Is Stevia a Danger to Your Health? The TRUTH Comes Out

Is Stevia Safe? Is Stevia Bad for You? The TRUTH Comes Out in this post.

I use stevia.  A lot.

Perhaps you, like me, have been reading posts about stevia and wondering:

“Is Stevia Safe?”

“Is Stevia Bad for You?”

I know I have. I’ve been using stevia for a long time – ever since I knew I had candida.

It’s a super sweet sweetener that doesn’t feed candida, so it’s used by many who want to have something sweet without the bad “side effects” of sugar.

I wrote quite a bit about stevia in this post – Stevia – What it Is and How to Use It” but essentially, stevia:

– doesn’t feed candida
may help with blood sugar regulation
– doesn’t cause caries (tooth decay)
– may reduce blood pressure when it is too high
– is calorie free

So what’s not to love?

Well, after literally YEARS of using stevia, imagine my fear when I started reading post after post on the internet by other whole foodies either stating that they’d given up using stevia, or stating why they never used it in the first place, or claiming all sorts of problems with this herb.

I was shooting emails back and forth with other sugar-free bloggers (including one of my faves – Ricki Heller) about studies we’d found on the internet appearing to highlight issues with my “sweetener of choice”.

It’s pretty petrifying when you hear that something you and your family have been using for years might have serious health consequences. I just had to figure it out because I was for sure not going to be eating something that was likely or surely going to wreck my health.

So into the research I dove.  Head first.

It took a long time, but today I am going to go through the claims of the other bloggers one by one so that you can see the conclusion that I came to and why.

Following is a list of the claims that others have made against stevia.

I’ll go through them one by one (hopefully I didn’t miss any) so you can see whether or not you think they are a problem.

Is Stevia Safe?  Claims Against Stevia

– it can cause infertility
– has a hormonal structure
– it can act as a mutagen and cause cancer
– it taxes the adrenals
– hormone issues
– hypoglycemia
– lowers blood pressure
– unsavory (dangerous) additives
– high in oxalates
– tastes bitter YIKES!!!!!

Before you go panicking and throw your stevia in the garbage, read on.

Here’s where I need to start setting the record straight.

Claims Against and the Truth About Stevia

{Please note that the following is not medical advice. I am not a physician. Please consult with your physician prior to changing your diet or supplement regimen.  This is for entertainment purposes only.  Sorry – had to get that disclaimer in there, folks!  There might be an affiliate link or 2 included as well and if you click on one and make a purchase I might make a commission. Your support is very much appreciated and helps keep this free resource up and running.}

1.  Stevia is often mixed with additives.

Stevia sold in stores and online is sometimes mixed with fillers and flavor enhancers like:
– maltodextrin
– glycerine (I use this for low carb baking anyway and don’t really have a problem with it as long as it’s not made from GMO soy)
– dextrose
– cellulose
– erythritol (I have mixed feelings on this one)
– the ubiquitous undisclosed “natural flavors”

I’m sorry but this is simply a ridiculous argument.

While bloggers who make this point are correct to point out that there are often unsavory things added to stevia, this is the equivalent of saying that we shouldn’t eat meat because it’s often mixed with nitrates, the cows are often fed antibiotics or it is made into hotdogs.

Just.Buy.Stevia.That.Isn’t.Mixed.With.Anything.Else.

That would be Pure Stevia Extract.

Like I said, however, I don’t really have a problem with glycerine and often I have called companies that have “natural flavors” on their label only to find that their flavorings were completely natural extracts only. So sometimes the “natural flavors” aren’t so scary after all and it isn’t necessarily a problem to buy stevia with additional ingredients – just do your homework.

Pay attention to the labels on the stevia you are considering buying.  And the price. If the price looks too good to be true, chances are you are getting a stevia with fillers. On to the next argument.

2.  Stevia is bad because it tastes bitter.

Yes, some stevia is sub par.

Some is just bad and even pretty horrendous-tasting. But if you do your research, you can find great tasting stevia.

I have always loved NuNaturals, but I am now possibly on the hunt for a replacement as they’ve changed their formula. It’s still pretty good but I have a thing about finding “the best” (like with essential oils). Of course, if you use too much stevia in baked goods and the like, you just might get a bitter aftertaste, but there are ways around that.

If you use less, or use stevia with other sweeteners, you can by and large avoid that problem.

Check out these posts for more info:
Stevia – What it Is and How to Use It
6 Tips to Really Like Stevia - This one is written by a former stevia hater and has some GREAT tips for avoiding the bitter aftertaste.

I’m working on choosing some more brands to recommend to you – but it’s taking awhile.  Hang in there!

