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Everything you've always wanted to know about stevia (but the FDA was afraid you were going to ask)
by Donna Gates
From Body Ecology - 2006-01-10

Simply put, stevia is a remarkable plant, many times sweeter than sugar with virtually no calories. In parts of South America, it has been used for hundreds of years to safely sweeten and flavor beverages. In Japan, stevia has been used by millions of people for those purposes for over 25 years.

But in the United States the stevia issue has not been that simple. If it's unknown to you, perhaps that's because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has maneuvered to keep stevia products off the U.S. market despite efforts by the Lipton Tea Company and the American Herbal Products Association to have the FDA acknowledge stevia to be GRAS (generally recognized as safe).

The stevia tale in the U.S. is one of FDA raids and mysterious trade complaints, searches, seizures, and border blockades. Until 1995, when the passage of the Dietary Supplement, Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was passed, there was an "import alert" that in effect blocked all stevia from entering the country.

Although not approved in the U.S. as a sweetening agent, stevia can now be sold as a dietary supplement, and even though it's still the same sweet herb, the revised import alert prohibits any mention of sweetness on the label.

Is it safe for diabetics?

Yes, people have consumed stevia for centuries with no known side effects. Individuals who cannot tolerate sugar or other sweeteners usually can tolerate stevia.

Studies suggest that stevia has a regulating effect on the pancreas and could help stabilize blood sugar levels in the body, therefore making it a safe dietary supplement for people with diabetes, hypoglycemia, and candidiasis.

What they are saying:

" not only non-toxic, it also 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 (aspartame and stevia), stevia wins hands down for safety."

- Dr. Whitaker's Newsletter, December 1994

"Stevia has virtually no calories. It dissolves easily in water and mixes well with all other sweeteners...I use it myself..."

- Dr. Robert C. Atkins, MD, author of Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution


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