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Stevia first arrived as a large scale sweetener in the 1970’s.  In 1991, Dr. M.S. Melis, from the Department of Biology at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, did a study to determine the effects of stevioside on blood pressure.  After giving a one-time high-dose injection of stevioside to a group of laboratory rats, he found that they experienced a reduction in blood pressure as well as an increased elimination of sodium (Melis, 1991).  A slight diuretic effect also occurred.  The effect was even stronger when stevia was combined with verapamil, a medicine commonly prescribed for lowering blood pressure.
In a similar study in 1995, Dr.  Melis administered oral doses of stevia to lab rats for up to sixty days.  After twenty days, there were no changes in the stevia-treated rats compared to those who did not receive the extract.  However, after both forty and sixty days of administering the stevia, the rats showed reduction in blood pressure, a diuretic effect, and an increase in sodium loss.  The amount of blood going to the kidneys was also increased.  (Melis, 1991).
One study in Brazil involved eighteen average, healthy human volunteers between the ages of twenty and forty years.  After the test subjects were given tea prepared with stevia leaves for thirty days, a 10-percent lowering of blood pressure occurred (Boeck, 1981).  Although this study gives an indication of stevioside's effects on lowering blood pressure, certainly more human studies are needed before we can know the full vascular effects of stevia consumption.
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© 2003 Pure-le Natural, Barrie Ontario Canada
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