Aspartame use in Parkinson's disease

Neurology. 1993 Mar;43(3 Pt 1):611-3. doi: 10.1212/wnl.43.3_part_1.611.


The artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet) is hydrolyzed in the gut as phenylalanine (PA), a large neutral amino acid (LNAA). LNAAs compete with levodopa for uptake into the brain. To determine the effect of aspartame on levodopa-treated Parkinson's disease (PD) patients, we studied 18 PD patients with protein-sensitive motor fluctuations by administering in a double-blind and single-crossover design, on alternate days, aspartame (600 or 1,200 mg) and placebo. Every hour, we performed a motor examination and drew blood to estimate plasma LNAA, PA, and levodopa levels. Six-hundred mg of aspartame had no effect on plasma PA or motor status. Although 1,200 mg of aspartame significantly increased plasma PA, motor performance did not deteriorate. Aspartame consumption in amounts well in excess of what would be consumed by heavy users of aspartame-sweetened products has no adverse effect on PD patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aspartame / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / blood
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / chemically induced*
  • Phenylalanine / blood


  • Levodopa
  • Phenylalanine
  • Aspartame