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Introduction to Stevia
Stevia is an extraordinarily sweet herb...200-300
times sweeter than
sugar. It has a slight licorice-like flavor that most of us with a
sweet tooth, and all the children we have ever met, love. For some
people who only like the taste of real sugar it may take a little
getting used to, but it has such important medicinal value that it is
well worth learning to love.
Stevia is almost calorie-free, so weight
watchers love it. It is
ideal for children since it prevents cavities. Unlike sugar, it does
not trigger a rise in blood sugar. You won't get a sudden burst of
energy followed by fatigue and a need for another "fix." Most
imporantly for our purposes, it does not feed yeast or other
microorganisms, and it increases energy and aids digestion by
stimulating the pancreas.
Since artificial sweeteners are banned in
Japan, the Japanese are
the greatest consumers of stevia. A member of the chrysanthemum
family (closely related to tarragon and chamomile and distantly
related to lettuce, artichokes, safflower oil, and sunflower seeds
and oil), it is totally safe and has been used for centuries by the
Indians of South America where it grows wild.
Stevia is available in a number of forms,
including a crude green
powder and a brownish liquid extract, which has a strong, unpleasant,
licorice-like taste. The white powder is used in our cookbook. If
you have trouble obtaining white stevia extract, please contact us at
800.851.6314 or got to our web site at http://www.steviva.com
Working with the white stevia powder (extract)
is difficult, so we
usually recommend creating a liquid concentrate from the white
powder. We call this concentrate our Stevia Working Solution. To
make it, dissolve 1 tsp. white stevia powder into 3 Tbsp. filtered
water. The white powder may stick to the spoon but will soon
dissolve. Pour this concentrate into a small bottle with a dropper
top and refrigerate it to increase its shelf life.
A tiny pinch of the powder is so potent that
most people put in too
much and find that it is just too sweet for them. That's why we
recommend using the liquid and experimenting with a few drops at a
time to find your own personal level of desired sweetness. One
teaspoon of liquid working solution will approximately equal on cup
Stay Healthy the Stevia Way
© Ray Sahelian M.D., Donna Gates (Excerpted from The Stevia Cookbook, Avery Publishing Group, 2000)
We all have a craving for a sweet taste and often satisfy this craving with sugar or fat-filled foods. Even "natural" sugar substitutes, such as honey, maple syrup or molasses, can be unhealthy if over-consumed since they can markedly elevate blood sugar levels. Hence, Stevia can be advantageous to practically everyone whose diet contains sweeteners. Although Stevia can be helpful to anyone, there are certain groups who are more likely to benefit from its remarkable sweetening potential. These include diabetics, those interested in decreasing caloric intake, and children.
A Godsend to Diabetics
The availability of artificial sweeteners has been of enormous benefit to diabetics. However, there's always been a concern that over consumption of these synthetic sweeteners may cause some unknown harm to the body. Could Stevia substitution be a good alternative in diabetics? We believe so. Stevia leaves have been used as herbal teas by diabetic patients in Asian countries. No side effects have been observed in these patients after many years of continued consumption (Suttajit, 1993). Furthermore, studies have shown that Stevia extract can actually improve blood sugar levels (Alvarez, 1981, Curi, 1986).
In 1986, Brazilian researchers from the Universities of Maringa and Sao Paolo evaluated the role of Stevia in blood sugar (Curi, 1986). Sixteen healthy volunteers were given extracts of 5 grams of Stevia leaves every six hours for three days. The extracts from the leaves were prepared by immersing them in boiling water for 20 minutes. A glucose tolerance test (GTT) was performed before and after the administration of the extract and the results were compared to another group who did not receive the Stevia extracts. During a GTT, patients are given a glass of water with glucose and their blood sugar levels are evaluated over the next few hours. Those who have a predisposition to diabetes will have a marked rise in blood sugar levels. The volunteers on Stevia were found to have significantly lower blood sugar levels after ingestion of Stevia. This is a positive indication that Stevia can potentially be beneficial to diabetics who substitute Stevia in order to decrease their sugar consumption. Even if Stevia by itself is not able to lower blood sugar levels, just the fact that a diabetic would consume less sugar is of significant importance in maintaining better blood sugar control.
