Fermented Stevia stems: Inca and Aztec medicine
During my research into the medicinal properties of the Stevia plant, I came across a "folk medicine" recipe that uses mainly the stems of mature Stevia plants. Those stems are chopped up or put in a blender with with water, then fermented for periods up to 6 months. Only the stems of the Stevia plant naturally harbor a microorganism that causes this fermentation.
This as-of-yet unknown organism then "eats" the many compounds in the Stevia plant and metabolises them into as-of-yet unknown medicinal compounds that are alleged to have wide-ranging beneficial effects on gastrointestinal problems, skin problems and just any other ailment one can think of.
I admit this all sounds a bit hocus-pocus, but then again, researchers don't work for peanuts and international patents are notoriously expensive to aquire and maintain, so here we go with the patent: It is US patent nr. 5,262,161 granted to Fumio Dozono on November 16, 1993.
It describes how Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni stems are fermented to make a skin lotion against a variety of skin diseases. I wanted to corroborate this somehow, and I found evidence for the "fermented-Stevia-is-a-universal-cure" theory: In Paraguay, there was even a company that sold fermented Stevia beverages for medicinal purposes! They even described their production process, which I have translated from scanned pages of an old brochure:
And then I found another US patent (nr. 5,958,419) for fermented Stevia stems and leaves, with an alleged antihistaminic action.
And another one (nr. 5,250,301) for fermented Stevia stems to cure digestive ailments.
From the patent: "The liquid internal medicine of the present invention may be administered to patients as a drink, whereby the blood circulation of the patients will be promoted and the disorders of their digestive organs may be cured. As the characteristic aspect of the present invention, the raw material for preparing the medicine is, as mentioned above, a liquid as obtained by concentrating, fermenting and ripening an extract from only the stems of Stevia so that the medicine has a potent curative effect on various disorders."
"Where the liquid internal medicine of the present invention thus obtained is perorally administered, it may be diluted before use to a mixture from 1/5 to 1/50, preferably from 1/10 to 1/15, with water or a soft drink, in accordance with the condition of the patients.
Since the liquid internal medicine of the present invention is totally composed of a natural Stevia extract only, it is free from any harmful side effects when absorbed into the body. The internal medicine of the present invention has the effect of promoting blood circulation so that disorders of the digestive organs may be cured. Additionally, if the medicine is externally applied to the skin, the effect of treating skin disorders can be observed."
I have not even begun to seriously make my way through the thousands of Japanese-only patents for fermented Stevia and their benefits. From what I understand, the reason those products work against so many ailments is that the fermented Stevia not only contains a high concentration of beneficial substances, but that the substance also kills bacteria, yeasts, fungi, virii and parasites. Scientists in Japan say that it even kills H5N1 (bird flu) and H1N1 (pig flu).