Stevioside is a natural sweetener extracted from leaves of Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni. The literature about Stevia, the occurrence of its sweeteners, their biosynthetic pathway and toxicological aspects are discussed. Injection experiments or perfusion experiments of organs are considered as not relevant for the use of Stevia or stevioside as food, and therefore these studies are not included in this review.
The metabolism of stevioside is discussed in relation with the possible formation of steviol. Different mutagenicity studies as well as studies on carcinogenicity are discussed. Acute and subacute toxicity studies revealed a very low toxicity of Stevia and stevioside. Fertility and teratogenicity studies are discussed as well as the effects on the bio-availability of other nutrients in the diet.
The conclusion is that Stevia and stevioside are safe when used as a sweetener. It is suited for both diabetics, and PKU patients, as well as for obese persons intending to lose weight by avoiding sugar supplements in the diet. No allergic reactions to it seem to exist.