Sugar Tech

pp 1–8 | Cite as

Phytochemical and Pharmacological Importance of Stevia: A Calorie-Free Natural Sweetener

  • D. P. SinghEmail author
  • Meenakshi Kumari
  • H. G. Prakash
  • G. P. Rao
  • S. Solomon
Review Article


Stevia, a natural sweetener, comprises of 200 species of herbs and shrubs from the family Asteraceae (Composite). The most common species of this genus and family with sweetening potential are Stevia dianthoidea, S. phlebophylla, S. anisostemma, S. bertholdii, S. crenata, S. enigmatica, S. eupatoria, S. lemmonii, S. micrantha, S. plummerae, S. rebaudiana, S. salicifolia, S. serrata and S. viscida but among these only S. rebaudiana exhibits the highest level of sweetness. It is cultivated in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Brazil, Malaysia, Canada, Hawaii and California. Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala and Haryana are the main Stevia growing states in India. Stevia contains ent-kaurene, a diterpene glycoside commonly known as stevioside which is 150–300 times than more sweeter sugar. In addition to its interesting sweetening property, Stevia plant shows many pharmacological properties. Its leaves also contains good amount of protein, amino acid, lipids, vitamins and minerals. Phytochemical screening showed that tannins are also present in higher concentrations followed by alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, sterols, and triterpenes, anthraquinones, and other reducing compounds. Stevia glycosides possess many pharmaceutical properties viz; anti-hyperglycemic, antihypertensive, antioxidant, antimicrobial activity, anticancer effect, anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effect etc. Stevia has potential qualities of a sweetener and also constituting a source of many substances with a nutritional effect on the human beings. Among different chemical constituents, stevioside has a potential mode of actions in controlling type 2 diabetes. Stevia-enriched food products bring several benefits to human society. Commercial marketing of products stevia in different form such as leaf powder, liquid and fresh leaves has become a potential adventure for many biotechnological companies because of its large demand.


Stevia Stevia rebaudiana Stevioside Pharmaceutical properties 


  1. Abdullateef, R.A., and M. Osman. 2011. Studies on effects of pruning on vegetative traits in Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (Compositae). International Journal of Biology 4 (1): 146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abou-Arab, A.E., A.A. Abou-Arab, and F.M. Abou-Salem. 2010. Physico-chemical assessment of natural sweeteners steviosides produced from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni Plant. African Journal of Food Science 4: 269–280.Google Scholar
  3. Anton, S.D., C.K. Martin Han, H. Coulon, S. Cefalu, P. Gelselman, and D.A. Williamson. 2010. Effect of stevia, aspartame and sucrose on food intake, satiety and postprandial glucose and Insulin levels. Appetite 55: 37–43.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Atteh, J.O., O.M. Onagbesan, K. Tona, E. Decuypere, J. M. C. Geuns, and J. Buyse. 2008. Evaluation of supplementary stevia bertoni) leaves and stevioside in broiler diets: effects on feed intake, nutrient metabolism, blood parameters and growth performance. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 92 (6):640–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barriocanal, L.A., M. Palacios, G. Benitez, S. Benitez, J.T. Jimenez, N. Jimenez, and V. Rojas. 2008. Apparent lack of pharmacological effect of steviol glycosides used as sweeteners in humans. A pilot study of repeated exposures in some normotensive and hypotensive individuals and in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 51 (1): 37–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bergs, D., B. Burghoff, M. Joehnck, G. Martin, and G. Schembecker. 2012. Fast and isocratic HPLC-method for steviol glycosides analysis from Stevia rebaudianaleaves. Journal Verbraucherschutz Lebensmittelsichelt 7: 147–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bookaewan, C., C. Toskulkao, and M. Vongsakul. 2006. Anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities of stevioside and its metabolite steviol on THP-1 cells. Journal of Agricultural andFood Chemistry 54: 785–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brahmachari, G., L.C. Mandal, R. Roy, S. Mondal, and A.K. Brahmachari. 2011. Stevioside and related compounds molecules of pharmaceutical promise: A critical overview. Archiv der Pharmazie Chemistry in Life Sciences 1: 5–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bridel, M., and R. Lavielle. 1931. Sur le principesucre des feuilles de kaa-he-e (Stevia rebaundiana B). Academie des Sciences Paris Comptes Rendus 192: 1123–1125.Google Scholar