3. Stevia Causes Adrenal Problems

The argument here is that:
-you eat stevia
– your body expects glucose because it tastes something sweet
– your body lowers blood sugar (causing hypoglycemia) since it is clearing the way for glucose -your body sends cortisol and adrenaline to create sugar from your tissues. Thus you are causing stress on the adrenals by eating stevia.

I couldn’t find any research to back this up. All I can say is that my adrenal issues are far better now after years of eating stevia than they were when I was eating sugar.

Plus there are plenty of places where folks recommend stevia over and above sugar and higher glycemic sweeteners in order to heal adrenal issues including here and here.

I just don’t see enough evidence of this for it to merit giving up stevia.  I do think that perhaps one could just not drink non caloric drinks with only stevia and make sure that stevia is consumed with other calories to mitigate any possible effect.

One important thing to note is that those who make this claim appear to be of the mindset that candida is not caused or aggravated by sugar consumption. I beg to differ.

I agree that candida is very complex but yeast feeds off of sugar. Just bake some homemade bread to see how it works and it’s plain as day.

4. Stevia Can Cause Hypoglycemia

Another concern brought up about stevia is that is causes hypoglycemia.  This is tied into the adrenal issue cited above.

Let me tell you this.  I had hypoglycemia (I diagnosed myself — my doctor missed it) and I had it bad.

I went completely off sugar at that point and started eating a bunch of stevia.  More than I ever had before.

My hypoglycemia is gone.

Totally reversed.

Now, does that mean someone else couldn’t have an odd reaction to stevia that might cause hypoglycemia?  Of course, it doesn’t mean that. If you are concerned, check your blood sugar after consuming stevia.  Everyone is different.

5. Stevia Causes Infertility and Miscarriages

One of the main concerns about stevia is that it affects fertility.

There is information floating around the internet that there are studies showing that stevia caused infertility in rats, and there’s also talk that stevia has been used in Paraguay for contraception.

Well, we can put this issue to rest. There have been several studies showing contraception issues with stevia, but they have all been debunked.

Take my word for it, or click through here to read a very very thorough article, with appropriate sourcing that addresses this issue completely.  Source

Of course, I completely agree with the author of the above-referenced post. If you think stevia is causing issues with your fertility, stop using it. Just the stress of that questioning might be enough to cause issues for you.

6.  Stevia Doesn’t Support Glycogen Synthesis

The argument here is that your body needs glucose to function but basically this is the same argument of the hypoglycemia and adrenal issues.

However, in one post the additional argument was made that your body needs glycogen to convert inactive thyroid hormone T4 into active thyroid hormone T3.

The thinking here is that if you are using stevia instead of fruit and natural sugars, then you won’t have sufficient glycogen. I don’t know enough about this but I have been doing a lot of reading about the effects of low carb diets on thyroid and adrenal health and I think it’s worth thinking about.

Basically, however, I don’t think that this argument necessitates giving up stevia, but it does mean that we ought to consider making sure that we have sufficient carbs in our diets.  This post from Wellness Mama and this one from Chris Kresser go into great depth regarding these low carb / adrenal / thyroid issues.

And for another p

7.  Stevia is really a hormone is disguise

Several bloggers mentioned that stevia is synthesized in the same pathway as 2 plant hormones, and that it ends up being structurally similar to those hormones.

Again, this is something that I could not find anything about on the internet.  And just because something is synthesized in the same way or is structurally similar to hormones, that doesn’t mean it is a hormone. Take NaCl for example.

Salt is fine to eat and we sprinkle it on food all the time. HCl, however, is stomach acid and we would do damage to ourselves if we sprinkled it on our food.  (I take HCl as a dietary supplement as mentioned here, but you would cause serious damage to your teeth and esophagus if you sprinkled it on your food.

Just because something is similar to something else doesn’t mean that it has the same qualities as that thing. I did, however, find this very detailed article on stevia that seems to state that it isn’t that stevia is synthesized in the same way as gibberellin and kaurene but that the plant is making kaurene and can either make gibberellin or stevia.

So that puts this argument into question for me. I haven’t dug into this enough, but I do think I feel at peace enough to not worry about it.

8.  Stevia is High in Oxalates

One of the bloggers initially wrote about stevia being high in oxalates, but she later removed that from her blog post.

However, since it was initially there, I am going to address it. Oxalates are naturally-occurring substances in foods, but some people are very concerned about reducing them in their diet.

Those with kidney stones, hypercalciuria, etc. I personally know some bloggers who are very concerned about oxalates so I looked into this. My thinking is this. Even if stevia were high in oxalates, the amount of stevia used is so small that it doesn’t amount to much and should not be a concern since oxalates are everywhere.

