Stevia – What Is It and Is It Safe?

I have been using Stevia for about 7 months now, and I like it. It doesn’t work well for baking since it is so much sweeter than sugar, you only need to use a little to get the effect of 1 cup of sugar…which means you don’t have the proper ‘bulk’ in your recipe.

For baking I have stuck with Xylitol, but there is another (albeit expensive) competitor on the market that I will discuss in another post: Lakanto!

Stevia Rebaudiana Herb

stevia-leafStevia is actually not a sugar (something that turns into glucose in the body) but an herb, which is why it does not raise your insulin levels at all.

Make sure you use the green dried herb or an herbal extract rather than the processed white stevia you commonly see in supermarkets.

Japan currently consumes more Stevia than any other country, with Stevia accounting for 40% of the sweetener market.


James May at Stevia is one of the most health restoring plants on earth. What whole leaf Stevia does both inside the body and on the skin is incredible. Native to Paraguay, it is a small green plant bearing leaves which have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar. Besides the intensely sweet glycosides (Steviosides, Rebaudiosides and a Dulcoside), various studies have found the leaf to contain proteins, fiber, carbohydrates, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, rutin (a flavonoid), true vitamin A, Vitamin C and an oil which contains 53 other constituents. Quality Stevia leaves and whole leaf concentrate are nutritious, natural dietary supplements offering numerous health benefits.stevia-glycerite

Stevia is the sweetener of the future. Because the human body does not metabolize the sweet glycosides (they pass right through the normal elimination channels) from the leaf or any of its processed forms, the body obtains no calories from Stevia. Processed forms of pure Stevia can be 70-400 times sweeter than sugar. stevia-powder

The vast majority of reported health benefits, both from the research laboratory and consumer experience, comes from daily use of a water based whole leaf Stevia concentrate. Scientific research has indicated that Stevia effectively regulates blood sugar and brings it toward a normal balance. It is sold in some South American countries as an aid to people with diabetes.

If you have hypoglycemia however, you need to be careful with stevia at first in your healing process, because stevia lowers the blood sugar and hypoglycemic means your blood sugar is actually already too low.

Though my physiologic understanding of the process is that one’s pancreas has become overactive and releases so much insulin all at once after eating carbohydrates, that it actually works too well and lowers the blood sugar too low. So a major change in diet is needed, and eventually stevia may be enjoyed once your disease is more under control.

Stevia may nourish and heal the pancreas as well according to some studies and hypoglycemics have reported varying results- interestingly enough- some have even stated online in hypoglycemic forums that they have no problem using raw, pure stevia, while the processed stevia however lowers their blood sugar too low. So experiment carefully and as always work along with a medical professional who can help monitor your results.

Studies have also indicated that Stevia tends to lower elevated blood pressure but does not seem to affect normal blood pressure. It also inhibits the growth and reproduction of some bacteria and other infectious organisms, including the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.

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The Bad News

Stomach Upset:You can develop side effects as a result of using stevia. The most common reported side effects are bloating and nausea after ingesting the sweetener.

Drug Interactions

People on medications for their diabetes or to control their blood pressure should not use stevia. This is due to the potential that using stevia with these drugs could cause the person to develop hypotension or hypoglycemia.

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