.04.17
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Other sources include alcohol drinks and tobacco smoke,
while adequate folic acid levels protect most people.
Case History: [ sent to Betty Martini ]
[ I changed layout to individual sentences to add clarity. ]
Kristi Siegel, Ph.D., Professor of English
59 y.o. [ born ~1951 ]
Relevant medical background:
* Hypertension diagnosed (idiopathic) -- 1977 (have taken
spironolactone for past 33 years)
* Bilateral retinal detachment -- January 1979;
scleral buckles on both eyes and repair of retinal tears
* Radial Keratotomy (both eyes) -- July 1992
In mid-January 2010, in an effort to drink more fluids,
I started using Crystal Light.
In the past, with the exception of Sweet & Low, which I use
in my coffee in the morning, I rarely used any artificial
sweeteners as I don't like the taste of diet drinks and
artificially sweetened food.
Given that I was trying to drink the recommended 8 glasses
of water a day, I was drinking that equivalent flavored with
[ 8 8-oz glasses = 64 oz = 5.3 12 oz cans of diet drinks,
which at 200 mg aspartame each give 1,060 mg aspartame,
releasing in the body their 11% methanol as 117 mg,
of which about 30% becomes cumulative retained
formaldehyde and formic acid toxic products,
about 34 mg daily, mostly in
retina, brain, liver, and kidneys. ]
Due to the eye surgeries noted above, my vision has
worsened over the past five years.
Doctors are finding that many patients who've had radial
keratotomy (which was approved prior to Lasix surgery)
start to develop "unstable cornea" about 10 years
To see if anything could be done, I'd made an
appointment with an ophthalmologist on January 22, 2010.
Given my medical history, she did a thorough workup
including a complete examination of my retinas, which she
said were in good health.
She had few suggestions to remedy my problem and
advised that I see a cornea specialist.
Shortly after seeing the ophthalmologist and about two
weeks or so into my Crystal Light regimen, I had my first
episode of vision loss. [ last week of January ]
This incident was completely different in degree and kind
than the normal visual problems (increased far-sightedness
and visual lability) I had been experiencing.
Rather abruptly, I lost the visual field of the left hemisphere
of my left eye.
The vision loss lasted for about 20 or 30 minutes and after
approximately 15 minutes, I started to develop a crushing
headache which lasted for hours.
I've never had a history of headaches, so the intensity and
duration of this headache was unusual.
My husband wanted me to go to the emergency room right
away, but I pointed out that I had an appointment scheduled
with a cornea specialist on February 11.
Prior to seeing the second eye doctor, I had a couple more
incidents of vision loss and bilateral, crushing headaches that
lasted several hours, and included abdominal bloating, reflux,
and a lot of ambient noise (not really ringing in my ears, just
more of a rushing noise).
Each episode left me feeling weak and tired for days.
The cornea specialist, after hearing about the vision loss,
dilated my eyes again, and also pronounced my retinas
However, he felt it was important to rule out strokes or
Over the next few weeks -- and I continued to have
episodes during this time -- I had a number of tests:
a brain MRI,
a carotid Doppler study,
and a trans-thoracic echocardiogram with bubble study.
All of these tests were negative.
While I was happy that the tests did not show any
problems, I continued to feel worse.
I averaged a couple of episodes a week, and in addition to
the full complex of symptoms (auras, visual loss in one or
both eyes, headaches, bloating, ambient noise, and reflux),
I felt slightly nauseous, fatigued, and dizzy.
On Friday, February 26, when I was with a group of
colleagues conducting phone interviews for candidates in a
search (we were interviewing for new assistant professor in
the English Department), I lost my entire center field of vision.
We were interviewing the fifth and final candidate, and I
didn't want to mention my situation.
By that time, I'd asked my interview questions so many
times that I didn't need to refer to the interview sheet (which
I could no longer read).
However, in responding to a question the interviewee asked,
I stumbled over two words, and then was completely unable
to pronounce or understand the third word.
In addition, I no longer understood what the words meant
or what I had been trying to say.
At the same time, there was a loud, rushing noise, and I felt
Within a few seconds, when I could conjure up some speech,
I asked the search committee chair if she could "talk for me."
When we completed that interview, I did tell the committee
that I'd been experiencing vision loss, headaches, but had
never had the expressive and receptive aphasia that had
occurred a few minutes earlier.
I didn't have a headache, but I was very dizzy and
disoriented and asked one of the faculty there to walk me
back to my office.
When I called my husband, he insisted on taking me to the
I was in the ER for several hours while they did histories and
then decided to do a cerebral MRA (they used a contrast
This test was really the last one left to determine whether these
problems were heart or stroke related,
and the test was negative.
While I was in the ER, I was startled to see that my pulse was
only in the high 50s.
Normally my pulse is high and has been so my entire adult life.
Generally, it has always been in the 80s or higher, no matter
how physically fit I am (and I'm not overweight).
When I fell asleep in the ER, my husband said my pulse
dropped into the 40s.
My blood pressure was equally odd.
Although I take anti-hypertensives, my normal blood pressure
tends to be borderline high (130-140 over 80-100).