For more on oxalates, read this article. Now – just when you thought you’d heard enough, to make things a little more interesting, I am going to throw 2 more arguments into the ring:

9.  Stevia Can Cause Mutagenic Reactions and Cancer

I read in several places that stevia can cause mutations and even cancer. Scary stuff.

Thankfully, one of the posts on stevia did clarify that the studies that appeared to demonstrate these risks were in the minority and that the amounts of stevia fed to subjects were quite high so they are typically discarded in discussions questioning stevia’s safety.

This study  is one showing that stevia consumption does not cause genetic problems.  From the study:

these substances do not pose a risk of genetic damage following human consumption.

Glad to hear it.

10.  Stevia Can Cause Allergic Reactions

I thought for a period of time that I was allergic to stevia.

I would use it and thought I was having sinus and eye symptoms from it. Over time I did a bunch of trials and errors and finally came to the conclusion that I am not allergic to it.

Boy, was I thrilled. Please do note that stevia is related to daisies, chrysanthemums, ragweed or marigolds.

It’s possible that if you are allergic to these plants that you might have a cross-reaction to stevia.

But that is not the case for everyone and I am proof positive of that. Bottom Line – Anyone can be allergic to anything.

Remember The Boy in the Plastic Bubble?

You can either avoid the food or address internal issues that are causing your immune system to overreact, or both. But just because stevia might cause allergies in some is not reason to avoid it.  Make sure you read the next section which addresses another possible cause for reactions to stevia.

11.  Stevia is Sometimes Processed with Chemicals

I didn’t see this on any other blogs, but I will bring this into the ring myself.

Some stevia producers use chemicals to product their stevia extract. For that reason, I only choose stevia from companies that do not use chemicals for processing their pure stevia extract. If you are having reactions to stevia, you might wish to contact the manufacturer to see how they process their stevia.

12.  Stevia Can Cause You to Eat More Sweets

A reader commented that I should add this to the list – that sweeteners like stevia can cause your body to expect glucose and therefore you end up craving and eating more as a result.  Apparently this happens particularly in those who are sugar-sensitive.

This would apply to all low carb sweeteners and not just stevia – the same with many of the negative claims here. I have read about this before but I haven’t experienced this.  In fact, I think I crave sweets more and eat more if I eat the “real sugars”.

Conclusion

I think that there are numerous benefits to using stevia and I also think that the concerns are largely unfounded. For those of us struggling with candida, blood sugar issues (like diabetes or insulin resistance) or trying to eat a low carb diet, I think there is likely no better thing to put in your cuppa. Or even bake with. Because life without brownies is hard, right?

Now that you are likely feeling better about stevia, again, here are some helpful posts:

1.  Stevia – What It Is and How to Use It

2.  6 Tips to Really LOVE Stevia

3.  Homemade Liquid Stevia Drops

What do YOU think? Do you use stevia? Will you keep using it?

Shared at Real Food ForagerWe Are that Family3 Boys and a DogKelly the Kitchen Kop, The Prairie Homestead, and The Nourishing Gourmet.

Comments

    Speak Your Mind

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  1. Excellent post! I think I may be reacting to stevia, but I am also allergic to ragweed (for now, while I try to improve gut health). But I use it for my hubby’s tea. The ladies at Trim Healthy Momma have begun producing their own line of stevia sweeteners that supposed to be like NuNaturals was before the formula change. I also ran across a website that explains how to make your own stevia extract at home, but since I’m not willing to buy vodka I won’t be doing that (water or glycerin can also be used, but the result is less sweet and has a much shorter shelf life).
    Thanks for another informative post. I’m a long-time lurker who refers others to your website regularly. :)

    • Hi there. Thanks! I should have some of the Trim Healthy Mama stevia soon and hope to try a bunch of kinds. I did try some but it all got pretty confusing so back to the drawing board. I did buy vodka for making vanilla but it felt odd :). Not that I have a real thing against alcohol but I’m not a drinker. Thanks again!

    • If you are allergic to ragweed you should avoid chicory root – does your stevia product you are using have this added to it?

  2. Thank you for addressing the fact that it can cause infertility and miscarriages. I’ve been trying to avoid stevia for that reason, but I didn’t know all those other things about it. Thanks so much for the informational read! :)

  3. Lavon Head says:

    I love your blogs and your research. Thank you for settling this in my mind.

  4. Thanks for doing the research. I really do appreciate the time and energy you put into your articles.

  5. Great post. I would add a small bit of food for thought on number 3. “your body expects glucose because it tastes something sweet” is a factor in a different way in that your receptors are primed to receive sweet (just like you are saying), and it helps create hunger because it didn’t get what it was looking for, just like an artificial sweetener (except that stevia is safe.) You may find that you experience more cravings as a result, especially those who are sugar sensitive. (Kathleen DesMaisons wrote an amazing book “Potatoes Not Prozac” which explains in details about the special receptors for sweet things and the affect it has on the body.)

