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Is Stevia Safe? Not According to the FDA

Stevia is not classified as food by the FDAEditor’s note: The following post was originally published on Green and Clean Mom. “Green & Clean Mom can inspire you to try a little harder, be a catalyst for change and to offer you some new tips and news on how to be the green, sexy and sassy mom…I know you are!”

I drink organic shade grown coffee but I put sweet and low in it. Gasp. I know, it makes no sense and I’ve tried to stop. I can’t. Over at 5 Minutes for Going Green I wrote a post about my natural weight loss struggle and the zero calorie mentality that basically has me hooked on artificial sweeteners.

This was before my new love affair with Stevia. Have you tried this stuff? Holey Moley! Good by artificial sweeteners, hello Stevia! Very expensive but well worth it. It is so sweet that I can use half the packet in my coffee and make it go the distance. Plus, zero calories and it’s natural.

Stevia, a herb native to Paraguay, has been “treated like a drug by the FDA”, again proving that the FDA is in bed with the chemical companies. The more I read about Stevia and the ongoing saga with the FDA, the more I am convinced that money has everything to do with what is on our shelves, versus health and safety.

Artificial sweeteners are big dollars in the U.S. and the FDA can’t have a natural herb like Stevia knocking all those pink and yellow packets off the grocery store shelves. Oh, my…what would happen?

Stevia won’t be found labeled as a sweetener. It is labeled as a dietary supplement and thus found in health food stores. Is this why I haven’t seen it at the grocery store next to my sweet and low? Yup. There have been some safety concerns raised about the product but I’m pretty sure that there are concerns over artificial sweeteners too. Hmmm? Aren’t these still allowed to be bought and sold and ingested? Read more about the claimed side effects, here. Funny how it is sold in health food stores but has been labeled as not safe by the FDA for food. Does anyone else find that odd?

Read more at Green and Clean Mom!

Comments

  1. Isn’t the new “Truvia” artificial sweetener stevia? Wouldn’t that mean that the FDA had to approve it as “generally regarded as safe”?

    I personally don’t care for the licorice-y aftertaste to stevia. When I’m on a diet, I use Splenda in moderation. Otherwise, I’ll just use a bit of the real stuff.

  2. The FDA has been continuously proving itself to be in the interest of corporations instead of citizens, I am not sure what their exact purpose is anymore since it isn’t the safety of us, the consumers. Stevia is wonderful, I started using it back in college. Other than the fact that you do not need to use as much of it as sugar since it is sweeter than sugar and has no calories and does not disturb blood sugar another beautiful thing is that the stevia plant is a highly resilient plant that can survive many different types of climate, unlike sugar cane. It is a wonderful natural alternative to chemically produce sweeteners.

  3. Stevia gets go-ahead from FDA today!! http://is.gd/ceS8

  4. Jiminy cricket. I love the idea of stevia, but in all honesty? I just use sugar and I use it proudly. Unrefined and fair-trade when I can manage it. But our bodies are designed to run off glucose as fuel — that’s sugar. The “zero-calorie mentality” you mention is a red herring, a false idol. Eating way too much sugar? Yeah, that’s not good. But sugar itself is already in most natural foods, you can’t eat NO sugar, it’s part of organic life, quite literally. Don’t believe the marketing hype about “lite” and “lo-fat” either, bodies need fats. If we don’t get enough fats and sugars, we over-compensate… healthy weight management is about SO much more than just raw caloric intake! :)

    • Yes, our bodies are made to run on glucose, but unfortunately sucrose (cane/beet sugar) is a disaccharide containing one molecule of glucose (good) and one molecule of fructose (errrr, not so good). Maltose (malt sugar) is the only disaccharide that contains two molecules of glucose. Consumption of high quantities of fructose have been shown to be a contributor to obesity and metabolic syndrome. As a researcher at UCSF says, “What’s the difference between 125 calories of fructose and 125 calories of ethanol? The buzz.” From my research the recommendation is to keep fructose consumption under 25 grams/day. 12 ounces of orange juice contains 39 grams of fructose (fruit sugar).

    • Jane Anderson says:

      [ – Our bodies are designed to run off glucose as fuel – that’s sugar] This is true. But get out your calculator and figure out how much sugar cane we have to eat to equal 1/4 cup of sugar, for instance. Three feet of sugar cane makes 1 teaspoon of sugar. This shows you right there – sugar is a drug. A very addictive drug.

