Dangerous Splenda: Potential Pesticide or Artificial Sweetener?

June 21, 2017

Splenda packets in container Splenda is the latest buzz in the ever changing world of artificial sweeteners. Splenda, distributed by the McNeil Nutritionals, was approved for use in the United States in 1998. However, this artificial sweetener taking the market by storm was first discovered in 1976 over in the U.K. when a group of scientists were actually trying to create a new pesticide.

Splenda Side Effects

That’s right, Splenda was originally to be a pesticide. And alarmingly, its chemical structure resembles that of pesticides rather than sugars or salts.  More on that a bit later.

Splenda is finding its way into product after product on the grocery store shelves. More and more this supposedly ‘all natural’ sweetener is being added to children’s food products. The new wave of ‘low sugar’ or ‘no sugar’ labels abound on food products aimed at children – and their health conscious moms. But the trouble is that one of the biggest hypes with Splenda is the misleading information that it is all natural.

Is Splenda Really All Natural? Don’t Buy Into It!

The clever marketers at McNeil Nutritionals make claims that Splenda is ‘all natural’ as it’s derived from sugar. And while some of that is true much of it’s misleading. (I’d like to remind you here of an age old proverb that states, “A half truth is a whole lie.”) Yes, Splenda is derived from sugar but what they fail to reveal is that during the manufacturing process three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by chlorine atoms.

So although it is derived from sugar or more specifically sucralose, the chemical structure has been significantly changed. In fact, many experts argue that the chemical structure of Splenda is eerily similar to that of pesticides that also have their carbon and chlorine bonds held together as a chlorocarbon rather than a salt as McNeil claims.

Now if you don’t know much about chlorine’s impact on the body it’s time to learn. You can suffer from toxicity from too much chlorine in the body. In fact, I’ve actually known someone who suffered from chlorine poisoning from eating and baking with too much Splenda. But that’s another article.

Another important point to understand is that when these manufacturers make claims that the product is all natural the FDA has no standard set for ‘all natural’ so there are no parameters to meet in order to claim your product is all natural.

Now I’m not bashing the government or its regulatory agencies here but from what I’ve learned (and hopefully passed onto you) we simply can’t trust them to make the best health choices for us. You must do that for yourself and your family.

When it comes to Splenda it appears that the population of the United States and the Western world are the unknowing guinea pigs – yet again.

Are You the Latest Splenda Guinea Pig?

Yet another problem with Splenda is that there are absolutely no long term studies on it. The longest lasting study was just six months. There are also no large population studies to get a true picture at the potential side effects and health risks. The largest study topped in at 128 people.

Many of the studies focused on very low amounts of Splenda in the human diet. For instance adding a tiny bit to your coffee or tea but today the face of Splenda has changed significantly. We see Splenda proudly displayed on numerous baked good products, fruit snacks, fruit juices, flavored waters, and much, much more. This list of food products containing Splenda continues to grow as do the new recipes for baking and cooking with Splenda.

The increase of Splenda in the diet and the impact this has on health is unknown. And in one of the manufacturer’s own studies in which rats were fed large amounts of this artificial sweetener the results were scary. Problems with thymus glands, enlarged livers, and kidney disorders were common. Rats metabolize sucralose in a more similar manner to humans than any other animal which is why they were used. However, the FDA wrote off the study saying that rats were different than humans.

But hold on a second. The FDA first approved the study using rats because they were the most similar to humans then when the results showed serious problems they disregarded the studies saying the rats are different from humans? Sorry, FDA even you can’t have it both ways.

So indeed it seems that the general population is the latest in the test labs for Splenda. A chemically altered artificial sweetener following in the line of artificial sweeteners that at first claimed to produce no ill health effects but in fact did.

Remember NutraSweet, Equal, and Sweet and Low? We now know that these artificial sweeteners can cause serious health problems in humans particularly with long term use.

And according to Sucralose Toxicity Information Center there are more side effects from sucralose (aka Splenda) being reported daily.

Reported Side Effects from Sucralose (aka Splenda)

  • Migraines
  • Agitation
  • Numbness
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach and intestinal cramps
  • Bladder problems

No, I can’t tell you here that Splenda is without a doubt 100% harmful to you. But what I can tell you without a doubt is that first there is very limited scientific evidence about Splenda. I can also tell you that the little research that exists indicates potential health problems. And the last thing I’ll tell you is that if you choose to use Splenda or consume products with Splenda in them hoping that you’re going to help your health you are undergoing a health experiment on yourself and loved ones.

I urge you to think twice before you consume Splenda.