At the hospital it was consistently low -- around 120/60,
which was atypical.
I've since read that Aspartame can mime the symptoms of
hypothyroidism, so I wonder if this could explain my
pulse/blood pressure anomaly.
***Out of curiosity, I just took my pulse.
Although I'm completely relaxed at the moment, my pulse is
83 bpm, which is in my normal range.
Before I was discharged from the ER, they diagnosed
"complex migraines" (and this is a term not really used
anymore), which can mimic strokes, and prescribed
Topomate 25 MG.
I took my first and only dose of that medicine on Saturday
night, February 27.
I had a very strong reaction to the medicine -- a lot of
dizziness, weakness, brain fog, and constant cramping
It took over two days to recover from the Topomate, and
the combination of the episode on Friday and my reaction
to the Topomate left me weak, dizzy, and extremely tired
that whole next week.
With the exception of teaching my classes, I missed every
appointment and meeting for the next several days.
Although all serious problems had been ruled out, I
continued to have episodes (negative and positive scotoma,
headaches, nausea, bloating, reflux, etc.) and felt generally
tired, mentally compromised, and weak.
My husband was concerned at my overall poor health, the
continued episodes, and the danger these sudden and
unpredictable vision losses posed, particularly when I was
On March 8, at my husband's insistence, I saw a neurologist
who specialized in migraines and ophthalmology.
He really had very little to add, other than to suggest that I
try to isolate what my "triggers" might be.
Given that the episodes seemed to occur in varying situations,
I couldn't isolate a specific trigger.
It was, perhaps, a week later, when I remembered I had
started drinking Crystal Light in mid- to late-January.
After reading about Aspartame, I eliminated it from my diet.
Although I did not start to feel better immediately, I have
not had another episode since eliminating Aspartame from
I've been diligent about checking food labels for this
substance as well.
It's really been just in the past two weeks that I started to
regain my energy and feel sharper intellectually.
As I started to feel better, I became more angry.
Aspartame effectively compromised my health for months.
I'm a full professor, have published extensively, and, in
addition to teaching, direct a graduate program and a
division of three departments.
This past semester, I've been compromised both
professionally and personally.
My family (my husband and four grown children) have
been very worried, and I've repeatedly had to beg off
any social events because I just wasn't up to it.
Given the clear borders -- my episodes started after taking
Aspartame and ended when it was eliminated -- there is no
doubt in my mind or my husband's that Aspartame caused
the health problems I experienced.
I've been telling friends and relatives to eliminate Aspartame
from their diets.
I have one friend, who drinks several large bottles of diet
Coke a day.
Over the years, she's tried to wean herself from this habit
several times and has failed.
I worry about her addiction as well as the health hazards
I thought it was striking when I read that alcoholics have
described having more severe withdrawal symptoms from
eliminating Aspartame than from giving up alcohol.
I firmly believe that Aspartame poses a serious risk to the
general public and should be removed from the market.
I've studied the techniques of the pharmaceutical companies
at length and know how easy it is to taint what are supposedly
peer-reviewed and credible medical trials.
Substances are often approved by the FDA precipitously and
without sufficient study or with studies that are corrupt.
In the case of Aspartame, the entrenched interests of those
profiting makes this a particularly difficult battle.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do.
Kristi Siegel, Ph.D., Professor of English
Mount Mary College
End of Case
Dr. Kristi Siegel
Associate Professor, English Dept.
Director, English Graduate Program
Chair -- Languages, Literature, and Communication Division
Mount Mary College
2900 North Menomonee River Pkwy
Milwaukee, WI 53222
(414) 258-4810, ext. 287 siegelkr@...
formaldehyde from 11% methanol part of aspartame causes
severe allergic dermatitis in boy, JE Jacob et al,
Pediatric Dermatology 2009 Nov: Rich Murray 2010.03.30
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Pediatric Dermatology. 2009 Nov-Dec;26(6):739-43.
Systematized contact dermatitis and montelukast in an atopic
University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Department
of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, Miami, Florida,
Upon ingestion, the artificial sweetener, aspartame is
metabolized to formaldehyde in the body and has been
reportedly associated with systemic contact dermatitis in
patients exquisitely sensitive to formaldehyde.
We present a case of a 9-year-old Caucasian boy with a
history of mild atopic dermatitis that experienced severe
systematized dermatitis after being started on montelukast
chewable tablets containing aspartame.
Patch testing revealed multiple chemical sensitivities which
included a positive reaction to formaldehyde.
Notably, resolution of his systemic dermatitis only occurred
with discontinuation of the montelukast chewables.
four Murray AspartameNM reviews in SE Jacob & SA
Stechschulte debate with EG Abegaz & RG Bursey of
Ajinomoto re migraines from formaldehyde from aspartame,
Dermatitis 2009 May: TE Hugli -- folic acid with V-C
protects: Rich Murray 2009.08.12
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
[ extracts ]
Formaldehyde, aspartame, migraines: a possible connection.
Abegaz EG, Bursey RG.
Dermatitis. 2009 May-Jun;20(3):176-7; author reply 177-9.
