We are all familiar with the little yellow packages of Splenda that promise to satisfy our sweet tooth without the extra calories and the carbohydrates. You may have used Splenda in place of aspartame and saccharine and the -now banned by the FDA- cyclamate because you know they are composed of dangerous chemicals. And Splenda is natural, right? Well, not quite.
“Splenda” is the commercial name used for sucralose. The manufacturers advertise Splenda as being more “natural” than other sweeteners, as the main substance, sucralose, comes from sugar. This is very misleading though, as it leads consumers to believe that sucralose comes from sugar the same way that cheese comes from milk.
The way that sucralose is produced is much more complicated, but to put it simply splenda is chlorinated sugar (chlorocarbon). Other common chlorocarbons include carbon tetrachloride, and methylene chloride which are all poisonous! Chlorine in numerous studies has been proven as toxic to our bodies and can accumulate in our systems over time.
The reason that a chemically altered molecule, like sucralose, can be threatening for our health if ingested, is the fact that our bodies are not made to recognize these substances and do not know how to properly deal with them. This is not the case with sugar (sucrose, lactose, fructose) that we have been ingesting for thousands of years.
So, What Are the Splenda Side Effects?
Sucralose accumulates very slowly and with habitual use. To make it more clear, if we eat something containing sucralose once, our body will manage to eventually get rid of sucralose. But if we ingest it every day, our body does not have enough time to deal with it. A study showed that with a moderate consumption 96.7% of sucralose leaves our bodies, while high consumption the percentage falls to 92.8%. This means chlorine is being stored in other areas of your body causing your cells to become toxic!
You may say, if it’s so dangerous, then why is it FDA approved? (FYI, the FDA approves a lot of things that later are pulled off the market once enough people die like cyclamate and Vioxx). The FDA points to over one hundred studies that claim sucralose is safe. The problem is these studies are typical, and usually conducted by companies who are financially invested in Splenda, and all were short term studies. One of the studies tests if Splenda causes teeth decay, for example, which is of course a serious issue, but not life threatening. The vast majority of the studies used rats, not humans and in very, very limited amounts.
What about the other studies though? The ones that show that in amounts of 500 mg/kg sucralose is hepatoxic and nephrotoxic, meaning that it causes damage to the liver and kidneys. Those studies are not taken seriously by the FDA, as the test subjects were -guess what- rats. And their defense mechanism are not considered adequate to simulate the human body’s response. The controversy of the FDA’s behavior here is of course obvious. It is a fact that the amount of sucralose used in these studies is very high, but it is chosen as they want to test the effects of accumulated sucralose in the human body after years of everyday use.
Apart from the liver and kidneys, a 2008 Duke University study found that Splenda alters the intestine flora as it destroys beneficial bacteria. This is a major problem because we need good bacteria also known as probiotics for a healthy immune system.
Many people report the side effects as resembling allergic reactions. The most commonly reported Splenda side effects are:
- intestinal cramping
- chest pain
- gum bleeding
And the list goes on! Of course, it’s hard to pin point that Spenda was exclusively responsible for these side effects, but in the reports people claim that they felt better once they stopped using Splenda.
James Turner of “Citizens for Health” is fighting for the labeling of products containing Splenda, to give consumers a choice to avoid sucralose. There is a good reason for that, as even if someone chooses not to use Splenda in their beverages, it is used as an additive in so many low calorie and/or sugar free foods and prepackaged goods, that it is quite hard to avoid it.
What Sweetener to Use Instead of Splenda?
Concluding, Splenda does not have any long term research and we know by its chemical makeup that it is not good for you. Too much chlorine in your system is toxic and there are healthier, natural sweeteners available today like Whole Leaf Stevia. I suggest you make the switch to Stevia or raw local honey to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way! I recommend a brand called NuNaturals Stevia ($10 Amazon).
Sources and Further Reading: Mayo Clinic article on artificial sweeteners:, National Cancer Institute on artificial sweeteners and the link to cancer:, A complete guide to sweeteners by Brian Rigby, A blog with reports about “Splenda Sickness”