Stevia: a sweetener or a medicine?
Stevia, or honey grass, is a plant, in many countries used as a sweetener, and also used for therapeutic purposes. It is native to Central America. For several centuries, stevia and its extracts are used as natural sweetener in Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Malaysia, South America, and Israel. Today it is grown almost everywhere, and some even present on the windowsill as houseplants. Herbalists and nutritionists say that this herb can treat many ailments, especially such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease. Also decoctions and infusions of plants used topically in dermatology and cosmetology.
The main substance contained in stevia and causing her sugary-sweet taste is stevioside. It is several times sweeter than sugar, and is contained in the leaves of plants in large numbers, and to sweeten any drink, you will need only a few leaves.
In addition to stevioside in the grass contains vitamins-antioxidants: A, C, D, E, PP, as well as pectin, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium. The use in food of stevia and its extracts, according to the herbalists, can help in the treatment of cancer, metabolic diseases, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract.
Argue that stevioside:
Is a natural antiseptic and is recommended for colds, flu, herpes and other infections, as it inhibits many bacteria, fungi and viruses.
– Shown in diseases of the oral cavity: protects teeth from caries and gums from paradontosis. Due to these properties also helps to prevent bad breath.
– Strengthens the immune system and is indispensable for stress, malaise, increased mental workload, loss of memory, nervousness and sleep disorders.
– Promotes proper development of the Central nervous system of children.
– Protects from adverse environmental factors: radionuclides, heavy metals and other toxic substances. Therefore, it is recommended to use the rescuers, firefighters, military personnel, and people living in ecologically disadvantaged areas.
-Normalize the intestinal flora after long-term administration of antibiotic, eliminates bacteria overgrowth.
The most common diseases in which treatment is recommended stevia is obesity and diabetes. According to herbalists and proponents of traditional medicine, this natural medicine can greatly help people suffering from these diseases. However, when the monitoring of patients with diabetes mellitus, obesity and hypertension who received treatment stevioside in therapeutic dosages, has been identified any kind of significant improvement in their health, laboratory parameters during the course of the disease. But in therapeutic doses in many patients there are undesirable side effects from the excessive consumption of stevioside: digestive problems, diarrhea, weakness, nausea and various allergic reactions. It is known that, when therapeutic and toxic doses are so close that when approaching a therapeutic dose already begin to appear the side effects -this is called “low therapeutic breadth”. They were to be used as a medicine most likely not worth it, because to find the right dosage nearly impossible, but in small quantities it is not effective.
In addition, stevia decoctions and her have a very unpleasant odor and taste, why drink them regularly, the “therapeutic” dosage few people. Often in shops and pharmacies offer the alternative of stevioside. It is devoid of taste, and along with it, most likely, and many useful properties of this plant (in the absence of all other components and the presence of only a “sweetener”).
FDA – office of quality supervision food and drug administration of the USA – does not permit the use of stevioside as a food product because of its unproven safety. How it is justified and lawful is unknown. Motives they, most likely, “financial”, because America uses, sells and promotes sugar and synthetic sweeteners (aspartame). Besides, the FDA allows and prohibits the products at its discretion and may prohibit even carrots. On the other hand – who knows what long term effects prolonged use of this herb in large quantities? The period from the beginning of her research – only thirty years, research carried out so far, and the results are quite contradictory.
So, summarizing all the above, I want to remember the universal wisdom: “everything in moderation”. You should not have high hopes for stevia, especially stevioside, with such serious diseases as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, etc. in the extent of use of stevioside as a sweetener as an alternative to regular sugar. First of all it is good for a diet, want to lose weight or maintain your figure: food and beverages lower in calories. Secondly, it is good for people with diabetes type 2 diabetes, when the sugar to eat is extremely undesirable, but you want something sweet. Thirdly, when taking small amounts of this sweetener he will most likely have a positive effect on metabolism. Not least because that will cause reduced consumption of sucrose and harmful synthetic sweeteners. Thus, it will help fight diabetes and overweight.