Stevia rbaudiana Bertoni is a shrub that is commonly called Stevia. It was Pedro Jaime Esteve in 1500 – 1556, a Spanish botanist and physician who had first mentioned it. He had found this shrub in Paraguay. The Guarani Indians who are residents of the region are making use of sweet leaf (ka’a he’e’), as known in the Guarani language. For centuries, it is being used in yerba mate as a sweetener. Several tribes have reported this plant’s usage to control fertility among women. They were known to apply for prolonged periods, the concentrated Stevia infusions.
Its contraceptive features
Since 1970s until today, its contraceptive properties are being discussed in scientific literature. Reasons are quite simple as to why should anyone want to eat some sweetener which makes them barren suddenly. Stevia leaf is said to comprise of glycosides complex mixture (compounds having single or multiple sugar molecules that are bound to non-carbohydrate moiety). Such compounds provide the leaves with intense sweet taste, around 30 to 45 times much sweeter when compared to sucrose, sweetness of refined sugar. 10 different chemical compounds had been isolated till date that are held responsible for the plant’s sweet taste, namely, steviolbioside, stevioside, rubusoside, dulcoside A and rebaudioside A / B / C / D / E & F. Highest sweetening effect concentration is derived from rebaudioside A and Stevioside. These are responsible towards extracting Stevia and its being sweeter by about 250 to 300 times of that of sucrose and not having any calorie (around 0.2 calories / gm).
Steviol glycosides are dieterpenic glycosides chemically and are substances comprising of two different sugar type molecules including a molecule known as steviol. The latter tends to serve as the chemical structure’s backbone and is similar structurally to that of kaurene and gibberellin plant hormones. Studies conducted have shown glycosides are partially metabolized within the body, thereby releasing steviol and sugar molecules.
Is Stevia safe to be used instead of sugar?
This is a question that is asked by many who are eager to try out the beneficial properties of Stevia. One can easily find reputed stevia manufacturers in Indiaoffering quality products. Steviol is a compound that for several years caught the attention of the toxicologists. When cell cultures and bacteria were studied upon, it demonstrated that the compound was genotoxic, which means, capable enough to change genetic information. But recent studies conducted on mice, hamsters and rats shows that it needed steviol in relatively high concentrations, for causing the DNA with significant damage. The DNA is termed to be the life molecule that contains all genetic information.
There are numerous toxicological databases that do discuss about the potential adverse health issues of stevia extract. However, the results are found to be inconsistent. The effects on fertility as well as Steviosides’ potential carcinogenicity were controversial subjects in the modern scientific world.
Stevia extracts are being available commercially across the globe as table top sweetener since 1971. Since then, no reports of health issues have emerged in any corner thus stating it is safe to be used by everyone.