Subtropical Sugar Substitute Banned by the FDA in Early 1990s Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure – also known as hypertension – can lead to heart attack, stroke, or brain damage.
It affects about 20% of all adults. And it’s one of the most common risk factors for heart disease.
It’s a silent killer… with no early symptoms. You can be in jeopardy and not even know it.
But the NHD research team has come across an unexpected way to protect yourself against this menace to your health. It’s found in the sweet leaves of a plant native to South America.
In Paraguay, it has traditionally been used to control fertility. In Japan, it has been used as a natural sweetener for decades. It is widely used by diabetics to maintain blood sugar levels. And now it turns out that it may help lower blood pressure.
The FDA banned it in 1991. But over the years their position has softened. Especially since the World Health Organization (WHO) found no evidence of cancer activity or toxicity associated with the sweet leaves. In the grand tradition of the FDA hopping bed with big business… the sweet leaves are now permitted for use in Coke and Pepsi soft drinks.
The plant is Stevia rebaudiana. It’s a member of the daisy family. A compound extracted from the leaves is called stevioside. It’s much sweeter than table sugar. But it has no calories.
A team of researchers undertook a two-year investigative study in Taiwan. It took place at the Department of Medicine at Taipei Medical University. The researchers worked together with Wan Fang Hospital in Taipei City, Taiwan. The results of the study were published in Clinical Therapeutics.
The researchers investigated the “efficacy and tolerability of stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension.”
A Drop in Both Types of Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by blood against the inner walls of the arteries. It’s measured in terms of two numbers. The top number is the systolic pressure. It measures the pressure when the heart contracts. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure. This measures the pressure when the heart is at rest. “Normal” is less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic.
The researchers worked with 174 patients. They were between the ages of 25 and 70. Half of the patients were given 500 mg of stevia three times a day. The other half were given a placebo. After two years of study, the results were clear. The stevia group had significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures compared to the placebo group.
The study supported earlier findings by researchers. A previous study looked at 106 patients with hypertension. One group was given 250 mg of stevioside. The other received a placebo. Both were delivered three times daily for a year. Follow ups were done monthly. After just three months, systolic and diastolic blood pressures had dropped in the patients consuming stevia.
“This study shows that oral stevioside is a well tolerated and effective modality that may be considered as an alternative or supplementary therapy for patients with hypertension,” the researchers concluded.
A Natural Remedy
Now we know that stevia is safe. It offers real hope as a simple, all-natural way to lower blood pressure. And it’s inexpensive.
You can buy stevia as a capsule, powder, or extract. You can also make your own extract out of stevia leaves.
For high blood pressure, 250-500 mg of the extract three times per day was proven effective.
You can use it as a sweetener. But keep in mind that stevia is very sweet. One teaspoon of the powder is the equivalent of one cup of sugar.
To your best health,
Managing Editor, NHD “Health Watch”