Pre-Columbian civilizations used chia as a raw material for medicines, nutritional compounds. Chia was used by the Aztecs as food, mixed with other foods, mixed in water and drunk as a beverage, ground into flour, included in medicines, and pressed for oil. Chia flour could be stored for many years and could be easily carried on long trips, serving as a high-energy food. The Aztecs also offered chia to the gods during religious ceremonies.
When the Spanish conquerors landed the new land in 1500s, they repressed the natives and suppressed their traditions and commercialization system that had existed. Many crops that had held a major position in pre-Columbian American diets were banned by the Spanish because of their close association with religion. Chia, as the result, was deliberately eliminated. Chia survived only in regional area in Mexico for the last 500 years.
It was until early 1990s, a group of American and South American scientists, nutritionists and agriculturists began collaborating in commercial production of chia in Argentina, in the hope of rediscovering the lost nutritional plants in the Azrtec tradition and civilizations.
At present, chia is grown in Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. Chia seeds are now also grown in Australia by The Chia company, and Australia is quite likely to become the biggest chia-growing country in the world.