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Stevia may not be classified as a food, but consumers are using it as one
Seattle Tiems ^ | Sunday, July 4, 1999 | Molly Martin

Posted on 04/16/2002 10:43:30 AM PDT by Brookhaven

"ISN'T THIS GREAT STUFF?" said the cashier at Puget Consumers Coop. "I'm glad we could get it in again." Then he added, sardonically, "It's OK to sell tobacco, but not this?"

"This" is stevia, an herb that - depending on who's talking - is an amazing no-calorie sweetener, a diabetic's salvation, a nutritious health enhancer or an unproved folk flavoring with uncertain effects on heart, kidneys and blood sugar, and a possible detriment to female reproduction.

In more than a dozen countries, stevia, sometimes called sweet leaf, is incorporated into manufactured foods and used as a sweetener. But in the U.S., it's categorized by the Food and Drug Administration as a dietary supplement, not a safe food or food additive, so it cannot be used in manufactured products or sold as a sweetener.

Critics charge the FDA with yielding to pressure from lobbyists in the artificial-sweetener industry. The FDA says petitions to re-classify stevia have been inadequate.

Consumers are just trying to figure out how to use it.

Stevia rebaudiana, native to Paraguay and Brazil, today is cultivated not only in South America but in China and even in Cottage Grove, Ore. Wholesale grower Log House Plants (541-942-2288) supplies many local nurseries, including Bainbridge Gardens, Magnolia Gardens and City People's, where a 4-inch pot of the tender perennial sells for $2.19. One well-established plant provides more than enough sweetener for a family of four for a year, says Log House's Alice Doyle, who hopes to sell stevia seed through the Jackson and Perkins catalog next year.

The fresh leaf, added to tea or even chewed, imparts a sweet and faint licorice flavor. Dried crushed leaves are about 30 times sweeter than table sugar.

Powdered stevia leaf, commonly sold in small packets or in bulk, also is about 30 times as sweet as sugar and often is used atop cereal, although it doesn't dissolve. A dark syrup-like extract is 70 times sweeter than sugar and usually comes in a dropper bottle, handy for coffee or tea. Both can have a slight herbal taste.

A white powder extract has a cleaner flavor, doesn't discolor foods, dissolves in water and is heat-stable to 388 degrees Fahrenheit, making it useful in light-colored or baked goods.

I dissolved a teaspoon of the white (sometimes called stevioside) in three tablespoons of filtered water to yield a clear liquid that sweetened a cup of tea with just two drops - three was too much. A quarter-teaspoon of this liquid balanced a glass of fresh lemonade. A quarter-teaspoon of the powder helped make a nice big batch of rice pudding.

Modifying recipes can be tricky. Stevia is so strong that many early attempts with old recipes resulted in over-sweet foods. Breads don't rise as much as those made with sugar. Stevia can't be caramelized. When one-quarter teaspoon substitutes for a cup of sugar, the sugar's bulk often must be replaced with something else. And potency can vary by brand, soil, climate and manufacturer.

Some manufacturers promote stevia for more than its sweet qualities. Jim May, president of Wisdom of the Ancients in Tempe, Ariz., says stevia's vitamins and minerals can help fight systemic yeast infections, aid intestinal flora, improve dental health, help diabetics regulate blood sugar, support the healing of some skin conditions and even make a dent in drug traffic from South America by giving farmers an alternative crop that will be lucrative once U.S. manufacturers are allowed to include stevia in food products.

For stevia to be re-classified as a food additive, FDA spokesman Alan Bennett says, manufacturers must prove that it is safe. (To be prohibited as a dietary supplement, the FDA would have to prove that it was unsafe.) He believes that many manufacturers are unaware that the once-complicated process to have a food accepted as "generally regarded as safe" has been simplified recently.

Perhaps a well-organized industry petition will change stevia's standing and lead to more products, more recipes, more access, and more research on its effects.

In the meantime, I think I'll have a little more dietary supplement in my tea.

