Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Whispering Hill's Stevia Information Sheet

History: Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is a naturally sweet, herbal plant. Native to South America, it has been used for centuries by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay as a sweetener for herbal teas and other beverages. Today it is cultivated in Mexico, Paraguay, Central America, Japan, China, Malaysia, South Korea and very recently, Canada. No doubt, Canadians are going to spend years reinventing the wheel - rediscovering the intuitive knowledge that the Guarani had of the many uses of stevia.

How sweet is Stevia? The measurement of sweetness is a technical matter which is defined precisely. Dried stevia leaves are 30 to 40 times as sweet as sucrose. When the steviosides (a certain class of compounds) are extracted from stevia leaves and then isolated and purified, the result can be 250 to 300 times as sweet as sucrose. One should not jump to the conclusion that stevia is "equal" to a certain amount of sugar. Its want to design recipes using stevia, you may need to run a few experiments to get the right quantities. Also, stevia contains of many phytonutrients not found in sugar: chromium, manganese, selenium, silicon, iron, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamine, Vitamin C, bioflavonoids and zinc. The body may be able to assimilate these trace nutrients more easily in their stevia form that from other sources.

What are the concerns of Health Canada? Along with about 20 other regulatory agencies, Health Canada is taking a very cautious stance, In order to properly test stevia, pure sources are needed and reproducible experiments must be done. When a product is the result of extraction from a natural plant, the risk of co-extraction of contaminants, variability of plant species, and weed infestation can result in irreproducible toxicity studies. If something is extracted from a weed and then highly concentrated, the result could be very dangerous.

What are some of the current research? The anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties of stevia are being explored, for use in shampoos and oral surgery. Blood sugar control using stevia may help in diabetes, hypoglycemia, hyperactivity, and attention deficit disorder. Stevia has been used in South America to treat hypoglycemia, gingivitis (bleeding gums) and candida.

Why buy organic? Whispering Hills Vineyard Corporation is the only producer of certified organic stevia in Canada. Growing plants in the protected environment of a greenhouse is costly but it makes Whispering Hills the darling of Health Canada.

William Hayward and Whispering Hills Vineyard Corporation.

William Hayward has been called the Johnny Appleseed of stevia. In 1967, he heard a lecture at Davis University in California by professor Clinton Shock. The topic was a plant, Stevia rebaudiana Passer, which grew the in Rio Munday valley in Paraguay. William started growing plants from cutting and gave away about 100 plants a month, primarily to diabetics. When William was in Brazil in 1981, the Guarani Indians introduced him to Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (named after its discoverer Bertoni). It was sweeter, less bitter, more gentle than the Passer Plant. William's family had a history of diabetes. Soon William had everybody in his family growing and using Stevia. In 1986, William began selling the plants and by 1994 he had connections around the world in the research community. He was given many versions of stevia and developed a superior tasting variety. In 1996, William received a special plant which a healer and herbalist had been growing from cuttings for several years. This new plant was the key which William used to develop his own stevia plant, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni R42. William is researcher 42. His plant is not a genetically modified and is certified by him as to specie. It has an especially large leaf and is sweet without the common licorice aftertaste.

William's dedication to quality is lifelong. No artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, alcohols or sugars are used in any of the products. They contain no animal or dairy products. They are free from hormones, pesticides and fungicides.

The name Whispering Hills Vineyard Corporation comes from William's involvement with the Association of BC Grape Growers, the BC Wine Institute, the Vintners Quality Assurance Program, BC Tree Fruit Association, BC Herb Growers Association. The greenhouses in which the stevia is grown are located in Lavington, just east of Vernon, BC. William keeps busy wearing many hats. He has forged good relations with all the regulatory agencies, although sometimes it seems lake an uphill battle (rather than Whispering Hills one). He has also found time to mount a sales effort to get certified organic stevia recognized for its unique value to those who want to live a healthy life in harmony with nature. Throughout the summer mont hs, he can be seen standing all day long in the hot sun in farmer's markets chatting to everyone who will listen about his first love, the amazing plant Stevia and how she changed his life from a borderline diabetic to a tireless crusader - all the while sipping on a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon and a shot of stevia.

Monday, July 20, 2009

FDA Approves Stevia

Update note: This breaking news article has been updated from its original version to clarify the nature of the FDA's GRAS "approval" for stevia. In the original breaking news, we reported that the FDA had granted GRAS approval to stevia. Technically, the FDA has only issued letters of "no objection" regarding companies' self-affirmation of GRAS approval for stevia. In other words, the FDA hasn't technically granted approval to stevia but has affirmed it will not object to companies using it in foods and beverages. This puts stevia in a "grey zone" where the FDA could potentially target selected companies (small stevia producers) while ignoring other companies (Coca-Cola and Cargill, for example), even while they use essentially the same sweeteners. Sourced from here

My Note: It is about time. Now that the big boys are now interested in the product there most likely be more interest in Stevia.