STEVIA is a genus of about 220 types of herbs in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), from western North America to South America regions, mainly grown in Paraguay. The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely used for its sweet leaves. The glycosides in its leaves, account for its incredible sweetness, making it unique among the nearly 300 species of Stevia plants.
BRIEF HISTORY: The Guarani Indians had known since ancient times about the amazing benefits of kaa he-he (how natives say “sweet herb”) and had used stevia leaves to sweeten their medicines, mate, medicinal potions and teas.They also used to chew it as a chewing gum for its sweet taste.
By the 1800s, daily stevia consumption had become popular not just in Paraguay, but also in Brazil and Argentina.In 1899 Stevia rebaudiana was first botanically described. Whereas before 1900 it had grown only in the wildand, in 1908, a ton of dried leaves was harvested, the very first stevia crop. Later, in 1930 Briedel and Lavieille began to crystallize Stevioside an extract of the stevia leaf.
Japan produced the first stevia sweetener in Japan in 1971, the Japanese have been using stevia in drinks,foods and for table use. Japan currently consumes more stevia than any other country, with stevia accounting for 40% of the sweetener market.
Currently, stevia rebaudiana is mainly cultivated in Paraguay, Brazil, Japan and China.
BENEFITS : Stevia is the safe sweetener of the future. Stevia's most notable characteristic is its sweet taste.Processed forms of pure Stevia can be 70-400 times sweeter than sugar. However, it is not due to carbohydrate-based molecules, but to several non-caloric molecules called glycosides. People who cannot tolerate sugar or other sweeteners (diabetics and hypoglycemics) can use stevia.
Researches has also shown that a whole leaf concentrate has a regulating effect on the pancreas and helps stabilize blood sugar levels, bringing it toward a normal balance. Stevia is therefore useful to people with diabetes, hypoglycemia, and Candidiasis.
Stevia is exceptional when trying to loose weight because it contains no calories and reduces one's craving for sweets and fatty foods. Hunger sensations are lessened when 10 or 15 drops are taken 15 minutes before meals.
The herb acts as general tonic which increases energy levels and mental acuity.
Studies have shown that stevia acts as a cardiovascular tonic, helping to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Stevia inhibits the reproduction and growth of many pathogenic (harmful) bacteria and infectious organisms such as those that are responsible for the common cold, flu and periodontal (tooth & gum) diseases (Safe for Teeth: If you start using this sugarless sweetener to replace refined sugars in your diet, you will see a decrease of tooth decay.
Stevia users also report improved digestion and gastrointestinal function,, soothed upset stomachs and quicker recovery' from minor illness.
Stevia is useful in healing skin problems.Stevia concentrates may be applied as a facial mask to soften and tighten the skin and smooth cut wrinkles. Smooth the dark liquid over the entire face, allowing it to dry for at least 45 minutes. A drop of concentrate may be applied directly to any blemish, acne outbreak, lip or mouth sore. Stevia concentrate is also effective when used on seborrhea, dermatitis, and eczema. Reportedly, cuts and scratches heal more rapidly when stevia concentrate is applied. See full article Stevia benefits
Is Stevia safe?
In general, Stevia is a natural herbal product with centuries of safe usage by native Indians in South America. It has been worldwide tested in hundreds of tests and found to be completely non-toxic. It has also been consumed safely in massive quantities (Thousands of tonnes annually) during the past twenty years.
How sweet is Stevia? Could stevia replace sugar and artificial sweeteners in the diet?
The Stevia leaves and green powder are 10 times sweeter than table sugar. The extracts called steviosides (white powder) are 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar. Incredibly sweet.Table sugar has been implicated in numerous degenerative diseases. Stevia offers an all-natural alternative to these "toxic sweeteners." And industrial usage in Japan proves that this substitution is both practical and economical.