Latin name : STEVIA REBAUDIANA
Family : Chrysanthemum
Common Name : Stevia
Parts Used : Leaves
Stevia leaves have functional and sensory properties superior to those of many other high potency sweeteners. Stevia is likely to become a major source of high potency sweetener for the growing natural food market in the future. Although Stevia can be helpful to anyone, there are certain groups who are more likely to benefit from its remarkable sweetening potential. These include diabetics, those interested in decreasing caloric intake, and children.
Chemical composition :
Diterpene Glycoside is the group of natural sweeteners that have been extracted from Stevia. The leaves of wild Stevia plants contain 0.3 % dulcoside, 0.6% rebaudioside C, 3.8 % rebaudioside A and 9.1 % stevioside.
Uses of Stevia :
Stevia is safe for diabetics, as it does, not affect blood sugar levels.
Stevia does not have the neurological or renal side effects of some of the artificial sweeteners.
Stevia possess anti-fungal and anti-bacterial property also in addition to its other versatile uses. It can be safely used in herbal medicines, tonics for diabetic patients and also in the daily usage products like mouthwashes, and tooth pastes.
Mild Stevia leaf tea offers excellent relief for an upset stomach
Stevioside is a natural sweetener extracted from leaves of Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni. The literature about Stevia, the occurrence of its sweeteners, their biosynthetic pathway and toxicological aspects are discussed. Injection experiments or perfusion experiments of organs are considered as not relevant for the use of Stevia or stevioside as food, and therefore these studies are not included in this review. The metabolism of stevioside is discussed in relation with the possible formation of steviol. Different mutagenicity studies as well as studies on carcinogenicity are discussed. Acute and subacute toxicity studies revealed a very low toxicity of Stevia and stevioside. Fertility and teratogenicity studies are discussed as well as the effects on the bio-availability of other nutrients in the diet. The conclusion is that Stevia and stevioside are safe when used as a sweetener. It is suited for both diabetics, and PKU patients, as well as for obese persons intending to lose weight by avoiding sugar supplements in the diet. No allergic reactions to it seem to exist.