1. Please check and comment entries here.
Table of Contents

    Topic review

    Stevia Genus

    Subjects: Chemistry, Organic
    View times: 49
    Submitted by: Valeria Sülsen


    Phytochemistry and biological activities update of Stevia genus.

    1. Introduction

    The genus Stevia represents one of the most diverse and characteristic of the tribe Eupatoriae, subfamily Asteroidae, family Asteraceae. Its distribution area ranges from the southern United States to the Andean region of South America, to northern Chile and northern Patagonia in Argentina [1][2]. Members of Stevia comprise herbs and shrubs that are found mainly 500–3500 m above sea level. They grow in a wide range of environments including grasslands, scrublands, forested mountain slopes, conifer forests, and subalpine vegetation, although they most often inhabit semi-dry mountainous terrains [3].

    The number of species within the genus is estimated to be 230. Mexico and South America are characterized by highlands where Stevia species grow. Most species are found in South America, within Peru, Bolivia, southern Brazil, Paraguay, and northern Argentina, where approximately 120 species are found [3][4]. There are more than 80 species known to be in North America, and at least 70 are native to Mexico. Records show that the genus is not present in the Bahamas, the Antilles, or Amazonia [2][3].

    The genus is known worldwide for the species Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni (Asteraceae), popularly named “stevia”, which produces large amounts of stevioside, a powerful non-nutritive natural sweetener. Stevioside is composed of a mixture of several closely related ent-kaurene glycosides, among which stevioside, rebaudioside A, and dulcoside A and B are the most important. Stevioside is the most abundant sweetener that, together with the other diterpene glycosides, accumulates in the leaves. The aqueous extracts of S. rebaudiana are used commercially to sweeten different products and also for the extraction of sweet principles. Stevia rebaudiana has also demonstrated several biological activities in preclinical and clinical studies including antidiabetic, anticariogenic, antioxidant, antihypertensive, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor activities, among others [5].

    Revisions on the genus covering ethnobotany and phytochemistry data have been published previously [1][6][7]. However, in the last years, most of the scientific papers and reviews were dedicated almost exclusively to S. rebaudiana and its constituents.

    2. Ethnobotany

    Ethnobotanical data on Stevia species have been described since the 18th century. The latest revision covering ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological aspects of the Stevia species was published in 2002 [6]. A literature survey covering the period January 2002–February 2021 was carried out here in order to update the information related to these topics.

    The traditional uses of 29 species from Central and South America are available. Some of the most common popular uses of Stevia species are related to antidiarrheal, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial uses, as a febrifuge, a diuretic, a diaphoretic, to treat heart diseases, stomachaches, and skin conditions (Table 1).

    Table 1. Ethnobotanical uses of Stevia species.

    Species Common Name Ethnobotanical Use Location Refs.
    S. achalensis Comadre Ornamental. Argentina [8][9]
    S. balansae Hieron. - Antidiarrheal. Paraguay [10]
    S. bogotensis Tr. ex Cortés Jarilla, Clavito, eupatoria Febrifugue. Diaphoretic. Colombia [6][10]
    S. cardiatica Perkins - Heart diseases. Bolivia [6][10]
    S. collina Gardn. Caá-ehé Sweetener. As stomachic. Brazil [6]
    S. connata Lag. Pericón de monte Stomachache treatment. Guatemala [6][10]
    S. elatior HBK. A-cí To soothe burns and scratches Mexico [6][10]
    S. eupatoria (Spreng.) Wild Hierba del borrego, yerba del borrego, cola del borrego, estevia Diuretic. Antimalarial. For stomachache. Hypoglycemiant. Analgesic. Anti-inflammatory. Antihypertensive. Cuba [6][10][11]
    S. fiebrigii Hieron. var. vattuonei (Hicken) Cabrera - Ornamental. Argentina [8]
    S. glandulosa Hook. et Arn. Hierba de la pulga Antipyretic. Mexico [6][10]
    S. linoides Sch. Bip. - Astringent. - [12]
    S. lucida Lag. Yerba del aire, hierba de la araña, ma-li-too, kebuj, mariposa, chirca, chilca, javillo, golondrina de la sabanera To cure wounds. To soothe pains. Rheumatism treatment. Anti-inflammatory. Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela [6][10]
    S. macbridei B. L. Robins var. anomala B. L. Robins Jauja-huancayo Used as a bath by women. Peru [6][10]
    S. mercedensis Hieron. var. mercedensis Comadre Ornamental. Bolivia, Argentina [9][13]
    S. nepetifolia HBK Zazal, anis de ratón, peracón Dysmenorrhea treatment. Mexico, Guatemala [6][10]
    S. palmeri Gray Raniweri, raniwori Odoriferous. Mexico [6]
    S. petiolata (Cass) Sch. Bip. Guarme-guarmi To give flavor to meat. Peru [6][10]
    S. pilosa Lag. Flor de María Antimalarial. Antipyretic. Cathartic. Diuretic. Mexico [6][10]
    S. plummerae Gray Ronino To make washes and poultices for open wounds. Mexico [6]
    S. puberula Hook. Lima-lima Used as tea substitute and stomach medicine. Peru [6][10]
    S. rebaudiana Bertoni Hierba dulce del Paraguay, estevia, stevia Sweetener. Food additive. Contraceptive. Antidiabetic. Used to regulate arterial pressure. Paraguay, Brazil [6][10]
    S. rhombifolia HKB var. stepphanocoma Sch. Bip. Manka pak’I, pirq’a Stomachache treatment. As an emetic. Used for mate. Peru [6]
    S. salicifolia Cav. Hierba del aire, hierba de la mula, la envidia, zazale de olor, yerba de la mula. Hierba de la Santa Rita Rheumatism treatment. Cathartic. For intestinal upset due to parasites. Purgative. For fevers and colds. Mexico, USA [6][10]
    S. sanguinea Hieron. Malvisco Ornamental. Argentina [8]
    S. satureiifolia (Lam.) Sch. Bip. ex Klotzsch var. satureiifolia Romerillo Ornamental. Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay [8]
    S. serrata Cav. Ronino, Uriki, Otoninawa, Chapo, yerba picante, hipericón, Q’ang’aj, anis silvestre, hipericon arrie To make washes and poultices for open wounds. Applied to cuts on feet and on snake bites. As cough remedy. For gastrointestinal disorders. Guatemala, Mexico [6][10][14]
    S. subpubescens Lag. Hierba de la mula, Zazal As a bath after parturition. Stomachache treatment. To treat joint pains. Mexico [6][10]
    S. trifida Lag. Manzanilla de agua Dysentery treatment. Mexico [6][10]
    S. yalae Cabrera - Ornamental. Argentina [8]