      And for those who favor Stevia – same thing. How many leaves of the plant would you have to eat to equal one teaspoon of sugar? Stevia is concentrated into a drug. Anything ultra-refined and concentrated into a drug like this has side effects.

  5. Last year I decided I wanted to cut down my sugar intake in coffee. I started by giving up sugar altogether and just using more milk. I was amazed how quickly I adapted. Now I allow myself sugar in my coffee on Sundays only and it feels like a treat each week.

  6. Commenting on Sarah JL’s FDA link; I find it ironic that the FDA suddenly approves stevia now that there are two HUGE beverage companies that are coming out with new soft-drinks with the natural sweenter (now called PureVia) added to their sodas within the next couple of weeks. I also find it funny that they are changing the name. Why is that? Doing something like that leads me to believe that they have also altered the ‘natural’ in Stevia to make it PureVia. Does that make sense to anyone else out there, or is it just me?
    Thanks Sarah for posting that article. I have used Stevia in my tea for several years, as well as Splenda. I will NOT touch the little ‘pink packet’ for a million dollars. I’m curious to see in the coming weeks getting barraged from tv and magazines with new ads for this new so called ‘natural sweetener’. I think that if they are using stevia, they should be labling it stevia. Not PureVia. Hopping off my soapbox now. :)

  7. I use a half teaspoon of real organic sugar and half packet of stevia in my coffee or tea. This eliminates that little bit of bitterness that stevia can leave as an aftertaste. Working in the medical field, I can tell you the most dangerous artificial sweetener is aspartame (Equal) followed by saccharine
    (Sweet & Low) and then sucralose, which isnt terrible
    (Splenda) and is the lesser of the 3 evils. Try a pinch of sugar and pinch of stevia. It works, and its good. I teaspoon or 2 a day of natural organic sugar isnt as bad as 1 packet of aspartame. And stay away from the diet sodas and icecream that say sweetened with aspartame! Very bad!!

  8. Stevia is not safe. I just had similar symptoms (more mild though) as I had when I was using splenda for a few days. Muscle aches like I had the flu. It started slow, just around my hips and thighs when I drinking the product SunWarrior a protien shake that uses stevia. Then I started having insulin resistence and bought bars called Extend to get me through the night. I was against using anything with splenda as the only bars on the shelf used splenda, Immediately my weird skin aches I call them got worse every day I ate a bar. I ate one in the morning and one at night. And ouch. Last night I was in pain all over. Most of my pain was due to the spenda, but it started slowly and very mildly with the stevia. So I do not believe stevia is safe. Just because it comes from a plant doesn’t mean a thing. Be your own judge; You may not feel stevia symptoms right away but later on when you start having unexplained issues try stopping Stevia and see.

  9. We can have reactions to absolutely anything we ingest. When introducing anything new into our diets we should always begin with very small doses and take note as to whether we are sensitive to that product. Stevia is not a chemical hence, our bodies are able to recognize it and assimilate it. That does not mean that a person will not react to it. It is no different than having a reaction to peanuts. Peanuts are a natural product but people may still be sensitive to it. There is no data that states that stevia is unsafe. In any event it is far far safer to use than any of the chemical sweetners that have been on the market for years.Stevia is excellent for diabetics as it does not alter blood sugar levels. If people only knew the amount of chemicals that they ingest on a daily basis they wouldn’t give Stevia a second thought.

  10. I started drinking Glacier water 10 which has Stevia in it. I normally just drink water with lemon. I thought after viewing info on Stevia that it might be safe so I tried the drinks. I was drinking 1-2 bottles per day of the Glacier water.

    Approaching 1 month out and around the time for my menstrual cycle..I hardly bled at all. This is just not like me for I have always been regular and flow has been consistant. Again, something was different. The research was that Stevia affected the reproductive system. I stopped the drinks immediately so I can see if there is a connection between the two.

    If this does not happen again after being off the Stevia, then I will know this stuff is not safe and people should be really watching closely.

    So for me…no more Stevia!

  11. I looked up this site for one reason- I too have missed my menstrual cycle and the only change I have made is I started using Stevia in my coffee. Hmmmmm maybe its not so safe.

  12. I have been using Stevia for almost a year and just recently have had sour mouth and furry stuff on my tongue. I don’t use any meds and my diet has not changed for years, has anyone else had these symptoms?

  13. agrees with kim says:

    Kim makes a good point,

    Just because its a plant doesnt make it safe.

    do not eat the tomatoe vine it is a nightshade.

    Poison ivy is legal but would you put it in a salad?