  10. Carakostas, M.C., L.L. Curry, A.C. Boileau, and D.J. Brusick. 2008. Overview: the history, technical function and safety of rebaudioside A, a naturally occurring steviol glycoside, for use in food and beverages. Food and Chemical Toxicology 46: 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chan, P., B. Tomlinson, Y.J. Chen, J.C. Liu, M.H. Hsieh, and J.T. Cheng. 2000. A double-blind placebo—controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 50 (3): 215–220.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Chatsudthipong, V., and C. Muanprasat. 2009. Stevioside and related compounds: Therapeutic benefits beyond sweetness. Pharmacology and Therapeutics 121: 41–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen, T., S. Chen, P. Chan, and Y. Chu. 2005. Mechanism of the hypoglycemic effect of stevioside, a glycoside of Steviarebaudiana. Plant Medicine 71: 108–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cramme, B., and R. Ikan. 1986. Sweet glycosides from the stevia plant. Chemistry in Britain 22 (10): 915–917.Google Scholar
  15. Curry, L.L., and A. Roberts. 2008. Subchronic toxicity of rebaudioside A. Food and Chemical Toxicology 46: 11–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Das, K., R. Dang, S. Khanam, and P.E. Rajasekharan. 2005. In vitro methods for production of steviosides from stevia. International Journal of Natural Products 21: 14–15.Google Scholar
  17. Das, S., A.K. Das, R.A. Murphy, I.C. Panwani, M.P. Nasution, and A.D. Kinghorn. 1992. Evaluation of the cariogenic potential of the intense natural sweeteners stevioside and rebaudioside A. Caries Research 26: 363–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dhananjay, S., and J. Deshpande. 2005. Commercial cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants, 296–298p. New Delhi: Himalaya Publishing House.Google Scholar
  19. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 1995. Letter Department of Health and Human Services. Food and Drug Administration to Patrick Noonan, Washington, DC.
  20. Gasmalla, M.A.A., R. Yang, I. Amadou, and X. Hua. 2014. Nutritional composition of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni leaf: Effect of drying method. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 13 (1): 61–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gerdzhikova, M., D. Pavlov, N. Grozeva, M. Tzanova, D. Dimanov, S. Terzieva, and J. Krastanov. 2018. Chemical composition, mineral content, In vitro gas production and relative feed value of Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science 24: 40–46.Google Scholar
  22. Geuns, J.M. 2003. Stevioside. Phytochemistry 64 (5): 913–921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ghanta, S., A. Banerjee, A. Poddar, and S. Chattopadhyay. 2007. Oxidative DNA damage preventive activity and antioxidant potential of Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni: A natural sweetener. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 26: 10962–10967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Goyal, S.K., G.R. Samsher, and R.K. Goyal. 2010. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) a bio-sweetener. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 61: 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hagiwara, A., S. Fukushima, and M. Kitaori. 1984. Effects of the three sweeteners on rats urinary bladder carcinogenesis initiated by Nbutyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl)-nitrosamine. Gann Japanese Journal of Cancer Research 75: 763–768.Google Scholar
  26. Hsieh, M.H., P. Chan, Y.M. Sue, J.C. Liu, T.H. Liang, T.Y. Huang, and Y.J. Chen. 2003. Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension: a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Clinical Therapeutics 25 (11): 2797–2808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Huxley, A. 1992. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. London: MacMillan Press.Google Scholar
  28. Jadeja, R.P., M.B. Tadhani, S. Rema, and L.J. Parekh. 2005. Qualitative studies on the production of stevioside in vitro callus culture of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni. Biologievegetala 51: 139–140.Google Scholar
