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Stevia is a genus for 150 species of herbs from the Sunflower family (Astereacea). In Malaysia it is also called the Sugar Tree and is believed to be a remedy for diabetes. The most commonly used stevia is Stevia Rebaudiana. Other names include candy leaf, sweet leaf, sugar leaf, and sweet herb.

Stevia is a soft stemmed herb. For its cultivation, the medium used must be porous to avoid stagnant water after it is watered. This plant requires plenty of water and needs to be watered twice a day in hot weather. It is more susceptible to death if it is too dry. With oval-shaped leaves, and smooth stalk with fine bristles, in optimum environments, Stevia can grow in height up to more than 1 meter. The flowers are small and white. The shape of its flower is similar to other aster flowers but smaller. The flowers produce pollens when mature. Reproduction is usually through stem which easily produces roots. Although it can also reproduce by pollination, the frequency of its growth by pollination is extremely low.

The active substance responsible for the sweetness of stevia is called steviol glycosides which contains stevioside and rebaudioside. The substance is stable at high temperature, has a stable pH value, and does not trigger a glycaemic reaction, causing it to be favoured by many people especially those who wish to limit their carbohydrate intake and prevent diabetes. Apart from that, stevia is found to be a remedy for high blood pressure, decrease the level of uric acid, and obesity.

Stevia has been used as a natural sweetener by the people of Brazil and Paraguay for centuries. Starting with the Guarani Red Indian tribe in Paraguay in the 1500s. it was used to sweeten their herb tea. Besides that, it it also used to sweeten their food. They had also used stevia as a tonic for lowering blood pressure, ease urination, and treat wounds from scalding.

The use of Stevia as a sweetener was discovered by Europeans in the 16th century. Since then, it has been used widespread in Europe all the way to Asia. However, research on Stevia only started in the 19th century when researchers from Brazil heard that a single Stevia leaf can sweeten a bitter gourd and a cup of bitter herb tea.

The most unique characteristic of Stevia is it was a natural sweetener with no calorie content whatsoever. Traditionally, it is believed that stevia has zero calorie, fat, cholesterol, sugar, and carbohydrate. Stevia extract is said to be 300 times sweeter than the average sugar. This characteristic attracted many researchers to conduct research on Stevia. The research on its toxins exposed the main compound for its sweetness was non-toxic Stevioside. It is also discovered that it does not cause cell mutation or any impacts on fertitlity. However, there is a conflict in researches done on the effect of Stevia on fertility. One research yielded no effect on fertility but another research produced a result where stevia extract caused the testosterone level and sperm number to plummet when tested on male mice.

The study done by Brazil in 1991 concluded that Stevioside was capable of lowering blood pressure in mice. From this finding, another test was conducted in 2000. This time, the subjects were 106 Chinese people (male and female) who suffer from high blood pressure. 60 subjects were given capsules containing 250mg Stevioside 3 times a day. Check-ups were done on the subjects once a month in a period of one year. After 3 months, systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found to have noticeably dropped and the effect remained throughout the year. Resulting from this research, scientists concluded that orally taken Stevioside is more effective in lowering blood pressure and can be considered as an alternative substance or supplement for high blood pressure patients. Another group of scientists carried out a study on the effects of hypoglycaemic glycoside in stevia. They also studied glucose production in glycoside, steviol, isosteviol, and glucosylsteviol. It is discovered that steviol does not produce glucose. Also in year 2000, researchers in Denmark conducted and experiment to showcase that in-vitro hypoglycaemic reaction done by stevioside and steviol is the result of both their abilities to produce insulin through the direct actions of beta cells. They determined the resulting compound could potentially be the agent for anti-hypoglycaemic in the treatment of diabetes mellitus type 2.