Stevia leaves were introduced to Europe, in 1899, by a South American naturalist, Moses S. Bertoni. The Guarani Indians of Paraguay have been known to use the herb for a period of 1,500 years. This herb is a remarkable substitute for sugar, due to its non-synthetic and zero-calorific values. Stevia or Stevia rebaudiana is undoubtedly the big player, when it comes to alternative sweeteners.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stevia has such sweet compounds which do not have any carcinogenic activity. Stevia contains most of the essential minerals and vitamins required for good health. Stevia has been known for its health benefits, for a long time. Some of them are listed below:
Sugar Level: Popularly known as the sweet leaf or the honey leaf, stevia is an effective regulator of blood sugar. It helps lower elevated sugar levels, while having zero effect on normal sugar levels. It is thus an effective medicine for diabetics and people suffering from hypoglycemia.
Upset Stomach: A concentrated form of stevia acts as a soothing and healing tonic for stomach disorders, like gas or acidity.
Dental Care: Bleeding gums can be taken care of by stevia-based toothpaste and mouthwash. It has the ability to curb and eliminate the conditions favorable to bacterial growth.
Common Ailments: Lower incidence of ailments, such as cold and flu, have been found among regular users of this medicinal herb.
Skin Care: Stevia has also shown its magical healing quality pertaining to various skin problems like acne, seborrhea, dermatitis, and eczema. A concentrated form of the herb can also be used as a natural cosmetic. The solution is beneficial when applied to the face, leaving it soft and glowing. It can be used to smoothen out wrinkles. In comparison to other medicines, stevia concentrate has been more successful in yielding positive and rapid results, in cases of lip sores, cuts or scratches, and blemishes.
Hair Care: Herbal soaps and shampoos containing the stevia concentrate are beneficial, in treating dandruff and scalp problems, when used daily. And what are the aftereffects? Lustrous and healthy hair!
Although there are several benefits of stevia, it is always recommended to seek a qualified physician's advice before you use stevia products. But, on the brighter side, it has been used widely and tests have shown completely non-toxic results.
Stevia is widely used in Japan as a sugar substitute, owing to the ban on artificial sweeteners, for more than 20 years. It is used as an ingredient in 30 to 40 percent of food items. Stevia has proven effective not only with respect to human health, but also in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. A stevia-based fertilizer, produced from its stems and leaves, showed significant results in preventing and curing plant diseases. The harvest showed an increase in quantity and, amazingly, crops retained their freshness for a longer period; while, at the same time, turning out more fragrant and tastier. Also, a good-quality organic manure can be produced, if stevia is combined with manure or kitchen refuse.
Due to its incredible natural qualities and uses in various products, stevia can be regarded as a boon to the world. It is a great supplement for those who have a craving for the 'sweet stuff'. What else does a person need, when his taste buds can enjoy the sweetness, without being concerned about the extra calories, and he can be full of energy all day long!