    Many plants such as S. connata, S. eupatoria, S. puberula, S. serrata, and S. subpubescens have been used for gastrointestinal disorders. Other species have been used as therapy for infectious diseases. In this sense, S. bogotensis, S. eupatoria, S. glandulosa, S. pilosa, and S. salicifolia have been employed as antipyrectic and antiparasitic. The anti-inflammatory use of Stevia plants has also been described in the literature; for instance, S. eupatoria, S. lucida, and S. salicifolia have been described as useful for the treatmet of inflammatory processes.

    Stevia eupatoria, S. lucida, S. salicifolia, S. serrata, and S. subpubescens have been used in the United States, Mexico, and Central America and northern South America. These Stevia species have many associated medicinal properties and have been popularly used to treat a wide range of diseases.

    Stevia eupatoria, known as “hierba del borrego”, “yerba del borrego”, and “cola del Borrego” has been described as antimalarial and has been used for its diuretic properties. Mexican folk medicine has used this species as an herbal remedy for stomach pain and for its hipoglycemic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antihypertensive properties. This species is known as “estevia” (synonym of S. purpurea) [6][10][11].

    Stevia lucida is widespread from Mexico to Venezuela. This plant is popularly known in Mexico as “yerba del aire” and “hierba de la araña”. In Guatemala, it is called “kebuj” and in Colombia, it is known as “chilca” and “golondrina de la sabanera”. In Venezuela, it is named “chilca” and “chirca”. Stevia glutinosa, a synonym of S. lucida, is called “javillo”, “javilla”, and “mariposa”. Several uses have been described for this species, including external use to relieve pain and treat wounds. In Colombia, a decoction of the aerial parts of S. lucida has been used to alleviate inflammatory processes. In Guatemala, it has been used to treat rheumatism. With the same purpose, in Maracaibo (Venezuela), a decoction of the leafy stems of S. lucida has been used. In Mexican folk medicine, “yerba del aire” has been used to treat chilly cramps [6][10].

    S. salicifolia constitutes another species known with different common names and is distributed from southern United States to Mexico. In traditional medicine, it is known as “hierba del aire”, “hierba de la mula”, “zazal”, “zazale de olor, “yerba de la mula”, and “la envidia” in Mexico. This species, synonym of S. stenophylla, is also known as “hierba de la Santa Rita”. In Mercado Juarez (Toluca, Mexico), the dried aerial parts of S. salicifolia are marketed to prepare decoctions or alcoholic infusions that can be used “as a rub” to treat rheumatism. In Mexico, the decoction of the dried roots has been used as a cathartic, and the infusion of the roots has been recommended for intestinal upset due to parasites. The roots, mashed and placed in warm water, are used to prepare a drink employed as a purgative. The leaves are used to prepare tea (infusion) for colds and fevers [6][10].

    Stevia serrata is known in traditional medicine as “ronino”, “uriki”, “otoninawa”, “chapo”, “yerba picante”, “hipericón”, “Q’ang’aj”, “anis silvestre”, and “hipericon arrie”. The external use of crushed roots of S. serrata for washes and poultices applied directly to open wounds has been reported. The whole plant crushed and rubbed has been employed in snake bites. This species has been described as a cough remedy and to treat gastrointestinal disorders [6][10][14].

    In Mexico, S. subpubescens (synonym of S. subpubescens var. subpubescens) is commonly known as “zazal” and also as “hierba de la mula”. The aerial parts of this species have been recommended as a decoction to be used as a bath by women after parturition. The leaves are used for stomachaches and the whole fried plant can be rubbed on affected parts to treat joint pain [6][10].

