08 July, 2011
Side Effects of Stevia Leaf Extract
Everyone seems to be looking for the best-tasting artificial sweetener in order to remove the excessive amount of sugar in their food. Diabetes and obesity are on the rise, so this revelation comes as no surprise. Stevia has been used for centuries in different cultures to sweeten foods and drinks, so it was only a matter of time before it made its way to the United States. The extract is derived from the stevia plant, which is a small shrub indigenous to South America. It was originally used to sweeten tea by tribes in South America, and it spread to other continents quickly as it was discovered.
It is thought that stevia can have an adverse affect on the body’s natural metabolism. This side effect can be detrimental to patients who are underweight or suffer from blood sugar problems. When food is consumed, it is broken down into glucose and carbohydrates, which are absorbed by the body for energy. How quickly this occurs is considered the body’s metabolism. It is thought that excess amounts of stevia can block the absorption of the glucose and carbohydrates, resulting in weight problems, loss of energy, and low blood sugar.
There have been scientific studies that show stevia changes in the bloodstream of mice into a compound that promotes certain cancers. Although this has been proved in lab mice, there is has been no evidence to prove that it could occur in humans.
Possible Reproductive Problems
In Europe, scientists have been testing the side effects of stevia on mice, as well. The particular tests they have been conducting concern the reproductive system. The tests show that mice that were fed large amounts of stevia extract had a reduction in sperm count. There were also problems with the female lab mice. When these animals were given high amounts of stevia when pregnant, their babies were much smaller than normal. Although this side effect occurs in mice, it hasn’t been proved in humans.
One thing people may not realize is the possibility of drug interactions while using stevia extract. Stevia has been shown to lower blood pressure when taken in high amounts. This can pose a serious risk when consumed with any drugs that lower blood pressure. One should always talk to her doctor before consuming stevia to see if doing so could be risky.