  6. Thank you for this post! I’ve heard about the hypoglycemic issues from numerous sources. I once asked my holistic nutritionist about it and she said stevia is safe to use, Good to know you have researched this topic and have info to back it up! I rest easier.

  7. Great post! I’m very curious, what is your opinion on erythritol? I’ve recently discovered it and have been using it quite often. I have read mixed things on it but I’m not sure what to think. I do love it using it since it is very comparable to sugar in taste and measures the same in baking to replace sugar. I’m really hoping the unhealthy claims are untrue but if it isn’t a healthy choice I would like to know.

    • I have mixed thoughts on sugar alcohols – just not sure. I prefer xylitol typically or a blend of multiple sweeteners but I have been sticking to only stevia and glycerine recently due to a new gut healing protocol. It doesn’t really measure the same as sugar – it’s about 70% as sweet so you would normally use about 1 1/3 of the amt the recipe calls for. But I typically cut sweetener recommendations so perhaps you are right. I think the manufacturing process doesn’t sound great but I think it’s likely better for me than sugar. I have to read more about it.

    • Here is some research I’ve done on erythritol you may find helpful http://goodfoodeating.com/3512/

  8. Thank you for this article! I have been hearing “bad” talk against Stevia for quite some time now. I’ve often wondered if it’s coming from other sources who don’t want to see people moving away from using their product (Crystal Cane Sugar Grower’s and HFCS anyone?). Stevia is very sweet; a little goes a LONG way. When you get to the point in your evolution with food–that is, you have changed your eating habits to that of organic and healing the body through nutrition–the whole end point should be to get AWAY from excessive consumption of sugar. Any type of kind of sugar. To that end, nobody should be substituting Stevia for endless amounts of sweets/deserts anyway; one should be cutting DOWN on the amount of sweets they eat, only making something special every once in a while. If a person is working on this, then right out of the gate, they should have drastically lowered their need to use a better sugar like pure maple syrup, raw honey, Stevia, pureed fruit/dates, etc. anyway.

    The whole point to eating better is to curb our relentless need and want for something sweet. Americans as a whole eat way too many sweets, even if they are made with “good” sugars. (And I know how hard it is to give up sweets! I am finding it very hard to cut back. I’ve been using Stevia myself for the past 6 years to get rid of Candida as well as pure maple syrup and raw honey in as small amounts as possible I can get away with in my baking.)

    I did not know, though, that there is/could be a cross-reaction between Stevia and those with allergy to daisies, chrysanthemums, ragweed or marigolds. That is VERY valuable information that I will definitely put away in a folder. Thank you!

    • I don’t know about that. Seems some of it is from the crowd who encourages eating sugar and that sugar doesn’t feed candida but I am not sure.

      I have a killer sweet tooth but it is better than it used to be. I agree that we all need to work on that.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  9. Deno Gettas says:

    Ive been using Stevia for ten years with no ill effect My friends tell me say I look ten years younger than my real age

  10. When you receive some of the Trim Healthy Mama stevia, I think you’ll find that it is manufactured as purely as the authors could get it manufactured, and it tastes much like the NuNaturals used to taste. We use it all the time and are so thankful to have found a pure stevia extract (THM’s is 99% pure) to use in our cooking and baking.

  11. Thank you, Adrienne, for researching and sharing with us. My doctor put me on a Low Carb High Fat diet 2 1/2 months ago to help my body deal with, and start working well enough to clean out, inflammation that could eventually lead to breast cancer. I have never been a big sweets eater, but I certainly did include less-processed sugars in small quantities because I’ve never trusted “fake” sweeteners, even back when everyone was loving on them.

    But I do miss a little bit of sweet sometimes, so I’ve been learning how to use stevia for more than just my coffee and haven’t noticed problems with it. I used to be highly allergic to ragweed and related plants, yet even my allergies seem to be backing down since I’ve been Gluten-Free (one year) and even more so since going on this LCHF diet. So it’s possible stevia would have bothered me a year ago where it does not now.

    It looks like my husband and I will be on this diet as a long-term life choice. Even as little as I used to use sugar, I still need a little sweetness in my life to take the edge off! :) I think I’ll continue to use stevia, but with some slight caution until I’m satisfied that it is completely safe for me personally.

    • Thanks for the kind comments. I am glad to hear of your improved health. We all need to keep reading as we can but sounds like you are on a good track!

