Stevia is purported to used for sweetener, hypoglycemic, hypotensiv, cardiotonic, antimicrobialSTEVIA

Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Stevia

Species: rebaudiana

Synonyms: Eupatorium rebaudianum

Common Names: 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

Part Used: Leaves

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • naturally sweetens
  • kills bacteria
  • Leaves
  • lowers blood sugar
  • kills fungi
  • Ground leaves: 1/4 tsp =
  • increases urination
  • kills viruses
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduces inflammation
  • Infusion: 1 cup 2-3
  • dilates blood vessels
  • times daily

    Stevia is a perennial shrub that grows up to 1 m tall and has leaves 2-3 cm long. It belongs to the Aster family, which is indigenous to the northern regions of South America. Stevia is still found growing wild in the highlands of the Amambay and Iguacu districts (a border area between Brazil and Paraguay). It is estimated that as many as 200 species of Stevia are native to South America; however, no other Stevia plants have exhibited the same intensity of sweetness as S. rebaudiana. It is grown commercially in many parts of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Central America, Israel, Thailand, and China.


    For hundreds of years, indigenous peoples in Brazil and Paraguay have used the leaves of stevia as a sweetener. The Guarani Indians of Paraguay call it kaa jheé and have used it to sweeten their yerba mate tea for centuries. They have also used stevia to sweeten other teas and foods and have used it medicinally as a cardiotonic, for obesity, hypertension, and heartburn, and to help lower uric acid levels.

    In addition to being a sweetener, stevia is considered (in Brazilian herbal medicine) to be hypoglycemic, hypotensive, diuretic, cardiotonic, and tonic. The leaf is used for diabetes, obesity, cavities, hypertension, fatigue, depression, sweet cravings, and infections. The leaf is employed in traditional medical systems in Paraguay for the same purposes as in Brazil.

    Europeans first learned about stevia in the sixteenth century, when conquistadores sent word to Spain that the natives of South America were using the plant to sweeten herbal tea. Since then stevia has been used widely throughout Europe and Asia. In the United States, herbalists use the leaf for diabetes, high blood pressure, infections, and as a sweetening agent. In Japan and Brazil, stevia is approved as a food additive and sugar substitute.


    Western interest in stevia began around the turn of the nineteenth century, when researchers in Brazil started hearing about a plant with leaves so sweet that just one leaf would sweeten a whole gourd full of bitter yerba mate tea. It was first studied in 1899 by Paraguayan botanist Moises S. Bertoni, who wrote some of the earliest articles on stevia (in the early 1900s).

    Over 100 phytochemicals have been discovered in stevia since. It is rich in terpenes and flavonoids. The constituents responsible for stevia’s sweetness were documented in 1931, when eight novel plant chemicals called glycosides were discovered and named. Of these eight glycosides, one called stevioside is considered the sweetest – and has been tested to be approximately 300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevioside, comprising 6-18% of the stevia leaf, is also the most prevalent glycoside in the leaf. Other sweet constituents include steviolbioside, rebausiosides A-E, and dulcoside A.

    The main plant chemicals in stevia include: apigenin, austroinulin, avicularin, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acid, campesterol, caryophyllene, centaureidin, chlorogenic acid, chlorophyll, cosmosiin, cynaroside, daucosterol, diterpene glycosides, dulcosides A-B, foeniculin, formic acid, gibberellic acid, gibberellin, indole-3-acetonitrile, isoquercitrin, isosteviol, jhanol, kaempferol, kaurene, lupeol, luteolin, polystachoside, quercetin, quercitrin, rebaudioside A-F, scopoletin, sterebin A-H, steviol, steviolbioside, steviolmonoside, stevioside, stevioside a-3, stigmasterol, umbelliferone, and xanthophylls.


    The great interest in stevia as a non-caloric, natural sweetener has fueled many studies on it – including toxicological ones. The main sweet chemical, stevioside, has been found to be nontoxic in acute toxicity studies with rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and birds. It also has been shown not to cause cellular changes (mutagenic) or to have any effect on fertility. The natural stevia leaf also has been found to be nontoxic and has no mutagenic activity. Studies conflict as to the effect of stevia leaf on fertility. The majority of clinical studies show stevia leaf to have no effect on fertility in both males and females. In one study, however, a water extract of the leaf was shown to reduce testosterone levels and sperm count in male rats.

