STEVIA, Stevia rebaudiana

If I were to make a riddle I would ask: What is sweeter than sugar, and grows on a bush on marshy ground, and has been the well-guarded secret of two or three countries for hundreds of years? Give up? Well it’s a spindly little bush that is found in South America at about 25 degrees South Latitude and indigenous to Paraguay. It grows about two feet tall on the edges of wet pastureland where it rains about 55 inches a year. It likes to keep its roots wet. It likes humid weather that this sweet, little plant Ca-a jhee, but the common name is sweet herb or honey leaf.

Sweet herb is a native of Paraguay although it is also found in Argentina and Brazil. Now if you want to know why they call it sweet herb, or honey leaf, it is because the leaves are 30 times sweeter than common table sugar and when it is refined, they call it stevioside and it looks like sugar, only it is 300 times sweeter than table sugar. If you take a leaf and put it in your mouth you would swear that some one soaked it in honey water. A study showed that one acre of cultivated stevia plants would yield enough leaves to equal the sweetening power of 28 tons of table sugar.

The stevia stores very well. I have some that I bought about tenyears ago when they took of the market and it is in good shape and still very sweet.

Now you would think that something this sweet would be very fattening and have a lot of calories. Not so, it has no calories. You’d also think that it would have all kinds of bad side effects like causing diabetes or hypoglycemia or a host of other problems. But this is not the case. I have read that reports from Paraguay claim that stevia has helped both diabetes and hypoglycemia. They say that stevia helps to nourish the pancreas and will help to restore its normal function. Because of these and other reports, physicians in Paraguay and Brazil prescribe stevial capsules and tea for the treatment of diabetes. However, they also note that stevia will not lower blood sugar levels in normal people who don’t have diabetes.

Another part of this amazing riddle is that sweet herb seems to have no harmful side effects. Even when larger doses were given to strengthen a heart beat there were no harmful side effects.

Stevia or sweet herb also seems to have the ability to inhibit the growth or reproduction of bacteria and other infectious organisms. In other words it will help to ward off a cold or sore throat. This is one of the reasons they use stevia in a mouth wash and in tooth paste.

Stevia is also used as a beauty aid and for skin care. It is used by some ladies to make a face mask to tighten up the facial skin and smooth out wrinkles. It helps to make the skin feel and look smooth and young. Also, a drop of the concentrate applied to a facial blemish or a zit or acne or a mouth sore will help the problem.

Now some may ask, why has this riddle been a riddle for so long? Why haven’t we known about this tremendous herb long ago? Well, first off, stevia was a native guarded secret for about 1400 years. In the 1920s stevia was identified and named. Later, Japan saw the promise of this herb and started using and growing it. When companies in this country started using stevia as a sweetener, it competed with artificial sweeteners. So the FDA outlawed stevia and confiscated all the supply. Recently stevia has been OK’d as a skin cream or to used as a dietary supplement.

After reading many reports and testimonies, we find that stevia will help curb your appetite, help you lose weight, sweeten your food or drinks without side effects, reduce craving for sweets, help to stop smoking and drinking, and even provide protein, calcium, phosphorus and many other good things. Not bad for a riddle.

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