Stevia sources

The case for stevia is well summarized in "The Stevia Story" by Linda Bonvie, Bill Bonvie and Donna Gates ($6.95, Body Ecology). Cookbooks include two volumes of "Baking With Stevia" by Rita Depuydt ($12.95 each, Sun Coast) and "The Stevia Cookbook" by Ray Sahelian, M.D., and Donna Gates ($12.95, Avery).


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: artificial; diet; fda; sweeteners
Our family is looking for a sugar alternative, and came across this product. Does anyone have any experience with it? I found it interesting that it is legal as a dietary supplement, but not as a food (if it's part of your diet, isn't it food?)

I also read that it holds 40% of the sweetener market in Japan.

I know we have a problem with nutrasweet (causes my wife headaches, and it causes my essential tremor to get worse). I am concerned about splenda because it is also artificial, so I was looking for a natrual alternative.

1 posted on 04/16/2002 10:43:30 AM PDT by Brookhaven
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To: Brookhaven
I am also looking for an alternative. Most artificial sweeteners give me side-effects (headaches, intestinal problems) and, a very unpleasant after-taste.

I would be interested in anyone on FR who has used this product, and what they think of it --- good and bad.

Also, what is that throw-away line at the beginning about being a problem with some internal organs. Anyone have any other info on that?

2 posted on 04/16/2002 10:48:12 AM PDT by LibertarianLiz
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To: LibertarianLiz
as a health food store owner, I see lots of folks using this product. you can bake with it too, make kool aid, whatever. it varies in quality, as some is bitter and not so good. use sparingly, it is potent.
3 posted on 04/16/2002 10:49:35 AM PDT by galt-jw
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To: Brookhaven
From the Website "Stevia.net"

If you've ever tasted stevia, you know it's extremely sweet. In fact, this remarkable noncaloric herb, native to Paraguay, has been used as a sweetener and flavor enhancer for centuries. But this innocuous-looking plant has also been a focal point of intrigue in the United States in recent years because of actions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The subject of searches and seizures, trade complaints and embargoes on importation, stevia has been handled at times by the FDA as if it were an illegal drug.

Since the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), stevia can be sold legally in the United States, but only as a "dietary supplement." Even so, it can be found in many forms in most health-food stores, and is also incorporated into drinks, teas and other items (all labeled as "dietary supplements"). It cannot, however, be called a "sweetener" or even referred to as "sweet." To do so would render the product "adulterated," according to the FDA, and make it again subject to seizure.

The purpose of our Web site is to provide as much information about stevia as possible, from the scientific studies regarding its safety to the petitions submitted by the Lipton Tea Company and the American Herbal Products Association. Stevia.net will be an ongoing project for us at Body Ecology, so check back often, as we will be augmenting and updating this information frequently.

4 posted on 04/16/2002 10:55:03 AM PDT by EggsAckley
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To: Brookhaven

I can't quite remember, but I think I used to smoke this stuff.

5 posted on 04/16/2002 10:56:42 AM PDT by martin_fierro
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To: Brookhaven
There's a Usenet group called misc.health.diabetes that has more about this than you'd ever want to know. It also has a FAQ, although I haven't looked at it in awhile.
6 posted on 04/16/2002 10:58:56 AM PDT by untenured
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To: untenured
Your address, misc.health.diabetes, doesn't go anywhere.
Is there perhaps another name? Thanks.
7 posted on 04/16/2002 11:02:35 AM PDT by EggsAckley
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To: EggsAckley
Here's how to access it via google, which apparently now owns the Dejanews name:

http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=ja&group=misc.health.diabetes.

You can search for stevia at that link and come up with a lot, although not all of it will be useful.

