Stevia, with the scientific name of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, is an herb native to Bolivia. It is 300 times as sweet as sugar. Its best-known medicinal quality is based on what it lacks–calories. This makes stevia valuable in treating obesity and makes it therapeutic in some kinds of diabetes treatment. Stevia can also treat high blood pressure. As a medicinal herb, it is free of most side effects and provokes no allergies.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Traditional medicine has long valued stevia in treating diabetes. The “Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in Foods” says that at least one of the components of the stevia herb (a substance called stevioside) improves the action of insulin and glucose metabolism and helps control high blood sugar levels in type-2 diabetes.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Citing multiple scientific studies, both the Preventive Medicine Research Institute report in 2009 and Zhion Health in 2008, stevia acts like medications known as vasodilators, widening blood vessels to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, without producing significant toxicity or side effects. However, stevia’s safe use along with other blood pressure medications–as is true of all medically potent herbs–should only be attempted with regular monitoring and in consultation with a physician.
Eliminates Fats and Sodium
Andreas Moritz, author of the 2007 “Timeless Secrets of Nutrition and Health” article on the Natural News website, writes that stevia’s medicinal properties can be viewed as replacement therapy to displace sugar in dietary sweets and snack foods with a zero-calorie sweetener for diabetes or obesity treatment. This may reduce cravings, ingestion of high-calorie fats and high sodium snack foods. These savings also help lower blood pressure, blood sugar and possibly cholesterol and preservatives and other common fast food additives. However, satisfying a sweet tooth, even with stevia, may sabotage diets which would be better served by changing dietary tastes altogether.
About this Author
Walt Pickut began writing in 1971 publishing peer-reviewed medical research and clinical studies. Pickut holds bachelor’s degrees in biology and communication, a master’s in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickenson University, and graduate work in mass communications at SUNY-Amherst. He is an adjunct professor of presentational speaking for Houghton College in New York. Pickut holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology.