Splenda – migraine trigger?

by James on 24 July 2007

Splenda is a newer artificial sweetener also known as Altern.  Along with thousands of other food and beverage products, Splenda contains sucralose.  It was approved as a food product in many countries through the 1990s.

Being newer, it hasn’t taken the beating the aspertame has, when it comes to questions about its safety.  And, being newer, that’s part of the problem – there aren’t a lot of long term studies showing just how safe it is.  To get in on the controversy, check out Splenda’s site (pro-Splenda), the discoverers of sucralose (pro-Splenda), website from the Sugar Association (anti-Spenda).

Of course Spenda isn’t just sucralose – it also contains maltodextrin and dextrose.  There’s only a small amount of sucralose per teaspoon of Splenda because sucralose is incredibly sweet, and needs to be "diluted".  Most of the calories in Splenda come from these added ingredients.

A report last September in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain indicated that sucralose may trigger migraine attacks.  What I want to know is, has this been a problem for you?  Do you avoid Splenda?

And is this just about Splenda?  Sucralose is in an increasing number of products – not all are "sugar free", and some even contain sucralose and aspertame.

What contains sucralose?  Thousands of products including Diet RC Cola, Arm & Hammer Dental Gum for Kids, Atkins Diet shakes, Pedialyte Pops and Whitey’s Ice Cream.  Everything from milk products to juices to sauces to baked goods to formed meat chunks – and the number of products is growing.

Do you avoid Splenda?  Why or why not?

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Celeste June 5, 2011 at 8:13 am

OMG I am not alone, a couple years ago my mom made a cheesecake with splendia and I had a medium sized piece it was good but I couldn’t definitely tell the difference but I thought hey gotta try new things. Well within the hour I started to feel nauseous and then out of nowhere bloomed this into this crushing pain in my temples It was horrible I started to not be able to think straight and went to lay on my bed and hours later it was still there!!! Scared my mom half to death she said since then I have avoided fake sweeteners and have been headache free!!Although I slipped up I was trying this new thing and started drinking slimfast shakes. After an hour I felt it coming on and just to be sure I looked at the can (which I should have done before I drank the thing) and sure enough sucralose and I am now paying the price. My Ibuprophen isn’t doing a thing against it guess I just have to wait it out….


Suzanne Jarvis October 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I have been avoiding artificial sweeteners for years because of the correclation between ingesting them and having SEVERE migraine attacks following ingestion. Also, the migraines that normally accompanied my periods were 10 times worse if I had ingested aspartame or sucralose by mistake earlier in the month.


clare July 30, 2012 at 11:47 am

I get migraines and could never figure out how tesco’s fizzy flavoured water gives me migraines but other flavoured waters don’t. Today I figured out all the others that don’t give me migraines have aspartame and tesco’s water uses sucralose


Patty August 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

I did a challenge test w Splenda using regular sugar and raw sugar ( 2 separate tests ). Found no problems, however if I am out and just Aspartame if offered, I get mild to moderate headaches and major rot gut. I use the Splenda sparingly with 2 cups of decaf tea a day, and for unsweetened ice tea when I’m dining out.
Sorry for the spelling errors and terrible grammar, but the migraines stole my ability to write.
Best of luck to all my comrades in pain.


Megan August 20, 2012 at 10:57 am

Yes I avoid all artificial sugars. I survived 2 brain surgery’s to remove a cyst and a brain tumor, it’s not worth all the pain and therapy I had to go through.


Jen Begeal August 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm

The first time I had a migraine was because of Splenda, figured it out because I was trying a new “sugar free” hot cocoa in the office, had in twice and both times got the ripping pain, nausea and vertigo. Spoke to a rep a year later and asked him if they had people with the same response, he told me flat out NO, that it wasn’t possible because Splenda was “all natural” funny, I said, as it’s made using chlorine. Come to find out later I’m also hypersensitive to, guess what? Chlorine.
By the way, I’m with the Migraine Project, we are creating a film called Out Of My Head which examines the Myth and History behind migraine in an effort to educated the public and medical community on the importance of migraine research.


Melissa August 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I want to forewarn you ladies, especially since I learned the hard way. Sucralose is in tons of stuff. Almost all reduced-calorie products, (if you’re wanting a calorie-free sweetener, Truvia as worked for me) mouthwashes (like most favors if Listerine except original and cool mint) and energy drinks have it,too. And you get migraines from it, it can also impact you in other ways.

Splenda/sucralose gives me cripling migrianes, but recently, I bought a sugar scrub, not even dreaming it would have sucralose in it instead. I ended up with hives/a cystic acne that left scars on my legs. Now, I check everything from face washes to food.


Brianna December 8, 2012 at 8:12 am

I have had migraines since I was a child. The last few years my number of attacks have been getting progressively worse. At the time I did not look at packaging to see what was in the food I was eating. I did how drink at least 6 Diet Coke cans a day (ew). My attacks eventually got to a number where it was just one big massive migraine 24/7. I would take medicine and then 4-6 hours later it came back. I went to several doctors, one of which being my neurologist. He started out by telling me to avoid about 30 everyday foods including all superficial sugar. I did and they improved to above 2 migraines a week. Then I added everything back in except artificial sugar. No change. Then everything except Diet Coke and that gave me a slight increase to about 3 migraines a week. Since then I have had a few different weeks and cheated. If I have 2-3 Diet Cokes in a 48 hour span I will get migraines everyday several times a day for 3 additional days. I think it’s like a hangover in that I feel horrible until the toxin leaves my body. I would love more research on this. I don’t know how much Splenda is in Diet Coke so maybe they just use a lot but there have been a few times I out 1-3 Splenda packets in coffee and did not notice a change. I think it could be possible that it’s the chemical reaction of Splenda with something else in Diet Coke.


Tasha January 16, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Diet Coke has Aspartame in it. Aspartame triggers my migraines. The verdict is still out on Splenda.


vmf December 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I may be wrong, but the last time I checked, Diet Coke used Nutrasweet rather than Splenda. I get migraines if I ingest NutraSweet, but Splenda doesn’t affect me. I stay away from almost all diet sodas because most of them use Nutrasweet. (There are a few that use Splenda.) We are all different. I don’t have any Diet Coke in the house to check a current label, but I would suggest doing that. Aspartame on the label — NutraSweet. Sucralose on the label – Splenda.


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