Could an unassuming little shrub actually be a superhero in disguise — one with the power to overwhelm a pathogen that’s been making the lives of millions of Americans miserable for decades?
It turns out that extracts made from the leaves of the stevia plant are powerful enough to zap the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria — the tick-transmitted pathogen that causes Lyme disease.
Research done a couple of years ago — and just now making the media rounds — could possibly be the biggest news yet in treating this often debilitating disease. One that hundreds of thousands in the U.S. are diagnosed with every year.
And the best part is, you can actually grow this amazing little herb right in your own backyard!
Is there anything stevia can’t do?
It can sweeten your coffee and tea — with basically zero calories — can stop damaging mouth bacteria in its tracks, and has been used to control blood sugar and blood pressure.
Now, we’re hearing about research from the University of New Haven published two years ago that compared extracts of whole stevia leaf and commonly-used antibiotics head-to-head in their effects on the microbe that causes Lyme disease.
What the researchers found is that stevia extracts were “effective” against all “forms” of this disease-causing pathogen.
And yes, this ancient bacterium (it’s been around for about 20 million years!) has learned how to morph into various forms to survive. That’s one of the reasons Lyme disease is so difficult to treat with traditional antibiotics.
Borrelia can also form a “slime-like biofilm,” which the researchers said allow it to “hide” from antibiotics.
In this study, the stevia did just as well — or better — in killing off the bacteria as did the drugs.
While this research was only done in the laboratory, not with people, what was found makes perfect sense.
Numerous other studies have confirmed stevia extracts to have exceptional antibacterial properties. Plus that, research going back decades has found that the leaf is a very potent source of superoxide dismutase, or SOD — a powerful antioxidant that can mop up free radicals like a giant sponge.
Hopefully more scientists will pick up where the Connecticut researchers left off, as Lyme disease is fast becoming one of the most common and devastating illnesses out there.
The tick that can transmit it can be as small as a poppy seed. And you can be infected if one of these tiny menaces stays attached to you for a little as 48 hours.
On top of everything else, this year may be one of the biggest yet for tick populations.
Despite all the amazing health benefits to be found in the stevia plant, however, it appears to be best known for its sweetening abilities!
But as I told you last month, most of the so-called “stevia” products in the supermarket only contain minute amounts of the herb and are bulked up with genetically-modified corn ingredients.
If you want to take advantage of all the benefits stevia has to offer, you need to use the most potent form — which would be a whole-leaf concentrate. It will look like molasses and be quite strong (but still sweet!). You can also buy a clear liquid extract as well as dried and ground leaves.
And you can grow it yourself! But you’ll need a spot that gets full sun exposure and some little stevia plants, as it doesn’t grow well from seeds.
Your stevia should reach a height of around 30 inches and be around 18 inches wide, so leave adequate space if you’re cultivating several. Plan on harvesting your “crop” in the fall, when cooler temps will make the leaves even sweeter.
You can add fresh stevia leaves to a cup of hot tea, use them as a delicious garnish on cold drinks, or dry and grind the leaves for extra sweetness. To do that, you can use a flat screen or just bundle and tie some stems, hanging them in a dry place — the way herbs were dried in the old days!
“Study finds stevia kills Lyme disease pathogen better than antibiotics” Alexa Erickson, Collective Evolution, collective-evolution.com