It was Antonio Bertoni who first discovered Stevia in 1887. Orginally considered a part of the daisy family; it was re-assigned to the chrysanthemum (Asteraceaf) family in the Eupantoricae Tribe in 1905.
Two French chemists named Bridel and Lavieille began to unravel the secret of Stevia in 1931 with exploratory extraction work on Stevia rebaudiana leaves. Their research yielded a pure white crystalline compound that they named “Stevioside.” They found this substance to be 300 times sweeter than table sugar and without apparent toxic effects in various experimental animals.
In 1954, the Japanese began to study Stevia seriously to grow it in hothouses in Japan. And in 1971, a Chinese researcher, Dr. Tei-fu-chen visited Paraguay where he became so interested in Stevia that he applied for residency status in both Paraguay and Brazil. The non-chemical method of extraction recorded in herbal manuscripts of Chinese emperors became the standard method of extraction for the Stevia product and it removed both he undesirable green color and bitter aftertaste from the stevia leaves. Shortly after Chen started his studies in Stevia, the Japanese industry began to use it extensively to sweeten pickles, dried foods, dried sea foods, fish and meat products, soy sauce, fruit juices, soft drinks, frozen deserts, gum and low calorie foods.
Today, Stevia is grown and used around the world for its incredible sweetening properties. It has been studied for its beneficial effects on diabetics. It has been shown to retard the growth of plaque in the mouth and to be anti-carcinogenic. Dozens of studies have shown. Stevia to be a safe supplement for human use, and it is currently being used extensively throughout the world in a variety of ways.