  12. Thanks for taking the time to dissect this topic and post it! My favorite are the accusations that stevia causes hypoglycemia and infertility. I too was severely hypoglycemic until removing sugar from my diet, which I was emotionally able to do by finding and using stevia in it’s place. Now completely free of it unless I have refined sugar. Additionally, I went through 3 years of fertility treatment with my first child, and after switching to a paleo diet and replacing sugar with stevia for 1.5 years, I got pregnant by “surprise” ;-) Thanks for all you do Adrienne!

  13. I have been using Stevia for over a year. I did a lot of research about it before using and found it wasn’t the stevia that could be harmful but the additives that are added. by the different manufactures. I use KAL Pure Stevia Natural Extract. and the powder. I had a major concern when I noticed on the label “product of China”, yikes!! I contacted KAL (800)365-5966 and spoke to a representative about the products. She said KAL conducts routine and very strict testing on this product. There are no additives in the powder and the extract has Kosher vegetable glycerin and water. So I use it and am very happy with it. I also decided to grown my own. It is very easy and it grows like a weed. A batch of extract can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks. If you want you can add some vodka and it will last a lot longer. Give it a try-it’s fun and you will know exactly what is in it.

    • I used to use KAL but I heard their new formulation isn’t great. The Trim Healthy Mama one is made in China too but I am asking questions. What do you think about the flavor of KAL?

  14. Whoa, you saved me a lot of time here! Thanks, these are all issues I have been meaning to look into! Great article!

  15. Thanks for this article; I KNOW how much time it took for you get all this information together AND decide what that information really MEANT.

    I started using stevia in 2008 when I was desperately ill with metabolic syndrome (candida just one of the issues) and was grateful to have it after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I put myself on a high-fat/low refined carb diet and started making things like coconut oil chocolate candy and mixed veg/fruit (emphasis on the veg) smoothies, both sweetened with stevia. I rarely used maple syrup and almost never used honey. Sugar never came into the house! (I found out I’m actually allergic to sucrose/table sugar when I was just 14).

    Today, I no longer crave sweets and the metabolic syndrom is conquered. So is the cancer (surgery, no chemo or radiation). I’ve read the blog posts about how dangerous stevia is, but I didn’t change what I was doing. It was too much like the cholesterol and egg scares back in the 1970’s and there just wasn’t enough data to back it up.

    Besides, it’s so concentrated that the teensy amount I get in a day is just NOT worth worrying about. It’s so nice to read that someone has confirmed my (not-quite-as-informed) opinion and found reason to agree with me!

    Sweet tooth conquered, systemic inflammation under control, joint pain gone, tons of weight gone, strength and stamina returning…and stevia was an important part of the dietary protocol I created for myself to use food as medicine.

    Love the stuff!

  16. I have and use stevia but not often as I do very little baking. I use dates or bananas in baking more often than stevia. I have no qualms about stevia, especially with your usual thorough research. and well written article.
    My preference has always been savoury/salty treats.

  17. I use an organic pure Stevia extract as well and am pleased with it.

    But, I do suffer from adrenal fatigue (moderate) although I doubt it has to do with Stevia. Maybe because I work 25 hours every day and don’t take any time for myself! (at least it seems like 25 hours per day!)

    I need to heal myself. Yes. And doing that by relaxing and chilling out is the way to go. :)

  18. Thank you so much for this… Stevia is growing in my garden, and I will somehow use the leaves to make an extract or a powder to use. The white powder stevia sold in the grocery has been extremely processed… it is a green leaf. I feel it is much safer than the sugar we’ve all been addicted to in our foods & as a sweetener for coffee, tea, or baking. The govt has had quite a thing going with sugar and I look at it as a “drug” that’s been approved for human consumption, no matter what results may come, i.e., diabetes, cancers, etc. I pray that more will begin using safer substitutes for sugar.
    ~Tess

    • Have you tried the green? It’s pretty herby. I have some and am trying to get used to it.

      • I’ve chewed a few leaves :) Will probably use to make an extract, but should be fine in baking (reminiscent of old hippie days)… It’ll take getting use to, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it… better than the white powdered version!!

  19. Willie Mitchell says:

    Thanks for a fantastic article. I have used Stevia for several years and was so glad to see your conclusions.

  20. Just wanted to say, I highly recommend Trim Healthy Mama Stevia! It’s amazing! No bitter aftertaste! You’ll love it!

  21. Brenda Archer says:

    Thanks so much for the info. I have been seeing so much of these concerns lately and appreciate your work looking into this. I’ m in Canada and use Now Better Stevia – have you done research into this one ?
    Taste wise it is good but am not sure of its processing, etc. I also have a plant I am excited to harvest but I read it’s best to wait for cooler temps as the plant gets sweeter then. TY again

    • I don’t remember if I talked to NOW but typically they are pretty careful. I personally didn’t care for the taste when I first tried it. Maybe they have redone their formulation? I hope to plant some – I haven’t done that yet.

