August 26, 2017

Allergy to Stevia

Most people like their coffee or tea sweet, so nowadays there are so many choices of artificial and natural sweeteners. However, have you ever wondered if any people do have an allergy after their consumption?

In 2015 the US researchers published an article about stevia which is the newest sweetener obtained from the plant called Stevia rebaudiana and is popular for its 100% natural characteristics and low-calorie features. Moreover, in 2014 Pepsi and Coca-Cola incorporated stevia mixture along with sugar into their drinks replacing the corn syrup full of fructose. So since stevia is now found in a wide variety of drinks and food products, it is natural people have questions about its safety, and whether consumption of stevia may cause any allergic reactions.

Basic Information about Stevia

Stevia rebaudiana originates from South America and is part of the Asteraceae family, used as a medicine and food product for many years. The all-natural and popular sweetener that is used in a number of foods is obtained from the plant’s leaves being highly purified.

Does Stevia Cause Allergy?

Most plants that belong to the Asteraceae family do cause allergic reactions, including contact dermatitis, respiratory conditions from exposure to pollen and food allergy from consuming the products made from the plant. Since stevia belongs to a group of plants famous for its allergic properties, it may cause certain unpleasant reactions in people who are prone to having allergies or are already suffering from them.

Though specialists advise not to use stevia in such cases, there is too little proof to support the statement that stevia causes allergies in people allergic to plants from the Asteraceae family. Highly purified forms of stevia aren’t likely to contain antigens and allergens, that’s why these may be the crude extracts from stevia leaves that have a high chance of provoking allergic reactions in those people who are allergic to Asteraceae plants.

In the medical literature there is only one case which has the evidence that stevia is responsible for allergic reactions. In 2007, a Japanese researcher noted about two babies who resulted in anaphylaxis after eating products containing stevia: one drank water mixed with stevia powder and the other one chewed on stevia leaves. Both of them suffered from atopic dermatitis. Later the researcher made stevia skin tests on 200 babies and came to a conclusion that there was high percentage of positive skin tests in those children with asthma and atopic dermatitis.

Should Stevia-Containing Foods Be Avoided?

Still it isn’t known whether people allergic to Asteraceae plants have a higher chance of experiencing allergic reactions to highly purified stevia forms. However, it would be better for them to avoid crude stevia plant extracts, e.g. those sold in health food stores or contained in dietary supplements.

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