If you're diabetic, chances are you consume a large amount of artificial sweeteners and you may be concerned about switching to Stevia since long-term human studies have not been done with this herb. You may also be accustomed in your use of these artificial sweeteners and would not be willing to completely stop them. One option is to gradually use less of them while substituting Stevia. For instance, you can initially use Stevia in some of your drinks, like coffee or tea. After a few weeks, if your comfort level with Stevia increases, you can gradually use more of the herbal extract. Over the next few weeks and months you can either switch completely to Stevia, or you can continue using it in combination with artificial sweeteners. With time more research will become available on the safety of Stevia and artificial sweeteners. Based on the results of these studies, you can determine which ones to continue using in a larger amount.
It's also quite possible that artificial sweeteners may be safe in low amounts, but problems could arise when they are used in excessive quantities. By partially or mostly substituting Stevia, you can reduce any potential risk.
It would seem quite obvious that substituting a no-calorie sweetener to sugar would help reduce caloric intake and thus contribute to weight loss. And such is the case with aspartame. Researchers at the Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, studied the influence of aspartame on obesity (Blackburn, 1997). One hundred sixty-three women were randomly assigned to consume or to abstain from aspartame-sweetened foods and beverages for 16 weeks. Both groups were also actively involved in a weight-control program using a variety of modalities. At the end of the 16 weeks, both the group on aspartame and the group without the synthetic sweetener lost 10 kilograms. During the maintenance phase that lasted the next two years, women assigned to the aspartame-treatment group gained back 4.5 kilogram, whereas those not on aspartame gained back 9.4 kilograms, practically all the weight they had previously lost. The researchers state, "These data suggest that participation in a multidisciplinary weight-control program that includes aspartame may facilitate the long-term maintenance of reduced body weight."
Unfortunately, no formal studies have been done evaluating Stevia substitution in relation to weight loss. We would suspect, though, that the results would be similar to the aspartame study discussed above. If you are the type of person who adds sugar to your morning coffee or tea, or to iced tea, lemonade, and a variety of desserts and baked goods, then, over time, the elimination of these refined sugar calories could make a significant difference.
Sweet Teeth with No Cavities
Even a five-year old child knows that sugar causes tooth cavities. There are certain bacteria in our mouths, particularly streptococci mutans, that ferment various sugars to produce acids. These in turn eat through the enamel of the tooth causing pockets or cavities. For a long time, scientists have searched to find alternative sweeteners that are not fermentable by bacteria and hence do not cause cavities. Artificial sweeteners have been helpful in this regard.
Does ingesting Stevia lead to tooth cavities? A study done on rats has not shown this to be case. Stevioside and rebaudioside A, the two primary sweet constituents of the Stevia plant, were tested in a group of sixty rat pups (Das, 1992) in the following way:
Group 1 was fed sucrose (table sugar), at
30 percent of their diet
Group 2 was given 0.5 percent of their diet in stevioside
Group 3 got 0.5 percent of their diet in rebaudioside A
Group 4 ingested no sugars.
After 5 weeks, all four groups had their teeth evaluated. There were no differences in food and water intake and weight gain between the four groups. However, the first group had significantly more cavities than the rest of the groups. Groups 2, 3, and 4 were equivalent. The researchers state, "It was concluded that neither stevioside nor rebaudioside A is cariogenic [cavity causing] under the conditions of this study." It appears that the chemicals within the Stevia plant that impart its sweetness are not fermentable, and thus do not cause tooth cavities.
Use in Children
Candies, sodas, ice cream, pies, cakes... it's disturbing how many sweet products are ingested by children on a daily basis. All that sugar can lead to tooth cavities and obesity. We believe that partially substituting with Stevia can help children satisfy their sweet tooth while decreasing the risks from excessive sugar intake.
If you're a parent, you can take advantage of the many recipes provided in the second half of this book to provide your children with tasty sweets that will satisfy their sweet teeth but not cause damage to the teeth. Obesity in children is a growing problem in this country and any method we have of helping children reduce their caloric intake will be greatly beneficial.
We also are concerned with children overconsuming excessive amounts of artificial sweeteners. The potential, long-term health consequences of saccharin and aspartame ingestion are currently not fully known, but they do need to be kept in mind. Eliminating all artificial sweeteners will be a frustrating enterprise since they are extremely prevalent. However, by partially substituting Stevia in homemade desserts, you can significantly reduce your children's exposure to these artificial chemicals.
Hopefully, with time, Stevia can be added to a variety of sodas, candies, gums, and other foods in the US, just like it currently is in Japan and other countries.
In 1991, Dr. M.S. Melis, from the Department of Biology at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, gave a one-time high dose injection of stevioside to rats and found that it caused a reduction in blood pressure as well as an increased elimination of sodium (Melis, 1991). A slight diuretic effect also occurred. The effect was additive when Stevia was combined with verapamil (a medicine used to lower blood pressure in humans who have high blood pressure).
