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Stevia: Let’s know about its origin

17 Sep 2018, 10:59

NTV Online

Have you heard of plant called Stevia? A member of the chrysanthemum family — a subgroup of the Asteraceae family — Stevia originally native to Paraguay and Brazil but is now also grown in Japan and China. Stevia is a very much sweet-tasting plant.

Though it is told that since the 16th century, Stevia has been used to sweeten beverages and make tea, Italian botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni is often credited with the discovery of Stevia in the late 1800s.

However, the native Guarani people, a group of culturally related indigenous peoples of South America, had used it for centuries. The native population call it ‘kaa-he’ (or sweet herb). The leaves of the plant had many uses.

‘In traditional medicine in these regions, Stevia served as a treatment for burns, colic, stomach problems and sometimes as a contraceptive. The leaves were also chewed on their own as a sweet treat’, livescience.com reported.

Interestingly, Bertoni had to wait for over a decade to find the actual plant and that led him to initially describe the plant as very rare.

‘About the same time, more farms started growing and harvesting the Stevia plant. Stevia quickly went from growing in the wild in certain areas to being a widely available herb’, livescience.com reported.

Stevia is two hundred to three hundred times sweeter than table sugar. It is used in many countries including the US as a healthful alternative to added sugar in many meals and beverages.   

The fact that might delight you is Stevia plants can be grown at home and you can use the leaves to sweeten foods and beverages.