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An Artificial Sweetener Was Ruining My Health
by Lorena Murray
From First for Women Magazine - 2005-07-04

"You've got a call on line two, Sweetwater Lady!" the receptionist in the busy front office shouted to Lorena Murray. Normally the nickname got a chcukcle from Lorea, who was rarely seen without a gargantuan bottle of her favorite no-calorie flavored water. But todayshe couldn't even manage a smile. Lately she'd been sufferng from awful all-day cramps, throbbing headaches, fatigue, breathing difficulties and mood swings. And with the searing summer heat, she'd been swigging more of that artificially sweetened water than ever, confident that it was a good health move. Here, how Lorena discovered that a common food additive in her trademark beverage was actually causing all her problems--and how she regained her health.

During the early '80s seemingly out of nowhere, I was hit with a slew of medical problems, including migraines, chronic fatigue and muscle cramps so sever that I was often unable to drive. Then one day at owrk, my heart began to race and I had trouble breathing. Suddenly I was on my way to the emergency room. To my shock, I was diagnosed with gastritis, a spastic colon and irritable bowel syndrome. I ended up back at the hospital seven more times that year, plus many more times over the next 20 years--but I never got better.

In fact, my health problems increased. I developed a heart murmur, depression, panic attacks, restless leg syndrome and extreme PMS. With each of my pregnancies, my symptoms grew worse. By the time I had my youngest child 10 years ago, I was on 14 medications.

"My PMS was making my coworkers miserable!"

After that last birth, I began having awful PMS-induced mood swings. They were so drastic that when my coworkes found out I had an appointment with my gynecologist, they gave me a mock letter to give to him. In it, they claimed my PMS was driving them crazy--and urged him to give me a hysterectomy! I chuckled along, but I knew there was a kernel of trust to their joke.

I received confirmation when the doctor explained that a hysterectomy was indeed the only answer for my extreme PMS. And strangely, because I'd been so miserable and thought the surgery would cure my problems, I actually looked forward to it. But afterward, my symptoms persisted, and I was devastated--I'd gone through the procedure for nothing!

Throughout my ordeal, however, the one thing I always thought I was doing "right" for my health was continuing to drink my flavored water. Then about two years ago, I noticed that aspartame, an artificial sweetener, was listed on the labels of not only my water, diet soda and low-calorie yogurt but also on the sweetener I had long used in tea and coffee. It dawned on me that I would frequently feelworse after ingesting these thigns. Though I doubted there was any connection, I decided to go online to check out my hunch. I was suprsied to find there was a great deal of controversy surrounding aspartame and possible adverse reactions.

"Now I feel amazing and have energy to spare!"

When I came upon a list of symptoms for aspartame sensitivity, I couldn't believe what I saw: me! Adding to my suprise, aspartame came on the market in the '80s, right around the time I'd started to suffer my never-ending health issues. But could a simple artificial sweetener really be the cause of all my problems? To find out, I decided to avoid any product with aspartame for one week. Within just three days, my racing heart, headaches and asthma symptoms were gone and I felt better than I had in 20 years! Amazingly, my fatigue, mood swings and muscle pain all continued to improve.

When I told my general practioner how my symptoms had vanished, he looked astounded. Then at a follow-up visit, he confided that I had inspired him and his wife to avoid artificial sweeteners, too. And sure enough, her migraines and carb cravings disappeared, as did his joint pain.

Within a few months, my aspartame-related health problems were gone and I was off meds! I felt amazing and had energy to spare. At age 40, I even returned to school, and recently I graduated with a certificate in nursing. Of course, I read food labels carefully and sstill drink lots of water. But now I stick to the plain variety.

After 20 years, my life has finally been given back to me. Recently when I got together with my old office gang, they couldn't believe how great the once-moody Sweetwater Lady looked and felt. With a smile, I explained to them that all it really took to put the "sweet" back into this lady was to take it out of my water!


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