Stevia, or Stevia rebaudiana bertoni, is a zero-calorie, natural sweetener used in South America for centuries, and it may be beneficial if you’re looking for nutritional ways to reduce acne breakouts. However, there are no studies to prove a direct benefit for acne from using stevia, so consult a dermatologist before trying it. It’s especially important to seek medical advice if you’ve been struggling with acne for a long time. Acne affects more than your skin; it can take a toll on your mental health and emotional well-being.
The Key Culprits in Acne
The main causes of acne are oily skin, due to overproduction from sebaceous glands and the accumulation of dead skin cells. Oil and skin cells plug pores, and bacteria that live on your skin start to feed on them. Inflammation is another key factor, especially in cystic acne, which penetrates deep into your skin. As an adult, other factors such as hormonal fluctuations and stress become even more significant in acne.
Possible Benefit of Stevia for Acne
Stevia’s no-calorie status means that it has no effect on your blood glucose and insulin levels, unlike sugar and other refined carbohydrates, which have the biggest impact. According to Mark Stengler, a naturopathic doctor and co-author of “Prescription for Drug Alternatives,” foods that boost glucose and insulin also elevate levels of inflammation. The effects of inflammation on acne include increased oil production and greater build-up of skin cells.
No studies are available on the benefits of taking stevia for acne. If you plan to try it, you should be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved stevia as a dietary supplement, not as a food sweetener, due to concerns about a possible role in cancer. But the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Service says that stevia proponents point out that this sweetener has been used by millions of consumers — for instance, in Japan since 1976 — without any harmful effects.
Despite stevia’s potential benefit of keeping glucose, insulin and inflammation stable for people with acne, there is no standard dose to take. Consult your doctor for a dosage recommendation. Also, the best treatment approach for acne targets all the causes of acne, not just one or two. For instance, a dermatologist can recommend topical or oral treatments that help to kill acne-causing bacteria or unclog pores.
- “Prescription for Drug Alternatives”; Robin Young Balch, N.D., et al.; 2008
- “The Acne Prescription”; Nicholas Perricone, M.D.; 2003
- NebGuide: Stevia
- Medical News Today: Millions of Women Facing Adult Acne