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Home>Sweetleaf Stevia>About>Stevia Timeline

Stevia Timeline



1500's: The Guarani Indians of Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia call the plant Ka’a He’ê (sweet herb) and use it in their teas and to treat a variety of ailments.

1515: Spanish conquistadors are introduced to stevia by the Guarani Indians.

1887: The stevia plant was first researched scientifically by Dr. Moisés Bertoni, a Swiss Botanist who had immigrated to Paraguay and was the Director of the Collage of Agriculture at the University of Asunción at the time. He was the first to publicize the sweet properties of the plant in Revista de Agronomia in 1899, and the first to develop a commercial enterprise for stevia by exporting it to other countries.

1900: Dr. Orido Rebaudi conducts the first complete study of stevia leaves. Neighboring countries begin cultivating stevia crops.

1931: French chemists M. Bridel and R. Lavielle isolate the compounds that give the plant its sweet taste. The glycosides are named stevioside and rebaudioside.

1941: England explores the possibility of using stevia when sugarcane supplies from the Caribbean are cut off during WWII.

1970: Japan begins cultivating stevia and extracting the various steviosides to be used in place of sugar. Following extensive safety tests, the steviosides are approved as a sweetener by the government of Japan.

1982: James May is introduced to stevia by a Peace Corps volunteer who had been serving in Paraguay.

Mr. May leaves his position as the head of an artificial kidney dialysis program in a major Phoenix, Arizona hospital system.

Mr. May invests his life savings into manufacturing and marketing stevia products for the US market.

Mr. May’s local FDA office gives him permission to distribute stevia “as long as it doesn’t harm anyone.”

Mr. May begins selling Yerba Maté Royale®, a combination of Yerba Maté tea with stevia.

Mr. May’s first venture is Wisdom of the Ancients® herbal teas.

Stevioside, the combination of sweet glycosides extracted from stevia leaves, achieves a 40% market share as a commercial sweetener in Japan.

1985: Vegetarian Times published a two-paragraph piece on Mr. May and the fact he had brought stevia to the US.

Mr. May is summoned to his local FDA office where is told the main office in Washington, D.C. demanded he stop bringing the sweetener into the US. The FDA continues to allow him to use it in his herbal teas, however.

1994: Congress passes the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

1995: FDA approves stevia and stevioside for use as dietary supplements.

1996: SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener is introduced across the United States.

2003: The Miracle of Stevia by James May is published by Kensington Press.

2005: SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener continues to be the leading stevia brand in the US.

2008: SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener obtains GRAS affirmation from GRAS Associates, LLC and Life Sciences Research Office, two separate and independent panels of scientists.

SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener officially launches in the US.

2009: Wisdom Natural Brands® receives a “No Questions” letter from the FDA supporting the safety of SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener.

2010: Mr. May is presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Stevia World International at the Stevia World Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener is the overall winner of the 2010-2011 Annual Global Stevia Products Award by the International Society of Antioxidants in Nutrition and Health (ISANH) based on taste performance, advancement in ingredient science and positive environmental and social impact.

2011: Mr. May is presented with the Visionary Award by the American Herbal Products Association in recognition of persistent dedication to the advancement of all-natural stevia.

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