    Other species have also been described as medicinal. The decoction of S. macbridei has been used externally by women as a bath. The infusion or tea of S. nepetifolia has been suggested to alleviate dysmenorrhea symptoms. A drink prepared with the roots of S. balansae has been employed in Paraguay to treat diarrhea. The infusion of roots and flowers of S. trifida has been orally administrated to treat dysentery.

    In the last years, several Argentinean Stevia species have been employed with an ornamental purpose. In this sense, S. achalensis, S. fiebrigii var. vattuonei, S. mercedensis var. mercedensis, S. sanguinea, S. satureiifolia var. satureiifolia and S. yalae can be mentioned. In particular, the species S. fiebrigii var. vattuonei and S. mercedensis var. mercedensis are commonly used in northern Argentina as ornamentation in religious festivities.

    The entry is from 10.3390/molecules26092733


    1. Hernández, L.R.; Catalán, C.A.N.; Joseph-Natan, P. The chemistry of the genus Stevia (Asteraceae). Rev. Acad. Colomb. Ciencias 1998, 22, 229–279.
    2. Rodríguez-Cravero, J.F.; Gutiérrez, D.G.; Katinas, L.; Grossi, M.A.; Bonifacino, J.M.; Marchesi, E. A revision and morphological analysis of the Uruguayan species of Stevia (Compositae, Eupatorieae). Rodriguésia 2019, 70, e01532018.
    3. Soejarto, D.D. Botany of Stevia and Stevia rebaudiana. In Stevia. The Genus Stevia; Kinghorn, A.D., Ed.; Taylor and Francis: London, UK, 2002; Chapter 2; pp. 18–39.
    4. King, R.M.; Robinson, H. The Genera of the Eupatorieae (Asteraceae); Monographs in Systematic Botany vol 22; King, R.M., Robinson, H., Eds.; Allen Press, Inc.: Lawrence, KS, USA, 1987.
    5. Ruiz-Ruiz, J.C.; Moguel-Ordoñez, Y.B.; Segura-Campos, M.R. Biological activity of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni and their relationship to health. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 2017, 57, 2680–2690.
    6. Soejarto, D.D. Ethnobotany of Stevia and Stevia rebaudiana. In Stevia. The Genus Stevia; Kinghorn, A.D., Ed.; Taylor and Francis: London, UK, 2002; Chapter 3; pp. 40–67.
    7. Cerda-García-Rojas, C.M.; Pereda-Miranda, R. The phytochemistry of Stevia: A general survey. In Stevia. The Genus Stevia; Kinghorn, A.D., Ed.; Taylor and Francis: London, UK, 2002; Chapter 5; pp. 86–118.
    8. Rodríguez-Cravero, J.; Gutiérrez, D. Stevia Cav. In Plantas Cultivadas de la Argentina: Asteráceas-Compuestas, 1st ed.; Hurrell, J.A., Bayón, N.D., Delucchi, G., Eds.; Hemisferio Sur: Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2017; pp. 273–278.
    9. Cantero, J.J.; Núñez, C.O.; Bernardello, G.; Amuchastegui, A.; Mulko, J.; Brandolin, P.; Palchetti, M.V.; Iparraguirre, J.; Virginil, N.; y Ariza Espinar, L. Las Plantas de Importancia Económica en Argentina, 1st ed.; UniRío Editora: Rio Cuarto, Argentina, 2019.
    10. Soejarto, D.D.; Compadre, C.M.; Kinghorn, A.D. Ethnobotanical notes on Stevia. Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harv. Univ. 1983, 29, 1–25.
    11. Cariño-Cortés, R.; Hernández-Ceruelos, A.; Torres-Valencia, J.M.; González-Avila, M.; Arriaga-Alba, M.; Madrigal-Bujaidar, E. Antimutagenicity of Stevia pilosa and Stevia eupatoria evaluated with the Ames test. Toxicol. Vitro 2007, 21, 691–697.
    12. Perez-Perez, I.; Valencia, J.M.T. Metabolitos secundarios aislados de las raíces y las hojas de Stevia jorullensis H.B.K. Bachelor’s Thesis, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Pachuca de Soto, Mexico, 2016.
    13. Brown, A.E.; Moritán, M.G.; Ventura, B.; Hilgert, N.I.; Malizia, L.R. Plantas silvestres, ámbito doméstico y subsistencia. In Finca San Andrés. Un Espacio de Cambios Ambientales y Sociales en el Alto Bermejo; Brown, A.E., Moritán, M.G., Ventura, B., Hilgert, N.I., Malizia, L.R., Eds.; Subtrópico: Tucumán, Argentina, 2007; Chapter 7; p. 210.
    14. Cordeiro, M.S.; Simas, D.L.R.; Pérez-Sabino, J.F.; Mérida-Reyes, M.S.; Muñoz-Wug, M.A.; Oliva-Hernández, B.E.; Da Silva, A.J.R.; Fernandes, P.D.; Giorno, T.B.S. Characterization of the antinociceptive activity from Stevia serrata Cav. Biomedicines 2020, 8, 79.