From: Jerry Cott <>

Subject: Re: Sugar substitutes: aspartic acid and neurone damage?


At 12:14 AM 1/22/97 +0000, you wrote:

>There is some reason to believe that aspartic acid (one of the two amino

>acids that composes aspartame), which is very similar to glutamine, may

>have negative neurological effects on some (many?) people. There are a

>few natural experiments where people have eaten diets extremely high in

>glutamine (compared to other aminos) and many people (up to half) have

>suffered neurological symptoms. A few percent ended up with irreversible

>Parkinson's-like conditions.


>The problem is probably due to the fact that unprotected glutamine excites

>neurons (in some people at least), sometimes to the point where they die

>from the overexertion. A precursor of this -- or a symptom that it is

>already happening -- is a headache. This is likely the problem with MSG

>for many people. Based on biochemical similarities, it seems possible

>that aspartic acid does the same thing. (Does anyone know of any studies

>-- there wasn't much in the literature the last time I researched this a

>few years ago?)



I don't believe there is any data, or any other compelling reason at

present, to suggest that MSG headaches and other hypersensitivities and the

neurotoxicity associated with high doses of excitatory amino acids are

correlated or are on the same continuum.


- Jerry



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jerry Cott, Ph.D. Tel: 301/443-4527 Fax: 443-6000

Chief, Pharmacologic Treatment Research Program

Director, Psychotherapeutic Medication Development Program

National Institute of Mental Health, NIH e-mail:

"The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."