What is it?
Stevia contains chemicals that are 200-300 times sweeter than sucrose sugar.
People take stevia for obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
In the US, stevia leaves and extracts are available as supplements, but are not approved for use as sweeteners. Rebaudioside A (also called rebiana), one of the chemicals in stevia, is approved as a food sweetener.
How effective is it?
There is interest in using stevia for a number of purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Is it safe?
There isn't enough reliable information to know if whole stevia or stevia extracts are safe or what the side effects might be.
Special precautions & warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if it is safe to take stevia when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Stevia is in the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family. This family includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many other plants. In theory, people who are sensitive to ragweed and related plants may also be sensitive to stevia.
Are there interactions with medications?
- Stevia might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking stevia might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
- Stevia might lower blood sugar levels. Taking stevia along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.
- Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
- Stevia might lower blood pressure. Taking stevia along with medications that lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to go too low. Monitor your blood pressure closely.
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure
- Stevia might lower blood pressure. Taking it with other supplements that have the same effect might cause blood pressure to drop too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include andrographis, casein peptides, L-arginine, niacin, and stinging nettle.
- Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
- Stevia might lower blood sugar. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, chromium, and prickly pear cactus.
Are there interactions with foods?
- There are no known interactions with foods.
How is it typically used?
As medicine, there isn't enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose of stevia might be. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult a healthcare professional before using.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
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