Botanicals in diabetes treatment: A look at stevia
Medicinal plants and drugs of biological origin have a place in the treatment of chronic diseases. Drugs of biological origin such as penicillin, morphine, and caffeine have been used consistently and are still in use globally in medical and pharmaceutical practices. Other drugs, such as vinca alkaloids, taxanes, and insulin preparations, are largely biosynthesized from natural sources. A significant number of antimicrobial agents, including vancomycin, griseofulvin, streptomycin, erythromycin, and gentamycin, originated from natural sources.
Stevia is a medicinal plant belonging to the botanical family Asteraceae. The leaf extracts of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni contain eight potent diterpene glycosides — stevioside, rebaudiosides A to E, steviolbioside, and dulcoside A — which have been studied extensively for use as sweeteners.
Three of the stevia glycosides listed above (stevioside, rebaudoside A, and rebaudoside D) are well-studied and recognized to be 250–300 times sweeter than sucrose.