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Stevia (rebaudina) is a member of the Chrysanthemum family. A native of Paraguay, it’s been used since ancient times. It was most often used to sweeten bitter medicines and teas, in the past.

In South America and the Orient, Stevia has been used to aid digestion, stimulate alertness, counter fatigue, regulate blood sugar, and help the body maintain a feeling of well-being.

Stevia is said to be effective when used on acne and other skin blemishes, dermatitis, eczema, and in weight management. Some studies have shown that Stevia inhibits some bacteria responsible for tooth decay. Drinking Stevia tea sometimes curbs the desire for sweets and fatty foods, and some have reported that it helped curb their desire for tobacco and alcoholic beverages.

Stevia’s leaves have glycosides, which taste sweet, yet do not provide calories. Stevia’s major glycoside is called Stevioside, which is estimated to be 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar! Stevioside is a totally natural product, not an artificial or synthetic one.

Stevia can be obtained in herbal stores as a crushed leaf, a concentrated liquid, or a white powder. The crushed leaf is said to be 30 times sweeter than sugar, the liquid, 70 times sweeter, while the white powder is 300 times sweeter.

The crushed leaf and the concentrated liquid forms have a licorice flavor. The white powder is just sweet, without the herbal taste to it, so some people prefer it. Stevia can be used just like sugar, sprinkled on cereal, added to sweeten tea or coffee, or even used in baked goods. The benefit, of course, is that Stevia doesn’t have any calories!

Countries like Japan, Israel, Taiwan and China, among others, have been using Stevia for 30 years. Wrigley’s sugar-free gum is sweetened with Stevia. And Stevia is even easy to grow in home gardens, with seeds being available on the internet.

Stevia, a revered herb of South America for a 100 years, is gaining popularity all over the world. Stevia’s healthful attributes have great potential, and studies are being done to see if it will be beneficial for ailments such as diabetes and in the help of weight management.

Stevia is the sweetest of all herbs!