Dr. Melis repeated a similar study in 1995. This time, he administered extracts of Stevia to rats for 20, 40, and 60 days. After 20 days, there were no changes in the Stevia-treated rats compared to the control group (the ones that didn't receive the extracts). However, after 40 or 60 days of administering the extract, there was a lowering of blood pressure, a diuretic effect was noted along with loss of sodium. The amount of blood going to the kidneys was increased.
When normal human volunteers between the ages of 20 to 40 years were given a tea prepared with Stevia leaves, a lowering of blood pressure occurred (Boeck, 1981). This study was done in Brazil. Certainly more human studies are needed before we can come to any conclusions regarding the full effect of normal daily ingestion of stevioside on blood pressure.
How does Stevia’s sweetness compare to other artificial sweeteners? Does it even come close to their potency? A new study done at the Department of Food and Nutrition, FCF-UNESP in Araraquara, Brazil, compared the relative sweetness of Stevia to that of aspartame, a cyclamate/saccharin combination, and a 10 percent sucrose concentration. The results were interesting. An equivalent dose of Stevia, aspartame, the cyclamate/saccharin combination and a 10 percent sucrose concentration all had practically the same potency! Cardello HM, Da Silva MA, Damasio MH. Measurement of the relative sweetness of Stevia extract, aspartame and cyclamate/saccharin blend as compared to sucrose at different concentrations. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 1999;54(2):119-30.
Stevia helps pancreas release insulin--helpful
© Ray Sahelian M.D.,
The natural sweetener stevioside, which is
found in the plant Stevia, has been used for many years in the treatment of
diabetes among Indians in Paraguay and Brazil. However, the mechanism for
the blood glucose-lowering effect remains unknown. A study conducted at the
Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark,
found that stevioside enhances insulin secretion from mouse pancreatic islets
in the presence of glucose. The researchers state, "Stevioside stimulates
insulin secretion via a direct action on pancreatic beta cells. The results
indicate that the compounds may have a potential role as an anti-hyperglycemic
agent in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus."
Ray Sahelian, M.D., co-author with Donna Gates of The Stevia Cookbook (Avery/Penguin, 1999), says, "Stevia is a wonderful alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners for those who have diabetes. This study gives us one more reason to recommend diabetics take advantage of this safe, non-calorie herbal sweetener."
Reference: Jeppesen PB, et al. Stevioside acts directly on pancreatic beta cells to secrete insulin. Metabolism 2000 Feb;49(2):208-14. Website: www.raysahelian.com
A Natural Sweetener That's Also Calorie-Free
Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing®
This is a Tale of Two Sweeteners, full of
sound and fury, signifying that the FDA has sold you and your kids to the
drug companies again, and you are unwitting receptacles of a sweetener that
has obvious toxicity. The FDA has blocked the use of a natural sweetener that
is totally safe.
If you drink diet sodas or add Equal or NutraSweet to your coffee, listen up. These sweeteners contain aspartame, which was first approved by the FDA in 1974. That approval was rescinded because of two studies showing that the substance caused brain tumors in laboratory animals.
These studies were never refuted, and the additive was approved in spite of these studies, in 1981, and for soft drinks in 1983. According to National Cancer Institute data, there was an alarming jump in the incidence of brain tumors in 1983 - 1987. The estimated annual percent change (EAPC) rose from 2.1% to 8.1% in males, and from 2.1% to 11.7% in females. This could be related to the consumption of aspartame-sweetened products.
Aspartame has both potential and real toxicities. My associate editor, Jane Heimlich, wrote about the effects of aspartame in the January 1993 Health & Healing, and I have suggested alternative natural sweeteners such as Sucanat and honey.
However, there is a natural, non-caloric sweetener that is totally safe - Stevia.
Try a Natural, Non-Toxic, Calorie-Free Sweetener
Stevia is an herb that has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. It is calorie - free, and the powdered concentrate is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia is widely used all over the world. In Japan, for example, it claims 41% of the sweetener market, including sugar, and was used in Japanese Diet Coke until the company replaced it with aspartame to "standardize" worldwide. There have not been any reports of toxicity with Stevia, which is consumed by millions of people daily.
