Stebia

Family • Asteraceae - Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni - SWEET LEAF - Tian ju ye

Other scientific names

Eupatorium rebaudiana Bertoni

Common names

Candy leaf
Sweet honey leaf
Sweet leaf
Stevia
Yerba dulce (Span.)
Tian ju ye (China)

Botany
A herbaceous perennial growing up to 0.6 10 1 meter high, with leaves 2 to 3 cm long, flowering from January to March in the southern hemisphere.

Stebia

General info
A South American plant popular as a natural sweetening agent and dietary supplement. It was discovered in Paraguay in 1887 and is native to Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and Paraguay where it has been used for over 1000 years to sweeten unpleasant tasting medicinal drinks. It is a potential natural alternative to artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame or sodium saccharin), but it has been involved in a tug-o-war of controversy. In December 2008, the United States FDA permitted Rebiana-based sweeterners as food additive. Widely used in Japan, China, Korea, Israel and South American countries, It is available in the U.S. as a dietary supplement.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Natural Standard / Integrative Medicine Newsletter / January 2009 

(2) Chronic administration of aqueous extract of Stevia rebaudiana in rats: renal effects / M S Mells et al / doi:10.1016/0378-8741(95)01271-E / Journal of Ethnopharmacology • Vol 47, Issue 3, 28 July 1995, Pages 129-134

(3) A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension / Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 September; 50(3): 215–220. / doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2000.00260.x.

(4) Oxidative DNA Damage Preventive Activity and Antioxidant Potential of S rebaudiana, A Natural Sweetener

(5) Safety Studies: Selected examples from the hundreds of studies attesting to the safety of stevia leaf and its extracts

(6) In-vitro Antimicrobial and Antitumor Activities of Stevia Rebaudiana (Asteraceae) Leaf Extracts / Sathishkumar Jayaraman et al / Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, December 2008; 7 (4): 1143-1149

(7) Effect of Stevia rebaudiana on glucose tolerance in normal adult humans / Curi R, Alvarez M et al / Braz J Med Biol Res. 1986;19(6):771-4.

(8) COMPARATIVE EFFICACY OF POWDERED FORM OF STEVIA (STEVIA REBAUDIANA BERTONI) LEAVES AND GLIMEPIRIDE IN INDUCED DIABETIC RATS / M H Sumon, M Mostofa et al / Bangl. J. Vet. Med. (2008). 6 (2): 211–215

(9) Stevia rebaudiana / Sweet Herb of Paraguay

Stebia2

Distribution
Recently introduced and cultivated in the Benguet region for its sweet leaves.

Chemical constituents and properties
• The sweetness in stevia is mainly attributed to two compounds viz stevioside (3-10% of dry leaf weight) and rebaudioside A (1-3%) which can be up to 250 times sweeter than sucrose.
• Stevioside, a natural plant glycoside, has been shown to have blood lowering effects.
• Dry stevia leaf is up to 30 times sweeter than sucrose.

Parts used
Leaves

Uses
Folkloric
In other countries, plant has been used for diabetes, candidiasis, high blood pressure, skin abrasions.
Stebia3In South America, used for diabetes, cavities, depression, hypertension, obesity, wound healing and as tonic and sweetener.
Common Use
Its crude leaf form is used as sweetener in foods and beverages.
Preparations:
Fresh stevia
Add several leaves to a cup of hot liquid. (About 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh leaves equal one cup of sugar or 1 tsp of processed Stevia extract powder.)
Fresh whole leaf extract: Steep a tea ball packed with fresh stevia leaves in just-boiled water for 30 minutes. Add the liquid to foods where its green color is compatible.
Dried stevia
Dry in a warm dark and dry area. Grind the dry leaves to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container away from light. One tablespoon of dried powder equals a cup of sugar or 1 tsp of processed Stevia extract powder.

In the News ! 
• Truvia and PureVia, purified forms of stevia, rebaudioside A, was recently approved by the FDA for use sweetener in foods and beverages. Coca-cola and Pepsico will soon be launching stevia-sweetened products.
• Some reported side effects: muscle pain and weakness, dizziness, nausea and abdominal fulness which usually resolve after a week of use.

Stebia4Study Findings
• Anti-inflammatory: Of the 100 methanol extracts from spices studied, hop, stevia, cinamon, tumeric, mate, mint, New Zealand spinach, watercress, tomato and radish seedling showed marked inhibition of inflammatory activity induced by TPA in mice. Two active compounds, humulone and lupeol 3-palmitate were separated from hop and stevia, respectively.
• Renal Effects on Chronic Administration: Administration of crude extract of Stevia dried leaves for 40 to 60 days induced systemic and renal vasodilation causing hypotension, diuresis and natriuresis.
• Anti-Hypertension: Using stevioside capsules (Nan Kai Chemical Factory, Tien Jing, China) 250 mg 3 times daily, the study found stevioside to be a safe and effective compound or supplementary therapy for hypertension. Study showed stevioside caused vasorelaxation through an inhibition of Ca influx into the blood vessels.
• Antioxidant: Study of ethanolic and ethly acetate extracts of leaves indicate Stevia rebaudiana may be a useful as a potential source of natural antioxidants.
• Stevioside / Anti-Diabetic: Study on SXZ-induced diabetes in rats showed stevioside lowered blood glucose. It dose-dependently decreased the protein levels of phosphoenol pyruvate carboxykinase, reduced insulin resistance in diabetic animals. Study concludes stevioside regulates blood glucose by enhancing insulin secretion and insulin utilization in insulin-deficient rats.
• Powdered Form / Anti-Diabetic / Weight Reducing: Study of powdered form of Stevia leaves on STZ-induced diabetic rats showed significant hypoglycemic effects and body weight reducing effects.
• Antimicrobial / Anti-Tumor Activities: Four solvent extracts showed effective antibacterial potential. The acetone extract showed no toxicity to normal cells and showed both anti-proliferative and anticancer activities. Study confirms the antimicrobial and antitumor activities of various Stevia rebaudiana leaf extracts, suggesting a potential drug that warrants further studies and development.
• Glucose Tolerance Effect: Study on the effects of aqueous extrac ts of S rebaudiana leaves on glucose tolerace in normal volunteers showed an increase in glucose tolerance, with a significant decrease of plasma glucose during the test and after overnight fasting in all volunteers.

Availability
Wildcrafted leaf form.
Limited commercial availability in powder and liquid form.
Recently approved: Truvia and PureVia.