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The Dangers of Stevia

From - 2008-03-27

As with all food additives, rigorous testing must be done to evaluate the possibility of dangerous side affects of Stevia. Numerous tests have been performed to test the dangers of Stevia and its potential side affects. These research studies, combined with decades of use in Japan and other nations, have repeatedly shown the sweetener to be safe for human consumption, Let's take a look at some of the mis-conceptions about Stevia.

A) Is Stevia a safe additive?

Stevia is an all natural sugar substitute that while not approved by the FDA for use as an additive has been used safely for many years in Asian countries and for literally centuries in Brazil with few noted side affects. While nearly all chemicals have some danger associated with them the dangers of Stevia are limited as it is an all natural substitute.

B) I heard that Stevia can cause infertility – is this true?

As far back as 1968 studies were conducted on Stevia to research a claim that the herb was used for contraceptive. However, the only study that was ever conducted was very flawed – mice were given extremely large doses of Stevia (10 ml in 20 minutes) at only one dosage level – this dosage is unlikely to be consumed by any one of us in a given day – and longer term use in Japan and Brazil does not bear out this claim. Since the dangers of Stevia have not been proven to be a long term issue in either of these countries, it is agreed that this claim is false.

C) Toxicity concerns have been raised about Stevia. How true are they?

More than five hundred rats were tested using dosages nearly one hundred times the estimated daily intake that humans would use. No evidence of toxicity was observed when these tests were concluded. In addition, these tests further indicated that the concentrated extract of Stevia is less than one tenth as toxic as caffeine. Therefore it is considered that Stevia use is no more dangerous than our daily coffee intake.

D) Some sweeteners are known to be carcinogenic – is Stevia a potential carcinogenic?

For nearly two years studies were conducted where rats were given Stevia equivalent to (a) 2 ½ percent of their diet and (b) 5 percent of their diet and (c) no Stevia added to test this question. Ironically, when these rats were tested after these dosages, the rats who received Stevia they not only weighed less, there was little if any difference in those who were given Stevia and those who were now. This reduced the fear of the dangers of Stevia in humans concerned about carcinogenic potential.

E) Is Stevia widely available?

Currently the FDA has not approved Stevia as a food additive in spite of many studies showing that is does not pose any safety problem. It is however widely available in most health food stores as a supplement. Extract of Stevia is readily available at most health food stores to be used in several forms including liquid and powder.

F) Is the FDA doing further evaluations?

Currently the Coca Cola Company and Cargill are in the process of gaining FDA regulatory approval in both the United States and Europe for use as a food additive with the intent of marketing it more broadly in foods and drinks.

G) Is Stevia safe to use if you have problems with high blood sugar levels?

Current tests show that in some patients not only is the danger of Stevia a myth when used as part of a low sugar diet, but that in some instances it may also contribute to stablization of blood sugar allowing those who are currently insulin dependent to eventually not need treatment for high blood sugar levels and may also contribute to lowering of blood pressure.


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