Ever since reading about stevia in Margaret Roberts’ herb book I have been fascinated. A herb that is sweeter than sugar, but is also good for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and even fights against tooth decay? Too good to be true, it had to be. So when I was compiling a wish list of plants for my herb garden I added it in, not at all sure that it would be available in our area. To my surprise my sister-in-law returned with it that very day, along with two tea tree plants, which I’d also thought would be a rarity item.
Now my stevia plants have had a couple of months to settle in, I am finally daring to pick their leaves and try out some of Margaret Roberts’ recommendations. Her 100 favourite herbs book makes it incredibly easy to use fresh herbs for gentle medicinal use. Usually all you need is a quarter cup of leaves infused in a cup of boiling water for five minutes. Then sip. I’m constantly surprised at the flavours, which are mostly refreshing and delicious, not needing any honey, which is an optional extra, to sweeten them.
One of stevia’s properties is as an antiviral and antibacterial herb. I’ve just had a chance to test its mettle against cold sores. Horrible things, making your life miserable just when you thought you were getting over the cold that brought them on. Louise Hay says cold sores are caused by angry thoughts and sure enough this time one showed up on Monday when I was seething about the iniquity of banks. So now I’m a guinea –pig. Will a cup of stevia and mint tea a day help prevent the cold sore from developing, or at least reduce its ferocity? Re-reading the book I see it should be peppermint rather than garden mint and she also recommends adding elderflowers:
Margaret Roberts' tea for Cold Sores
1 tablespoon fresh or dried elderflowers
1 tablespoon peppermint sprigs
2 stevia leaves
Crush and chop the stevia leaves to release the sweetness. Pour one cup of boiling water over the herbs. Allow to steep for five minutes. Strain (or not) and sip.
Drink one cup three times a week to clear the Herpes simplex virus from the body.
So now I have two more herbs to add to my wish list. In the mean time I’m going to carry on drinking my stevia and mint tea. I think it may be helping and anyway it’s delicious; fresh and minty with a bit of sweetness that bursts into intensity whenever you bite into a little bit of the chopped herb floating in the tea. Perfect for sugar cravings too, as it has almost no calories and you can just pick a leaf and chew it whenever the need for a sugar fix overtakes you!
I’m looking forward to making a sweet syrup from stevia in summer to add to cool drinks and lemonade instead of sugar. All it needs is 10 leaves to a litre of water boiled for 15 minutes and you have enough sweetness to save you several cups of sugar. I’ll let you know how it goes and more to the point whether it passes the child-taste-test.
Cultivation of Stevia
Stevia is native to South America where it has been used since the earliest civilizations discovered it and named it honey leaf. It grows fairly easily in South Africa, being quite tough and just needing deep watering twice a week. It dies down in winter and sends up new shoots in spring.
Edited to add, two weeks on: I really do think this tea helped keep the cold sore under control. Although this was far from a scientific experiment, and I also drank a few cups of Melissa tea which helps too, the cold sore never developed into a full blown, crusty, miserable beacon and has healed fairly quickly. It also was less painful and tingly than usual. Margaret Roberts recommends drinking the tea three times a week over a period of time to clear the virus from the body, so I will continue and hope that I get fewer as time goes by!