    I saw some truvia at my sisters house last night when I was babysitting. After the children where sound a sleep I thought id taste some of this truvia all natural no calorie sweetener. I ate the whole packet, it tasted good, I went back and had another packet. Wow after that I started feeling weird. and I fell asleep.

    I woke up to my brother in law coming in from the late shift around 1:00 AM. I was in a daze, driving home I wondered if I was going to be one of those a sleep at the wheel accidents. I made it home and immediately went to sleep in my bed.

    I awoke from a very deep sleep this morning feeling extremely tired. Maybe I did too much. Anyway ill stick to getting my sweets when I eat fruits, or splurge on a baked good.

  14. PURE Stevia or Redaudiana is wonderful! Yes itis a little expensive but the 3.5oz bottle I bought for $25.00 lasted over 6 months! It comes with a tiny scoop and if you use one scoop it is more than enough (bottle says you can get 2,381 servings if you use 1 scoop at a time)! I use it in a galon sized pitcher of tea and use 1/2 a tsp for 1 gallon of tea!! Stevia does have a side effect, it curbs hunger! It is not a hunger activator like sugar can be.
    http://www.steviacafe.net/dangers-of-stevia
    Check that site out! Like anything, too much is a bad thing. Large ammounts of stevia are for one really impossible to handle, stevia is 200-300x’x sweeter than sugar! I accidently put two scoops in a cup of coffee and had to dump it and start over it was soooo sweet and I like my coofe to taste like hot chocolate!
    Stevia has been used in other countries for YEARS not 10 or 20 HUNDREDS! Maybe PAT your period was off for another reason, before you blame stevia go to the doctor and see if your hormones are off!

  15. I have never commented to anything like this before, but I had to chime in here.

    Two points. First, they are not “changing the name” of stevia. They are making subtle modifications to it so that they can patent it. $$$. That is what is receiving FDA approval – the NOT natural versions. The natural version does not generate the wealth that a patented form can. That is why the FDA has not previously approved it.

    Second, I too was a proponent of using real sugar in it’s least adulterated form (in moderation, of course) and was not especially fond of the taste of stevia. However, I recently learned that I have an allergy to cane sugar. I have battled acne, aches and pains throughout my body, post nasal drip and various other symptoms of systemic inflammation my entire adult life and maybe longer. (I’m 42.) For years i have suspected wheat/gluten, dairy/casein, coffe/tea/caffiene as part of some complex food sensitivity problem. But I was recently tested for these things as well as sugar and found that while i am indeed allergic to milk, my strongest sensitivity is sugar. Which makes me sad because I love sweets and have learned to use them sparingly over the years.

    I decided to give stevia another try after a friend was letting me taste his spelt and chicory espresso substitute. He had sweetened it with stevia and it wasn’t bad. I use liquid. I only use 2 -3 drops to sweeten a beverage and there is not really a noteworthy amount of that bitter after taste. I have not tried baking with it, but look forward to doing so soon.

  16. Let’s talk about the plastic water bottle as the culprit behind some of these ailments! (Or the disgusting, poisonous tap water it contains.) I think the best thing we can all TRY to do, is eliminate the sugar additive from our diets. Yes, we will eat it in our fruit, etc., but to put it in places where it does not naturally occur is unnecessary (and, as we have learned – unsafe and unhealthy).

  17. I’m convinced that the FDA’s main concern is the padding in their pockets. Please, someone tell me why high fructose corn syrup is still in (practically all of) our food products? Let’s just say that I put very little merit in anything the FDA says. I do my own research, make as much of my own food as possible and read labels religiously. Not long ago, I stopped using sugar and all artificial sweetners. If I’m baking for others, I may use a little stevia.

  18. not safe says:

    i am 33 y o, play tennis all the time. this morning i drank a cup of herb tea with a packet of “sweet leaf” brand stevia in it. first time i had ever tried it. played tennis over an hour. immediately afterward started having arrythmias, had to go to hospital ER in a ambulance, it was very serious, i thought i was going to die. was diagnosed with atrial fibrilation. never has this ever happened before. sure i have no absolute proof that the stevia had anything to do with it. nevertheless i will never ever use this (highly dangerous) product again. beware.

  19. To the people who have had reactions to Stevia: Your personal reaction does not make it “not safe”. It simply means that either your body has an intolerance to it or you are allergic to it. It is a plant and therefore a possible allergen. I have a friend who is deathly allergic to strawberries. This does not mean that strawberries are unsafe for consumption as a rule; they are just unsafe for her body.