The Scary Truth About Aspartame
Not so with aspartame sweeteners, such as NutraSweet and Equal. As of February 1994, 6,888 cases of adverse reactions had been reported to the FDA. In fact, more than 75% of all non-drug complaints to the FDA are about aspartame. These complaints include headaches, dizziness, mood changed, numbness, vomiting or nausea, muscle cramps and spasms, and abdominal pain and cramps. There are also sizable numbers reporting vision changed, joint pains, skin lesions, memory loss, and seizures. Five deaths were reported to the FDA prior to 1987 as possibly attributed to aspartame. This is only a small fraction of the actual adverse reactions caused by aspartame. Most people would not associate the problem with it, and even if they did, only a small fraction of people or doctors would take the time to report it to the FDA. I estimate that for every reported adverse reaction, 10 to 100 go unrecognized or unreported, which would bring the number to 70,000 to 700,000 cases.
Ralph G. Walton, M.D., Chairman of the Center of Behavioral Medicine of the Western Reserve Care System, has published accounts of how the excitatory characteristics of aspartame could lower the threshold for and even cause seizures, mania, depression, or other psychological or central nervous system disorders. In one study, he demonstrated that people with a history of mood disorders had a significantly higher number of adverse reactions to aspartame than those with no such history. He estimated that considering everything that the substance could do, about 35% of the population is vulnerable to an adverse reaction to aspartame.
Even though many of these reports are anecdotal, they are quite credible, given the chemistry of aspartame. Brain/mood symptoms brought on by aspartame could easily be caused by the changes in brain chemistry triggered by elevated phenylalanine.
There have been numerous studies showing aspartame's safety. My complaint with these is that the studies used aspartame capsules rather than the commonly used form of aspartame mixed and stored in food.
"Wood Alcohol" in Your Food
Even more significant, perhaps, is the role of methanol or methyl alcohol (also called "wood alcohol"), which makes up 10% of aspartame. The methanol is further broken down into formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), formic acid (a poison excreted by ants) and diketopiperazine (DKP, which causes brain tumors). Absorption of methanol is hastened if aspartame has broken down, as it does when it is heated, used in hot drinks or decomposed during prolonged storage. In Israel, people are warned not to consume large quantities of aspartame, and not to store products containing it in the heat. Incredibly, the FDA recently approved aspartame for baked goods!
Methanol is specifically toxic to the optic nerve, and caused blindness in people who drank "bootlegged" whiskey that contained it. The poisoning effects of taking methanol are cumulative.
A pilot, George E. Leighton, experienced such sever blurred vision while flying that he couldn't even read the instrument panel and barely averted a crash landing. This occurred two hours after he inadvertently drank two cups of aspartame-sweetened hot chocolate. He has consumed no aspartame since, nor has he had any blurred vision. Other pilots had seizures which they are convinced were caused by aspartame, and have lost their licenses as a result.
How Stevia Got Stonewalled by the FDA
Stevia, on the other had, is not only non-toxic, but has several traditional medicinal uses. The Indian tribes of South America have used it as a digestive aid, and have also applied it topically for years to help wound-healing. Recent clinical studies have shown it can increase glucose tolerance and decrease blood sugar levels.
Of the two sweeteners, Stevia wins hands down for safety. Yet your children guzzle excitatory chemicals laced with methanol.
Stevia gained popularity in this country in the 1980's as a safe sweetener. Celestial Seasonings, one of the world's largest herbal tea companies, used it as a flavoring in many of the teas. In 1986, without warning, the FDA came into their warehouse and seized their stock of Stevia. No reason was given for seizure; the company was simply told they could not use it in the teas.
In 1991 the FDA banned Stevia, claiming that it was an "unsafe food additive," even though it is available in many other countries. The obvious reason for the seizure and the ban on Stevia was to prevent it from competing with aspartame.
Let's Fight for a Safer Non-Calorie Sweetener
The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has petitioned the FDA to lift the ban on Stevia, based on the fact that Stevia is not a food additive, but a food with a long record of safety. The FDA has yet to act on this petition.
Write to David Kessler at the FDA (5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857) and ask why Stevia, a food product with hundreds of years of safe consumption, is banned in this country but nowhere else. Demand that he lift the ban on Stevia, and ban aspartame instead.
Send a copy of that letter to your local newspaper and to me (at Phillips Publishing, Customer Service - Stevia, 7811 Montrose Road, Potomac, MD 20854) so that Kessler will not be able to say that he doesn't get his mail.
For more information on aspartame, or to report an adverse reaction, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the:
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 780634
Dallas, TX 75378
Frankly, I don't let aspartame into my house - children live there. If you do drink or eat products that contain aspartame, by all means avoid the heated ones, and that includes adding Equal to a hot drink. And never drink large quantities of aspartame, as you might with iced tea on a hot day.
