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Family Asteraceae
Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni

Tian ju ye

Scientific names Common names
Eupatorium rebaudiana Bertoni Candy leaf (Engl.)
Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni Honey yerba (Engl.)
  Sweet herb (Engl.)
  Sweet honey leaf (Engl.)
  Sweet leaf (Engl.)
  Sweet leaf of Paraguay (Engl.)
  Stevia (Engl.)

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Tian ju ye.  
INDIA: Meethi patti.
PARAGUAY: Kaa jhee.
SPANISH: Yerba dulce

Stevia is as small herbaceous perennial branched bushy shrub growing up to 0.6 10 1 meter high. Stems are soft. Leaves are oval shape, 2 to 3 centimeters long. Flowers are small and white, with a pale purple throat. Tiny white florets are in small corymbs of 2-6 florets, arranged in loose panicles.

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 sweeteners 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.

Stevia is a genus of approximately 200 species native to South America; however, no other exhibits the S. rebaudian's intensity of sweetness.

- Recently introduced and cultivated in the Benguet region for its sweet leaves.
- Commercially cultivated in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Central America, Thailand and China.

• 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.
• Proximate analysis of dried leaves (g/100 g dry weight basis) yielded moisture (4.65-5.37), protein (10-20.4), fat (1.9-5.6), ash (6.3-15.5), carbohydrate (35.2-61.9), crude fiber (6.8-15.2). (14)
• Fatty acid composition of leaf oil (g/100g) was palmitic acid 27.51-29.5, palmitoleic acid 1.27-3.0, stearic acid 1.18-4.0, oleic acid 4.36-9.9, linoleic acid 12.40-16.8, and linolenic acid 21.59-36.2. (14)
• Study on amino acid constituents yielded arginine, lysine, histidine, phenylalanine, leucine, methionine, valine, threonin, and isoleucine. Non-essential amino acids were aspartate, serine, glutamic, proline, glycine, alanine, cystein, and tyrosine. (14)
• Various sweet glycosides isolated from Stevia leaves are stevioside, steviol, steviolbioside, rebaudioside A, rebaudioside B, rebaudioside C, rebaudioside D, and dulcoside A.
• Proximate composition of stevia leaves (g%) yielded protein 20.42±0.57, fat 4.34±0.02, carbohydrates 35.20±1.26, ash 13.12±0.31. (21)
• Study on mineral content of leaves yielded potassium 2.51g%, calcium 1.55g%, magnesium 0.50g%, phosphorus 0.35g%, sodium 0.16g%, sulphur 0.12g%, iron 363.00 ppm, manganese 98.30 ppm, zinc 63.90 ppm, copper 10.40 ppm, molybdenum 1.14 ppm, selenium 0.57 ppm, cobalt 0.27 ppm. (21)
• Study of phytochemical constituents of leaves yielded tannins, alkaloids, cardiac glycosides, saponins, sterols and triterpenes, reducing compounds, anthraquinones, cyanogenetic glycosides. (21)

• Estimated to be 300 times sweeter than cane sugar while dry stevia leaf is up to 30 times sweeter than sucrose.
• Stevioside, a natural plant glycoside, has been shown to have blood lowering effects.
Studies have suggested antibacterial, antifungal, anticaries, antidiabetic, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory anti-tumor, anti-diarrheal, diuretic, and immunomodulatory properties.

Parts used

- Leaves are eaten raw or cooked.
- In South America, leaves used for centuries to sweeten tea.
- Leaves can be dried and ground and used sweetener.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In other countries, plant has been used for diabetes, candidiasis, high blood pressure, skin abrasions.
- In 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.
Fresh stevia
(1) 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.)
(2) 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
(1) Dry in a warm dark and dry area. (2) Grind the dry leaves to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container away from light. (3)
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 fullness which usually resolve after a week of use.