    Brazilian scientists recorded stevioside’s ability to lower systemic blood pressure in rats in 1991. Then in 2000, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was undertaken with 106 Chinese hypertensive men and women. Sixty subjects were given capsules containing stevioside (250 mg) or placebo thrice daily and followed up at monthly intervals for one year. After three months, the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of the stevioside group decreased significantly and the effect persisted over the whole year. The researchers concluded, “This study shows that oral stevioside is a well tolerated and effective modality that may be considered as an alternative or supplementary therapy for patients with hypertension.” Another team of scientists tested the hypoglycemic effects of the individual glycoside chemicals in stevia and attributed the effect on glucose production to the glycosides steviol, isosteviol, and glucosilsteviol. The main sweetening glycoside, stevioside, did not produce this effect. Researchers in Denmark published a study (in 2000) which demonstrated that the in vitro hypoglycemic actions of stevioside and steviol are a result of their ability to stimulate insulin secretion via a direct action on beta cells. They concluded, “Results indicate that the compounds may have a potential role as antihyperglycemic agents in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.”

    Stevia’s effects and uses as a heart tonic to normalize blood pressure levels, to regulate heartbeat, and for other cardiopulmonary indications first were reported in rat studies (in 1978). Following these studies, a crude extract of stevia demonstrated hypotensive activity in a 1996 clinical study with rats, showing that “. . . at dosages higher than used for sweetening purposes, [stevia extract] is a vasodilator agent in normo- and hypertensive animals.” In humans, a hot water extract of the leaf has been shown to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Several earlier studies on both stevia extracts, as well as its isolated glycosides, demonstrated this hypotensive action (as well as a diuretic action). In hypertensive rats the leaf extract increased renal plasma flow, urinary flow, sodium excretion and filtration rate. In addition to its studied hypotensive effects, a Brazilian research group demonstrated that water extracts of stevia leaves had a hypoglycemic effect and increased glucose tolerance in humans, reporting that it “significantly decreased plasma glucose levels during the test and after overnight fasting in all volunteers.” In another human study, blood sugar was reduced by 35% 6-8 hours after oral ingestion of a hot water extract of the leaf.

    In other research, stevia has demonstrated antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and antiyeast activity. A water extract was shown to help prevent dental cavities by inhibiting the bacteria Streptococcus mutans that stimulates plaque formation. Additionally, a U.S. patent was filed in 1993 on a extract of stevia that claimed it to have vasodilatory activity and deemed it effective for various skin diseases (acne, heat rash, pruritis) and diseases caused by blood circulation insufficiency.


    For nearly 20 years, millions of consumers in Japan and Brazil, where stevia is approved as a food additive, have been using stevia extracts as safe, natural, non-caloric sweeteners. Japan is the largest consumer of stevia leaves and extracts in the world, and there it is used to sweeten everything from soy sauce to pickles, confections, and soft drinks. Even multinational giants like Coca-Cola and Beatrice Foods use stevia extracts to sweeten foods (as a replacement for NutraSweet and saccharin) for sale in Japan, Brazil, and other countries where it is approved as a food additive. Not so in the United States, however, where stevia is specifically prohibited from use as a sweetener or as a food additive. Why? Many people believe that the national non-caloric sweetener giants have been successful in preventing this all-natural, inexpensive, and non-patentable sweetener from being used to replace their patented, synthetic, more expensive sweetener products.

    Today, stevia leaves and leaf extracts are commonly found in most health food stores, however; they may only be sold in the United States as dietary/herbal supplements, not as food additives or sweeteners. In fact, in 1991 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) even banned all imports of stevia into the country.33 This political move was viewed by many to have monetary ties to the sweetener industry, which stood to lose a lot – and it created a huge public outcry in the natural products industry. The import ban was lifted in 1995 after much lobbying led by the American Herbal Products Association and other industry leaders. This allowed stevia to be sold as a dietary supplement under new legislation called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. The FDA, in one of its more politically incorrect debacles of this century, has ruled that stevia is presumed safe as a dietary supplement but is considered unsafe as a food additive. This incongruity openly protects the profit margins of the “sweetener giants.” In the words of Rob McCaleb, president of the Herb Research Foundation and member of the President’s Commission on Dietary Supplements, “The FDA may have painted itself into a corner on this one. Its policy simply makes no sense.”

