Bitter melon may provide treatment for diabetes

By Peter Kent

Bitter melon plant

Diabetes ranks seventh among the causes of death in South Carolina. And the numbers are bound to rise until the state can stem the tide of obesity, which can spur the onset of the disease.

Typically, diet and drugs such as insulin are used to control diabetes, but scientists are exploring alternatives. One promising research area is botanical medicines – plants that contain bioactive compounds that can prevent and cure diseases.

Clemson genetics scientist Chittaranjan Kole is studying bitter melon, which is used as a health food and medicine in countries ranging from China to Brazil.

At least 22 medicinally active chemicals have been identified in bitter melon, and may be useful in treating diabetes as well as other diseases such as cancer, ulcer, hepatitis, measles, HIV and immune disorders.

The plant also may provide a new cash crop for South Carolina farmers who can supply both consumers and the health-food industry.

For information: Chittaranjan Kole, 864-656-3060,