  22. Fantastic article….Thank-you……..though i have not come across any bad info about stevia i have wondered about it because i do use so much of it and i have candida, crohn’s, food allergies and other things….i am so please to see what you have shared….my adrenals btw are fine….and i use pure stevia only……thank-you so very much……

  23. I have to give you TOTAL 5 STAR KUDOS on this article! I am an herbalist who believes in the modern studies (valid ones) of the herbals we put into our body. I have also been researching Stevia because of the bunch of stuff I have heard on the internet, as well as Splenda which have both become regular sweeteners in my diabetic/ADHD household. I have read your whole article and checked out all the links and you are RIGHT ON with what I have also discovered. Thank you !!!

    • Thanks! What did you come up with on Splenda and are you using the blended form or the sucralose? I am not happy w/ the additives in Splenda.

      • Adrienne, We were using Splenda granular sweetener. The research on Splenda is so mixed that is hard to know what to believe. However, I can sight a few facts from my own experiences and those experiences of others to share with you.

        1) Splenda does NOT have a zero calorie count. It, in fact, has 1 tsp = 0.5 gm carb = 2 calories, one half cup = 12 gm carb = 48 calories, 1 cup = 24 gm carb = 96 calories. When you are a household that does not use sugar, those calories (AND carbs) can add up fast. Note: Per U.S. labeling laws, anything with less than 5 calories per serving, is properly labeled as “zero” or no-calorie, good for the companies like Splenda, bad for health-conscious consumers.

        2) It was not until I began using Stevia that I noticed a MAJOR drop in my fasting blood glucose counts. Splenda was actually rising my glycemic index!! When I mentioned this to my doctor, he said that he had other patients that were saying the same thing. I have further queried several nutritionists who are all telling me the same thing.

        3) While I have tried to cook with both Splenda and Splenda Sugar Blend, we have had many concerns within my household. My hubby complained of cramping and my son complained of the after-taste of foods baked with these products. I, as well, have suffered from headaches after eating any product that has a Splenda product cooked within it.

        Conclusion: our family has stopped using Splenda products and has switched to all-natural sweeteners that have no additives or unhealthy processing attached to their manufacture. Interesting note, raw honey, while having the same glycemic index as sugar, DOES NOT raise our blood sugars like regular sugar OR Splenda did. However, I am always looking for articles telling me how to more effectively use products like Stevia and was so happy to see your article!!!

        • I knew that about Splenda and the carbs in there and know that that can be an issue for many especially diabetics.

          So interesting about honey! I know it feeds candida though so it’s off limits for me now except in very small quantities – here’s hoping things change. I am very curious about research on pure sucralose. I know some have said it leads to kidney problems. Thanks again!

        • Very interesting about the honey and it’s lack of major effect on you blood sugar. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    • please do not use splenda/sucralose…..it is a sugar molecule surrounded by chlorine….it is truly poisonous.

      • Do you think it is that simple? I haven’t been able to do enough research into it. I was thinking that NaCl has chlorine in it too. It is lacking a bond of some sort? Thanks!

  24. Sarah Madsen says:

    Thank you so much for doing this research & writing this! My boyfriend & I grow stevia plants. Then harvest, dry, & grind the leaves into powder. We use it mostly for making sun tea, but plan to try making sweet water for lemonade. It is easy to grow & tastes great used this way. I was a little concerned when I read about the potential fertility effects, but glad to know I don’t need to be worried.
    Thanks again. I love all the information you provide!

  25. I always enjoy and appreciate your very thorough articles! I bet no one knows how much time and effort goes into your research and blogging about it to help other. I figured where you were going with most of the arguments against Stevia, and am glad at how you found studies to back up your bust of most of those concerns. I do a lot of research myself and am not worried about any of them since I use Stevia in moderation. I never put all eggs in one basket. For myself, I mostly use stevia and palm sugar. For my family I also use raw honey, maple syrup and occasionally molasses. I do use foods in their natural state to sweeten with, such as sweet potato in my family favorite Breakfast Pumpkin Pie and Banana in my Breakfast Banana Nut Pie.

    • Thanks so much, Michele! This did take a TON of time – I can’t believe how much but I think it was worth it. I am using a tad of glycerine now and some coconut sugar – trying to figure it all out.

