I understand that as part of your deliberation regarding the possibility of banning aspartame use in Hawaii you wish to hear from professionals who have done research on this issue.
Although at that time I felt aspartame was a "possible" trigger my subsequent clinical experience over the past 20 years has, in my mind transformed that "possibility" into a certainty.
In both of my original papers I suggested that appropriate double blind studies needed to be done. I undertook such a study, which was published in Biological Psychiatry in 1993: Walton, R.G. Hudak,R.Grrene-Waite, R. Adverse Reactions to Aspartame:Double Blind Challenge in Patients from a Vulnerable Population. Biological Psychiatry, 1993;34:13-17. My hypothesis in this study was that since aspartame led to an increase in norepinephrine precursors, coupled with a simultaneous decrease in serotonin precursors, the potential alteration in central nervous system catecholamine/indoleamine balance would pose a special challenge for patients with a mood disorder.
I was not prepared for the severity of adverse reactions, which led the I.R.B. to appropriately put an early end to the study. Despite the resultant small "n" the findings were still statistically significant, demonstrating that patients with affective disorder were particularly vulnerable to a wide range of adverse reactions.
One unexpected event was that 2 study participants experienced opthalmologic emergencies - one, a 42 year old psychologist with no history of eye problems experienced a retinal detachment and required emergency surgery and a 40 year old nurse for the first time in her life had a conjunctival hemorrhage.
There will undoubtedly be a great deal of pressure from the aspartame industry, which will point to the hundreds of studies attesting to their product's safety. It is important to bear in mind, however, that virtually all of these studies were funded by the industry, whereas essentially all independently funded studies identify one or more problems.
I pointed this out to Mike Wallace in 1996 when he was interviewing me for a 60 Minutes segment on aspartame. He challenged me on this so I prepared a chart documenting my claim. This chart was included in the 60 Minutes story and is still available on the internet.
In summary, Dr. Green, after studying and researching this question for over 20 years, it is my firm conviction that aspartame lowers seizure threshold, mimics or exacerbates a wide variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, contributes to the incidence of certain cancers, and because of it's impact on the hypothalamic "appestat" plays a significant role in the world-wide epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
It should definitely be banned.
Thank you for your attention to this most urgent public health issue.
Medical Director, Safe Harbor Behavioral Health
Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Former Professor and Chairman,
Department of Psychiatry,
Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine