Yes! There's no such thing as a "natural" artificial sweetener. No artificial sweeteners are proven safe for IBS.
Saccharin (Sweet'N Low) , aspartame (Equal and Nutrasweet), sucralose (Splenda), sorbitol and other sugar alcohols (xylitol, maltitol, erythritol), are the most popular artificial sweeteners in the US.
All can cause GI side effects ranging from gas and bloating to severe cramps and diarrhea.
In some cases, they cause problems in people who don't even have IBS. Imagine what they can do to you.
Saccharin and aspartame - saccharin has had carcinogenic warnings for years, and aspartame has generated thousands of consumer complaints to the FDA about side effects. Aspartame must carry a warning label for people who do not effectively metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine, one of aspartame's components.
There are no clear cut long-term studies on saccharin's or aspartame's effects on GI health. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence they cause digestive upsets, particularly if you're already susceptible.
Splenda is a newer artificial sweetener, misleadingly marketed as "natural" because it's engineered from real sugar. The deceptive "natural" label resulted in nine consumer class-action suits in several states and three federal commission complaints.
Splenda is a laboratory altered molecule of sugar that replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms. Yum!
Splenda is not recognized by the body as a food substance, and it passes through the gut without being digested. This is about as far from a "real" food as you can get - there is nothing natural about it.
Sorbitol (and other sweeteners ending in "ol") are sugar alcohols, chemically extracted from fruits and vegetables. They are very poorly absorbed by the gut, resulting in both a low calorie count and dramatic digestive upheavals.
Sugar alcohols are so likely to cause gas, cramping, and bowel dysfunction they're often labeled with a warning, and cautions against eating a large amount. Personally, I'd caution against eating any amount of a sweetener known to wreak havoc on your gut.
What about stevia? Stevia is an herb in the chrysanthemum family. Stevia extracts can be 300 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose). Stevia seems to be a perfectly safe sugar substitute with no GI side effects.
But! Many brands of stevia also (why?!) contain artificial sweeteners such as sugar alcohols, FODMAPS such as inulin, or high fructose sweeteners such as agave. All of these are IBS triggers.
Craving sweets? You're better off savoring small portions of treats made with real sugar. Sugar is not a health food, but sugar usually means sucrose, and sucrose isn't an IBS trigger.
Have your IBS-friendly cake and eat it, too with IBS safe dessert recipes that use real sugar, and are low fat, dairy-free, high soluble fiber.
Tip Takeaway: Artificial sweeteners are bad news for any IBS diet. Stevia - if it does not have other IBS triggers added to it - is a safe alternative. Otherwise, stick to plain old table sugar.