Stevia leaf extracts have been used for many years in traditional treatment of diabetes in South America. Paraguay's rural and native populations have used stevia for birth control.
Stevia contains compounds called rebaudioside A (Reb-A) and stevioside. These are used as natural sweeteners or dietary supplements. They reportedly possess up to 250 times the sweetness intensity of sucrose. Reb-A has been given Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is used in some beverages as a zero-calorie sweetener.
Available research is promising for use of stevia in high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, although more well-designed studies are needed.
The accompanying Monograph available for download includes information on science evidence, along with other background information. For more, click Download.