I came upon this site (thanks Dr. J Hull!) from Googling "breathlessness" and following a trail of comments from people in various forums that in many cases, linked their symptom of breathlessness to use of sugar substitutes. When I added Aspartame to breathlessness in the search, Dr Hull's site was the first return. I began reading the site (this was Jan 1, 2010) and started a "detox log" and have found some very interesting correlations over the past 8 months.
First, for months (last year, 2009, up to Jan of this year) I was experiencing extreme breathlessness when I stood. Not every time I stood, but nearly every time. Many times daily to where it was affecting my quality of life. I felt like I could not take a deep enough breath to satiate my lungs and would get lightheaded. After a few moments, it would pass. I am not a smoker, never have been, and am in good health. I read from others that some athletes were having this problem, had gone to doctors, and in MANY cases (not all), the doctors could find no reason for the breathlessness. Some people who had posted to various forums had been living with this for YEARS, and one girl was just 15yrs old!
I had heard Aspartame was bad for you and had no idea I was ingesting any. When my puppy ate a pack of Extra gum, I called the vet to make sure he wasn't in any danger. She quickly asked what sugar substitute the gum used. I read the pack for the first time, and was shocked to see it used Aspartame. (Lucky for the dog though, as Xylitol in Orbit and other gums can kill a dog in very small amounts of just a few sticks, depending on weight!) But I had been chomping on upwards of 10 sticks a day for a few years. Additionally, I drank one or two Diet Rite sodas each day, made with Splenda, and I used Splenda in my daily decaf. coffee.
After reading Dr. Hull's website, I wondered if these sugar subs could really be responsible for the breathlessness. I actually thought it was pure anxiety, as I have been living with my elderly parents and caring for them, and my father has had cancer for the last 5 years. So things have been very stressful.
Nonetheless, last Jan 1st, I stopped chewing gum, stopped drinking soda, and bought PURE Stevia (no added products) to put in my coffee. It took about a month to start noticing a difference. I would still get breathless, but it came less often and was less extreme, except for an occasional strong bout. Then quietly, over the next few months, it went away completely.
By April of this year I was not getting breathless anymore, and spied some Splenda sodas in the garage that were left over from when I stopped. I figured the bouts of breathlessness were probably due to anxiety from my Dad's situation (we had gone through a bad period in 2009 and were in a better lull now), and that if anything maybe the Aspartame was to blame, but probably not the Splenda. So in April I started drinking those sodas, and bought one or two more 12-packs. Lo and behold, by the end of April, the breathlessness was creeping back! By then Mother was having medical problems, and I stopped buying the soda and forgot about it, until I read my detox log later and saw that the breathlessness went away after I stopped drinking the soda again! (Even though stress levels were through the roof.)
So a couple more months go by and it's Jun and my Mother was in the hosp (for a week to get an op) and I didn't want to get sick from spending so much time there, so I bought chewable Vit C to eat 4 or 5 a day, only noticing afterward they were made with Aspartame! Meanwhile I started going to 7-11 for coffee to stay awake, and put Splenda in it, again thinking "can't hurt for a short period of time." Well, guess what? Within a week of drinking the coffee, I stood one night and the breathlessness was back. I stopped the Splenda and Aspartame vitamins (bought some made with sugar) and the breathlessness went away.
So I have to say that in my experience the breathlessness had nothing to do with my stress levels and everything to do with sugar substitutes. And btw, I had no other side effects I am aware of. No gastric problems, etc. But I have seen clearly from this 8-month period that sugar substitutes = breathlessness for me, at least.
Stevia is the exception (not a man-made chemical, but derived from a plant), as I have used it during this 8-month period and it causes no problems. I do not buy any of the corporate products that mix Stevia with other stuff (e. TruVia). I only buy pure Stevia. Unfortunately it is a little bitter compared to sugar, but if you don't want sugar calories or are diabetic, Stevia is safe.