Anti-inflammatory: Of the 100 methanol extracts from spices studied, hop, stevia, cinnamon, 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.(3)
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: (1) 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. (2) Study showed stevioside caused vasorelaxation through an inhibition of Ca influx into the blood vessels.
Antioxidant: Study of ethanolic and ethyl acetate extracts of leaves indicate Stevia rebaudiana may be a useful as a potential source of natural antioxidants.
(6) Study showed that stevia, besides its sweetness, can act as a source of antioxidants, even at the intracellular level. (19)
Stevioside / Anti-Diabetic: Study on STZ-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 extracts of S rebaudiana leaves on glucose tolerance 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.
Stevioside / Rebaudioside A: Toxicological studies have shown that stevioside does not have mutagenic, teratogenic, or carcinogenic effects. General and reproductive studies on toxicity of rebaudioside A showed safety at high dietary intake levels.
Antioxidant / Anti-Diabetic / Renal Protective: Study evaluated the effects of stevia leaves and its extracted polyphenols and fiber on STZ induced diabetic rats. Results showed, besides its hypoglycemic effect, a significant role in reducing risk of oxidative stress and alleviating liver and kidney damage in STZ induced diabetic rats.
Male Fertility Effects: Study on prepubertal rats showed chronic administration of Stevia rebaudiana extract tended to decrease plasma testosterone levels probably a putative affinity of glycosides of the extract for a certain androgen receptor. Results suggest extracts may decrease fertility of male rats.
Potential Use in Animal Feeds: The nutritional profile of stevia plant shows high levels of protein and gross energy that may be suitable for ruminant animals. It has a potential for use as energy diluent in monogastric diets due to slow ME and non-caloric nature.
Antibacterial / Wound Infected Pathogens: Study evaluated crude extracts and various solvent for antibacterial activity against wound infected pathogens. Highest inhibition zone was seen with the ethanol extract followed by chloroform, ether, and hexane. Staphylococcus was significantly suppressed followed by K. pneumonia, E. coli, and P. aeruginosa.
Hypoglycemic and Body Weight Reducing / Powdered Stevia: Study evaluated the effects of powdered form of Stevia leaves on blood glucose concentration and body weight in STZ induced diabetic rats. Results showed significant hypoglycemic effects. There was also a decrease in body weight, although not significant, compared to Glimepiride which increased body weight significantly. The body weight reducing effect of Stevia leaves powder may be due to inhibition of glucose from the intestine as well as induction of gluconeogenesis in the liver and muscles. 
Green Corrosion Inhibitor for Mild Steel / Leaves: Study showed the extract of Stevia rebaudiana leaves could serve as an effective inhibitor of mild steel in sulphuric media.  
Anticariogenic / Periodontal Effects: Review describes the anti-cariogenic and anti-periodontophatic properties of Stevia extracts. Stevia presents properties that are potentially anti-caries and anti-periodontal disease. Stevia is postulated as a potential therapeutic complement in odontological care, especially in patients with obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  
Study on Female Reproductive Effect: Study of oral intake of water-based stevia extract and stevioside at doses of 500 mg/kbw and 800 mg/kbw, respectively, did not cause any significant female reproductive toxic effect in Swiss albino mice.  
Inhibitory Effect on S. mutans and L. acidophilus / Compared to Chlorhexidine: The inhibitory effect of an alcoholic Stevia extract against Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus acidophilus was superior to the aqueous form, but inferior when compared to chlorhexidine.  
Hepatoprotective / Leaves: Study showed the hepatoprotective activity of aqueous extract of leaves of Stevia rebaudiana against thioacetamide induced hepatotoxicity.

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

Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update September 2015

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
The Australia New Crops Newsletter: Issue No 11, January 1999.
Natural Standard / Integrative Medicine Newsletter / January 2009
Inhibitory effect of edible plant extracts on 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced ear oedema in mice
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
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.
Oxidative DNA Damage Preventive Activity and Antioxidant Potential of S rebaudiana, A Natural Sweetener
Safety Studies: Selected examples from the hundreds of studies attesting to the safety of stevia leaf and its extracts
Mechanism of the Hypoglycemic Effect of Stevioside, a Glycoside of Stevia rebaudiana
/ Tso-Hsiao Chen et al / Planta Med 2005; 71(2): 108-113 • DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-837775
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
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.

