July 28, 2016

Stevia

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What other names is Stevia known by?

Azucacaa, Ca-A-Jhei, Ca-A-Yupi, Caa-He-É, Caa'Inhem, Capim Doce, Chanvre d'Eau, Eira-Caa, Erva Doce, Estevia, Eupatorium rebaudianum, Green Stevia, Kaa Jhee, Mustelia eupatoria, Paraguayan Stevioside, Plante Sucrée, Reb A, Rebaudioside A, Rébaudioside A, Rebiana, Stévia, Stevia eupatoria, Stevia Plant, Stevia purpurea, Stevia rebaudiana, Stevioside, Sweetleaf, Sweet Herb of Paraguay, Sweet Herb, Sweet Leaf of Paraguay, Yerba Dulce.

What is Stevia?

Stevia is a plant that is native to South America. It is probably best known as a source of natural sweeteners. In fact, native people in South America have used stevia as a sweetener for hundreds of years. But the leaves are also used to make medicine.

Some people use stevia for medical purposes such as lowering blood pressure, diabetes and for weight loss. However, not all of these uses have reliable supportive scientific evidence.

In foods, stevia is used as a non-caloric sweetener and flavor enhancer. Stevia was originally available as a "dietary supplement" in the U.S. It wasn't allowed as a "food additive" until 2008. That's when the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status to rebaudioside A, one of the chemicals in stevia that makes it sweet. Stevia is also available as a sweetener in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Israel, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • High blood pressure. How stevia might affect blood pressure is unclear. Some research suggests that taking 750-1500 mg per day of stevioside, a chemical compound in stevia, reduces systolic blood pressure (the upper number in a blood pressure reading) by 10-14 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by 6-14 mmHg. However, other research suggests that taking stevioside does not reduce blood pressure.
  • Diabetes. Evidence on how stevia might affect blood sugar in people with diabetes is inconsistent. Some early research found that 1000 mg daily of stevioside, a chemical compound in stevia, might reduce blood sugar levels after meals by 18% in people with type 2 diabetes. However, other research found that taking 250 mg of stevioside three times daily does not decrease blood sugar levels or HbA1c (a measure over blood sugar levels over time) after three months of treatment.
  • Heartburn.
  • Weight loss.
  • Water retention.
  • Heart problems.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of stevia for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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