FDA Disclaimer: The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. The products mentioned herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For medical advice, always consult your health care professional.
from Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing®, December 1994, Vol. 4, No 12
Questions and Answers about Stevia
© David Richard (Excerpted from Stevia Rebaudiana: Nature's Sweet Secret)
Q) What is Stevia?
A) Stevia Rebaudiana is an herb in the Chrysanthemum family which grows wild as a small shrub in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. The glycosides in its leaves, including up to 10% Stevioside, account for its incredible sweetness, making it unique among the nearly 300 species of Stevia plants.
There are indications that Stevia (or Ca-he-he) has been used to sweeten a native beverage called mate since Pre-Columbian times. However, a Natural Scientist names Antonio Bertoni first recorded its usage by native tribes in 1887.
Q) How much Stevia is used around the world?
A) Exact numbers are unavailable at this time. However, as an indication, Japanese consumers used the equivalent of 700 metric tonnes of Stevia leaves in 1987 alone. This number does not include other major consuming countries such as Brazil and the whole of South America; South Korea, China and the whole of the Pacific Rim; as well as Europe, Australia and North America. I would also assume that the Japanese figure has increased since 1987.
Q) What is the FDA's position on Stevia?
A) The FDA's position on Stevia is somewhat ambiguous. In 1991, citing a preliminary mutagenicity study, the FDA issued an import alert which effectively blocked the importation and sale of Stevia in this country. Ironically, this was the year that a follow-up study found flaws in the first study and seriously questioned its results.
In September of 1995, the FDA revised its import alert to allow Stevia and its extracts to be imported as a food supplement but not as a sweetener. Yet, it defines Stevia as an unapproved food additive, not affirmed as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) in the United States. The following is a portion of this revised alert:
"If Stevia is to be used in a dietary supplement for a technical effect, such as use as a sweetener or flavoring agent, and is labeled as such, it is considered an unsafe food additive. However, in the absence of labeling specifying that Stevia is being or will be used for technical effect, use of Stevia as a dietary ingredient in a dietary supplement is not subject to the food additive provisions of FD & C ACT."
In my opinion, this revision represents a political compromise between the artificial sweetener and sugar lobbyists and the Natural Food Industry and its representatives, as mediated by the FDA.
Q) Where is Stevia cultivated?
A) Mainly in Paraguay, Brazil, Japan and China. There are other growers scattered across the Pacific Rim. Stevia is also being cultivated in Southern Ontario and Mexico. Surprisingly, it has been successfully grown in California and the South of England as well.
Q) How has Stevia been used in food applications?
A) First, as a prepackaged replacement for sugar and artificial sweeteners. Second, it has been used in various food products, including the Japanese sugar-free versions of Wrigley's gums, Beatrice Foods yogurts and even diet Coke. It has also been used in Japanese style pickles, dried seafoods, fish meat products, vegetables and seafoods boiled down with soy sauce, confectioneries and a host of other products. Whether it will reach into food applications such as these in the U.S. market depend largely on the FDA's regulatory position and health industry efforts to re-classify Stevia as a GRAS (generally recognized as substance.
Q) Is Stevia safe?
A) See chapter 6 for a detailed discussion. In general, Stevia is an all-natural herbal product with centuries of safe usage by native Indians in Paraguay. It has been thoroughly tested in dozens of tests around the world and found to be completely non-toxic. It has also been consumed safely in massive quantities (Thousands of tonnes annually) for the past twenty years. Although one group of studies, perform 1985 through 1987, found one ofthe metabolises of steviosides, called Steviol, to be mutagenic towards a particular strain of Salmonella bacteria, there is serious doubt as to whether this study is applicable to human metabolism of Stevia. In fact, the methodology used to measure the mutagenicity in this test was flawed according to a follow-up piece of research which also seriously questioned the validity of the results. For myself, I intend to use the product with both confidence in nature and respect for the healthy moderation and balance which nature teaches us.
Q) Can Stevia replace sugar in the diet?
A) Yes. Refined sugar is virtually devoid of nutritional benefits and, at best, represents empty calories in the diet. At worst, it has been implicated in numerous degenerative diseases. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar and has none of sugar's unhealthy drawbacks.
Q) How sweet is Stevia?
A) The crude Stevia leaves and herbal powder (green) are reported to be 10-15 times sweeter than table sugar. The refined extracts of Stevia called steviosides (a white powder, 85-95% Steviosides) claim to be 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar. My experience is that the herbal powder is very sweet while the refined extract is incredibly sweet and needs to be diluted to be properly used. Both products have a slight bitter aftertaste, also characteristic of licorice.