8 posted on 04/16/2002 11:06:42 AM PDT by untenured
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To: Brookhaven
Can any body explain why our government is fighting the approval and acceptance of this natural sugar substitue??
9 posted on 04/16/2002 11:07:09 AM PDT by hove
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To: Brookhaven
Splenda is much better and tastes exactly like sugar. It's made from sugar with no calories. Look Here !
10 posted on 04/16/2002 11:13:04 AM PDT by america-rules
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To: Brookhaven
It's readily available here (I live in Canada) and I use it sometimes. The good news is that it's very strong and can be cooked into food. The bad news is that it tastes like artificial sweetener. To be specific, its taste resembles saccharine. I find it works best in lemonade that I make regularly by juicing fresh lemons. It's less good for coffee, which I eventually decided to drink unsweetened. Some brands are better than others, so talk to some customers if possible.
11 posted on 04/16/2002 11:13:32 AM PDT by TheMole
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To: Brookhaven
We tried Stevia, but did not continue with it because it had a bitter aftertaste. For the amount of sugar we use, we're better off staying with unbleached cane (Sugar in the Raw.)
Also, Dr. Andrew Weil, who is my health guru recommends it as a safe sugar substitute on his website, but I'm not sure if it's safe for diabetics.
12 posted on 04/16/2002 11:14:19 AM PDT by stanz
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To: LibertarianLiz
The active sweetening component of Stevia is stevioside, a glycocide molecule composed of glucose, sophorose and steviol. According to most experts, stevia does not effect blood sugar metabolism and some studies report that stevia reduces plasma glucose levels in normal adults. Stevia has been used for many years in the treatment of diabetes among Indians in Paraguay and Brazil.

Although the specific mechanism is not known, in a study conducted at the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, researchers found that stevioside enhances insulin secretion from mouse pancreatic islets in the presence of glucose. The researchers state, "Stevioside stimulates insulin secretion via a direct action on pancreatic beta cells. The results indicate that the compounds may have a potential role as an anti-hyperglycemic agent in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus."

In 1995, Dr. M.S. Melis, from the Department of Biology at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, administered extracts of stevia to rats for 20, 40, and 60 days. After 20 days, there were no changes in the stevia-treated rats compared to the control group (the ones that didn't receive the extracts). However, after 40 or 60 days of administering the extract, blood pressure had lowered. Melis also noted a diuretic effect along with loss of sodium. The amount of blood going to the kidneys was increased. In a 1981 Brazilian study, when researcher Boerk gave human volunteers between the ages of 20 and 40 a tea prepared with stevia leaves, a lowering of blood pressure occurred.

Source

13 posted on 04/16/2002 11:14:33 AM PDT by ravingnutter
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To: Brookhaven
I know we have a problem with nutrasweet (causes my wife headaches, and it causes my essential tremor to get worse).

Hmmmmm....You are the first person I have seen complain about something I noticed years ago with nutra sweet. I was using it with iced tea and discovered that I was experiencing uncontrolled hand and arm movements and also vocal problems. The stuff was definately affecting my nervous system, ie: brain functions regarding more than one system.

I regard the stuff as dangerous.

14 posted on 04/16/2002 11:15:37 AM PDT by Cold Heat
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To: america-rules
I forgot to add Splenda can be found in most supermarkets now.

I use it for everything and it's good because it's a fine powder and when used in cold tea it mixes really well.

15 posted on 04/16/2002 11:17:14 AM PDT by america-rules
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To: america-rules
There's gotta be a catch. I checked the website, but of course, they wouldn't list any negatives. We drink Ocean Spray cranberry juice all the time which is one of the featured products on the Splenda website. Tastes pretty good to us!
Thanks for posting it.
16 posted on 04/16/2002 11:17:57 AM PDT by stanz
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To: Brookhaven
This reminds me of the time eons ago when I was in the neighbourhood hospitality industry and we cheerfully served to the customers of our high class dive Sterno on the rocks!
17 posted on 04/16/2002 11:19:16 AM PDT by Revolting cat!
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To: Brookhaven
My post was confusing. I meant that Dr. Weil recommends the use of Stevia.
18 posted on 04/16/2002 11:21:41 AM PDT by stanz
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To: america-rules
I came down with diabetes last year and found Splenda. It's a good substitute for sugar but tends to be a bit pricey.
19 posted on 04/16/2002 11:23:38 AM PDT by randog
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To: hove
"Can any body explain why our government is fighting the approval and acceptance of this natural sugar substitue??"

