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Stevia

Stevia
Stevia is a small perennial shrub that has been used for centuries as a sweetener. It is also used for various medicinal purposes.
Stevia is an ideal sweetener for diabetic patients as it increases insulin production due to its antioxidant property. It is also useful for weight management as it is low in calories. Stevia is also beneficial for the liver as it has hepatoprotective and antioxidant properties.
Stevia is good for the skin as it has anti-wrinkle property which helps tighten the skin and provide shine to it. It’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help manage eczema and promote wound healing.
Stevia might cause allergic reactions or itchy rashes in some hypersensitive people, so, in such cases, it is advisable to consult a physician before using stevia[1][5][8][9].

What are the synonyms of Stevia?

Stevia rebaudiana, Sweet Leaf, Sweet Honey Leaf.

What is the source of Stevia?

Plant Based

Benefits of Stevia

What are the benefits of Stevia for Diabetes mellitus (Type 1 & Type 2)?

scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia might help manage diabetes due to its anti-diabetic property. Chlorogenic acid present in Stevia reduces the conversion of glycogen to glucose. It also reduces glucose absorption which enhances insulin secretion. Together, this lowers the level of blood sugar levels[5].

Tips for using Stevia to manage Diabetes:
1. Replace normal sugar with Stevia in your regular tea, coffee or even desserts.

What are the benefits of Stevia for Hypertension (high blood pressure)?

scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia might help manage high blood pressure. It helps relax the narrowed blood vessels and increases the blood and oxygen supply to the heart, thereby; lowering the risk of High blood pressure[6].

What are the benefits of Stevia for Heart disease?

scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia helps in the management of heart diseases due to the presence of glycosides. Glycosides decrease the concentration of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol). Low levels of LDL help reduce the risk of Heart diseases[7].

What are the benefits of Stevia for Weight loss?

scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia might help in weight loss as it is low in calories. So, substituting your regular sweeteners with Stevia would help to reduce the intake of calories, thereby contributing to weight loss and management[8].

How effective is Stevia?

Insufficient evidence
Diabetes mellitus (Type 1 & Type 2), Heart disease, Hypertension (high blood pressure), Weight loss

Precautions when using Stevia

Allergy
scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia may cause allergies in people who are allergic to ragweed and other members of this family. So, it is advisable to avoid or consult a physician before taking Stevia[4].
Breastfeeding
scientific
Modern Science View
Since enough scientific evidence is not available, it is advisable to avoid or consult a physician before taking Stevia during breastfeeding[4].
Moderate Medicine Interaction
scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia may interact with CNS drugs. So, it is advisable to avoid or consult a physician while taking Stevia with CNS drugs[4].
Patients with diabetes
scientific
Modern Science View
Some studies state that Stevia might lower the blood sugar level. So, it is advisable to monitor the blood sugar levels while taking Stevia along with antidiabetic drugs[4].
Patients with heart disease
scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia may lower blood pressure. So, it is advisable to monitor the blood pressure while taking Stevia along with antihypertensive drugs[4].
Patients with kidney disease
scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia might affect the renal activity and flow of urine. So, it is generally advisable for patients with kidney diseases to use Stevia as recommended by a physician[10].
Patients with liver disease
scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia might cause damage to the liver. So, it is advisable for patients with liver disease to avoid or consult a physician while taking Stevia[9].
Pregnancy
scientific
Modern Science View
Since enough scientific evidence is not available, it is advisable to avoid or consult a physician before taking Stevia during pregnancy[4].
Side Effects
Important
scientific
Modern Science View
1. Bloating
2. Nausea
3. Dizziness
4. Muscle pain
5. Numbness[4].

Recommended Dosage of Stevia

  • Stevia Leaves - ½ - 1 teaspoon, 1-2 times a day.
  • Stevia Drop - 3-5 drops, 1-2 times a day.
  • Stevia Tablet - 2-4 tablets, 1-2 times a day.

How to use Stevia

1. Stevia Dried Leaves
Add ½ - 1 teaspoon of Stevia dried leaves to tea or sugar.

2. Stevia Drops
Add 3-5 drops of Stevia drops to any dessert, tea or coffee.

3. Stevia Tablets
Add 1-2 tablets (as per your requirement) of Stevia in dessert, tea or coffee.

4. Stevia Syrup
a. Take few dry Stevia leaves.
b. Crush them to make a fine powder.
c. Boil 1 tablespoon of stevia powder with 2 cups of water.
d. Reduce the flame after one boil and heat the mixture for the next 10-15 minutes.
e. Strain the prepared syrup and preserve it in an airtight container.
f. Use this as a natural and healthy sweetener.

