Herb Library: Natural Herbs and Herbal Supplements Directory: Stevia





This fact sheet provides basic information about Stevia. tevia is a perennial shrub indigenous to northern South America, but commercially grown in areas such as Central America, Israel, Thailand, and China.

Stevia has been used to sweeten tea for centuries, dating back to the Guarani Indians of South America. For hundreds of years, native Brazilians and Paraguayans have also employed the leaves of the plant as a sweetening agent. Europeans learned about stevia in the 16th century, whereas North American interest in the plant began in the 20th century when researchers heard of its sweetening properties. Paraguayan botanist Moises Bertoni documented stevia in the early 1900s. Glycosides responsible for the plant's sweetness were discovered in 1931. Stevia extracts are used today as food additives in Japan and Brazil as a non-caloric sweetener. In the US, however, use is limited to supplement status only.

Common Names

Stevia, Sweet Leaf of Paraguay, Caa-he-e, Ca-a-yupi, Eira-caa, Capim Doce

Latin Names

Stevia rebaudiana

What It Is Used For

  • Stevia is used as a sweetening agent. It also has been found to have hypotensive, hypoglycemic, and bactericidal properties. However, research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of stevia for any condition.

How It Is Used

Stevia leaf is used ad lib for sweetening foods.

What the Science Says

  • Stevia may be helpful in treating diabetes. Steviol, isosteviol, and glucosilsteviol decreased glucose production in rat renal cortical tubules. Oral use of stevia extract in combination with chrysanthemum to manage hyperglycemia has been discussed.
  • In humans, stevia as a sweetening agent works well in weight-loss programs to satisfy "sugar cravings," and is low in calories. The Japanese are the largest consumers of stevia leaves and employ the plant to sweeten foods, such as soy sauce, confections, and soft drinks, as a replacement for aspartame and saccharin.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • No major contraindications, warnings, or side effects have been documented.


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