Question: Can you tell me about the plant Stevia rebaudiana? Will it have any effect on blood glucose levels? Since I'm a diabetic, this is an issue.

I'm also growing something I never heard of, Chocolate Mint. I have heard of Chocolate CHIP Mint, but never this. Know any good uses for it and does it smell any more fragrant in warmer weather?

Answer: Stevia is a small perennial shrub that belongs to the Chrysanthemum family of plants and is native to Paraguay.

Stevia has a inordinate ability to sweeten. Stevia in its natural herb form is aproxamatately 10 to 15 times sweeter than common table sugar. Its common form a white powder extracted from the leaves of the plant is rated at 70 to 400 times sweeter then sugar.

Stevia is reported to be diabetic safe, calorie free, does not adversely affect blood sugar and is non-toxic.

During the 80`s Stevia enjoyed popularity as a natural sweetener in a variety of products. In 1986 the FDA(United States Food and Drug Administration) seized Stevia inventories and in 1991 stated it was not suitable as a food additive. It is, however, available at Health Food Stores as a dietary supplement. To be on the safe side, check with your doctor before using Stevia in any form.

Chocolate Mint (Mentha piperita) is a perennial, with a reputation for becoming invasive. Plant in full sunshine and pinch back the tips of the stems to keep the plant compact. This mint is often described as having a "hint" of a chocolate aroma. The leaves make a wonderful herbal tea.

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