The dynamic that is at work here is very much like what was done by William Randolph Hearst back in the 30s to get marijuana made illegal.

I don't doubt for one second that efforts by those who produce artificial sweeteners have something to do with it.

But then, I'm about as cynical as they come.


20 posted on 04/16/2002 11:29:41 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts
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To: Brookhaven
" Does anyone have any experience with it?"

Yes. I have it in all three forms. It is INTENSELY SWEET. One drop in a full cup of coffee or tea is usually plenty. Some things are sweetened more easily than others, although I'm not sure why this should be. As far as I know, it has no side effects for the user, and is as safe as any herbal preparation that is sold. Just remember to use it in tiny amounts, and to experiment with it before you use it in something you want to serve to guests.

21 posted on 04/16/2002 11:32:40 AM PDT by redhead
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To: Brookhaven
For stevia to be re-classified as a food additive, FDA spokesman Alan Bennett says, manufacturers must prove that it is safe.

Which is impossible.

22 posted on 04/16/2002 11:32:55 AM PDT by cruiserman
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To: Brookhaven
Our family is looking for a sugar alternative,

Why? Enjoy sugar in moderation, it won't kill you.

23 posted on 04/16/2002 11:35:22 AM PDT by in_troth
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To: america-rules
No doubt that SPLENDA tastes like sugar and is made from sugar.

But they do it by replacing a carbon atom with a chlorine atom, which binds the molecule against digestive breakdown. If ya think chlorine is good for ya, then go ahead and use it. And have a bleach chaser afterward!

24 posted on 04/16/2002 11:36:12 AM PDT by gwynapnudd
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To: hove
"Can any body explain why our government is fighting the approval and acceptance of this natural sugar substitue??"

Two words: SUGAR LOBBY

Sugar in other countries is very cheap, but in the U.S., it is subsidized. The price is higher, making it less attractive for candy and pastry manufacturers. The sugar lobby has brought sufficient pressure to bear on the producers of stevia products to prevent its designation as a food. In the case of Nutra-sweet, the formula was purchased by one of the major food manufacturers in order to prevent it being used in competitive products without licensing. Perhaps someday, this will also happen to stevia. But as long as the sugar growers have any power, they will do everything they can to prevent it.

25 posted on 04/16/2002 11:37:09 AM PDT by redhead
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To: america-rules
"Splenda is much better and tastes exactly like sugar. It's made from sugar with no calories."

Yep. this is what we use at my house. There are a couple of soft drinks out that are sweetened with splenda. One is DIET RITE. The other is a punch-type drink that comes in several herbal-enhanced flavors. Both of these beverages are VERY good, and very tasty. If you are looking for a summer refresher that doesn't add calories, check for these.

26 posted on 04/16/2002 11:39:41 AM PDT by redhead
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To: randog
I came down with diabetes last year and found Splenda. It's a good substitute for sugar but tends to be a bit pricey.

Yes it is pricy, because it measures cup by cup just like sugar....... not a concentrate.

27 posted on 04/16/2002 12:03:10 PM PDT by Great Dane
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To: Brookhaven
I started a few stevia plants from seed. They're still in the seedling stage, but I read at www.steviaplant.com that you can use the plant several ways. You can make an extract by boiling the leaves. You can dry the leaves and crumble them. I think that you can use them the same way that you would use bay leaf too when cooking.

Anyway, time will tell if I can figure out how to use it to sweeten my coffee.

I bought the seeds from Park Seed Company.

28 posted on 04/16/2002 12:19:48 PM PDT by alnick
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To: america-rules
Splenda is much better and tastes exactly like sugar. It's made from sugar with no calories. Look Here !

Like I said, we got burned by using a artificail sweetener in the past. Nutrasweet was supposed to be safe with no side affects, but we experienced them.