Q) Can Stevia replace artificial sweeteners
in the diet?
A) Yes! I do not believe that humans should consume anything artificial in their diets. Stevia offers a safe, all-natural, alternative to these "toxic time-bombs." And industrial usage in Japan proves that this substitution is both practical and economical.
Q) How many calories are in Stevia?
A) Virtually none. And the refined Stevia extracts are considered to be non-caloric.
Q) Will Stevia raise my blood sugar levels?
A) Not at all. In fact, according to some research, it may actually lower blood sugar levels. However, this research has yet to be confirmed and contradictory results make any conclusions premature.
Q) Can I use Stevia if I am diabetic?
A) Diabetes is a medical condition which should be monitored and treated by a qualified physician or health care practitioner. However, Stevia can be a part of a healthy diet for anyone with blood sugar problems since it does not raise blood sugar levels. If in doubt, ask your doctor. However, if they do say no, ask them politely for the current research to support their opinion.
Q) Can I combine Stevia with other sweeteners?
A) Most certainly. However, sweeteners in general should be used in moderation in a balanced healthy diet. And refined and artificial sweeteners should be avoided altogether.
Q) Will Stevia harm my teeth?
A) Apparently not. Two tests conducted by Purdue University's Dental Science Research Group have concluded that Stevioside is both fluo-ride compatible and "significantly" inhibits the development of plaque, thus Stevia may actually help to prevent cavities.
Q) Can Stevia be used in cooking and baking?
A) Absolutely! Industrial research in Japan has shown that Stevia and Stevioside extracts are extremely heat stable in a variety of everyday cooking and baking situations.
Q) Does Stevia contain vitamins and minerals?
A) Raw herbal Stevia contains nearly one hundred identified phytonutrients and volatile oils, including trace amounts of Rutin (from the Callus) and B-Sitosterol (from the leaves). However, in the quantities typically consumed, the nutritive benefits will be negligible. The extracts of Stevia, being more refined, will contain far fewer of these phytonutrients and volatile oils.
Q) How are Stevia extracts prepared?
A) Extracts of Stevia leaves can be prepared by a number of methods some of which are patented. One researcher states: "Production of Stevioside involves water extraction from the dried leaves, followed by clarification and crystalization processes. Most commercial processes consist of water extraction, decoloration, and purification using ion-exchange resins, electrolytic techniques, or precipitating agents."
Q) Can I make my own Stevia Extract?
A) Yes. A liquid extract can be made from the whole Stevia leaves or from the green herbal Stevia powder. Simply combine a measured portion of Stevia leaves or herbal powder with pure USP grain alcohol (Brand, or Scotch will also do) and let the mixture sit for 24 hours. Filter the liquid from the leaves or powder residue and dilute to taste using pure water. Note that the alcohol content can be reduced by very slowly heating (not boiling) the extract and allowing the alcohol to evaporate off. A pure water extract can be similarly prepared, but will not extract quite as much of the sweet glycosides as will the alcohol. Either liquid extract can be cooked down and concentrated into a syrup.
Q) What is the replacement factor for Stevia
herbal powder and extract in terms of common table sugar?
A) Since Stevia is 10 to 15 times sweeter than sugar, this is a fair, if approximate, replacement factor. Since the crude herb may vary in strength, some experimentation may be necessary. The high stevioside extracts are between 200-300 times sweeter than sugar and should be used sparingly. Unfortunately, FDA labelling guidelines may prevent manufacturers from providing a specific replacement factor.
Q) What cant I do with Stevia?
A) Stevia does not caramelize as sugar does. Meringues may also be difficult since Stevia does not brown or crystalize as sugar does.
Q) Will Stevia change the color of my food?
A) The green herbal powder may impart a slight amount of color to your food, depending on how much you use in your recipe. If you are concerned about color, I would suggest that you use the white powdered extract or a similar "clear" liquid extract of Stevia.
Q) Where can I buy Stevia herbal powder and
A) At Steviva.com or your local natural food store. As Stevia gains consumer acceptance, it may also begin to appear in supermarkets and grocery stores, but probably only in its refined form.
Q) What is the future of Stevia?
A) Very bright, as long as the gene stock of the Native Paraguay Stevia Rebaudiana species is preserved in the wild. Overharvesting and foreign transplantation has depleted this stock which contains the greatest possible gene diversity, essential to the strength and continuance of the species.