The Ancient Guarani Legend of Stevia
In 2008, I was invited by an agency of the Paraguayan government to be the speaker at a special stevia symposium held in Asuncion, Paraguay, which was attended by government officials, farmers, businessmen, and media from several countries. The subject was stevia and what it held for the future of Paraguay and South America.
Following the symposium, a Paraguayan gentleman with whom I had met briefly some years earlier, approached me in the crowded auditorium and re-introduced himself. He, too, was a stevia enthusiast and he wanted to tell me the Guarani Indian legend of stevia, as it had been related to him years earlier. Then a year later, in 2009 following my address at the International Stevia Symposium, he repeated the account to me, adding a few details. This is the story he related:*
Many years ago, there was an old Guarani Indian man who was the village healer. He was very wise and knowledgeable in the healing qualities of local plants, and used them to heal the sick and the infirm. He was the physician of his time for his people. According to the legend, as he died he told those attending him that he was taking with him the spirit of stevia and the knowledge of its healing qualities. But, he continued, in the future a man would come from a foreign country and bring back the knowledge of stevia.
After he died, interest in growing stevia began to diminish among the farmers because the knowledge of its unique benefits began to disappear, and there was no longer a market for it.
Then several years ago, at a meeting concerning the growing of stevia conducted by the Extension Service of Paraguay in a remote little village, an elderly Mbya Guarani Indian quietly entered the room and took a seat in the very back row. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Paraguayan gentleman approached the old man and asked, “Dear Chief, what brings you here today?”
He responded, “Well, I heard you were going to talk about Ka’a He’ê, and the spirit of my Grandpa came to me in a vision and told me about Ka’a He’ê. He said that I was to tell you what he told me in the vision.”
The elderly man said that during his lifetime, his “grandpa” was a very wise old healer among the Guarani people and used stevia to heal the sick and injured. The old man told my friend, “Grandpa said that he took the knowledge of stevia with him when he died, but that in the future a man would come from a foreign country and restore the knowledge of the healing benefits of stevia to our people of Paraguay and to the world. So people must grow stevia again."
According to the old man, the spirit of his very wise grandpa told him that stevia was a sacred herb and should be used only for good and noble purposes. It was to be used for the healing of mankind, and that when the knowledge of its health benefits are restored to the people of the world, it will generate income for the Guarani who cultivate it in a sustainable and mutually beneficial manner. Stevia, he said, would be a blessing to the world.
My friend took my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “I believe you are that man. You are the fulfillment of the prophecy.” He then said that I should tell the Legend of Stevia in my speeches so that people would respect, and appropriately use, this wonderful little plant that came from the land of the Guarani.
My personal experience with stevia has convinced me that there is something very special about this little plant that holds out such hope for the health and wellbeing of mankind.
I have fought the battle for stevia for more than a quarter of a century, and I am delighted to see stevia finally taking its place around the world as the sweetener of choice. Unfortunately, governments of the so-called civilized world will not permit their citizens to learn the true healing qualities of this incredible little plant. It also saddens me to see its healing constituents weakened and adulterated with chemicals and harmful alcohols that companies are using to make their sweetener products. When used properly, stevia holds such wonderful promise for the health and healing of mankind. I am deeply touched and humbled when, throughout the world, I am introduced and referred to as “The Father of Stevia.”
I suppose my search for the wise old Guarani Indian healer has ended because it seems that he has found me.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.