    Just a thought. =)

  20. Bottom line – clinical trails are needed on this herb and other “dietary supplements” to determine how safe and effective they truly are. Until then it is user beware and unfortunately that means a lot of people are having their pockets fleeced and maybe even worse, putting their health in jeopardy. Please be careful, remember that no one cares more about your health than you.

  21. I Switched to Stevia in my coffee a year ago (from sugar). I put 2 packs in a 12 oz cup. I drink 5 or more of these per day. Do the math. I love it, and feel great. I am also a type 2 diabetic. I take NO drugs for this, only suppliments.

  22. Yes, the FDA is all about keeping Big Pharma in the big bucks. What isn’t disclosed is the members of the FDA medical recommendation board are usually in a revolving door between Big Pharma and the FDA. I’m on Armour Thyroid for my hypothyroidism and one month’s supply runs $37.50 of which I pay $9.00. We’ve been going through a battle for the last year with the FDA to keep this kind of medication on the market even though it predates what became the FDA (began to be used around the 1890s) Of course Abbott Labs wants it off the market so they can sell more Synthroid, which generally isn’t as effective in controlling hypothyroidism and has known side effects, some quite serious. http://www.ehow.com/about_4744239_adverse-effects-synthroid.html The main issue with Armour Thyroid is if you have an allergy to pork as it’s a derivative of pork thyroids (desiccated porcine thyroid).

  23. I’m going to see about giving Stevia another shot. I literally live off nutri-sweet from the moment I wake up and drink Diet Coke to right before bed when I drink my tea sweetened with the pink packets. I fight a constant weight battle. I work a labor intinsive job and I ride horses 3-4 times a week. I don’t eat super healthy, but I eat better than I could. I’m tired all the time, frequently requiring naps. Recently I started noticing some swelling/puffiness and lower back pain that I associate with kidney pain. I’m under 30 so I feel foolish for running to the Dr just yet, but I really think all the caffine may be the root of a lot of my recent issues. Any thoughts?

  24. NotYourMama says:

    Honey, I hope you did go to your doctor- I am not big on westernized medicine myself, but, yes, puffiness, swelling, and that brand of back pain you mentioned can certainly be associated with kidney issues- If you haven’t gone yet, please do.
    While I am not a dietitian, I can tell you that the diet soda and artificial (and highly concentrated) sweeteners (as well as coffee, sweetened “juice” drinks, and all the various packaged crap marketed at our children and at us) are not only insufficient fluids for your body to run on, they absolutely will cause problems if you do not at least match them glass for glass with pure water. They simply are not effective at providing your body’s filtering system with a good flush. We are meant to drink water… tap water is generally more highly filtered than the bottled water the big companies are selling. We all need at least 48 ounces of simple, pure water every day to manage the toxins we ingest . Take care of you- it’s precious. Peace.

  25. tara hamilton says:

    I started replacing my sugar with stevia tabs about 6 months ago to lose body fat and it worked. But slowly I started getting hot flushes and knew I was to young for menopause. So I stopped the stevia and the hot flushes stopped but back slowly did the bodyfat so …… stupidly I started the stevia again and boom a week later back came the hot flushes and then depression every day. I was having about 8 stevia tabs a day. When I read that stevia is linked to depression it concerned I stopped again and now feel happy with no hot flushes. I eat organic and am a vegetarian run, ride do weights and am generally a slim healthy woman. Now I am getting used to my nespresso and tea without stevia or sugar. The jurys out … don’t enjoy it as much…. but will probably get used to it. But it does feel good to ditch the stevia along with the hot flushes and depression. End of story ….. no artificial sweetner is safe obviously when it makes you feel like that. My mother died with alzheimers disease at 65 and she had it from 54 years old and constantly used artificial sweetners so that is enough to scare me off it. She used sugarine .

  26. I use regular sugar… in moeration. Yes sugar is a drug, but I reduce as much as possible.

  27. I used to use Splenda all the time, especially in pitchers of iced tea, but always hated the after taste, so when Stevia was introduced to us via TV commercials, I thought I would give it a try. I didn’t like it as well as Splenda, but figured since it was “natural product” would use it for a a while. It has a bitter taste to me and I notice that every time I use it in tea or coffee, I get a headache that day or the next. I use the single cup coffees & teas that are available now through Keurig and one of the sweetened iced teas that you can get is very delicious, but I noticed it gave me headaches. I looked up the ingredients on the box and it contains Stevia. So what does a person do? Does anyone else get headaches after ingesting Stevia? Please let me know.

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