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This is My Voice on Crystal Light

This is my voice on: Crystal Light

A few days ago I went grocery shopping at my local Ralph’s, as I briefly stood in the powered drink section looking at the options. I can’t remember the last time I got a powered drink mix because they are so full of sugar, and with the general sweet tooth I have, it’s pretty imperative I stay away from extra sugar intake! (so much sugar is everywhere…sigh…. not good….)

I stopped there that day because I have this great glass pitcher from CB2, that I haven’t had much cause to use for drinks other than tea (and I’m more of a daily hot tea drinker), and I wanted to use it. Okay, I’ll get some juice. I love juice. Wanting to be economical I thought, let me get a juice that I can make several quarts out of. Anyway, as I stand there impressed by Crystal Light’s packaging, I get this feeling that I shouldn’t drink this beverage.

That’s when I should have put the drink down and walked away.

But did I?


I vaguely recalled being in middle school at some point when my mom was on a diet, and hearing her say something about Crystal Light having given her the shakes or something. But since I wasn’t entirely sure if that was in fact the correct memory, and I didn’t have cell coverage at the grocer, I shook my head and tossed it in the basket.

That night, I enjoyed a delicious glass of their ‘natural pink lemonade’.

Later that night my throat started to feel itchy.

I had another glass.

Increased itchy throat. The next day I was like great, I’m getting a sore throat, its coming on. That’s random. Blah.

Still I drink the beverage, because it’s delicious. I wasn’t chugging it or anything, but glasses were getting drunk. The next day full on throat drama! It wasn’t until mid afternoon rolled around that anything remotely audible came out of my mouth period. Additionally this awful–I’ve been wearing my contacts too long or something—full on headache comes on too. And chest pains. (Both of which are recurring issues with me, so they didn’t entirely standing out, but I did have other systems) Am I sick?! Probably. Fast forward another couple of days of me sounding like a 40 year smoker with a hoarse and raspy voice. The meds aren’t helping.

Now on to today. My voice did’t sound so bad. Maybe a bit better actually.

I wanted something cold before my first cup of hot tea. I have a glass of what I will now not-so- lovingly just refer to as CL (aka Crystal Light). Within moments I feel like my throat is slightly stinging, and as if it’s closing up, and I sound five times worse!! (what the heck…) Later that morning I walk pass the kitchen cabinet and for the first time I think…could this have something to do with the CL?? Hmmm…

So I investigate.

And instantly I hit pay dirt.

(source: http://www.alldeaf.com/lifestyle-health-fitness-food/11387-crystal-light-harmful.html)

A previous forum thread had played out like this:

Banjo asked: Crystal Light – Harmful?

I’m just curious, did any of you ever experience some form of chest pains, and pains in your throat that you rarely or never feel as a result of drinking Crystal Light?

I believe I had several bad reactions to the Crystal Light drinks, and I plan on making an appointment with my doctor to go over the possibility of an allergy. But I believe it may be a possibility that it’s a form of poisoning because of the way I felt the pains. It is very unlikely that it was an allergy because my throat did not swell up or anything, I just felt the pain and it is the kind of pain you never want to experience.

It’s almost unbearable. I even considered going to the emergency room a few times. But now that I’ve stopped drinking it and I haven’t had any problems since then till I drank a glass of it last night and got a mild reaction to it. I’m now pretty sure that it is Crystal Light that I believe to be harmful. I don’t know why since millions drink it and you don’t hear of problems coming from them. Perhaps it depends on how much you drink it. But who knows?

Anybody care to share their experiences?

Several of the initial responses suggested that perhaps the above person had an unknown allergy to it, in addition to the following responses.


Perhaps, it’s the flavor or something that you’re drinking. I drink Crystal Light almost every day. Sometimes, I drink it 5 times a day. The flavor I usually drink is Lemonade and Rasberry Tea. There are other flavors and they are pretty strong. I did get a sore throat once because I drank this one flavor. I also didn’t like the flavor so I never got it again. Maybe, that’s the issue in your case… wrong flavor?

Mb13: Crystal light/chest pains

I have the same Problem!! I can’t take deep breaths… And get headaches. Why did you find out???


I just googled this: apparently they suspect it’s aspartame that gives one headaches. I personally can’t stand the taste of aspartame so I avoid anything that has it.


I have found that I am allergic to the aspartame. MIL drink Crystal Light like it’s going out of style. Hubby was told not to have it at all with his heart issues. He is not allowed to have any of the instant drinks. He’s also supposed to stay away from artificial sweeteners as well.


Wow, talk about reviving a dead thread. I just steer clear of any products with aspartame and I haven’t had any problems since then. I can drink any powdered drinks with either sugar or splenda and not experience any problems, but if I drink anything with aspartame in it, I do experience some problems.

It’s the same with sugar-free gum with aspartame, I get facial tics from them, as strange as that sounds. I haven’t had a problem for years since I avoid these products. I must have developed some sort of bad reaction to it.

Great….This sounds like me. Sitting here with renewed chest pains as I search out for information, I can’t help but think: mama said…

Song snippet credit: Shirelles.

