Bittersweet Effects of Stevia Uncovered

Summary: The natural sweetener Stevia disrupts communication between different bacteria in the gut.

Source: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

According to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers, the natural sweetener stevia may lead to a gut microbial imbalance. The findings were just published in Molecules, a leading international peer-reviewed journal of chemistry.

Stevia is a natural low-calorie sweetener that is growing in popularity in food and beverage products and is generally considered safe. However, emerging scientific evidence has implicated the sweetener in gut microbial imbalance, which can lead to a variety of gastrointestinal health issues.

According to the new study, stevia may disrupt communications between different bacteria in the gut microbiome. While the team found that stevia inhibited these pathways, it did not kill off the bacteria.

“This is an initial study that indicates that more research is warranted before the food industry replaces sugar and artificial sweeteners with stevia and its extracts,” says lead researcher Dr. Karina Golberg, of the BGU Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering.

This shows a stevia packet
According to the new study, stevia may disrupt communications between different bacteria in the gut microbiome. Image is in the public domain

The researchers who participated in the study include Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, Dr. Karina Golberg and Prof. Robert Marks of the BGU Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, and their students Orr Share and Victor Markus. Prof. Kerem Terali from Near East University in Turkey and Prof. Nazmi Ozer from Hacettepe University in Cyprus also participated in the research.

Funding: The study was partially supported by the Israeli Council for Higher Education.

About this microbiome research news

Source: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Contact: Andrew Lavin – Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Open access.
Anti-Quorum Sensing Activity of Stevia Extract, Stevioside, Rebaudioside A and Their Aglycon Steviol” by Karina Golberg et al. Molecules


Anti-Quorum Sensing Activity of Stevia Extract, Stevioside, Rebaudioside A and Their Aglycon Steviol

Governments are creating regulations for consumers to reduce their sugar intake, prompting companies to increase the ratio of artificial sweeteners in their products. However, there is evidence of some deleterious effects ascribed to the aforementioned synthetic agents and therefore consumers and food manufacturers have turned their attention to natural dietary sweeteners, such as stevia, to meet their sweetening needs. Stevia is generally considered safe; however, emerging scientific evidence has implicated the agent in gut microbial imbalance. In general, regulation of microbial behavior is known to depend highly on signaling molecules via quorum sensing (QS) pathways. This is also true for the gut microbial community. We, therefore, evaluated the possible role of these stevia-based natural sweeteners on this bacterial communication pathway. The use of a commercial stevia herbal supplement resulted in an inhibitory effect on bacterial communication, with no observable bactericidal effect. Purified stevia extracts, including stevioside, rebaudioside A (Reb A), and steviol revealed a molecular interaction, and possible interruption of Gram-negative bacterial communication, via either the LasR or RhlR receptor. Our in-silico analyses suggest a competitive-type inhibitory role for steviol, while Reb A and stevioside are likely to inhibit LasR-mediated QS in a non-competitive manner. These results suggest the need for further safety studies on the agents.

Join our Newsletter
I agree to have my personal information transferred to AWeber for Neuroscience Newsletter ( more information )
Sign up to receive our recent neuroscience headlines and summaries sent to your email once a day, totally free.
We hate spam and only use your email to contact you about newsletters. You can cancel your subscription any time.
  1. There are books and scientific papers listing The NON value and addictive quality of refined sugar PLUS all of the health problems it causes. It’s poisonous.
    Just the statement that suggests that more research is needed on Stevia, coming out of the blue suggesting sugar may be a better choice must be coming from researchers that are being paid to do just that. They should be ashamed of themselves.
    I have what they call a sweet tooth and have been using Stevia for as long as I can remember.
    Refuse to use white sugar or ANY artificial sweetener.
    I’m in my 70’s and have no digestive problems nor do I take any pharmaceuticals.
    Eat properly, exercise, go easy on your vices
    Decide to stay as healthy as You can daily and die in that condition.
    Check out Dr Mercola’s Podcasts for real world and heath information you won’t find in very many places.
    Regards Robert

  2. It is still far better than any of the alternatives which do a lot of damage to our bodies. I know lots of people who consider sugar as a poison. Aspartame is the worse. I get extremely painful severe muscle cramps from the smallest amount. Do your research on all those!!

  3. Sounds like an attack by food industry trying to protect hfcs and refined sweeteners which are the number 1 cause of metabolic syndrome. We’ll see if it gets peer reviewed,doubt it

  4. It would be good to know all the variables taken into consideration during the study, i.e., diet,exercise, medications, alcohol consumption, etc. Are these factors available for comparison?

  5. Who funded the research? The sugar industry or the makers of aspartame or the makers of sucralose would be my first guess.

  6. Well, definitely in the beginning stage of research , so that word MAY should be re-emphasized. As in …stevia MAY cause..

    Like, um, sugar causes no issues, right???
    I sincerely hope this study was in no way funded by the sugar companies.

  7. The study is not complete, this is to destabilize the Stevia Industry, nothing more, when the study is complete release the findings, not some preliminary nonsense.

    1. Agreed, it does not say who funded the rest of the study only who partially funded the study and not even a percentage that they funded.

  8. Sugar has been proven to feed cancer and aid in diabetes. People eating/using stevia are loosing weight and healing from diabetes. Seems significantly safer then sugar even if it does that to humans which hasn’t been tested except in labs yet. I hear that we should study it more, but there’s nothing more to study that sugar needs to go now! I will stick with a natural replacement until they know if there is something bad.

  9. I have recently, for about 1 1/2 to almost two weeks been struggling with a burning from my urine
    I have struggled with leaking for years, which is continually increasing. I am 76 years old. I wear a 4 pad size. I try to drink a lot of water. But for about 10 months I have been purchasing Monk fruit with Stevia mix.
    So stumbling on this, I am wondering.
    I eat twice a day. Late breakfast and early supper.
    I try to get sufficient water, but know that I fall short. I wash myself and shower daily.

  10. I have used Stevia since it’s appearance on the market. I am 79 yrs old, so I don’t really remember when that was. Have been very cognizant of updates as new information became available. I use the purest form I know of, obtained at Whole Foods. There is nothing in it except pure Stevia. For the last 17 months, I have had unbelievable GI problems. Mostly chronic diarrhea along with IBS. Have lost over 30 pounds, from 127 to 95. I am absolutely skin and bones, no flesh. Also lost a lot of hair.
    Sharon Spies

Comments are closed.