    Main Preparation Method: infusion or dry powder extractMain Actions (in order):
    sweetener, hypoglycemic, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), antimicrobial Main Uses: 

    1. as a natural sweetener
    2. for diabetes
    3. for high blood pressure
    4. for cavity prevention
    5. as a weight loss aid

    Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
    antibacterial, anticandidal, antifungal, antiviral, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), diuretic, hypoglycemic, vasodilatorOther Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
    tonic, wound healer

    Cautions: none





    Traditional Preparation: In the U.S. stevia is mostly employed as a sugar substitute. About 1/4 teaspoon of the natural ground leaves (or one whole leaf) is the equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of sugar. In South America, a standard infusion is sometimes used as a natural aid for diabetes and hypertension; 1 cup is taken 2-3 times daily.


    Stevia leaf (at dosages higher than used for sweetening purposes) has been documented to have a hypoglycemic effect. Those with diabetes should use high amounts of stevia with caution and monitor their blood sugar levels as medications may need adjusting.

    Stevia leaf has been documented to have a hypotensive, or blood pressure lowering effect (at dosages higher than used for sweetening purposes) . Persons with low blood pressure and those taking antihypertensive drugs should avoid using large amounts of stevia and monitor their blood pressure levels accordingly for these possible effects.

    Drug Interactions: In large amounts, it may potentiate antihypertensive and antidiabetic medications.

    Brazil for cavities, depression, diabetes, fatigue, heart support, hypertension, hyperglycemia, infections, obesity, sweet cravings, tonic, urinary insufficiency, wounds, and as a sweetener
    Paraguay for diabetes, and as a sweetener
    for diabetes, hypertension, infections, obesity, and as a sweetener
    for candida, diabetes, hypertension, hyperglycemia, infections, and as a vasodilator and sweetener

    The above text has been printed from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005

    All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, including websites, without written permission.

    A complete Technical Data Report is available for this plant.

    † The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this plant database file is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. The plant described herein is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease. Please refer to our Conditions of Use for using this plant database file and web site.

    Referenced Quotes on Stevia

    1. “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).”

    2. “Stevia has been used by South American Indians as a sweetening agent. It is helpful for weight loss programs because it can satisfy sugar cravings and is low in calories. It is supportive to the pancreas and has been used in treatment of diabetes, hypertension and infections.”

    3. “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”

    8. “Stevia is a small bush which grows near Brazil’s southern border, on the frontier with Paraguay, It contains Stevisoid, a natural sweetener. It is 300 times as sweet as sugar, yet is not absorbed by the body and contains hardly any calories. Brazilian uses and folklore: Stevia has long been used by the Guarani Indian tribe to sweeten other herbal teas and foods. The plant was first studied scientifically in 1899 by Paraguayan botanist Moises S. Bertoni, who recognized the plants incredible sweetening power. He suggested that Stevisoid might substitute saccarhine as a sweetening agent being completely non-toxic. In Rio de Janeiro studies on Stevia are continuing and it is considered to be the sweetener of the future. Stevia is grown in the interior of Sao Paulo. In the city of Birigui the plant is so popular that the tea made from it is sold at almost all bars and restaurants. Milkshakes, juices and coffee are sweetened with Stevia. The inhabitants in this little town speak of the wonders of Stevia and the positive results it has given in cases of diabetes, hypertension and infections. Stevia is considered to be a great help in weight loss programs because it is very low in calories and its sweetness is so concentrated. Chewing a few leaves of Stevia will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth, and the shredded leaves are an excellent substitute for sugar in cooking. Uses: Natural herbal sweetener; useful in treating the symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure, infections.”

    Third-Party Published Research on Stevia

    All available third-party research on stevia be found at PubMed. A partial listing of the third-party published research on stevia is shown below: Hypotensive & Heart Tonic Actions:

    Ferri, L. A., et al. “Investigation of the antihypertensive effect of oral crude stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension.” Phytother. Res. 2006 Sep; 20(9): 732-6.