The initial news about Splenda sounds a lot like the inital news about Nutrasweet. Sounds great, but there are some rumblings here and there that it may not be the benign panacea it is made out to be.

We would really like to find a natural alternative. The fact that Stevia is used widely in Japan would seem to be a big plus for it, but I would like to learn more about any product that might become a part of my family's diet.

29 posted on 04/16/2002 12:35:43 PM PDT by Brookhaven
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To: in_troth
Why? Enjoy sugar in moderation, it won't kill you.

No, but it will (or has in our case) make you fat.

We're experementing with a lot of alternatives (like using apple sauce for oil in recepies) to lower our total calorie intake.

We're also look at alternatives to refined sugar (which for the most part I have nothing against except for the calories.) Stevia is just one of the things that came up when I went looking for alternatives.

Maybe I should have titled this thread "help with processed sugar alternatives."

30 posted on 04/16/2002 12:51:18 PM PDT by Brookhaven
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To: stanz
There's gotta be a catch. I checked the website, but of course, they wouldn't list any negatives. We drink Ocean Spray cranberry juice all the time which is one of the featured products on the Splenda website

Here is one of the links I ran across that list concerns with Splenda:

http://www.mercola.com/2000/dec/3/sucralose_dangers.htm

It's hard to tell if these are legitimate concerns, or just the far left, all-natural-all-the-time crowd going off the deep end again. Common sense though, would tell you that if you take a natural product (like sugar) and turn it into something undigestible by humans, there is the possiblity it may cause some problems.

31 posted on 04/16/2002 1:00:48 PM PDT by Brookhaven
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

To: gwynapnudd
Salt has a chlorine molecule in it as well...so when you use salt you are putting chlorine in your system.
33 posted on 04/16/2002 1:47:48 PM PDT by kaktuskid
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To: in_troth
Enjoy sugar in moderation, it won't kill you.

No, but in my case it brings on very painful headaches so I tend to avoid it like poison. Start checking the label of just about any sauce. Most of them have a lot of sugar. I have seen Stevia in the health food stores; currently I use Splenda and have found it to be quite good with no after taste.

It has also resulted in my losing quite a bit of weight.

a.cricket

34 posted on 04/16/2002 2:05:09 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: Brookhaven
Thanks for the sucralose website. Common sense tells me what my old family doctor used to say when I was a kid - - -everything in moderation. That includes sugar.

A statement on page 5 was also notable:

Is There A Benefit for consumers?

According to Consumers' Research Magazine, sucralose provides some benefits for the corporations making and using it, but not for consumers.

They state that diabetics, weight watchers and the general public might make better food choices by selecting basic, rather than highly processed foods; for example, apples, rather than turnovers; or plain, rather than sweetened, dairy foods.

35 posted on 04/16/2002 2:08:29 PM PDT by stanz
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To: Brookhaven
There is another artificial sweetener called SweetOne which I like better than Splenda, and it is cheaper. I have tried Stevia and did not find it that sweet. Also, to me it has a strong licorice flavor, and I don't care for licorice flavor in all sweets.
36 posted on 04/16/2002 2:54:06 PM PDT by angry elephant
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To: randog
You should try SweetOne. It came out before Splenda and is cheaper. It has no aftertaste and no formaldehyde like Nutrasweet does. You cannot find it in all stores, but can order it from New York. The website is www.sweetone.com or call 1-800-544-8610.
37 posted on 04/16/2002 3:00:46 PM PDT by angry elephant
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To: redhead
There are a couple of soft drinks out that are sweetened with splenda. One is DIET RITE. The other is a punch-type drink that comes in several herbal-enhanced flavors. Both of these beverages are VERY good, and very tasty. If you are looking for a summer refresher that doesn't add calories, check for these.

Can you still get Diet Rite? We can't get it in Seattle. We were told that Royal Crown went out of business and Coke and Pepsi were fighting over the rights before they would release Diet Rite again. Hanson's uses Splenda and is very good, but we miss the raspberry Diet Rite.

