A Complete Guide to Artificial Sweeteners

by Jackie Wicks

Sucralose as a Migraine Trigger: Side Effects

There has been at least one report of sucralose causing migraine headaches, and many other people report side effects, such as dizziness, rashes, and intestinal cramping, as a result of Splenda and sucralose consumption. The official word is that sucralose has no allergic potential, and I am inclined to agree with this statement–with an addendum. Sucralose is not a protein, and almost all allergens are proteins, but allergens are not the only compounds capable of producing side-effects. Whether or not sucralose causes an allergy in somebody is irrelevant to whether it causes side effects.

Sucralose certainly does not cause these sorts of issues in everybody who consumes it, or even a sizable amount. It is likely that the people who do have reactions have a sensitivity to this compound. Nonetheless, Splenda claims to have no side effects, which is not exactly true. For most people, it will not cause side effects, but claiming “research does not support that sucralose causes migraines or headaches” (which is on Splenda’s website under the FAQs) is simply wrong, as there is one well-designed case report where sucralose did cause a migraine.

Final Word on Sucralose

The long-term safety of sucralose simply has not been studied, and that is really what needs to be done before any conclusions are made about the how safe or bad Splenda and other sucralose-containing products are. Many artificial food additives are found to be dangerous after they get approved by the FDA. Take for example, 4-methylimidazole, the caramel coloring used in cola drinks. This is an FDA-approved food coloring agent which further studies have demonstrated to be toxic, which either means there was not enough research done in the first place or the research that was out was rebuked or ignored–much as is currently being done with sucralose.

For reasons of possible liver and kidney damage and gut flora alteration, avoid Splenda and anything else sweetened with sucralose.

Other Artificial Sweeteners

Sucralose may be the most common artificial sweetener found today, but it is by no means the only one. In addition to Splenda, people may sweeten their drinks with Nutrasweet and Equal (aspartame), SweetN’Low (saccharin), and acesulfame potassium, most frequently shortened to acesulfame-K. These sweeteners have been around for much longer and most have had much more extensive testing done on them.

As with sucralose, there are plenty of studies which suggest these substances are safe, but there are also studies which cast doubt on their safety. To be safe, any artificial substance added to our food should be treated as guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around, and if there is any doubt at all about a substances toxicity, it should not be consumed.

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