Ask the Doctor – How Safe is Stevia?
Hi Dr. Rona, I have followed your columns for years and have always respected your expertise. I don’t know if you can help me but here is my situation.
I publish local parenting magazines in Northumberland and Peterborough counties ( www.northumberlandkids.com ) and like to include articles that promote a holistic way of life. In doing that, I have recently published an article on Stevia (which I have used for years) and was immediately called to task by the local health unit for promoting dangerous and erroneous information.
I must admit that had I realized that Health Canada had a problem with it we would have made note of that in the article. But since that did somehow got missed I am trying to sort out how valid the concerns are. I have been on-line and also read the book Stevia Rebaudiana: Natures Sweet Secret by David Richard. I am not sure what sources to trust on this.
Do you know anything about this controversy, and how safe stevia actually is? Or a credible source that I can use to sort this out? I have to respond to the health unit and want to be as knowledgeable as possible before I do.
I’m so glad you read my articles. There is a wealth of published data supporting the safety of stevia (https://www.stevia.net/safety.htm). All purported claims of toxicity are theoretical and should be ignored. I have been recommending stevia as an alternative to sugar, aspartame and other chemical sweeteners for over 25 years and have never seen any harmful effects in anyone using the product at any dose level. The response you got from people who should know better is typical of the usual robotic regurgitation of the mainstream dogma panning anything other than sugar and synthetic chemicals.
If Health Canada is saying that stevia is somehow unsafe, they are mistaken, out of date or just in bed with the drug companies. These are the same people that in the past have banned ginkgo biloba, tryptophan, DHEA, melatonin, kava kava and a long list of other harmless health products freely available in the USA and at least a hundred other countries. These are also the same people that refuse to ban cigarettes and allow lethal drugs like Vioxx on the market for far too long. Trusting their opinions may be mainstream, but risky, at best. For your information, stevia is sold in health food stores and is not an illegal product in most civilized countries in the world. The only reason for anything negative you or anyone else has ever heard about stevia stems strictly and only from political or economic concerns. So, please do not be intimidated by vested interest numbskulls.
Zoltan Rona, M.D., M.Sc.
1366 Yonge St. Suite 201