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Prophylactic Medications to Reduce or Avoid Migraines
Types of Migraines
Cryotherapy:  Ice Relief for Migraine Headaches
An Optical Migraine FAQ
Migraines and Pregnancy
The Art of Massaging Migraine Headaches
Migraine Headaches and the Weather
Menstrual Migraines
Migraines and the Smoking Connection
Well-Known Migraine Triggers
The Migraine-Aspartame Connection
Stress & the Migraine Sufferer
Sexually-Triggered Migraines
Eye Problems & Migraines
Fragrance Migraine Triggers
Treating Menstrual Migraines
Migraine Treatment:  A Natural Approach

The Migraine-Aspartame Connection

If you suffer from migraine headaches, you need to use some other sweetener besides aspartame to help you lose weight. Aspartame is the sweetener found in products such as Equal and NutraSweet. Even though there's no definitive word yet on aspartame's role in a number of other physical conditions, the link between it and migraines seems undeniable according to many studies over the past couple of decades. Although aspartame is used in Equal and NutraSweet, aspartame itself isn't actually the sweetening agent. Rather, it releases a neurotransmitter in the brain and as such, in a sense, aspartame is actually a drug.

The highly-regarded New England Journal of Medicine conducted studies on the subject and found a link between heavy use of aspartame, especially in diet drinks, and people with migraine headaches. These studies, and one in particular, showed a strong correllation between those who get the attacks and aspartame. Specifically, it found that those studied who did not consume aspartame experienced a migraine on 24% of the study dates; those who consumed aspartame experienced a headache on 33% of those days.

Another study suggests that an astounding 90% of all migraines are precipitated by allergic reactions to additives in food or the food itself.  His study further suggested that aspartame is the most common migraine-causing additive. One other study found that 10% of  migraine attacks are linked with aspartame consumption.  Perhaps most significant is a University of Florida study which showed that aspartame increases migraine frequency in 50% of patients.

Despite this overwhelming evidence, there's no conclusion yet about why migraines are affected by aspartame. The most likely culprit is seratonin, affected by aspartame consumption. Here's the real irony of the matter. Even though consuming aspartame causes more migraines, stopping your consumption too abruptly and then re-starting can actually make your headaches worse. So if you do decide to cut the aspartame to stop your headaches, make sure it's a commitment that you know you can stick to.

We should mention that Monsanto, the people who make NutraSweet and Equal, deny any established link between migraines and their products. However, keep in mind that they have their profits to consider. They point to a study conducted at the Duke University Medical Center that studied people who felt aspartame was causing their headaches, and found no connection. Most of the other studies, though, seem to have definitively established this link. And with other sweeteners, such as Splenda, now available, there's no need to continue with aspartame, especially if you suffer from migraine headaches.

If you're reluctant about giving up aspartame in your diet drinks, you can of course conduct your own experiment. Remember that even if something is a trigger for one person, it might not be for another.Therefore, just keep a log of when you get migraines, and also when you consume products with aspartame. After a couple months, you should be able to see for yourself if your diet soda is bringing on more migraines. If so, give it up and try products with Splenda instead.

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