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Stevia

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What other names is Stevia known by?

Azucacaa, Caa-He-É, Ca-A-Jhei, Ca-A-Yupi, 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, Sweet Herb of Paraguay, Sweet Herb, Sweet Leaf of Paraguay, Sweetleaf, Yerba Dulce.

What is Stevia?

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a bushy shrub that is native to northeast Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. It is now grown in other parts of the world, including Canada and part of Asia and Europe. It is probably best known as a source of natural sweeteners.

Some people take stevia by mouth for medical purposes such as lowering blood pressure, treating diabetes, heartburn, high uric acid levels in the blood, for weight loss, to stimulate the heart rate, and for water retention.

Extracts from the stevia leaves are available as sweeteners in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Israel, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina. In the US, stevia leaves and extract are not approved for use as a sweetener, but they can be used as a "dietary supplement" or in skin care products. In December 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status to rebaudioside A, one of the chemicals in stevia, to be used as a food additive sweetener.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Diabetes. Research on how stevia might affect blood sugar in people with diabetes is inconsistent. Some early research suggests that taking 1000 mg daily of stevia leaf extract containing 91% stevioside might reduce blood sugar levels after meals by 18% in people with type 2 diabetes. However, other research shows 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.
  • High blood pressure. How stevia might affect blood pressure is unclear. Some research suggests that taking 750-1500 mg of stevioside, a chemical compound in stevia, daily 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.
  • Heart problems.
  • Heartburn.
  • Weight loss.
  • Water retention.
  • 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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