While my mom experienced different reactions to this beverage, the point is, she had a problem with it, and I would have been wise to stick with that warning. She didn’t know when I was in middle school that I would be diagnosed with the hyper-thyroid disorder Graves disease in college, and that the impact of it would bring forth subsequent heart problems. All she knew was that it made her feel funny, so I shouldn’t drink it. Health issues or not, it’s simply wise to be concerned and aware of the things we put in our bodies.

Let me share a little more about how my desires to be more conscious of my sugar intake, incorrectly led to my (short lived) approval of Crystal Light and the (sometime effects) of its ingredient aspartame. *Plus I managed to pay no attention to additional fact that it contains soy (another item I have to be very aware of because of my heart previous thyorid problems). You’d be surprised how much soy shows up in things these days! Good for some, but not for all…

If its calorie free, carb free, and sugar free, something is probably up.

Read more, click here.
Did you know?
Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA.

    • -Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death. A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.
    • -According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson’s disease, alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.
    • -Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. The book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” by James and Phyllis Balch, lists aspartame under the category of “chemical poison.”

(more info here)
What does aspartame do?

First, aspartame releases aspartate during digestion. It is a nonessential amino acid that has a central role in transferring amino groups by aspartate aminotransferase in the liver.

Aspartate is a neurotransmitter used by the neurons in the brain.  It is a type of excitatory amino acid.  Excitatory amino acids are normal and necessary brain chemicals, and as such, they are allowed to cross the blood-brain barrier. It is a natural and necessary body chemical.  Neurotransmitters cross the blood-brain barrier.

The blood-brain barrier is designed to protect the brain from the invasion of harmful chemicals.  When normal neurotransmitters such as aspartate and glutamate cross this barrier in excess, they will cause poisoning and lead to the death of the nerve cells within the brain and spinal cord.  The blood-brain barrier cannot discern the amount that is needed from too much.

“If energy production is reduced in the brain, the protective pumps begin to fail and glutamate begins to accumulate in the space around the neuron, including the area of the synapse.  If the energy is not restored the neurons will burn up; they are literally excited to death.”

A number of conditions that affect the nervous system are related to accumulation of excitotoxins.  Excess excitotoxins can have a devastating effect on the nervous system.

This is a problem. If you didn’t completely understand that, understand this: too much of something (even if it’s sometimes useful) is not good.

Dr. Schwartz was asked to elaborate on a statement attributed to former Senator Metzenbaum, now of the Consumer Federation of America in Washington, DC who said, “The approval process of aspartame has had a questionable history.”

Dr. Schwartz:  “When aspartame was first introduced for approval by the FDA, it was considered to be a sweetener, not an additive or a drug, and with a great deal of lobbying, the discussions were propelled through the approval proceedings, and the numerous case reports from individuals with adverse reactions were ignored.”

If you’re interested in reading more up on this, I’d suggest this article here (it was re-posted from Complementary Health) And for more personal accounts of affects on people by CL, click here.

As stated before, if that weren’t bad enough, I have the added and dreaded soy/thyroid effect. A little background on that:

 The Controversy Over Soy and Thyroid Health (source)

For at least the past decade, the issue of whether soy has a negative effect on the thyroid has been a continuing question. The potential effects of soy on the thyroid remains a controversial issue, one that shows no signs of being resolved in the near future.

On one side, we have health and nutrition magazines touting the benefits of soy as a cure-all for menopause, cancer prevention, heart disease, weight loss, and many other health concerns.

A look at some of the issues to consider…

Soy (or soybeans) are a type of legume that have been used for 5,000 years in China for food — i.e., tofu, tempeh, and edamame beans — and medicinal purposes. Soybeans are considered a source of protein, and are processed into many meat and dairy substitutes. The main producers of soy are the United States, Brazil, Argentina, China and India.

Soy and many soy products contains isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens — plant-based estrogens. It is soy’s weak estrogenic properties that are often touted as a health benefit of soy.

Soy and the Thyroid

Apart from the question as to whether soy even has health benefits, there are concerns that soy has negative effects on thyroid function and hormonal health.

Soy falls into a category of foods known as goitrogens — vegetables, grains and foods that promote formation of goiter — an enlarged thyroid.

Some goitrogens also have a definite antithyroid effect, and appear to be able to slow thyroid function, and in some cases, trigger thyroid disease. These concerns have been studied for years, but were raised specifically by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) researchers Daniel Doerge and Daniel Sheehan. Doerge and Sheehan were the FDA’s key experts on soy. In 2000, Doerge and Sheehan wrote a controversial letter of protest (PDF) to their own employer, protesting the positive health claims for soy that the FDA was approving at the time. They wrote:

…there is abundant evidence that some of the isoflavones found in soy, including genistein and equol, a metabolize of daidzen, demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid. This is true for a number of species, including humans.

Although safety testing of natural products, including soy products, is not required, the possibility that widely consumed soy products may cause harm in the human population via either or both estrogenic and goitrogenic activities is of concern. Rigorous, high-quality experimental and human research into soy toxicity is the best way to address these concerns.”

