Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Nicole
Posted on: January 16, 2000

On the moving of my friend across the country she was cleaning out her cabinets to give me her groceries she could not pack to take with her and she gave me stevia liquid extract. The ingrediants are water, Stevia rebaudiana extract and 18% alcohol. She told me it’s used as a sweetener and only takes a couple of drops in your tea or what ever. The bottle says South American natives have used stevia for centuries though it has just recently become popular in the U.S.

I am a routine user of herbs for boosting immunity and all over better health, my question is, is I can not find any information on this herb any where. I need to know about it before I try it, not only for me, but because I am a breast feeding mother. You understand my concern. Not that I have to try it, but still would like to know more about it since I have never heard of it.

The bottle also says it is considered safe and without side effects. Intended for dietary supplement purposes only.

Do you know anything about this herb?

We have grown and used stevia for many years. It is, as your friend has indicated, a natural sweetener that has been used for centuries. It is a native of South America where the native peoples have long used the leaves to make a sweet tea. In Japan, the extract has been used as a sweetener since at least the 1930s or 1940s.

The health regulatory bodies in Canada and the United States allow stevia to be sold as a pure extract or as a bulk herb, but it cannot be used as an additive in foods. Some believe that this stance is more political than a legitimate health concern, prompted by the competitive concerns of the artificial sweetener industry – so the argument goes.

As far as we know, there is no evidence that stevia presents any health risk when used as instructed. However, we can only say for certain that it has in use for centuries and no pattern of health risk has ever been come up.

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