  29. Jayaraman, S., M.S. Manoharan, and S. Illanchezian. 2008. In-vitro antimicrobial and antitumor activities of Stevia rebaudiana (Asteraceae) leaf extracts. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 7 (4): 1143–1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. JECFA. 2005. Evaluation of certain food additives. Sixty third report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, WHO Technical Report Series No. 928, Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  31. Kasai, R., H. Yamaguchi, and O. Tanaka. 1987. High-performance liquid chromatography of glycosides on a new type of hydroxyapatite column. Journal of Chromatography A 407: 205–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Khiraoui, A., M. Bakha, F. Amchra, S. Ourouadi, A. Boulli, C. Al-Faiz, and A. Hasib. 2017. Nutritional and biochemical properties of natural sweeteners of six cultivars of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni leaves grown in Morocco. Journal of Materials and Environmental Science 8 (3): 1015–1022.Google Scholar
  33. Kinghorn, A.D., D.D. Soejarto, N.R.D. Nanayakkara, C.M. Compadre, H.C. Makapugay, J.M. Hovanec-Brawn, R.J. Medon, and S.K. Kamath. 1984. A Phytochemical Screening procedure for sweet ent-kaurene glycosides in the genus Stevia. Journal of Natural Products 47: 439–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kinghorn, A.D., N.R.D. Nanayakkara, D.D. Soejarto, and R.J. Medon. 1982. Potential sweetening agents of plant origin I. Purification of Stevia rebaudiana sweet constituents by droplet counter-current chromatography. Journal of Chromatography 2 (37): 478–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kobus-Moryson, M., A. Gramza-Michałowska, J. Kobus-Cisowska, and J. Korczak. 2014. Zawartośćwybranychpierwiastków w ekstraktachstewii (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) [Contents of selected elements in extracts from sweetleaf (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni)]. Problemy Higieny i Epidemiologii 95 (2): 445–448.Google Scholar
  36. Kohda, H., R. Kasai, K. Yamasaki, K. Murakami, and O. Tanaka. 1976. New sweet diterpene glucosides from Stevia rebaudiana. Phytochemistry 15 (6): 981–983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Konoshima, T., and M. Takasaki. 2002. Cancer-chemopreventive effects of natural sweeteners and related compounds. Pure and Applied Chemistry 74 (7): 1309–1316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kroyer, G. 2010. Stevioside and Stevia-sweetener in food: application, stability and interaction with food ingredients. Journal für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit 5: 225–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kuzma, P., B. Druzynska, and M. Obiedzinski. 2014. Optimization of extraction conditions of some polyphenolic compounds from parsley leaves (Petroselinum crispum). Acta Scientiarum Polonorum. Technologia Alimentaria 13 (2): 145–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lewis, W.H. 1992. Early uses of Stevia rebaudiana(Asteraceae) leaves as a sweetener in Paraguay. Economic Botany 46: 336–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Liu, J., C.P. Ongand, and S.F.Y. Li. 1997. Subcritical fluid extraction of Stevia sweeteners from Stevia rebaudiana. Journal of Chromatographic Science 35: 446–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Maki, K.C., L.L. Curry, M.S. Reeves, P.D. Toth, J.M. McKenney, M.V. Farmer, and M.C. Carakostas. 2008. Chronic consumption of rebaudioside A, a steviol glycoside, in men and women with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Food and Chemical Toxicology 46 (7): S47–S53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Melis, M.S. 1997. Effects of Steviol on renal function and mean arterial pressure in rats. Phytomedicines 3: 349–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Melis, M.S.R. 1992. Excretion of stevioside in rats. Journal of Natural Products 55: 688–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mohammad, M.R., U.D. Mohammad, M.M. Sher, A.N. Habib, and A.Q. Iqbal. 2007. In vitro clonal propagation and biochemical analysis of field established Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni. Pakistan Botanical Society 39: 2467–2474.Google Scholar
  46. Nakamura, S., and Y. Tamura. 1985. Variation in the main glycosides of Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni). Japanese Journal of Tropical Agriculture 29: 109–116.Google Scholar
  47. Parsons, W.T., and E.G. Cuthbertson. 2001. Noxious weeds of Australia, 2nd ed. Collings Wood: CSIRO Publishing.Google Scholar
  48. Pecivova, B.P., V. Kuban, J. Micek, and O. Rop. 2013. Textural and sensory properties of the sweet Czech Christmas bread with sugar solutions. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum. Technologia Alimentaria 12 (2): 223–229.Google Scholar
