Peer Review: Reed ’14 Investigates Indigenous Remedies for Type 1 Diabetes
The Cornell Daily Sun, 23 January 2013

NEW YORK, USA: Spenser Reed ’14, a double major in food science and nutritional sciences, joined the search for natural pharmaceuticals this summer at the Cornell Biodiversity Laboratory in the Dominican Republic. In his research, Reed focused on evaluating the bioactive properties, or those that affect human cells, of plants used by indigenous groups to treat type 1 diabetes. After conducting a literature search regarding Dominican medicinal plant use and speaking with indigenous healers in Punta Cana, Reed selected five plants to survey for anti-diabetic properties. One of his choices – the avocado leaf – particularly stood out because it was rumored to be helpful in treating diabetes when brewed in a tea. To determine the bioactivity of his plant selections, Reed conducted a variety of in vitro tests after extracting compounds from the leaves. His trials included an antibiotic test; an allelopathy test that measures the ability of extracted compounds to influence growth and metabolism; and a toxicity test. The avocado leaf performed the best of any of the plants on these preliminary procedures. Read the article …