Western rediscovery in the 20th century
The herb became better known to the West in the 20th century. The first report on the herb in English was found in an unpublished manuscript written in 1938 by Professor G. W. Groff and Hoh Hin Cheung. The report stated that the fruits were often used as the main ingredients of "cooling drinks," that is, as remedies for hot weather, fever, or other dysfunctions traditionally associated with warmth or heat (i.e. inflammation).
It was known that the juice of the fruits was very sweet.
Groff and Hoh realised that the fruit was an important Chinese domestic remedy for the treatment of cold and pneumonia when consumed with pork.
Interviews have confirmed that the fruit only recently gained importance in Chinese history. Nonetheless, it appears that a small group of people had mastered its cultivation a long time ago and had accumulated extensive knowledge on growth, pollination, and climatic requirements of the plant.
The fruit came to the United States in the early 20th century. Groff mentions that during a visit to the American ministry of agriculture in 1917, the botanist Frederick Coville showed him a luohanguo fruit bought in a Chinese shop in Washington. Seeds of the fruit which had been bought in Chinese shop in San Francisco were entered into the universal botanic description of the species in 1941.
The first research into the sweet component of luohan guo is attributed to C. H. Lee, who wrote an English report on it in 1975, and also to Tsunematsu Takemoto, who worked on it the early 1980s in Japan (later Takemoto decided to concentrate on the similar sweet plant, jiaogulan).
The development of luohan guo products in China has continued ever since, focusing in particular on the development of concentrated extracts.