  49. Planas, M.G., and J. Kuc. 1968. Contraceptive properties of Stevia rebaudiana. Science 162: 1007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pól, J., E. Ostra, P. Karasek, M. Roth, K. Benešová, P. Kotlaríková, and J. Čáslavský. 2007. Comparison of two different solvents employed for pressurised fluid extraction of stevioside from Stevia rebaudiana: Methanol versus water. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 388: 1847–1857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Prakash, I., A. Markosyan, and C. Bunders. 2014. Development of next generation stevia sweetener: Rebaudioside M. Foods 3: 162–175.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  52. Puri, M., D. Sharma, C.J. Barrow, and A.K. Tiwary. 2012. Optimisation of novel method for the extraction of steviosides from Stevia rebaudianaleaves. Food Chemistry 132: 1113–1120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Raskovic, A., V. Jakovijevic, and M. Mikov. 2004. Joint effect of commercial preparations of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni and sodium monoketocholate on glycemia in mice. European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics 29: 83–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Raut, D., and K. Aruna. 2017. Antimicrobial activity of from Stevia rebaudiana against antibiotic resistant ESBL producing uropathogens and evaluation of its antioxidant activity. International Journal of Advanced Research in Biological Sciences 4: 110–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ritu, M., and J. Nandini. 2016. Nutritional composition of Stevia rebaudiana, a sweet herb, and its hypoglycaemic and hypolipidaemic effect on patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 96: 4231–4234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Saric, G., K. Markovic, D. Vukicevic, E. Lez, M. Hruskar, and N. Vahcic. 2013. Changes of antioxidant activity in honey after heat treatment. Czech Journal of Food Sciences 31: 601–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Savita, S.M., K. Sheela, S. Sunanda, A.G. Shankar, and P. Ramakrishna. 2004. Stevia rebaudiana-A Functional Component for Food Industry. Journal of Human Ecology 15 (4): 261–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Singh, S.D., and G.P. Rao. 2005. Stevia: The herbal sugar of 21st century. Sugar Tech 7 (1): 17–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Soejarto, D.D. 2002. Ethnobiology of Stevia and Stevia rebaudiana. In Stevia the genus Stevia (Medicinal and Aromatic Plants—Industrial Profiles), ed. A.D. Kinghorn, 40–67. New York: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  60. Stoyanova, S., J. Genus, and E. Heideg. 2011. The food additives inulin and stevioside counteract oxidative stress. International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition 62: 207–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tadhani, M., and R. Subhash. 2006. Preliminary studies on Stevia rebaudiana leaves: proximal composition, mineral analysis and phytochemical screening. Journal of Medical Sciences 6 (3): 321–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Thomas, J.E., and M.I. Glade. 2010. Stevia: It’s not just about calories. The Open Obesity Journal 2: 101–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tomita, T., N. Sato, T. Arai, H. Shiraishi, M. Sato, M. Takeuchi, and K. Kamio. 1997. Bactericidal activity of a fermented hot-water extracts from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni towards enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 and other foodborne pathogenic bacteria. Microbiologyand Immunology 41: 1005–1009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Unger, R.H. 1997. How obesity causes diabetes in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism 8 (7): 276–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. White, J., J. Kramer, R.K. Campbell, and R. Bernstein. 1994. Oral use of topical preparation containing an extract of Stevia rebaudiana and the Chrysanthemum flower in the management of hyperglycemia. Diabetes Care 17 (8): 940.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wood Jr., H.B., and H.G. Fletcher Jr. 1956. Stevioside. III. The Anomeric 2, 3, 4, 6-Tetra-O-acetyl-1-O-mesitoyl-D-glucopyranoses and their Behavior with Alkali 1, 2. Journal of the American Chemical Society 78 (1): 207–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Yasukawa, K. 2002. Inhibitory effect of stevioside on tumor promotion by 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate in two stage carcinogens in mouse skin. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 25: 1488–1490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Sugar Research & Promotion 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. P. Singh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Meenakshi Kumari
    • 1
  • H. G. Prakash
    • 1
  • G. P. Rao
    • 2
  • S. Solomon
    • 1
  1. 1.Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture and TechnologyKanpurIndia
  2. 2.Department of Plant PathologyIndian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations