The natural sweetener stevioside, which is found in the plant stevia, has
been used for many years in the treatment of diabetes among Indians in
Paraguay and Brazil. However, the mechanism for the blood glucose-lowering
effect remains unknown. A study conducted at the Department of Endocrinology
and Metabolism, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, found that stevioside
enhances insulin secretion from mouse pancreatic islets in the presence of
glucose. The researchers state, "Stevioside stimulates insulin secretion via
a direct action on pancreatic beta cells. The results indicate that the
compounds may have a potential role as an anti-hyperglycemic agent in the
treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus."
Ray Sahelian, M.D., co-author with Donna Gates of The Stevia Cookbook
(Avery/Penguin, 1999), says, "Stevia is a wonderful alternative to sugar and
artificial sweeteners for those who have diabetes. This study gives us one
more reason to recommend diabetics take advantage of this safe, non-calorie
Reference: Jeppesen PB, et al. Stevioside acts directly on pancreatic beta
cells to secrete insulin. Metabolism 2000 Feb;49(2):208-14.