4. Herbal tea
Stevia can also be used to prepare healthy and delicious herbal tea when mixed with mint leaves.

Precautions when using Stevia

Allergy
scientific
Modern Science View
People allergic to Stevia might experience side effects like itchy rashes while handling Stevia[13].

Frequently asked questions

Q. Is Stevia better than aspartame?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia is considered to be better than aspartame because it has very little effect on blood glucose levels. It also enhances glucose intolerance. Stevia is known for its sweetness in taste.

Q. How to store Stevia?

scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia should be stored in airtight containers or in plastic bags.

Q. In what forms is Stevia available?

scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia is available as a leaf powder, fresh leaves and in liquid form[10].

Q. Is Stevia considered to be an artificial sweetener?

scientific
Modern Science View
No, Stevia is a natural sweetener due to the presence of glycosides. Glycoside is a major source of natural sweeteners.

Q. Can Stevia cause tooth decay?

scientific
Modern Science View
No, studies have shown Stevia is not responsible for tooth cavities[13].

Q. Is Stevia better than sugar?

scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia is comparatively healthier than sugar. It is a no-calorie sweetener that contains very less calories than sugar. It may have various health-enhancing properties which make it a very good option. Stevia also helps manage diabetes by inhibiting diabetes-related digestive enzymes whereas sugar may increase blood sugar levels. Being rich in antioxidants, it also helps improve the immune system[5][9].

Q. Is Stevia good for teeth?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia might be good for teeth due to its antibacterial property. It inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause dental plaque and cavities[14].

Q. Is Stevia good for the liver?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia might be good for the liver due to its anti-hepatotoxic effect. It has antioxidant enzymes that fight free radicals and prevent cellular damage. It also helps in the regeneration of the damaged liver tissues, thereby providing protection to the liver[9].

Q. Does Stevia prevent kidney damage?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia might help prevent kidney damage due to the presence of a certain constituent (steviol). It prevents kidney cell damage and stops the growth of cysts in the kidney[12].

Q. Can Stevia decrease the desire for tobacco intake?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia might decrease the desire for tobacco consumption. It contains certain constituents that promote liveliness and comfort in individuals having cravings for tobacco or alcohol and suppresses any such desires[11].

Q. Is too much stevia bad for you?

scientific
Modern Science View
Due to limited research on Stevia, it is difficult to predict the exact recommended daily intake of Stevia.

Q. Can Stevia cause weight gain?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia might increase body weight due to the presence of a sweetened chemical that increases energy intake, body fat, and body weight[8].

Q. Is Stevia good for your heart?

scientific
Modern Science View
Although enough scientific evidence is not available, long term use of Stevia might strengthen the heart and vascular system due to its cardiotonic action[10].

Q. Does Stevia help manage inflammation?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia might help manage inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory property. It affects the central nervous system and reduces the production of inflammation-causing mediators. This reduces pain and inflammation[10].

Q. Does Stevia help improve the immune system?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia might help improve the immune system due to its immunomodulatory activity. It has phytochemicals and various other components that help in regulating the immune system[10].

Q. Is Stevia bad for inflammation?

scientific
Modern Science View
No, Stevia is not bad for inflammation. Stevia has antimicrobial properties which gives it the ability to evade the growth and reproduction of harmful bacteria and prevent other invading infections. Along with that, its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory action helps with inflammation and immuno-modulation (the process of altering the immune response to the desired level).

Q. Can Stevia cause body aches?

scientific
Modern Science View
In some cases, people with Stevia may cause problems with digestion like bloating. While, others may experience feelings of dizziness, muscle pain, and numbness[4].

Q. Can Stevia leaves be eaten?

scientific
Modern Science View
FDA does not approve the use of stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts in food items[18]. However, fresh or dried Stevia leaves can be used to sweeten a beverage. For brewing, do not use cold water as Stevia requires warm water to release the sweetness. Fresh leaves are comparatively less sweet than dried leaves, but they are much sweeter than sugar. It would be best to taste your beverage before serving to ensure the desired taste.

Q. Are there any downsides of taking Stevia?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, just like other food products when taken in excess, stevia might affect our health. Unless taken in the pure leaf form, it is yet a refined food. Small or restricted consumption of Stevia is not harmful but lately so many products containing stevia are available in the market, making us unknowingly take an excess of this sweetener without realizing it

Q. How much Stevia per day is safe?

scientific
Modern Science View
As per FDA, the acceptable daily intake of steviol glycosides is advised to be 4 mg per kg of the weight [16,17]. Steviol glycosides is the main reason for the sweetness of Stevia. It is a non-nutritive sweetener and is reported to be 200 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar.

