Splenda – migraine trigger?

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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72 comments… add one

  • Celeste Jun 5, 2011

    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 Oct 11, 2011

    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 Jul 30, 2012

    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 Aug 20, 2012

    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 Aug 20, 2012

    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 Aug 20, 2012

    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 Aug 20, 2012

    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 Dec 8, 2012

    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 Jan 16, 2013

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

  • vmf Dec 10, 2012

    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.

  • Sarah Jun 5, 2014

    All artificial sweeteners give me migraines. Sometimes functional, sometime crippling, but the worst I ever had (and the way I found out that Splenda was among the culprits) was after making sugar-free hot cocoa mix for my grandmother. I didn’t taste any of the ingredients, just followed the recipe. When I poured the Splenda into a measuring cup, a small cloud of dust blew up into my face. An hour later, I really thought I was dying!
    Years later, my doctor gave me a sample of a new allergy drug, exact same pain–crippling migraine. It too had sucralose.
    Now, I’m the woman standing with the door open at the gas station reading the back of every bottle until I find one that still contains good old fashioned sugar. I read everything. And thank goodness I have a loving husband who takes the time to do the same thing. Splenda may say this isn’t a migraine trigger but just look at the list of people who have commented so far not just here, but on any google search. There must be some correlation, if only someone would take the time to study it!

  • Natasha Jul 2, 2014

    The think about Splenda is the it had some amazing marketing. People believe that it is better for you than sugar and other artificial sweeteners. I actually thought maybe I could have Splenda. I got a Sodastream a couple years. All their regular syrups are made with Splenda. I got terrible migraines from them. It bothers me that Splenda is added to so many things–not just sugar free. It is in yogurt, breads, snack bars, regular drinks–you name it. I have to look at labels of everything I buy. Not only that, I have to be careful when eating out or going to potlucks or friends for dinner. People use it so much and are ignorant that some people can have it.

  • vmf Jul 2, 2014

    I had to stop drinking diet cola when the local store stopped carrying the only one I could find that used Splenda. All the others use aspartame which always triggers a migraine in me. I have no migraine reaction with Splenda. I use zolmitriptan (Zomig) for migraine relief and was surprised that the orally disintegrating version did not relieve my migraine at all, yet the tablets that you swallow and the nasal spray are both miracle workers for me. Turns out the type that disintegrates in you mouth contains aspartame. That was a shock.

    • Natasha Jul 22, 2014

      Try Zevia Diet soda. It uses Stevia.

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