Inhibitory Effect of Stevioside on Calcium Influx to Produce Antihypertension / Chun-Nin Lee, Kar-Lok Wong et al / Planta Med 2001; 67(9): 796-799 / DOI: 10.1055/s-2001-18841
/ M H Sumon, M Mostofa et al / Bangl. J. Vet. Med. (2008). 6 (2): 211–215
Stevia rebaudiana / Sweet Herb of Paraguay
Nutritional and therapeutic values of Stevia rebaudiana: A review / Ena Gupta, Shalini Purwar, Shanthy Sundaram* and G. K. Rai / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Vol. 7(46), pp. 3343-3353, 10 December, 2013 / DOI: 10.5897/JMPR2013.5276
A 'SWEET SHRUB' STEVIA: MORE THAN A SWEETENER / Anju Singh, Neeraj Agrawal and Ajay Kumar Gupta* / Indian Journal of Drugs, 2014, 2(1), 1-4
Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, source of a high-potency natural sweetener: A comprehensive review on the biochemical, nutritional and functional aspects / Roberto Lemus-Mondaca, Antonio Vega-Gálvez, Liliana Zura-Bravo, Kong Ah-Hen / Food Chemistry 132 (2012) 1121–1132
Antioxidant, anti-diabetic and renal protective properties of Stevia rebaudiana. / Shivanna N, Naika M, Khanum F, Kaul VK. / J Diabetes Complications. 2013 Mar-Apr;27(2):103-13. / doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2012.10.001. Epub 2012 Nov 7.
Effects of chronic administration of Stevia rebaudiana on fertility in rats. / Melis MS / J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Nov 1;67(2):157-61.
Study of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni antioxidant activities and cellular properties
/ Cecilia Bendera*, Sara Grazianoa & Benno F. Zimmermann / International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Volume 66, Issue 5, 2015 / DOI:10.3109/09637486.2015.1038223
POTENTIAL USE OF STEVIA REBAUDIANA IN ANIMAL FEEDS EMPLEO POTENCIAL DE STEVIA REBAUDIANA EN ALIMENTACIÓN ANIMAL/ Atteh, J., Onagbesan, O.*, Tona, K., Buyse, J.2, Decuypere, E and B Geuns, J. / Arch. Zootec. 60 (229): 133-136. 2011.
Preliminary Studies on Stevia rebaudiana Leaves: Proximal Composition, Mineral Analysis and Phytochemical Screening / Manish Tadhani and Rema Subhash / J. Med. Sci., 6(3): 321-326, May-June 2006
Studies on antibacterial activity of stevia rebaudiana against wound infection causing bacteria
/ Pugalvendhan, R and Prabakaran, G / International Journal of Recent Scientific Research
Study of Stevia rebaudiana Leaves as Green Corrosion Inhibitor for Mild Steel in Sulphuric Acid by Electrochemical Techniques / Hui Cang*, Wenyan Shi, Jinling Shao, Qi Xu / Int. J. Electrochem. Sci., 7 (2012) 3726 - 3736
Stevia rebaudiana Bertani does not produce female reproductive toxic effect : Study in Swiss albino mouse /
R. Dileep Kumar and Oommen V. Oommen / J Endocrinol Reprod 12 (2008) 1: 57-60
Effect of aqueous and alcoholic Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) extracts against Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus acidophilus in comparison to chlorhexidine: An in vitro study / Sunil Lingaraj Ajagannanavar, Supreetha Shamarao, Hemant Battur, Shreyas Tikare, Abdulaziz Abdullah Al-Kheraif, Mohammed Sayed Al Esawy AlS ayed / Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, 2014, Vol 4, Issue 5, pp 116-121 / DOI: 10.4103/2231-0762.146215

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