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Stevia Leaf Extract for Weight, Lyme Disease, AFS, and More

stevia leaf extract and a jar of sugarThere is more and more evidence as to why people should not consume white sugar. But if you have a sweet tooth, don’t worry! Giving up sugar doesn’t mean you have to give up your desserts. There are healthy alternatives. One alternative to sugar that is gaining publicity is stevia leaf extract. Classified as a “zero-calorie” food, stevia leaf extract is 200 to 300 times sweeter than regular table sugar. It’s diabetic-friendly, great for weight loss, and can even be used as a supplement for those who suffer from many other chronic conditions. It has very few side effects, and not only is it a good choice for a sweetener, but stevia leaf extract may even have quite a few health benefits.

The History of Stevia Leaf Extract

Stevia leaf extract is primarily grown in Brazil, China, Japan, and Paraguay, but all 150 species of stevia are native to North and South America. Stevia is a short, bush-like shrub and is part of the sunflower family.

At one point in time, the US Food and Drug Administration banned the use of stevia leaf extract in food. It was only legally permitted to be sold as a dietary supplement. However, in 1995, after a successful attempt from the soft drink industry, it was reintroduced and has since soared in popularity as a sweetener.

The Benefits of Stevia Leaf Extract

Aside from acting as a zero-cal sugar-alternative, stevia leaf extract has many health benefits. From aiding with diabetic sugar control to helping with weight loss, this whole food herb is a great supplement and ingredient to add to your diet. It can help with several conditions, including those noted below.

  • Diabetes. Stevia has allowed people with diabetes to enjoy a wider variety of foods than they would otherwise be able to eat. With no calories or carbohydrates to contribute, small amounts of stevia have been shown to have no effect on insulin response or blood glucose. In fact, in several studies, participants with type 2 diabetes showed a significant reduction in blood glucose and glucagon from stevia.
  • Weight Control. There are many contributing factors to being overweight, one which is eating foods that are high in fat and added sugars. With an obesity epidemic taking place in the US, it is no surprise that sugar has been shown to contribute to 16% of the total calories in the American diet. Stevia leaf extract is a great way to replace sugar in the diet to help maintain a proper weight and BMI.
  • Pancreatic Cancer Prevention. Stevia leaf extract is full of sterols and antioxidants, including one known as kaempferol, which has been linked to a reduction in the risk of developing pancreatic cancers by 23%.
  • Blood Pressure. Stevia has cardiotonic actions. In several studies, it was shown to lower blood pressure, normalize blood pressure, and regulate the heartbeat.

There have been no documented allergic reactions to stevia leaf extract since 2008. Upon review, it was documented that there is no cause for concern regarding stevia in foods, only potential benefits. Even highly purified forms of the plant are unlikely to cause any type of allergic reaction.

Stevia Can Even Help the Body Battle Pathogens

 tick sign as a warning of lyme, something stevia leaf extract may help withLyme disease affects over 300,000 individuals per year. It is a serious illness brought on by the bite from an infected black-legged tick. The disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, and if left unaddressed, it can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system.

Lyme disease is usually managed with several rounds of antibiotics. However, these can have side effects and often only address the superficial components of the disease. As a shape-shifting type pathogen, Lyme disease has given doctors much frustration. Antibiotics are not a guaranteed method, so other methods like stevia are being sought out.

It is possible that stevia could be safer and more effective at managing Lyme disease than conventional methods. Stevia leaf extract contains strong antimicrobial components that have been shown to fight against all varieties of the pathogens that cause Lyme disease. Stevia may be especially effective against those forms of Lyme disease that are antibiotic resistant, studies show. Borrelia burgdorferi’s most antibiotic-resistant form may actually increase in mass when exposed to antibiotics whereas stevia leaf was able to reduce these masses by 40%.

Stevia may be very promising a way to tackle Lyme disease.

AFS, Inflammation, and Stevia

Stevia can help lower inflammation by promoting the excretion of excess sodium from the body. Inflammation is one of the major symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue and can cause brain fog, anxiety, depression, and bloating among other problems.

Keeping your inflammation circuit intact is extremely important for those with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) as it is the key responder when the body undergoes any type of stress. The inflammatory circuit does not work alone, however. It works in conjunction with many of the body’s systems including the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract, and the microbiome.

Research is conclusive that almost all chronic diseases have inflammation at their foundation. Although many are handled with medications, many people and doctors are now turning to other safer options to eliminate the suffering of accompanying side effects. Often, the side effects are just as intrusive and problematic as the ailment itself.

By using healthy food options like stevia leaf extract, those with many chronic illnesses like AFS can calm the inflammatory circuit and heal the gut. Natural inflammation remedies often work better than conventional methods to eliminate root causes of the problem without any harmful side effects. Lowering inflammation also reduces the risk of developing other disorders.

However, caution should always be exerted by those who have adrenal fatigue as their bodies tend to be extremely sensitive. Reactions can occur when least expected or to things that once weren’t bothersome. Before making changes, AFS sufferers should always get professional assistance with their diets from knowledgeable healthcare practitioners.

Ways to Enjoy Stevia Leaf Extract

picture of unprocessed stevia leaf, the source of stevia leaf extractStevia can be found in a variety of forms including as a powder and an oil. Whatever form you choose, just be sure that your extract is pure and doesn’t contain additional additives or preservatives.

When cooking, one container of stevia can go a long way. Two tablespoons of sugar are equal to 1/32 tsp of stevia leaf extract in powder form. Finding a very small scoop can help with measurements.

Other ideas for stevia include:

  • For soda replacements, you can add stevia drops to sparkling water.
  • Stevia can be used to sweeten teas.
  • It is a great sweetener for warm or cold cereals.
  • Stevia makes a great substitution for baking.

You can also check ingredient lists for stevia in store-bought items such as ice cream, candy, and chewing gum.

When to Use Caution with Stevia Leaf Extract

Stevia has been determined safe for consumption by the FDA and abroad. However, there are a few things to take into consideration prior to using it. If any of the following describe you, it may be best to check with your doctor before using stevia.

  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms. Some stevia products may contain sugar alcohols that may cause unpleasant side effects like nausea, vomiting, indigestion, cramping, and bloating. Stevia in pure form has demonstrated gastrointestinal benefits by reducing diarrhea and lessening symptoms of IBS, however.
  • Hypoglycemia. People with abnormally low blood sugar levels should use caution as stevia has been shown to lower blood glucose levels.
  • Sodium Excretion. Stevia can increase sodium excretion, so caution should be used if you have issues with hydration or other sodium-related ailments.
  • Low Blood Pressure. People with chronic low blood pressure should speak to a doctor to ensure long-term consumption of stevia is safe.
  • Medications. Stevia may interfere with medications and could increase the risk of side effects when used in conjunction with diabetes medications, blood pressure, and heart medications, liver and kidney medications, hormone regulators, steroids, or cancer medications.

Research regarding the benefits of stevia leaf extract is a still in the preliminary stages. While there is especially promising research regarding the use of stevia for Lyme disease, readers should not interpret the this to mean that the simple consumption of stevia leaf extract will resolve any ailments. Always do your research and consult with professionals to ensure you are making the best choices for your individual needs.

© Copyright 2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Stevia leaf extract is an extremely useful plant. Not only is it being used as a safe alternative for sugar, but it can also fight pathogens and help eliminate the inflammation that so many AFS sufferers deal with on a daily basis.

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