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Disclaimer: The information on is intended to improve your knowledge about herbs and their benefits. Articles on this website are not intended to replace medical treatment from your doctor. Always consult your doctor before starting a new treatment regimen.

First Published April 3.2016

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)

By Dr.Ashraf Girgis N.D.

Other Names

Some commonly referred to names are honey leaf plant, sweet chrysanthemum, sweet leaf stevia, sugar leaf, Rebiana, Stevioside, sun crystals, Enliten, Sweet Herb of Paraguay, Sweet Herb, and Sweet Leaf of Paraguay.


Stevia rebaudiana is a shrub member of the Asteraceae, a family that includes

chrysanthemums, artichokes, and sunflowers, among other plants. Stevia is native to Asian and South American countries. The indigenous people of Paraguay have been using it as a food additive for hundreds of years. It has been used as a sweetener in Brazil for more than a hundred years.

The name “Stevia” refers to the entire plant, but only its leaves are used as a sugar substitute. There are more than 150 different species of stevia. Currently, stevia is used in many countries commercially, including Japan, China, Kenya, Paraguay, Brazil, Korea, New Zealand, Thailand, Colombia, and Argentina. China is currently the leading exporter in stevia.

  Dr. Moises Santiago Bertoni, a Swiss botanist, has been credited with bringing stevia to the world’s attention. In 1995, the FDA only approved stevia as a dietary supplement. But in December 2008, the FDA approved stevia as a general sweetener and additive (except for meat and poultry). Stevia is known by its trade names Truvia and PureVia, patented by Coca Cola and Pepsi.


Stevia contains potassium, zinc, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins A, B3, C, and E. Stevia also contains Steviol glycosides (chemical responsible for its sweetness). These glycosides are 200 to 300 times sweeter then sucrose. Other chemical components are rebaudioside and diterpene glycosides (organic compounds). Minerals presents are iron, zinc, calcium, sodium, and potassium


Medical benefits

In a study published in Clinical Therapeutic (November 2003, 2), researchers gave Stevioside (a natural glycoside isolated from the plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, or SrB) to 174 men and women. They took capsules containing 500mg of stevioside powder three times a day for a period of two years, and were compared to placebo groups. The researches concluded:
            In this 2-year study in Chinese patients with mild hypertension, oral stevioside significantly decreased SBP [systolic blood pressure] and DBP   [diastolic blood pressure] compared with placebo. QOL [quality of life]       was improved, and no significant adverse effects were noted.”

In another multi center study of 107 individuals, published in September 2000 in the British Journal of Pharmacology (3), it was determined that “Oral stevioside is a well tolerated and effective modality that may be considered as an alternative or supplementary therapy for patients with hypertension”. There are a few other studies that show similar results. 

More Heath benefits:

Lowering Blood Sugar, In a study published in the Journal of Elsevier, January 2004 edition (4), researchers conducted a study on 12 type-2 diabetic patients. They gave one group 1g of stevioside and another group 1g of cornstarch. The group that received stevioside had an 18% decrease in blood sugar levels.

Another study published in August 2010 in the Journal of Appetite (1, read it here) evaluated the “effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels“ on 19 healthy men and 12 obese individuals. Aspartame is another sweetener, and sucrose is the main compound of sugar. The conclusion is as follows:     

            In conclusion, participants did not compensate by eating more at either      their lunch or dinner meal and reported similar levels of satiety when they    consumed lower calorie preloads containing stevia or aspartame than         when they consumed higher calorie preloads containing sucrose. Additionally, stevia preloads reduced postprandial blood glucose and         insulin levels, suggesting stevia may assist with glucose regulation. These      effects appear to be independent of reductions in caloric intake, as   participants consumed similar calorie amounts in both the stevia and     aspartame conditions.

Stevia leaves have antimicrobial effects. Tooth decay is also prevented, due to the fact that much less sugar is consumed when it is substituted with stevia. Stevia is also a good option for those seeking to lose weight. It can replace sugar in baking, tea, etc. ¼ teaspoon of ground stevia leaf is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Stevia contains about 10.77% of our daily fiber; it is a good fiber source and good for preventing constipation.


Side effects and Interactions

Because Stevia does have some effects on lowering blood pressure, it is important to be careful with it when taking blood pressure medication. If you are diabetic, make sure to ask your doctor if it is okay to eat stevia. In a study published on March 7, 2016 in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, researchers concluded that Steviol glycosides could potentially act as an endocrine disruptor(1).
For those who use the drug lithium, Stevia can also affect the process of eliminating it. Some components of stevia, such as stevioside, can give bloating or nausea. On occasion, some reported dizziness, muscle pain and numbness.

Allergies to stevia are seen in people who have allergies to ragweed, chrysanthemums, daisies, marigolds, etc.

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