No abstract available. PMID: 19470307
Eyassu G. Abegaz *
Robert G. Bursey
Ajinomoto Corporate Services LLC, Scientific & Regulatory
Affairs, 1120 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 1010,
Washington, DC 20036
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 202 457 0284;
fax: +1 202 457 0107.
"For example, fruit juices, coffee, and alcoholic beverages
produce significantly greater quantities of formaldehyde than
aspartame-containing products. "
" Magnuson BA, Burdock GA, Doull J, et al. Aspartame:
a safety evaluation based on current use levels, regulations,
and toxicological and epidemiological studies.
Crit Rev Toxicol 2007;37:629-727"
[ two detailed critiques of industry affiliations and biased
science in 99 page review with 415 references by BA
Magnuson, GA Burdock and 8 more, Critical Reviews in
Toxicology, 2007 Sept.: Mark D Gold 13 page:
also Rich Murray 2007.09.15: 2008.03.24
Monday, March 24, 2008
"Nearly every section of the Magnuson (2007) review has
research that is misrepresented
and/or crucial pieces of information are left out.
In addition to the misrepresentation of the research,
readers (including medical professionals) are often not told
that this review was funded by the aspartame manufacturer,
Ajinomoto, and the reviewers had enormous conflicts of
Dermatitis. 2008; 19(3): E10-E11.
© 2008 American Contact Dermatitis Society
Formaldehyde, Aspartame, and Migraines:
A Possible Connection
Sharon E. Jacob; Sarah Stechschulte
[ Extract ]
Aspartame is a widely used artificial sweetener that has been
linked to pediatric and adolescent migraines.
Upon ingestion, aspartame is broken, converted, and oxidized
into formaldehyde in various tissues.
We present the first case series of aspartame-associated
migraines related to clinically relevant positive reactions to
formaldehyde on patch testing.
Six patients (ages 16 to 75 years) were referred for evaluation
of recalcitrant dermatitis. By history, five of the patients were
noted to have developed migraines following aspartame
consumption; the sixth reported dermatitis flares associated
with diet cola consumption of >2 liters/day.
All six patients had current environmental exposures to
formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in
their personal hygiene products and/or regular consumption
of "sugar-free food" artificially sweetened with aspartame.
Based on their histories and clinical presentations, these
patients were patch-tested with the North American Contact
Dermatitis Group 65-allergen Standard Screening Series and
selected chemicals from the University of Miami vehicle,
fragrance, bakery, and textile trays.
All six patients had positive reactions to formaldehyde, and
four had additional positive reactions to
formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs).
Expert counseling on allergen avoidance (including avoidance
of formaldehyde, FRPs, and aspartame) and alternative
product recommendations were provided to the patients.
At their follow-up appointments (between 8 and 12 weeks),
all the patients showed clearance of their dermatitis. Four
patients (two inadvertently) resumed their consumption of
aspartame and subsequently returned for an additional
follow-up visit. Three of the first five patients had recurrences
of both their migraines and their dermatitis; the sixth patient
(who had no migraines) had a positive rechallenge dermatitis.
These four patients were again counseled on avoidance
formaldehyde, aspartame, and migraines, the first case series,
Sharon E Jacob-Soo, Sarah A Stechschulte, UCSD,
Dermatitis 2008 May: Rich Murray 2008.07.18
Friday, July 18, 2008
formaldehyde from many sources, including aspartame, is
major cause of Allergic Contact Dermatitis, SE Jacob,
T Steele, G Rodriguez, Skin and Aging 2005 Dec.:
Thursday, March 27, 2008
"For example, diet soda and yogurt containing aspartame
(Nutrasweet), release formaldehyde in their natural biological
One of aspartame's metabolites, aspartic acid methyl ester, is
converted to methanol in the body, which is oxidized to
formaldehyde in all organs, including the liver and eyes. 22
Patients with a contact dermatitis to formaldehyde have been
seen to improve once aspartame is avoided. 22
Notably, the case that Hill and Belsito reported had a 6-month
history of eyelid dermatitis that subsided after 1 week of
avoiding diet soda. 22"
Avoiding formaldehyde allergic reactions in children,
aspartame, vitamins, shampoo, conditioners, hair gel, baby
wipes, Sharon E Jacob, MD, Tace Steele, U. Miami,
Pediatric Annals 2007 Jan.: eyelid contact dermatitis,
AM Hill, DV Belsito, 2003 Nov.: Murray 2008.03.27
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Sharon E. Jacob, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
University of California, San Diego 200 W. Arbor Drive
#8420, San Diego, CA 92103-8420
Tel: 858-552-8585 ×3504 Fax: 305-675-8317
Sarah A. Stechschulte, BA sstechschulte@...
methanol (11% of aspartame), made by body into
formaldehyde in many vulnerable tissues, causes modern
diseases of civilization, summary of a century of research,
Woodrow C Monte PhD, Medical Hypotheses journal:
Rich Murray 2009.11.15
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Rich Murray, MA
Boston University Graduate School 1967 psychology,
BS MIT 1964, history and physics,
1943 Otowi Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
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