  26. Another balanced, well written article, Adrienne! Thanks. I appreciate your research and reasonable tone and avoiding “the sky is falling” tone that some bloggers use.
    I myself don’t like Stevia that much although I am using it sparingly to combat glycemic issues. I have experienced that feeling of needing increasingly more over time. Of course with stevia it’s easy to stop. Too much is just really inedible. ;-)

    I have been trying xylitol with success for baked goods and smoothies and add a tad of stevia to give a bit more zing. I buy organic from a trusted source.

    I have had to go off the main path in handling my metabolic issues, and find alternative alternatives. Your blog has helped me with this! Thanks again.

    • Thanks so much, Cindy! I really appreciate this comment. I think the sky is falling in some cases – and I was really worried about the things (some of them) that I read about stevia but in many cases I think they just didn’t do their due diligence on the research.

      I try to do 1/2 and 1/2 w/ stevia and another sweetener. Thanks so much again!

  27. Thank you for this fantastic article, Adrienne. Our family has been using stevia for about a year and a half. We feel fantastic. My husband and I lost weight and also lost carb cravings and my husband’s blood pressure dropped back to a normal level. Lately, I have been nagged a bit, though, by some of the negative blog press. I appreciate so much your taking the time and effort to write this article. It answers any of the questions I’ve had.

    I wanted to make a comment about the ‘your body is expecting something sweet when you eat stevia and has an insulin response’ issue. I have a fantastic naturopath who is also a Type 1 diabetic, so she is very informed about both stevia and blood sugar. I shared this concern with her because it actually made a lot of sense to me. She explained to me that ANY time we put something into our mouths — sweet or not — our bodies have an insulin response. Our body sends out insulin in response to a stevia-sweetened food, yes, but it does the same thing when we eat a piece of cheese or a stalk of celery. Interestingly, after I left her office that day, I did some research of my own and found out that even babies sucking on a pacifier have an insulin response!

  28. Great article Adrienne and I’m glad you unravelled the claims of the extremists out there :)

    Being a nutritionist and a researcher I have also extensively researched stevia via the nutrition journals and my conclusion is that stevia is safe for consumption and one of the better alternatives as far as sweeteners go. Here is a link to an article with the research I have been through http://goodfoodeating.com/3512/.

    Admittedlty I have not looked at fertility in relation to stevia and will endeavour to do so and let you know.

    • Hi Jedha! I do remember you had a post / podcast on stevia. The link above is for erythritol, though, but I will read that. Send me your stevia link. I should put that in the post. Thanks!

  29. Great post. I still can’t get over the taste of stevia so I’ve never really used it much, but nice to see the concerns for using them.

  30. This is an amazing article and I have shared and pinned this. As someone who is very prone to Candida and Dysbiosis, I pretty much have to consume Stevia and Birch Xylitol or I cannot have anything sweet. I was getting worried about all of the rumors and didn’t have time to research it. What brands do you recommend that are safe and without additives?

    • Hi there and sorry for the delay. As for brands, do you mean stevia or xylitol? Xylitol typically doesn’t have additives and the brands I link to do not have additives. Thanks! Looking into other brands now.

  31. You are amazing! Thank you so much for this (and now I don’t have to do the work–lol!). I’ve been using stevia since 1999 when I was *first* diagnosed with candida, and it has basically been my #1 sweetener and my lifesaver since then. Thanks for teaching me some new good stuff about my fave! :)

  32. Forgot to ask: how has NuNaturals changed their formula?? (yikes!)

    • It changed maybe about a year ago? I used to LOVE it and then they came out w/ a not as good formula. One of their batches was really bad – I needed more than 1/4 tsp to sweeten a cup of anything. They have a new Reb99 that is better but I am still not sure what I am going to be using.

  33. Thanks for doing all that research. It is often hard to sort out fact from fiction – especially online. I’ve used NuNaturals Stevia for years with only positive results and recommend it as a sugar substitute. I feel that the uproar against stevia has been largely manufactured, the same as the uproar against grains (esp wheat), soy, fat, etc etc. As soon as some food becomes popular enough to threaten the food status quo, then a bunch of poorly done ‘studies’ appear that make it seem as though those foods are bad for you. As you point out, food allergies are genuine and some people should not eat certain foods, but please – let common sense prevail.

    • Thanks so much, Judith. It is very very hard and I must say some of this had me quite concerned for awhile. I can’t have gluten but I am still on the fence about grains. Take care!

  34. JayMonster says:

    Excellent piece, and one I will point many people towards, as you are saying the same things I have been arguing, but in a much easier to digest (pun only slightly intended) way of explaining it.

