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Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni: health promoting properties and therapeutic applications

Stevia is a genus of approx. 200 species of herbs and shrubs from the family Astraceae. One of the representatives of the genus is sweetleaf Stevia rebaudiana, formerly called Eupatorium rebaudianum Bertoni (Yadav et al. in Can J Plant Sci 91:1–27, 2011).S. rebaudiana Bertoni has been known for many centuries by indigenous tribes of South America, who called it ‘‘kaa-hee’’ (sweet herb). South AmericanIndians used stevia both as a sweetener and as a medicinal plant. Folk medicine of Paraguayan indigenous tribes recommends it particularly as a substance strengthening the heart, the circulatory system and regulating blood pressure. Sweetleaf is also used in liver disease, stomachache, gastric hyperacidity and as a mild agent stimulating the nervous system. It exhibits antibacterial, antifungal and anticaries properties. Nutritive and health-promoting properties of stevia are presently being investigated in many research centres. The aim of this paper is to present the health-promoting value of S. rebaudiana as stevia leaf powder, crude leaf extractor steviol glycosides (highly purified stevioside, rebaudioside A).