Other studies have been done, for example:

  • A 1991 Japanese study found that soy consumption can suppress thyroid function and cause goiters in healthy people, especially elderly subjects.
  • Czech researchers in 2006 reported on a study that looked at thyroid hormones and thyroid autoantibodies, along with blood levels of two isoflavones — daidzein and genistein. The study looked at children without overt thyroid disease, who were not iodine deficient. They found a “significant positive association of genistein with thyroglobulin autoantibodies and a negative correlation with thyroid volume.” They concluded that “even small differences in soy phytoestrogen intake may influence thyroid function, which could be important when iodine intake is insufficient.”
  • In 2004, researchers found that infants fed soy formula had a prolonged increase in their thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels, compared to infants fed non-soy formula.
  • European researchers found in one study that even a week of consuming unprocessed boiled natural soybeans caused modest changes to thyroid levels.
  • A 1997 study published in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology wrote: “it was observed that an…extract of soybeans contains compounds that inhibit thyroid peroxidase- (TPO) catalyzed reactions essential to thyroid hormone synthesis.”

Andrew Weil, MD, a well-known American holistic doctor, who’s usually a supporter of soy, has thyroid-related concerns. He has said at his “Ask Dr. Weil” website:

“Excess consumption of soy can affect thyroid function, if you have a thyroid disorder to begin with or if you’re not getting enough iodine in your diet…you’re unlikely to get too many isoflavones as a result of adding soy foods to your diet — but you probably will take in too much if you take soy supplements in pill form. At this point, I can only recommend that you avoid soy supplements entirely.”

Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, an internationally known expert on soy is concerned enough that’s he’s called for soy formula manufacturers to remove the isoflavones — the agents that are most active against the thyroid — from their products. Dr. Fitzpatrick believes “that people with hypothyroidism should seriously consider avoiding soy products, and predicts the current promotion of soy as a health food will result in an increase in thyroid disorders.”

Other countries including, but not limited to, France, Germany, Israel, and New Zealand, have taken action to limit the possible dangers of soy. It should be noted that they are not completely advocating against it for everyone, but they are making the issue of over consumption a known issue, and the factor of whether that soy has been genetically modified. In Asia it’s usually not,

There are estimates suggesting that Asians consume some 10 to 30 milligrams of isoflavones from soy a day at most — and it’s soy in traditional food form.

In the U.S., however, it typically is modified, and some people get as much as 80 to 100 milligrams of soy isoflavones a day, from soy milk, soy nuts, soy protein shakes, soy candy bars, soy cereal, and foods enriched with soy, as well as soy supplements.

Kaayla Daniels, Ph.D., author of The Whole Soy Story, suggests that the thyroid-toxic effects of soy are most often seen at levels above 30 mg of soy per day.

In a 2006 study published in the journal Thyroid, suggests that soy is safe,

Unless you have a thyroid condition, or iodine deficiency; but doesn’t allude to the fact that an estimated, as high as one-fourth of the U.S. population is now iodine deficient, and that the number is increasing. At the same time, many millions of Americans also have undiagnosed autoimmune thyroid disease. At minimum, if you accept the premise of this study, that means that more than 75 million Americans with iodine deficiency may be at risk of thyroid problems from soy consumption. If you include the up to 60 million Americans who have a diagnosed or undiagnosed thyroid condition, almost half of all Americans could be at risk of soy-related thyroid problems.

And oh yeah, keep in mind that soy is one of the most common allergy-triggering foods, (did you know that? I didnt know that…) so even if it is not affecting your thyroid specifically, it may be triggering symptoms of an allergic response, which can include acne, swelling, a stuffy nose, diarrhea, stomach pains, heart palpitations, skin rashes, itching, hives, swelling in the throat, fatigue, and episodes of low blood pressure.

And there you have it folks, it brings it all full circle. My full systems have included:

  • -Swelling and itchiness of the throat
  • -fatigue
  • -chest pain
  • -stuffy nose
  • -headache

Oh CL from two lousy ingredients you brought me a lot of pain and annoyance over this weekend. But some education as well.

Disclaimer: Just because Crystal Light has effected me this way is not to imply that it effects everyone this way.

About maggie.

Maggie Barnes is a nonprofit and for profit business content specialist / social media consultant; and social sciences web writer interested in everything from psychology and sexuality, to technology, race, and economics. She is passionate about good communication and information accessibility.


One thought on “This is My Voice on Crystal Light

  1. Hmmmm… I was just googling about Crystal Light, because I recently noticed something strange when I was drinking Crystal Light – Wild Strawberry. It felt like my throat was choking up. I didn’t feel like I was swelling up or anything, or having difficulty breathing, but my throat just seemed to not feel right. I usually drink the peach iced tea, and never have a problem, I will have to investigate to see if the Wild Strawberry flavor has something different in it than the Peach Iced Tea. If you are aware of anything, I would love to know!

    Thanks – Diane from Michigan

    Posted by Diane (Vruwink) Carlson | June 28, 2012, 4:34 am

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