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What is stevia rebaudiana Bertoni?

Wondering where the strange name stevia rebaudiana Bertoni came from? Here's a clue: the three parts of the name all point to different scientists! Let's have a closer look, shall we? 

 

The three scientists responsible for the discovery and documentation of stevia are:

  • Stevia
Latin derivation of the name of the 16th century Spanish botanist Pedro Jaime Esteve, who was the first to study the effects of the mysterious stevia herb. Not much is known about the kind sir, aside from the fact that he supposedly died in 1566. At least he left a legacy!
  • Rebaudiana
what is steviaAt the dawn of the 20th century, a native chemist from Paraguay named Ovidio Rebaudi was the first to publish a chemical analysis of the stevia plant, and was able to discern the two substances that would become known as stevioside and rebaudioside

He thought it apt to include his own name in the Latin version of the stevia rebaudiana plant: Eupatorium rebaudianum.

  • Bertoni
stevia rebaudianaA Swiss botanist by the name of Moisés de Santiago Bertoni, who was stationed in Paraguay at the same time, soon became intrigued by the way the local tribes used herbs to naturally sweeten their beverages. One plant in particular seemed very interesting indeed, because Bertoni found out that the natives also used stevia as a natural medicine for lowering blood pressure, disinfecting flesh wounds, and other sorts of treatment. He published his reports in 1899, and hinted at the particularly sweet taste that could possibly be derived from the stevia plant.

 

But further research on stevia's sweetness was lacking, and it wasn't until the early 30's that two French chemists by the name of Briedel and Lavieille were able to crystallize the glycosides that gives the stevia herb its sweet taste. They quickly discovered that the substances were up to 300 times sweeter than sucrose, without the side effects that were known to be caused by sugar, such as sugar addiction.

 



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