If you’re concerned about consuming too much sugar there are other truly all natural alternatives to sugar. One of the best I can recommend is Stevia.

Discover Stevia for Sweet Health

Stevia is a sweet herb that has been used for more than 400 years across the world, particularly in South America. There have been no reports of adverse side effects with the use of stevia. In fact, this all natural sweet herb has taken off in the Japanese market where it first appeared almost twenty-five years ago. The sales of stevia in Japan are now higher than Sweet n Low and Equal.

Stevia is close to 300 times sweeter than sugar. It can be used directly in coffees and teas as well as for baking. The United States has known about stevia since 1918 but the FDA has blocked its usage as a result of pressure from the U.S. sugar industry as well as lack of research on it.

You can purchase stevia at most health food stores and on the Internet. The FDA has now approved stevia as a food supplement but not yet as a food additive.

The American consumer keeps getting bombarded with pressure to replace all natural foods with chemical imitations claiming that they’ll be healthier. Again I’ll tell you that when you consume a variety of all natural, fresh, raw ‘real’ foods you won’t have to worry about scary side effects from a chemically altered derivative of the real thing.

Eating real food is the only way to go.


Womentowomen.com (2011)

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  1. Laura on

    I use a Stevia sweetener called Sun Crystals. The package indicates it is made from the stevia plant and pure sugar cane. It also says it may be used for those with diabetes. I like this sweetener. But, is being made with sugar cane too much of a sugar based sweetener?

  2. Kathleen on

    I think you mean “sucrose” in paragraph four. “Sucralose” is the generic name for Splenda, not the type of sugar it is made from.

    Two of my children get sick from Splenda stomach), so in spite of a cane sugar allergy and pre-diabetes, we do not use it. I like stevia and we also use honey and agave in moderation. Mostly we just don’t eat a lot of sweets

  3. scott on

    dr. axe
    i’ve been taking greens infusion by integrative. i use it to make sure i get my daily alotment of veg. i eat veg. with my supper most every night. i pay about $65 & lasts me about a month. do you know of anything as good but cheaper?

  4. Will on

    Now, I occasionally have problems, usually when I eat potato chips or other types of snacks, with my lower lip and chin going numb. It doesn’t last, but it is disconcerting nonetheless. I’ll be 52 in September, and certainly need to lose a LOT of weight. I’m wondering if this is a food allergy possibly caused by the MSG that Frito-Lay does use in their snacks. I also drink more diet Pepsi than I ought to as well, but am trying to wean myself off drinking soda at all. Can spicy foods cause this problem? It’s worrying me, and I would appreciate your insight on this.

    • Barbara on

      Will, I had the same issue with numbness in my lip, chin. It turned out I had a cyst under my lower wisdom tooth and it was pressing on the nerves when I chewed something crunchy. I had the wisdom tooth and cyst removed, by the grace of God, with no nerve damage or permanent numbness. Good luck to you. By the way I was 44 years old when that happened.

  5. Kathy Brandon on

    Dear Dr. Josh,

    I know that this article was written much earlier this year; however, I wanted to add another side effect of Splenda to your list…….hot flashes/sweating.

    I began using Splenda a number of years ago. Shortly thereafter I started having SEVERE hot flashes and sweating profusely. I had already been through that during menopause and, believe me, it is NOT fun! After multiple visits to a variety of doctors, who all said I was in good health and could find no reason for the flashes or sweating, I began doing some research on my own.

    I stumbled across an article on the internet about Splenda and began reading it along with comments from others. There was one comment describing the same exact symptoms as those that I was experiencing. The writer quit using Splenda and the symptoms disappeared.

    Of course, I immediately stopped Splenda and, within about a week, my symptoms disappeared. I have never had another problem. Once I began seeing you and following the website, I finally understood what had happened. I was probably killing myself (unintentionally, of course!) with Splenda. Since then, I have been extremely careful to insure that I buy nothing with Splenda in it.

    Just thought this might be of interest as I am sure that there are others that have had this issue.

    Thanks for all you do!


  6. Don S. on

    Well…if you ate table salt in the dosages lab animals were fed sucralose you would develop a severe headache, your blood pressure would skyrocket, and then you would die. Table salt. The lab animals fed sucralose — the equivalent of 20,000 packets a day in some studies — showed health effects, but they did not die. Stevia is sold as a supplement, and has therefore avoided the rigorous FDA lab testing (119 studies) which investigated sucralose. The health effects of stevia are largely unknown. *shrug* Make an INFORMED choice. Read the actual experimental results, not blogger’s misinformed gloss.

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