What are the properties of stevia?
According to a German study, stevia can help addicts to give up smoking and to avoid alcohol. Stevia is member of the chrystanthemum family. It is used as a sweetener or in powder form as a natural alternative to sugar.
Stevia can block the signals that control addictive urges in the brain, meaning that it stops you from feeling the urge to smoke.
You can find stevia in liquid form (stevia drops), as crystals or as tablets in the pharmacy, in health food shops or online.
Place a few drops of liquid stevia on your tongue every time you feel the urge to smoke (or drink alcohol). The effect is generally instantaneous.
Stevia can also help people who want to lose weight or regulate their stress levels. Used as a face mask, it can nourish the skin and seal the pores, as well as treating dermatitis.
How to grow stevia
Stevia is a perennial plant, meaning it can live for several years and survive the winter. However, it should be placed in a warm sunlit area, ideally in a greenhouse or a pot kept indoors in winter, because it cannot survive in cold temperatures (or below -6 or 7°C). It grows back every spring.
In springtime, plant the stevia in a pot measuring 30 cm in diameter, using good quality, nutrient-rich soil. Expose it to sunlight and water it as soon as the soil becomes dry.
The stevia plant can reach between 30 cm and 1 meter in height, and it needs space to grow both upwards and outwards. To look after your stevia plant, use only compost and vegetable fertilisers. You can add small stones to the base of the pot to keep in water.
How to harvest stevia for use
Stevia grows white flowers in autumn. Cut them off to allow the plant to grow new leaves.
In Autumn you can harvest the sweet stevia leaves. Cut the leaves, remove the stems and place the leaves on a piece of tissue, leaving them outside in the sunshine for one day, in order to dry them out. Next place them in a container before they become humid.
Crush the dried stevia leaves by hand or with a pestle and mortar and keep the powder in an airtight container. Even if it doesn’t dissolve, stevia powder can be used as a natural sweetener for your food and drinks.