Stevia Leaf
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Stevia Leaf STEVIA LEAF  
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Botanical:  Stevia rebaudiana
Family:  Asteraceae (aster)

Other common names:  Honey Leaf, Sweet Herb, Yerba Dulce, Ka-he, Candyleaf, Sugar Leaf,

Sweet Leaf, Paraguayan Sweet Herb

Stevia Leaf is nature's sugar substitute that is said to be a safe, all-natural, zero-calorie alternative to refined sugar, but is also used as an herbal supplement to help regulate blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure and LDLs (bad cholesterol).  People who ingest Stevia daily often report a decrease in their desire for sweets and fatty foods, which may be very helpful for dieters, and its antibacterial qualities appear to help promote healthy and clear skin, scalp and lustrous hair.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

History:
Stevia Leaf is a perennial shrub that is native to the northern regions of South America and is now grown commercially in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Central America, the United States, Israel, Thailand and China. The plant had been used in its South American habitat for centuries as a natural sugar substitute and was "discovered" by the Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century, when the local Guarani and Mato Grosso tribes revealed its use as a sweetener for their medicines and teas.  They called the plant caa-hee or Ka-he, which means "honey leaf," and soon the word was sent back to Europe that the native tribes had been using the plant since ancient times as a natural sweetener.  Shortly thereafter, the European settlers in the area began to use Stevia to sweeten their Maté tea (a bitter herbal drink).  Modern scientific studies didn't begin until the turn of the twentieth century, when Dr. M.S. Bertoni, the American Trade Commissioner to Paraguay, noted in a letter that although Stevia Leaf was known to science since 1899, nothing was being done to introduce the plant commercially.  He said it was due to a lack of interest on the part of capital and to the difficulty of cultivation.  He noted, "The principal importance of Ka-he  is due to the possibility of substituting it for saccharine," and went on to describe it as non-toxic, highly sweet and cheaper than saccharine.  It is said to be at least fifty times sweeter than sugar, and people who ingest Stevia daily as an herbal supplement often report a decrease in their desire for sweets and fatty foods, making it very useful for dieters.  Today in Japan, Stevia is being used (and has been since the 1970s) as a safe, natural, low-calorie sweetener; and major food companies, like Coca Cola and Beatrice foods, convinced of its safety, use Stevia extracts to sweeten food products sold in Japan.  In December, 2008, the USFDA approved the use of Stevia as a natural, zero-calorie sweetener in the United States as "generally recognized as safe."  Stevia is also used in many modern, industrialized countries as a table-top sweetener, in soft drinks, baked goods, pickles, fruit juices, jams, jellies, candies, yogurts, chewing gum, sherbets, toothpaste and even in tobacco products.  Some chemical constituents in Stevia include rebaudioside-A, stevioside, sterols (stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol and campesterol).  The primary active constituent in Stevia Leaf is the glycoside called stevioside.

Beneficial Uses:
Stevia Leaf has been used as a healthful dietary supplement that is believed to help improve cardiovascular health by lowering elevated blood pressure (hypertension) and helping to reduce LDLs (bad cholesterol) in the blood.

Research indicates that Stevia significantly increases glucose tolerance and inhibits glucose absorption.  Furthermore, it is also thought to lower blood sugar levels.  In some South American countries, Stevia is also sold (in addition to its popularity as a natural sweetener and sugar substitute) to aid people with diabetes and hypoglycemia, since studies have demonstrated that it has a regulating effect on the pancreas and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.

As a digestive aid, Stevia is thought to improve gastrointestinal function, soothe upset stomachs and reduce gas and stomach acidity.

Stevia Leaf is believed to act as a general tonic that helps to increase energy levels and mental acuity.  Many individuals ingesting Stevia daily have reported a lower incidence of colds and flu, and it may also help to speed recovery from minor illnesses.

Stevia has been shown to inhibit the growth and reproduction of bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay, making it an excellent addition to toothpastes and mouthwashes.  Many people have reported improvement in their oral health after adding it to their daily brushing and rinsing routines.

There have been reports that Stevia Leaf may be beneficial in treating Candidiasis.

As an antibacterial, Stevia is useful in helping a number of skin problems, including acne, blemishes, lip and mouth sores, dermatitis and eczema.  There are reports that cuts and scratches heal more rapidly after using Stevia.

Stevia Leaf is thought to improve the quality and health of the hair and scalp.

Contraindications:
Currently, there are no known warnings or contraindications with the use of Stevia Leaf Herbal Supplement, and it has been approved by the USFDA as safe.

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