    Shiozaki, K., et al. “Inhibitory effects of hot water extract of the Stevia stem on the contractile response of the smooth muscle of the guinea pig ileum.” Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 2006 Feb; 70(2): 489-94.

    Wong, K. L., et al.”Antiproliferative effect of isosteviol on angiotensin-II-treated rat aortic smooth muscle cells.” Pharmacology. 2006 Feb; 76(4): 163-169.

    Wong, K. L., et al. “Isosteviol acts on potassium channels to relax isolated aortic strips of Wistar rat.” Life Sci. 2004 Mar; 74(19): 2379-87.

    Wong, K. L., et al. “Isosteviol as a potassium channel opener to lower intracellular calcium concentrations in cultured aortic smooth muscle cells.” Planta Med. 2004; 70(2): 108-12.

    Hsieh, M. H., et al. “Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension: a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study.” Clin. Ther. 2003; 25(11): 2797-808.

    Chan, P., et al. “A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension.” Br. J. Clin. Pharmacol. 2000; 50(3): 215–20.

    Melis, M. S. “A crude extract of Stevia rebaudiana increase the renal plasma flow of normal and hypertensive rats.” Braz. J. Med. Biol. Res. 1996; 29(5): 669–75.

    Melis, M. S. “Chronic administration of aqueous extract of Stevia rebaudiana in rats: renal effects.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1995; 47(3): 129–34.

    Melis, M. S. “Stevioside effect on renal function of normal and hypertensive rats.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1992; 36(3): 213–17.

    Melis, M. S., et al. “Effect of calcium and verapamil on renal function of rats during treatment with stevioside.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1991; 33(3): 257–62.

    Boeckh, E. M., et al. “Stevia rebaudiana bertoni: Cardio-circulatory effects of total water extract in normal persons and of stevioside in rats and frogs.” First Brazilian Seminar on Stevia rebaudiana, Inst. Technol. Aliment. Campinas, Brazil, June 25-26, 1981.

    Humbolt, G., et al. “Steviosideo: Efeitos Cardio-circulatorios em Ratos.” V Simposio de Plantas Medicinais do Brasil. 1978; (4–6): 208.

    Hypoglycemic & Anti-diabetic Actions:

    Chen, J., et al. “Stevioside counteracts the glyburide-induced desensitization of the pancreatic beta-cell function in mice: studies in vitro.” Metabolism. 2006 Dec; 55(12): 1674-80.

    Ferreira, E. B., et al. “Comparative effects of Stevia rebaudiana leaves and stevioside on glycaemia and hepatic gluconeogenesis.” Planta Med. 2006 Jun; 72(8): 691-6.

    Chang, J. C., et al. “Increase of insulin sensitivity by stevioside in fructose-rich chow-fed rats.” Horm. Metab. Res. 2005; 37(10): 610-6.

    Chen, T. H., et al. “Mechanism of the hypoglycemic effect of stevioside, a glycoside of Stevia rebaudiana.” Planta Med. 2005; 71(2): 108-13.

    Dyrskog, S. E., et al. “Preventive effects of a soy-based diet supplemented with stevioside on the development of the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in Zucker diabetic fatty rats.” Metabolism. 2005; 54(9): 1181-8.

    Abudula, R., et al. “Rebaudioside A potently stimulates insulin secretion from isolated mouse islets: studies on the dose-, glucose-, and calcium-dependency.” Metabolism. 2004; 53(10): 1378-81.

    Lailerd, N., et al. “Effects of stevioside on glucose transport activity in insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant rat skeletal muscle.” Metabolism. 2004; 53(1): 101-7.

    Gregersen, S., et al. “Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects.” Metabolism. 2004; 53(1):73-6.

    Raskovic, A., et al. “Joint effect of commercial preparations of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni and sodium monoketocholate on glycemia in mice.” Eur. J. Drug Metab. Pharmacokinet. 2004 Apr-Jun; 29(2): 83-6.

    Raskovic, A., et al. “Glucose concentration in the blood of intact and alloxan-treated mice after pretreatment with commercial preparations of Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni).” Eur. J. Drug Metab. Pharmacokinet. 2004 Apr-Jun; 29(2):87

    Gardana, C., et al. “Metabolism of stevioside and rebaudioside A from Stevia rebaudiana extracts by human microflora.” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2003 Oct; 51(22): 6618-22.

