About Authors:
Singh Asheesh1*, Bajpai Dinesh1, Singour P.K.2
1Centre for Research & Development, Ipca Laboratories Ltd; Sejavta; Ratlam (MP) - 457002
2Faculty of pharmacy VNS Institute, Neelbud Bhopal (MP) - 462042

Stevia rebaudiana is a well known medicinal herb contains antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-yeast, cardiotonic diuretic and hypoglycaemic properties. This herb has been used in Ayurveda in India since centuries. Stevia is a perennial herb belonging to the family Asteraceae, is one of the most valuable tropical medicinal plant. All over world there is increasing tendency towards consuming natural products and thus living a natural life and. At the same time our life styles have changed so much over the last 4-5 decades that sweeteners (either high calorie natural or proceeded sugars or high potency and low calorie sweeteners such as Aspartame) have become integral part of our natural daily diet. Stevia is a new crop in that is gaining very high popularity amongst all type of sweetener users as most ideal substitute for sugar. Sugar is basically a chemical that has grown in market over last many years. But in this age of changing life styles and people becoming more conscious of their health, the worldwide sugar consumption is going down and is getting replaced by low calorie sweeteners. Many of these Sweeteners are complex chemicals or many times naturals as well.

Reference Id: PHARMATUTOR-ART-1362

In the last couple of decades, growing concern about health and life quality has encouraged people to exercise, eat healthy food and decrease the consumption of food rich in sugar, salt and fat. Omission of added sucrose in foods increases the relative proportion of polymeric carbohydrates that may have beneficial effect for a balanced food intake as well as for human health1. Stevia is a genusof about 240 speciesof herbsand shrubsin the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to subtropicaland tropicalregions from western North Americato South America. The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweet leaf, sweet leaf, sugar leaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations with its steviol glycoside extracts having up to 300 times the sweetnessof sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets. The availability of stevia varies from country to country. In a few countries, it has been available as a sweetener for decades or centuries; for example, stevia is widely used as a sweetener in Japanwhere it has been available for decades2-3. In some countries health concerns and political controversieshave limited its availability; for example, the United States banned stevia in the early 1990s unless labeled as a dietary supplement, but in 2008 approved rebaudioside A extract as a food additive. Over the years, the number of countries in which stevia is available as a sweetener has been increasing. In 2011, stevia was approved for use in the EUstarting in early December, 20114-5.

Taxonomical Classification












Stevia Cav.

In 1899, the Swiss botanist Moisés Santiago Bertoni, during his research in eastern Paraguay first described the plant and the sweet taste in detail. Only limited research was conducted on the topic until, in 1931, two French chemists isolated the glycosides that give stevia its sweet taste. These compounds were named stevioside and rebaudioside, and are 250–300 times as sweet as sucrose, heat stable, pH stable, and non-fermentable. The exact structure of the aglycone and the glycoside were published in 1955. In the early 1970s, Japan began cultivating stevia as an alternative to artificial sweeteners such as cyclamate and saccharin, which were suspected carcinogens. The plant's leaves, the aqueous extract of the leaves, and purified steviosides are used as sweeteners. Since the Japanese firm Morita Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd. produced the first commercial stevia sweetener in Japan in 1971, the Japanese have been using stevia in food products, soft drinks (including Coca Cola), and for table use. Japan currently consumes more stevia than any other country, with stevia accounting for 40% of the sweetener market6-10.

Today, stevia is cultivated and used in food elsewhere in East Asia, including in China (since 1984), Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Malaysia. It can also be found in Saint Kitts and Nevis, in parts of South America (Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay), and in Israel. China is the world's largest exporter of stevioside. The genus Stevia consists of 240 species of plants native to South America, Central America, and Mexico, with several species found as far north as Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas11-12. They were first researched by Spanish botanist and physician Petrus Jacobus Stevus (Pedro Jaime Esteve), from whose surname originates the Latinized word stevia13. The leaves of the stevia plant have 30–45 times the sweetness of sucrose (ordinary table sugar). The leaves can be eaten fresh, or put in teas and foods. The plant was used extensively by the Guaraní people for more than 1,500 years and the plant has a long history of medicinal use in Paraguay and Brazil. The leaves have been traditionally used for hundreds of years in Paraguay and Brazil to sweeten local teas, medicines and as a "sweet treat"14.



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