Background: Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) natural, non-caloric sugar substitute is rich source of pharmacologically important glycoside stevioside that is linked to the pathology and complications of diabetes.
Methods: The current research was carried out to explore the anti-diabetic effect of aqueous extract of Stevia rebaudiana leaves in albino rats. For this purpose, diabetes was induced by administration of streptozotocin (40 mg/kg body weight, intraperitoneally). The diabetic rats were administered with aqueous stevia extract at different dose levels (200, 300, 400 and 500 ppm/kg b.w) for 8 weeks; the control rats were fed basal diet during this period.
Results: Stevia aqueous extract improved caloric management and weight control by decreasing the feed intake and body weight gain. Furthermore, intake of stevia extract resulted in significant (P < 0.05) decrease in the random blood glucose level (− 73.24%) and fasting blood glucose (− 66.09%) and glycosylated (HbA1c) hemoglobin (5.32%) while insulin (17.82 μIU/mL) and liver glycogen (45.02 mg/g) levels significantly improved in the diabetic rats,compared with the diabetic and non-diabetic control rats after 8 weeks study period.
Conclusions: It is concluded that aqueous extract of stevia has anti-diabetic effects in albino rats, and therefore could be promising pharmaceutical therapy for the management of diabetes and its associated complications.