    Koyama, E., et al. “Absorption and metabolism of glycosidic sweeteners of stevia mixture and their aglycone, steviol, in rats and humans.” Food Chem.Toxicol. 2003; 41(6): 875-83.

    Jeppesen, P. B., et al. “Stevioside acts directly on pancreatic beta cells to secrete insulin: actions independent of cyclic adenosine monophosphate and adenosine triphosphate-sensitive K+-channel activity.” Metabolism. 2000; 49(2): 208–14.

    Yamamoto, N. S., et al. “Effect of steviol and its structural analogues on glucose production and oxygen uptake in rat renal tubules.” Experientia. 1985; 41(1): 55–7.

    Curi, R., et al. “Effect of Stevia rebaudiana on glucose tolerance in normal adult humans.” Braz. J. Med. Biol. Res. 1986; 19(6): 771–74.

    Suzuki, H., et al. “Influence of the oral administration of stevioside on the levels of blood glucose and liver glycogen in intact rats.” Nogyo Kagaku Zasshi 1977; 51(3): 45

    Oviedo, C. A., et al. “Hypoglycemic action of Stevia rebaudiana.” Excerpta Medica. 1970; 209: 92.

    Antimicrobial Actions:

    Matsukubo, T., et al. “Sucrose substitutes and their role in caries prevention.” Int. Dent. J. 2006 Jun; 56(3): 119-30.

    Pinheiro, C. E., et al. “Effect of guarana and Stevia rebaudiana bertoni (leaves) extracts, and stevioside, on the fermentation and synthesis of extracellular insoluble polysaccharides of dental plaque.” Rev. Odont. Usp. 1987; 1(4): 9–13.

    Takahashi, K., et al. “Analysis of anti-rotavirus activity of extract from Stevia rebaudiana.” Antiviral Res. 2001; 49(1): 15–24.

    Takaki, M., et al. “Antimicrobial activity in leaves extracts of Stevia rebaudiana Bert.” Rev. Inst. Antibiot. Univ. Fed. Pernambuco.1985; 22(1/2): 33–9.

    Tomita, T., et al. “Bactericidal activity of a fermented hot-water extract from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni towards enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli 0157:h7 and other food-borne pathogenic bacteria.” Microbiol. Immunol. 1997; 41(12): 1005–9.

    Anti-inflammatory & Immune Modulation Actions:

    Boonkaewwan, C., et al. “Anti-Inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities of stevioside and its metabolite steviol on THP-1 cells.” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2006 Feb; 54(3): 785-9.

    Mizushina, Y., et al. “Structural analysis of isosteviol and related compounds as DNA polymerase and DNA topoisomerase inhibitors.” Life Sci. 2005 Sep; 77(17): 2127-40.

    Ingredients: 100% pure stevia leaves (Stevia rebaudiana). No binders, fillers or additives are used. It is a wild harvested product—grown naturally in the Brazilian Amazon without any pesticides or fertilizers.

    Suggested Use: This plant is best prepared as an infusion (tea). Use one teaspoon of powder for each cup of water. Pour boiling water over herb in cup and allow to steep 10 minutes. Strain tea (or allow settled powder to remain in the bottom of cup) and drink warm. It is traditionally taken in 1/2 cup amounts, 3-4 times daily. This plant can be added to other herbs or beverages, stuffed into capsules, or simply stirred into water or juice. For more complete instructions on preparing herbal infusions, see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.

    Contraindications: None reported.

    Drug Interactions: In large amounts, it may enhance the effect of antihypertensive and antidiabetic medications.

    Other Observations:

    Stevia leaf (at dosages higher than used for sweetening purposes) has been documented to have a hypoglycemic effect. Those with diabetes should use high amounts of stevia with caution and monitor their blood sugar levels as medications may need adjusting.

    Stevia leaf has been documented to have a blood pressure lowering effect (at dosages higher than used for sweetening purposes) . Persons with low blood pressure should avoid using large amounts of stevia and monitor their blood pressure levels accordingly for these possible effects.


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