Chong or chonga has botanical name Caralluma fimbriata and belongs to family Asclepiadaceaeor Apocynaceae (cactus family). This family and particularly the genus Caralluma has species that are well known for medicinal values. This plant primarily belongs to Indian Center; which is the basic source of its diversity, also found in China Center and Abyssinian Center. In India it is a local vegetable of tribal areas, Kerala and Kolli hills of South India, arid regions of Andhra Pradesh, West Indian semi-arid regions. In Pakistan it is found in marginal lands of Khushab, Mianwali, Sialkot, Gujrat and some areas of Narowal. Caralluma fimbriata has different local names like Karallamu (Telengu), Shindalamakadi or Ranshabar (Marathi), Kallimudayanor Kallimooliyan (Tamil), Yugmaphallottama (Sanskrit), Dandathor (Punjabi)and Chong (Urdu).

Special Features:

Chong; C. fimbriata has bitter taste like bitter gourd and bitter melon. Being portable, it can be used as raw, cooked or processed into chutneyor pickle; to stop hunger and to quench thirst too, so called an appetite suppressant. When it is eaten as a green vegetable it also provides advantage of purifying blood and enhances the stamina. But in West it is used for weight loss, lowering blood sugar and muscle fatigues like tetany. Diabetes and skin problems have also been cured using this herb. Certainties are there about its effects on part of brain called appetite control center. Carallumafimbriatais favorite food of tribesmen when they are on a days hunt, and they often pack some of Chongto sustain themselves and therefore it is frequentlyknownas a “famine food”. It also contains a susbstance due to which human body absorbs more oxygen, hence less toxins, a faster metabolism and more energy is produced by utilizing the existing fat reserves particularly with an empty stomach.

The past and future of Chong:

Caralluma fimbriatahas blocking power against the activity of numerous enzymes; hence blocking the formation of fat, which forcesthe burning of fat reserves. The control mechanisms in brain that are involved in appetite control are positively regulated by Caralluma fimbriata. The experts of Indian traditional book of medicine called Ayurvedic had reported that it does not contain any toxic chemicals and has almost no adverse effects on human health.

A company known as Gencor has developed Carallumafimbriataextract called “Slimaluma”, patented it and standardized it for general use. This extract found in the plant as a concentrated chemical form. The EGCG (epigallocatechingallate) from green tea and the Slimaluma extract from Caralluma fimbriata, both when together; found to have a synergistic effect on weight loss and brain appetite control center. Many clinical trials have proved that Slimalumais very effective in reducingbody excessive fats through its appetite control mechanisms.

Studies proved that little chong is an inordinate aid to diets used for weight loss. It also has an effective chemical called hydroxyaltrate (HCA10) that has proved for its contribution in weight loss and doesnt affect the central nervous system like many other common weight loss drugs.

C. fimbriatahaspregnane glycosides that block the action of Melonyl Coenzyme A and citratelyaseenzyme, both the enzymes buildand formulate fats in the body thatburnfat reserves off at a fast level. Additionallypregnane glycosides prevent the hunger sensory mechanism, a mechanism present in hypothalamus.

Chong, in addition combats fatigue, and if someone eats it regularly will get lean muscles. Trials testified that using chong daily either freshes or extracts up to one month shows fast weight loss in mammals. Hopefully, after these proves are publically informed, people will be influenced on growing Chong in their own kitchen gardens.


Caralluma fimbriata (Roxbury) belongs to family Asclepiadaceae (cactus family) and has similar botanical description as that of Carallumaacendens. The family has large groups of tender succulent plants found as wild in India, Arabia, the Canary Islands, Afghanistan, southern Europe, Africa and Ceylon. The plants of this group are thin and recumbent sterns. These could be ½ to 1 ½ inches thick and some erect upward clumpsof 8-18 inches height. The angled stems are covered by spines that are actually leaves. Flowers are mostly fleshy, star-shaped and in florescence as whole in succulent plants are worst sniffing. Generally, foul-smelling blossoms born in late summer and are usually colored yellow or dark brown, red, maroon, purple, tan and black. Flowers have size from ½ to 2 inches and sometimes even large with slanting and borne usually at the stem basesof plants. Flowers of wild types are very attractive for insects and are often pollinated by flies.


Chong or Caralluma fimbriata is basically a cross pollinated specie and entomophilous. So breeding methods used for cross pollinated species can be used for its breeding. But this medicinal plant is only bred by selection process and no registered cultivar has been produced till yet. No doubt, some tribal peoples use it as wild but in some gardens it is planted as boundary for other precious plants. The major constraint is almost no exploration of genetic variability (germplasm) which could be bred for future needs.

C. fimbriata can be bred for its HCA10 contents, Melonyl Coenzyme A, Slimaluma contents and Pregnane glycosides. Specific active phytochemical constituents (Flavone glycosides, Megastigmane glycosides, bitter principles, saponine, Caratuberside (A and B), Boucerosides (I to X), Tomentogenin, Sitosterols, Luteolin-4-neohesperidoside, and Kaempferol-7-0-neohesperidosid) can be enhanced by breeding procedures.

The authors: a) is M.Sc. (Hons.) Plant Breeding and Genetics, b)M.Sc. (Hons.) Plant Breeding and Genetics while the last two are Assistant Professors, PBG, UAF

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