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Stevia rebaudiana (generic name)

treats Hyperglycemia and Hypertension
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Alternate Title

Stevia rebaudiana, Rebaudioside A, Stevioside

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Alpha-monoglucosylrebaudioside A, alpha-monoglucosylstevioside, amaha sutebia (Japanese), Asteraceae (family), azucacaa, Ca-A-E, caá-eé (Brazilian Portuguese), caáché (Spanish), candyleaf, capim doce (Portuguese), Compositae (family), dihydroisosteviol (DHISV), dihydropsuedoivalin, dihydrosteviol A, édesfu (Hungarian), ent-kaurenoic acid, epidihydropseudoivalin, erva doce (Portuguese), estevia (Spanish), estévia (Portuguese), estévia-doce (Portuguese), folhas da stévia (Portuguese), glucosilsteviol, gurmaar (Punjabi), heuningblaar (Afrikaans), hierba dulce (Spanish), honey leaf, Honigkraut (German), honingkruid (Dutch), isosteviol, jázmin pakóca (Hungarian), ka'a he'e (Guaraní), kaa he-he (Guaraní), kaa jhee (Guaraní), madhu parani (Marathi), madhu patra (Sanskrit), madhu patri (Telugu), NPI-028, octa-acetylombuoside, ombuine, ombuoside, Paraguai suhkruleht (Estonian), Paraguayan sweet herb, piccolo arbusto con foglia dolce (Italian), rebaudioside A (RA), rebaudioside F, retusine, roninowa, ronion, sacharol, satiwia (Thai), SE, seeni tulsi (Tamil), Sød stevia (Danish), sötflockel (Swedish), Sötstevia (Swedish), Stevia connata, stevia del norte de Paraguay (Spanish), Stevia eupatoria, stevia glycosides, Stevia lita, Stevia pilosa, Stevia rebaudiana, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (SrB), Stevia rebaudiana standardized extracts (SSEs), Stevia salicifolia, Stevia subpubescens, Stevia tomentosa, Stevia triflora DC, Stevia viscida, steviol (SV), steviolbioside, stevioside (SVS), stevisalioside A, Stevita, stīviyyāh (Hebrew), sugar leaf, Süßblatt (German), Süßkraut (German), sweet herb, sweet honey leaf, sweet leaf, sweet leaf of Paraguay, tian jü (Chinese), tian jü ye (Chinese), ya wan (Thai), yerba dulce (Spanish).

Note: Do not confuse Stevia rebaudiana with Stevia salicifolia, also called ronion or roninowa. Stevia salicifolia contains the bitter glycoside stevisalioside.

Background

Extracts of leaves from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni have been used for many years in traditional treatment of diabetes in South America. Paraguay's rural and indigenous populations have used Stevia rebaudiana for the control of fertility.

Stevia rebaudiana standardized extracts are used as natural sweeteners or dietary supplements in different countries for their content of stevioside or rebaudioside A. These compounds possess up to 250 times the sweetness intensity of sucrose, and do not have any calories. Stevioside, a natural plant glycoside isolated from the plant Stevia rebaudiana, has been commercialized as a non-caloric sweetener in Japan for more than 20 years.

Stevia is not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) nor approved as food additives by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Stevia may be imported only if "explicitly labeled as a dietary supplement or for use as a dietary ingredient in a dietary supplement." Although stevia may be marketed as a dietary supplement or an ingredient of a dietary supplement under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), products that are labeled as using stevia plant parts or extracts as flavoring agents, sweeteners, or for other food additive purposes are deemed as "unsafe." Regulatory agencies in Canada and Europe also have not approved use of stevia as a food additive. However, rebaudioside A (reb-A) is a steviol glycoside that is extracted from stevia and obtained FDA GRAS status as of December 2008.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Hypertension (high blood pressure): Stevioside is a natural plant glycoside isolated from the plant Stevia rebaudiana, which has demonstrated blood pressure lowering effects. Despite evidence of benefits in some human studies and support from laboratory and animal studies, more research is warranted to compare stevia's effectiveness with the current standard of care and make a firm recommendation. Stevia appears to have no major side effects.
Grade: B

Hyperglycemia: Stevia has been widely used for diabetes in South America and animal studies have had promising results. Studies report decreases in plasma glucose when stevia was taken in normal volunteers, but there is currently no conclusive evidence of effectiveness when used for diabetes. Additional study is needed in this area to confirm these findings.
Grade: C

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Alcohol abuse, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antitumor, antiviral (human rotavirus activity), contraceptive (birth control), diarrhea, digestive aid, diuretic, food additive, immunomodulation, obesity.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

For hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), 1 gram of stevioside has been taken with meals to lower blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. Water extracts of 5 grams of leaves have also been used at regular six-hour intervals for three days to increase glucose tolerance.

For hypertension (high blood pressure), stevioside (250-500mg) capsules given three times daily decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure after three months of therapy, and have been studied for up to two years. Despite early evidence that this may be an effective dose, a recent study did not find any benefit of crude stevosides (up to 15mg/kg taken twice daily) for two years.

Children (younger than 18 years):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for stevia, and use in children is not recommended.

Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to stevia or the daisy family (Asteraceae/Compositae). Other members of the daisy family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and many other herbs.

Side Effects and Warnings

Stevioside may lower blood glucose levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

Myalgia (muscle pain), muscle weakness, dizziness, asthenia (loss of strength), nausea, and abdominal fullness have been reported after taking stevioside. These effects resolved after the first week of treatment. Stevia may also lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure. Use cautiously in patients with hypotension (low blood pressure) or taking hypotensive drugs since various human and animal studies have shown that stevioside may significantly decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Higher doses of stevia may affect renal activity and perfusion, sodium excretion, and urinary flow. Avoid using stevia therapeutically in patients with impaired kidney function or other kidney diseases until human safety data is available.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Stevia is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

Stevia may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and in those taking drugs that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

Based on clinical observations in humans, stevioside may decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking blood pressure lowering medications.

Although not well researched, stevia may also interact with monoketocholate (a substance that may affect glucose and lipid levels), diuretics (medications that increase urine flow), ant-inflammatories, anti-cancer agents, or hypocalcemic agents. Caution is advised.

Steviol is a vasodilator (medication that causes the blood vessels to dilate or expand). Caution is advised when taking stevia with other vasodilators. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before combining therapies.

Verapamil is a calcium antagonist and may exhibit additive effects with stevioside. In an animal study, verapamil tended to increase the renal (kidney) and systemic effects of stevioside. Caution is advised.

Stevia has been used as a method of birth control in some countries. However, its use as a method of birth control is unclear and caution is advised.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Although not well researched, stevia may also interact with monoketocholate, diuretics (herbs and supplements that increase urine flow), inflammatories, anti-cancer agents, or hypocalcemic agents. Caution is advised.

Stevia may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

Stevioside may decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking blood pressure lowering herbs and supplements.

Steviol is a vasodilator. Caution is advised when taking stevia with other herbs and supplements that are vasodilators. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before combining therapies.

Stevia has been used as a method of birth control in some countries. However, its use as a method of birth control is unclear and caution is advised.

Attribution

This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Jill M. Grimes Serrano, PhD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Tamara Milkin, PharmD (Northeastern University), Elizabeth A. Poole, PharmD (Drug Information Center, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Jen Woods, BS (Northeastern University).

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