    The biggest problem as I see it, is that people think products like PurVia or TrueVia are actually all Stevia and nothing could be further from the truth. Truvia ingredient list is Erythritol, Rebiana and Natural Flavors… Do you even see Stevia in there? Rebiana is “derived from” Stevia… but it is not Stevia. Erythritol is Sugar Alcohol, which is known to cause stomach discomfort, bloating, etc.

    So, while you correctly point this out, I don’t think it can be emphasized enough… know what you are dealing with (both with the “research” you read, and the products you buy, and know what is actually being talked about).

    • Thanks! I don’t know that I have a problem with rebiana b/c I think that’s what stevia extract is, correct?

      • JayMonster says:

        It goes to your point number 11. in order to get rebiana (the molecule that makes Stevia sweet), it is put through a chemical process to get that derivative. How well you tolerate that, is dependent on how the chemical processing is done. (This chemical process is also how these companies get around the “sold as a supplement only” label that the artificial sweetener companies got slapped on real, natural Stevia.)

        But as I see is (purely opinion), calling the chemically derived rebiana “Stevia” is no better than saying that Splenda is just a sugar derivative.

        Really, the simple rule of thumb to follow is… if it is sold in a Supermarket in the with other sweeteners… it is not Stevia.

        • This is the response that I got from the owner of NuNaturals regarding their rebiana. So I guess this isn’t the case with all companies. What do you think?

          Our process involves the treatment of the whole leaf extract with natural enzymes so our extract contains more of the glycosides of the stevia plant. This process enhances the flavor while eliminating the unpleasant aftertaste.

  35. Dr. Kumar Shivdasani says:

    I haven’t looked into Stevia much as I haven’t been asked by patients about it. There appear to be more than a few dangers in using it and I may have to look into it a bit deeper. Thanks for the post.

  36. Thanks for sharing this information, I am kind of clueless on Stevia.

    I would be honored if you hopped over to share with us at Inspire Us Tuesdays. (http://twolittlecavaliers.com/2014/08/inspire-us-tuesday-fall-air.html)

  37. I think you’ve pretty well summed up my own thoughts on this issue.

  38. great post on Stevia!! Thanks for all the info :)

  39. I LOVE THIS POST because I ADORE Stevia and highly recommend it to everyone – of course only the pure extract with no added ingredients! I have been using stevia for 13 years and I am the image of health (not to brag or anything, LOL)… So yes, I will continue to use it! ;)

    • LOVE your comment :). That’s great you can say that about being the image of health. I can’t say that yet but I am climbing further out of the hole :).

  40. Thank you for this article. I have a couple friends who use Stevia, but honestly have not done any research on it to know if it was a safe alternative or not. I plan on doing my research, but so appreciate the research you’ve done, that will definitely help me in my own. I’ve lost 70 lbs recently and still have aprox. 40 lbs to go, to be at my goal/healthy weight. I have not ate sweets at all since I started the process and have discovered the couple times I tried a tiny bite, they made me gag. I don’t know if I’ll ever want sweets again, but I want to be able to give my whole family the healthiest options possible.

  41. Great article, Adrienne! I get questions about stevia all the time — I’ll refer folks to this article from now on!

  42. Thanks for such a well thought out and no doubt time consuming post. ????

  43. I love this post. You are incredibly thorough and I am thrilled to have a place to send people who ask about stevia (and they ask, a lot!). Thanks for the shout-out (and right back at ya–always a fave!). xoxo

  44. First of all I would like to Thank you for all the research you did!! It’s appreciated!!! I work a lot and don’t have time to do that. From everything you said, I’m going to keep using it. It seems better than all the alternatives right now. I had gastric bypass years ago and my body processes sugars differently. Honey and maple syrup bother my stomach. So I will stick with the Stevia!!!!

  45. I also grow my own, use the leaves in tea, and also dry the leaves, and use them dried. I also have a mocahete (stone grinder) to pound the leaves into a very fine powder…the powder is very sweet, (and green) and it doesn’t take much to sweeten something. I really like that I control what is in my stevia…it’s purty pure…well, totally pure, I don’t add anything. It takes a lot of leaves to make the powder, but it grows quite well when you keep trimming it, so it works out great.

    Thanks for all the information!

    • I really need to grow some now – thanks! Can you grow it indoors – or have you tried that?

      • Sandy Kay says:

        I haven’t tried it indoors, but will this winter, and let you know. I have it in a pot, and move it under the gazebo which is all covered in the winter, it still struggles, but has made it through our cold, but no snow, winters. :)

  46. Very valuable! Thanks for clarifying this and all the work you did in researching this! I too have been a little concerned about the rumors that stevia is harmful. Now I can gladly continue using it. I use NuNaturals and so far didn’t notice any changes in their formula. But maybe I’m using some from older batches, or then my taste buds are just too numb!