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Some good things you may find interesting about stevia

One of the things I love about social networking…is that I have more information at my fingertips than I would ever have access to if I had to find it all by myself.

One of the things I hate about social networking, especially Twitter, is how much bad information is passed along without any fact checking. I would have to say, 99% of all links that come across my screen were just retweeted without being read. People state their opinions as if they are facts, without providing any references. And the more followers a person has, the more entitled they seem to be, to state their opinion as if is fact, leaving their hundreds or thousands of followers thinking,"Well if _____ said so, it must be true."

Recently I've been reading a lot of things about stevia that are opinion-based, but not factual, which are being circulated without fact checking, so I went in to PubMed and found some references I thought I would throw out to help level the playing field.

Stevia is a natural sweetener. It is not sugar, but it is not a chemical artificially created in the laboratory. It is a plant native to Paraguay that is processed to be used as a sweetener. I have friends here in Phoenix who actually have stevia plants in their gardens in early summer.

Here are some other facts.

Stevia may or may not affect fertility. The very first article appearing in a stevia search, way back in 1968, reports that it does. Others follow with mixed results, looking at both male and female fertility. It does not appear to be related to any toxic aspect of the plant, merely how it affects hormone balance. Anyone using the right mix of references can create an argument leaning in either direction.

Stevia may improve glucose tolerance. It may actually improve function of the pancreatic cells (beta cells) that produce insulin. This is a pretty consistent finding.

Stevia is not cariogenic.

Stevia may help to reduce blood pressure.

Stevia is anti-inflammatory, has antioxidant characteristics, and may discourage tumor production.

Stevia does not cause you to eat more of other sweet foods. I have seen more than one dietitian assert this, and there is no reference (as of this date) to validate that.

For most of you, if you're not trying to conceive, stevia may be a very nice addition to what you're doing to balance your hormones. If you're trying to conceive, it gets a little tricky. If your main barrier to conception is insulin resistance, stevia may actually be beneficial. If it's another issue, such as sperm count, you may want to stay away. I'm providing references so that you can share this information with your reproductive physician and together decide which course of action is most appropriate for your personal situation.

Planas GM, Kucacute J. Contraceptive Properties of Stevia rebaudiana. Science. 1968 Nov 29;162(3857):1007.

Schvartzman JB, Krimer DB, Moreno Azorero R. Cytological effects of some medicinal plants used in the control of fertility. Experientia. 1977 May 15;33(5):663-5.

Yodyingyuad V, Bunyawong S. Effect of stevioside on growth and reproduction. Hum Reprod. 1991 Jan;6(1):158-65.

Das S, Das AK, Murphy RA, Punwani IC, Nasution MP, Kinghorn AD. Evaluation of the cariogenic potential of the intense natural sweeteners stevioside and rebaudioside A. Caries Res. 1992;26(5):363-6.

Melis MS. Effects of chronic administration of Stevia rebaudiana on fertility in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Nov 1;67(2):157-61.

Jeppesen PB, Gregersen S, Poulsen CR, Hermansen K. Stevioside acts directly on pancreatic beta cells to secrete insulin: actions independent of cyclic adenosine monophosphate and adenosine triphosphate-sensitive K+-channel activity. Metabolism. 2000 Feb;49(2):208-14.

Chan P, Tomlinson B, Chen YJ, Liu JC, Hsieh MH, Cheng JT. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Sep;50(3):215-20.

Lee CN, Wong KL, Liu JC, Chen YJ, Cheng JT, Chan P. Inhibitory effect of stevioside on calcium influx to produce antihypertension. Planta Med. 2001 Dec;67(9):796-9.

Jeppesen PB, Gregersen S, Alstrup KK, Hermansen K. Stevioside induces antihyperglycaemic, insulinotropic and glucagonostatic effects in vivo: studies in the diabetic Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats. Phytomedicine. 2002 Jan;9(1):9-14.

Chan P, Tomlinson B, Chen YJ, Liu JC, Hsieh MH, Cheng JT. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Sep;50(3):215-20.
Gregersen S, Jeppesen PB, Holst JJ, Hermansen K. Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects. Metabolism. 2004 Jan;53(1):73-6.

Lailerd N, Saengsirisuwan V, Sloniger JA, Toskulkao C, Henriksen EJ. Effects of stevioside on glucose transport activity in insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant rat skeletal muscle. Metabolism. 2004 Jan;53(1):101-7.

Hsieh MH, Chan P, Sue YM, Liu JC, Liang TH, Huang TY, Tomlinson B, Chow MS, Kao PF, Chen YJ. Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension: a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Clin Ther. 2003 Nov;25(11):2797-808.
Chen TH, Chen SC, Chan P, Chu YL, Yang HY, Cheng JT. Mechanism of the hypoglycemic effect of stevioside, a glycoside of Stevia rebaudiana. Planta Med. 2005 Feb;71(2):108-13.

Boonkaewwan C, Toskulkao C, Vongsakul M. Anti-Inflammatory and Immunomodulatory Activities of Stevioside and Its Metabolite Steviol on THP-1 Cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Feb 8;54(3):785-9.

Ferreira EB, de Assis Rocha Neves F, da Costa MA, do Prado WA, de Ara├║jo Funari Ferri L, Bazotte RB. Comparative effects of Stevia rebaudiana leaves and stevioside on glycaemia and hepatic gluconeogenesis. Planta Med. 2006 Jun;72(8):691-6. Epub 2006 May 29.

Chen J, Jeppesen PB, Nordentoft I, Hermansen K. Stevioside counteracts the glyburide-induced desensitization of the pancreatic beta-cell function in mice: studies in vitro. Metabolism. 2006 Dec;55(12):1674-80.

Ghanta S, Banerjee A, Poddar A, Chattopadhyay S. Oxidative DNA damage preventive activity and antioxidant potential of Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni, a natural sweetener. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Dec 26;55(26):10962-7. Epub 2007 Nov 27.
Shukla S, Mehta A, Bajpai VK, Shukla S. In vitro antioxidant activity and total phenolic content of ethanolic leaf extract of Stevia rebaudiana Bert. Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Sep;47(9):2338-43. Epub 2009 Jun 21.

Melis MS, Rocha ST, Augusto A. Steviol effect, a glycoside of Stevia rebaudiana, on glucose clearances in rats. Braz J Biol. 2009 May;69(2):371-4.
Figlewicz DP, Ioannou G, Bennett Jay J, Kittleson S, Savard C, Roth CL. Effect of moderate intake of sweeteners on metabolic health in the rat. Physiol Behav. 2009 Dec 7;98(5):618-24. Epub 2009 Oct 6.

Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, Coulon S, Cefalu WT, Geiselman P, Williamson DA. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite. 2010 Aug;55(1):37-43. Epub 2010 Mar 18.

Shukla S, Mehta A, Mehta P, Bajpai VK. Antioxidant ability and total phenolic content of aqueous leaf extract of Stevia rebaudiana Bert. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2011 Mar 4. [Epub ahead of print]

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