38 posted on 04/16/2002 3:04:44 PM PDT by angry elephant
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To: angry elephant
We live in Minnesota and can buy it even in small-town grocery stores. The other stuff is found at Sam's club. I wish I had a bottle of it here so I could tell you what it's called, but we haven't gotten any yet this year. Go here to find out more about dietrite... Diet Rite
39 posted on 04/16/2002 3:34:09 PM PDT by redhead
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To: redhead
The other stuff is found at Sam's club.

has to be either Fruit 2 0 or Fruit 2 0 plus. Very good stuff. You can get it from Walgreens as well.

a.cricket

40 posted on 04/16/2002 4:19:56 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: angry elephant
You should try SweetOne.

Here's a link to a warning page about Acesulfame K (the sweetener in SweetOne):

http://www.holisticmed.com/acek/

I don't mean to rain on the artificial sweetener parade, but I really am more interested in a natural product. I figure I've got enough chemicals floating around in me already.

41 posted on 04/16/2002 5:42:02 PM PDT by Brookhaven
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To: Brookhaven
I really hate to break this to you but everything is made of chemicals. Just because it is so-called natural does not mean that it is good for you and just because it is so-called man made does not mean that it is bad for you. Dosage is everything.

a.cricket

42 posted on 04/16/2002 6:13:36 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: kaktuskid
"Salt has a chlorine molecule in it as well...so when you use salt you are putting chlorine in your system."

Point well taken. I really do like splenda, just became suspicious when it seemed too good to be true, if you know what I mean.

43 posted on 04/16/2002 9:34:34 PM PDT by gwynapnudd
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To: wirestripper
(Re: NutraSweet/Aspartame)- "I was using it with iced tea and discovered that I was experiencing uncontrolled hand and arm movements and also vocal problems. The stuff was definately affecting my nervous system, ie: brain functions regarding more than one system.

I regard the stuff as dangerous."

Do a Google search on neurology and aspartame; I believe you'll find that the stuff is considered quite dangerous indeed. I know that my sister-in-law (who is an epileptic) was warned not to touch the stuff by her doctor. It somehow lowers the seizure threshold. To make matters worse, most diet soft drinks are made with it.

44 posted on 04/16/2002 9:52:39 PM PDT by Cloud William
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To: Cloud William
I appreciate your reply. I do not drink soft drinks anymore. Just plenty of water and beer. (keeps the system flushed)

The symptoms I experienced were wierd (to put it mildly) I no longer have them and feel better than I have in years. I watch labels intently. The stuff seems to affect the motor synapses. Some sort of misfire I suppose. You notice it when inactive or resting, even driving.

G'nite all............wirestripper

45 posted on 04/16/2002 10:28:01 PM PDT by Cold Heat
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To: Brookhaven
 
46 posted on 04/17/2002 5:13:36 AM PDT by Brookhaven
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To: Brookhaven
I've found that if I stir my drink with my finger it tends to sweeten up each time. (:^)

My wife's finger produces a lemony taste. I let her stir the tea.

47 posted on 04/17/2002 5:26:55 AM PDT by DainBramage
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To: Brookhaven
I have used it to sweeten tea, and bought the powder at a health food store. I also, in the past, bought a box of packets to take with me to restaraunts. I haven't bought any lately, but my feeling is that it is safe. I liked it, but it is harder to find where I live now. I believe that saccharin is safer than nutrasweet. I am not diabetic, but would like to have my teeth when I am old and am something of a sugar fiend.

I have become more cautious about 'natural' foods and remedies lately, particularly the herbal "supplements" as kavakava has been found to cause liver damage in some, with at least one person dying. My advice, for any of that, would be to find information on how long it has been used in Europe, for what symptoms, and any side effects that have been found. The Europeans are ahead of us in this aspect. I hope this helps.

48 posted on 04/17/2002 5:35:46 AM PDT by didi
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