Extracts of the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni plant are used to sweeten food and beverages in South America, Japan and China with no know side effects. A white crystalline compound (stevioside) found in the leaf of the plant is a natural herbal sweetener with no calories and is over 100-300 times sweeter than table sugar.
Stevia is has become a major source of high-potency sweetener for the growing natural food market. Although it can be helpful to anyone, there are certain groups who are more likely to benefit from its remarkable sweetening potential. These include diabetic patients, those interested in decreasing caloric intake, and children.
Stevioside, a natural glycoside isolated from the plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, has been used as a commercial sweetening agent in Japan and Brazil for >20 years. Previous animal and human studies have indicated that stevioside has an antihypertensive effect. This study was undertaken to investigate the long-term (2-year) efficacy and tolerability of stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension. In this 2-year study in Chinese patients with mild hypertension, oral stevioside significantly decreased SBP and DBP compared with placebo. QOL was improved, and no significant adverse effects were noted.