A Naturally Good Sweetener?
Stevia has been used for several hundred years by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay as an antibacterial and general tonic. The inhabitants of South and Central America traditionally used stevia topically to treat skin rashes, wounds, and acne, and internally to help with digestion, birth control, and high blood pressure. (1)
Stevia Could Help Keep You Healthy
Research suggests that stevia's leaves, sweet steviol compounds in stevia have a number of properties that may prove beneficial to your health. These effects could help: (2)
- Regulate blood sugar levels and reduce glucose levels. (2-3)
- Counteract insulin resistance. (3)
- Suppress high blood pressure. (2)
- Resist microbes, including those that can cause bacterial and fungal infections. (4-5)
- Naturally preserve food. (4)
- Reduce inflammation. (2)
- Prevent and fight cancer. (2-3, 6)
- Treat diarrhea. (2)
- Reduce water retention. (2)
- Boost/regulate the immune system. (2)
- Protect against liver damage and disease. (7)
- Limit inflammatory lung damage caused by injuries from serious infection, trauma, acidosis, or toxic gases. (8)
- Treat polycystic kidney disease. (6)
Stevia leaves also possess flavonoid compounds that have significant antioxidant activity - up to almost 57% inhibition of free radicals in one study. Antioxidants are present in dried, fresh, and fermented stevia leaves. This may be one mechanism that contributes to stevia's wide range of benefits. (9-10)
Did you know stevia contains naturally beneficial plant phytochemicals and nutrients? These include alpha-pinene, beta carotene, caffeic acid, calcium, folic acid, iron, limonene, linoleic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protocatechuic acid, quercetin, riboflavin, vitamin C, and zinc. (6, 16)
Some Clinical Studies
Although limited, there's been some clinical research using stevia both topically (skin gel and mouth rinse) and as a supplement. (11-13)
Results show that stevia and its stevioside compounds may help prevent or treat:
- Stevia, ka'a he'e, wild sweet herb from South America - An overview. Giuffré, L., Romaniuk, R. and Ciarlo, E. [ed.] A. J. Cheruth. 10, Al Ain: United Arab Emirates University: College of Food and Agriculture, 2013, Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture [EJFA], Vol. 25, pp. 746-750. http://ejfa.info/index.php/ejfa/article/view/16405. ISSN: 2079-052X.
- Stevioside and related compounds: Therapeutic benefits beyond sweetness. Chatsudthipong, Varanuj and Muanprasata, Chatchai. [ed.] I. Kimura. 1, s.l.: Elsevier Inc., January 2009, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Vol. 121, pp. 41-54. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163725808001927. ISSN: 0163-7258.
- Stevioside and Related Compounds — Molecules of Pharmaceutical Promise: A Critical Overview. Brahmachari, Goutam, et al., et al. [ed.] Holger Stark. 1, Düsseldorf: WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co., January 2011, Archiv der Pharmazie, Vol. 344, pp. 5-19. DOI: 10.1002/ardp.201000181. eISSN: 1521-4184.
- In vitro antioxidant activities of Stevia rebaudiana leaves and callus. Tadhani, M.B., Patela, V.H. and Subhasha, Rema. [ed.] Barbara Burlingame. 3-4, Rome: Elsevier Inc., May 2007, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Vol. 20, pp. 323-329. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157506001827. ISSN: 0889-1575.
- Antimicrobial assay of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni leaf extracts against 10 pathogens. Ghosh, Sumit, Subudhi, Enketeswara and Nayak, Sanghamitra. [ed.] Kishore Sakharkar. 1, Singapore: Omics Group, January 2, 2008, International Journal of Integrative Biology, Vol. 2, pp. 27-31. ISSN: 0973-8363.
- Nutritional and therapeutic values of Stevia rebaudiana: A Review. Gupta, Ena, et al., et al. [ed.] Akah Peter Achunike. 46, Nsukka: Academic Journals, December 10, 2013, Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Vol. 7, pp. 3343-3353. DOI: 10.5897/JMPR2013.5276. ISSN: 1996-0875.
- Potential Herbal Hepatioprotective Plants: An Overview. Soni, Rajesh Kumar, et al., et al. [ed.] Shashi Alok. 3, Jhansi: Society of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Research, March 1, 2014, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, Vol. 5, pp. 774-789. http://dx.doi.org/10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.5(3). ISSN: 0975-8232.
- Stevioside Protects LPS-Induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice. Yingkun, Nie, et al., et al. [ed.] Bruce N. Cronstein. 1, New York: Springer US, February 1, 2013, Inflammation, Vol. 36, pp. 242-250. DOI: 10.1007/s10753-012-9540-8. ISSN: 0360-3997.
- In-vitro Antimicrobial and Antitumor Activities of Stevia Rebaudiana (Asteraceae) Leaf Extracts. Jayaraman, Sathishkumar, Saravanan Manoharan, Muthu and Illanchezian, Seethalakshmi. [ed.] Augustine O. Okhamafe. 4, Benin : University of Benin: Faculty of Pharmacy, December 2008, Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, Vol. 7, pp. 1143-1149. ISSN: 1596-5996.
- Paur, Ingvild, et al., et al. Antioxidants in Herbs and Spices: Roles in Oxidative Stress and Redox Signaling. [ed.] Iris F.F. Benzie and Sissi Wachtel-Galor. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2. Boca Raton: CRC Press: Taylor & Francis Group, LLC, 2011, 2, pp. 11-35. ISBN: 978-1-4398-0713-2.
- Evaluation of safety and efficacy of Stevia moisturiser gel by clinical trial. Das, Kuntal, Dang, Raman and Lalitha, B.R. [ed.] Sam T. Mathew. 3, Bangalore: Karnataka Education and Scientific Society, Jul-Sep 2012, Indian Journal of Novel Drug Delivery, Vol. 4, pp. 217-222. ISSN: 0975-5500.
- An in vitro and in vivo Comparison of the Effect of Stevia rebaudiana Extracts on Different Caries-Related Variables: A Randomized Controlled Trial Pilot Study. Brambilla, E., et al., et al. [ed.] D. Beighton. 1, London: S. Karger AG, Basel, January 2014, Caries Research, Vol. 48, pp. 19-23. http://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/351650. ISSN: 0008-6568.
- A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension. Chan, Paul, et al., et al. [ed.] Geoffrey Tucker. 3, Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: The British Pharmacological Society, September 2000, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Vol. 50, pp. 215-220. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2125.2000.00260.x/full. ISSN: 0306-5251.
- Antihyperglycemic Effects of Stevioside in Type 2 Diabetic Subjects. Gregersen, Søren, et al., et al. [ed.] James B. Field. 1, Hilton Head: Elsevier Inc. , January 2004, Metabolism, Vol. 53, pp. 73-76. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0026049503003871. ISSN: 0026-0495.
- Efficacy and Tolerability of Oral Stevioside in Patients with Mild Essential Hypertension: A Two-Year, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Hsieh, Ming-Hsiung, et al., et al. [ed.] Philip D. Walson. 11, Cincinnati: Excerpta Medica, Inc., November 2003, Clinical Therapeutics, Vol. 25, pp. 2797-2808. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0149-2918(03)80334-X. ISSN: 0149-2918.
- Study on chemical composition and biological activities of essential oil and extracts from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni leaves. Muanda, François N., et al., et al. [ed.] Katrin Hecht. 9, Zürich : Elsevier Ltd., November 2009, LWT - Food Science and Technology, Vol. 44, pp. 1865-1872. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643810004160. ISSN: 0023-6438.