Q. Does Stevia cause belly fat?

scientific
Modern Science View
Stevia has low energy and carbohydrate contents, two items likely to increase one's risk of belly fat. It may help in losing weight when it is used to replace sugar intake of about 45 calories for each tablespoon, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Q. How to use stevia drops?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Stevia can be used in different ways like drops or powder. You can use 2-5 drops or as per your requirement to make the tea tastier.

Q. How to use stevia leaves for diabetes?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
A diabetic person can replace the sugar with stevia leaves to reduce calorie intake. Stevia leaves can be used in the form of powder or drops to make sweetened foods and drinks.

Q. Is Stevia good for the skin?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia might be good for the skin due to its shining and tightening properties. It provides glow and smoothness to the skin and has been used in commercial anti-wrinkle products[10].

Q. Is Stevia good for eczema?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia might be good for eczema due to its antibacterial property. Its liquid extract can be applied to the affected area to inhibit the growth of bacteria that induces inflammation of the sebaceous glands. This helps prevent the formation of rashes and acne, thereby managing eczema[10].

Q. Does Stevia provide protection from infection in cuts and wounds?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Stevia prevents cuts and wounds to get infected and promotes their healing due to its antibacterial and wound healing activities[10].

Q. Can Stevia cause acne?

scientific
Modern Science View
No, Stevia does not cause acne. On contrary, the extract of Stevia can help reduce acne when applied to the affected area[10].

Q. Does Stevia cause hair loss?

scientific
Modern Science View
No, Stevia does not cause hair loss. In fact, some studies have shown that Stevia might be good for hair thickening and preventing hair loss[13].

References

  1. Goyal SK, GOYAL RK, Samsher.Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) a bio-sweetener: a review.International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.2010;61(1):1–10.External Link
  2. Mathur S, Bulchandani N, Parihar S, et al.Critical Review on Steviol Glycosides: Pharmacological, Toxicological and Therapeutic Aspects of High Potency Zero Caloric Sweetener.International Journal of Pharmacology.2017;13(7):916-928.External Link
  3. Momtazi-Borojeni AA, Esmaeili SA, Abdollahi E,et al.A Review on the Pharmacology and Toxicology of Steviol Glycosides Extracted from Stevia rebaudiana.Current Pharmaceutical Design.2017;23(11):1616-1622.External Link
  4. WebMD.Stevia: Uses, Side effects, Doses, Interactions [Internet].Atlanta [last updated in 2016].External Link
  5. Mishra N.An analysis of antidiabetic activity of Stevia rebaudiana extract on diabetic patient.Journal of Natural Science Research.2011;1(3):1-9.External Link
  6. Misra H, Mehta D, Mehta BK et al.Antihypertensive (Blood pressure lowering) effects of Stevioside, from Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni, on rats, dogs and humans - A Short Review.Indian Journal of drugs.2015;3(4):102-108.External Link
  7. Ahmad U, Ahmad RS, Arshad MS, et al.Antihyperlipidemic efficacy of aqueous extract of Stevia rebaudiana Bertino in albino rats.Lipids in health and disease.2018;17(175):2-8.External Link
  8. Amchra FZ, Faiz CA, Chaouqi S, et al.Effect of Stevia rebaudiana, sucrose and aspartame on human health : A comprehensive review.Journal of Medicinal plant studies.2018;6(1):102-108.External Link
  9. Mohan K, Robert J.Hepatoprotective effect of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni leaf extract in CCl4-induced liver injury in Albino rats. Medicinal and Aromatic plant science and biotechnology.2009;3(1):59-61.External Link
  10. Bhutia PH, Sharangi AB.Stevia: Medicinal miracles and therapeutic magic.International journal of crop science and technology.2016;2(2):45-59.External Link
  11. Ijaz M, Pirzada AM, Saqib M, et al.Stevia rebaudiana : An alternative sugar crop in Pakistan -a review.Journal of Medicinal and Spice plants.2015;20(2):88-96.External Link
  12. Yuajit C, Homvisasevongsa S, Chatsudthipong L, et al. Steviol reduces MDCK cyst formation and growth by inhibiting CFTR channel activity and promoting proteasome- mediated CFTR degradation.PLOS ONE. 2013;8(3):1-11.External Link
  13. Panpatil V.Polasa K. Assessment of stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)-natural sweetener: A review”.J Food Sci Technol. 2008;45(6):467–473. External Link
  14. Gamboa F, Chaves M. Antimicrobial potential of extracts from Stevia rebaudiana leaves against bacteria of importance in dental caries.Acta odontol Latinoam. 2012;25(2): 171-175.External Link
Disclaimer
The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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