Stevia FAQ

Stevia Frequently Asked Questions.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Common Names used for Stevia

Stevia, sweet leaf of Paraguay, caa-he-éé, kaa jheéé, ca-a-jhei, ca-a-yupi, azucacaa, eira-caa, capim doce, erva doce, sweet-herb, honey yerba, honeyleaf, yaa waan, candy leaf

Stevia Properties

The dried leaf of Stevia was described as having sweet properties as early as 1899. It contains Stevisoid, a natural sweetener, which is 300 times as sweet as sugar, yet is not absorbed by the body and contains practically no calories. These properties make it useful in weight loss programs. Despite Stevia's sweetness, it does not produce tooth cavities. This may be due to its high fluoride or other high mineral content. It is frequently used by Rainforest Indians to sweeten foods and herbal teas. They also speak of the wonders of Stevia to treat diabetes, hypertension, and infections. It has been frequently reported that Stevia exhibits a hypoglycemic (lowers blood sugar) action. In one double blind study of 25 hospitalized patients, mean blood sugar dropped 35.2% six to eight hours after ingestion of Stevia. Other research reports suggest that it has hypotensive (lowers blood pressure) activity. One study found that a single oral dose of aqueous extract resulted in a decrease in systolic blood pressure of 9.5 %. Another study found that the use of Stevia for 30 days resulted in a decrease of both systolic and diastolic pressures. Stevia may also be effective against Candida albicans (yeast infection).

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Reference: HERBS OF THE AMAZON Traditional and Common Uses , Dr. Donna Schwontkowski, Science Student BrainTrust Publishing, 1993

Stevia Alternative Medical Info

ACTIONS: Sweetening agent, Satisfies sweet cravings, Adjunct for diabetes and hypertension treatment.

TRADITIONAL USE: Long used by the Guarani Indian tribe to sweeten many foods. Recognized for its incredible sweetening power, helpful when used as auxiliary to weight loss programs because it is low in calories. Stevia, a well know sweetener to Brazil, is believed to produce positive results in the treatment of diabetes and hypertension. Has been used in the treatment of diabetes, hypertension and infections.

MERIDIAN INDICATIONS: Benefits digestion, Increases Stomach Yang.

EAV POINTS: Pancreas, Circulation, Triple Warmer

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Reference: Traditional Uses of Rainforest Botanicals, John Easterling

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Forms of Stevia

Stevia is commercially available in four forms: Dried leaves, powdered extract, liquid extract, and white powder.

Stevia and Health Problems

For people with blood sugar, blood pressure or weight problems, stevia is the most desirable sweetener.

Stevia and Calories

Because the human body does not metabolize the sweet glycosides - they pass right through the normal elimination channels - the body obtains no calories from stevia; therefore it is safe for diabetics and hypoglycemics in its pure, unadulterated form.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

What makes Stevia sweet

The sweet compounds found in stevia leaves are diterpene glycosides (steviol glycosides) and are synthesized, at least in the initial stages, using much the same pathway as gibberellic acid, an important plant hormone. The steviol glycoside and gibberellin pathways diverge at kaurene. In stevia, laurene is converted to steviol, the "backbone" of the sweet glycosides, then glucosylated or rhaminosylated to form the principle sweeteners. The precursor compounds are synthesized in the chloroplast, then from there are transported to the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus and then vacuolated.

The purpose of these compounds in the stevia plant is not yet clear, but their high concentration in the leaf and the conservation of the pathway within the species would indicate that, at some point in evoluntionary time, their presence conferred significant advantage upon those individuals that possessed them. Some researchers feel that they act to repel certain insects and others speculate that it is an elaborate means of controlling levels of gibberellic acid.

The four major steviol glycosides are:
rebaudioside A
rebaudioside C
dulcoside A

Two other glycosides that may be present in plant tissue are rebaudioside D and E; rebaudioside B has been detected but is probably an artifact formed during isolation. The normal proportions (w/w) of the four major glycosides are: stevioside 5-10%, rebaudioside A 2-4%, rebaudioside C 1-2% and dulcoside A 0.5-1%. They range in sweetness from 40 to 250 times sweeter than sugar. A number of stevia genotypes with anomalous glycoside proportions have been reported in the Korean and Japanese scientific and patent literature. It has long been known that rebaudioside A has the best sensory properties (most sweet, least bitter) of the four major steviol glycosides. Steviol glycosides are heat and pH stable, non-fermentable and do not darken upon cooking and therefore have a wide range of applications in food products.

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Stevia, as it is commonly known, is native to valley of the Rio Monday in North Eastern Paraguay and is found on the edges of marshland on acid infertile sand or muck soils. The conquistadors had reported stevia to the Spanish during the 16th century but it remained in obscurity until it was again brought to the attention of Europeans in 1888 by M.S. Bertoni. Prior to any European discovery, it had had long to been known to the indigenous Guarani peoples native to that region. The Guarani called it caá-êhê, meaning sweet herb and used it to sweeten bitter drinks such as mate.
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Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni

Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is one of 154 members of the genus Stevia. It is a member of the Compositae family and as such is related to sunflower, marigolds etc. Stevia has an alternate leaf arrangement and herbacious growth habit with flowers arranged in indeterminate heads. The flowers are small and white with a pale purple throat. The pollen can be highly allergenic. Stevia is self-incompatible and probably insect pollinated, the seeds are small, have very little endosperm and are dispersed in the wind via a hairy pappus.
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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has a large research effort aimed at developing an agricultural production system for stevia and, through breeding, to optimize its sensory characteristics. Stevia is a plant that produces a variety of high-potency low-calorie sweeteners in its' leaf tissue. Stevia sweeteners are in used in food products a number of countries including Japan, Brazil and China. Here in North America, the movement of society towards more natural foods has created a great deal of public interest in stevia.
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