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Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)

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Also listed as: Fagopyrum esculentum
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Alpha-glucosidase, amino acids, antichymotrypsin, antipepsin, antitrypsin, beechwheat, bioflavonoid, black wheat, blé noir (French), blinis, boekweit (Dutch), brank, buckwheat bread, buckwheat chaff, buckwheat flour, buckwheat flowers, buckwheat glycoprotein, buckwheat grain, buckwheat grain extract, buckwheat hulls, buckwheat husk, buckwheat IT-1 seeds, buckwheat leaves, buckwheat noodles, buckwheat seed, buckwheat tea, BW24KD, BWI-1, BWI-2a, ch'iao mai, common buckwheat, copper, d-chiro-inositol, d-CI, dietary fiber, Fagopyrum cymosum, Fagopyrum esculentum spp., Fagopyrum fagopyrum (L.) Karst., Fagopyrum sagittatum Gilib., Fagopyrum tartaricum, Fagopyrum tartaricum Gaertn., Fagopyrum vulgare (Hill.), fatty acids, flavonoids, French wheat, galettes, garden buckwheat, gliadin, gluten-free, goose buckwheat, groats, hua ch'iao, hrechanyky, hydrophilic vitamins, India wheat, iron, isoorientin, isovitexin, kasha, knot grass, lipophilic vitamins, lysine, magnesium, minerals, naphthadianthrone, orientin, perennial buckwheat, pizoccheri (Italian), poffertjes (Dutch), Polygonaceae (family), Polygonum fagopyrum L., proteinase inhibitor, qamh al baqar (Arabic), quercetin, rutin, saracen, saracen corn, sarrasin, soba, sobagara (Japanese), sweet buckwheat, tartary buckwheat, tartary buckwheat flavonoid, tartary buckwheat seeds, t'ien ch'iao, vitamin B6, vitexin, wild buckwheat, wu mai.

Background
  • Buckwheat was originally grown in Asia but is now also grown in North America. It has likely been grown in China since approximately 1000 BC. Buckwheat is not a cereal but a gluten-free knot grass. Buckwheat flowers are smooth-textured and white to light pink, and they bloom from midsummer to early fall. Buckwheat seeds ripen from August to October.
  • Buckwheat flour is used in cereal, pancakes, noodles, and bread. Other traditionally consumed parts of the plant include raw or cooked buckwheat leaves, raw or cooked seeds, and sprouted seeds. The grain can also be used to brew beer.
  • Nutritionally, buckwheat is of interest because of its protein, fiber, and fatty acid composition and its gluten-free nature. Also, buckwheat consumption is associated with beneficial levels of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Buckwheat is also a source of dietary flavonoids, such as rutin and quercetin, which may offer health benefits.
  • Clinical trials suggest that buckwheat consumption may help reduce leg volume in individuals with chronic venous insufficiency and help treat symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. However, more evidence is required in these and other areas, including its proposed blood sugar-lowering and cholesterol-lowering effects.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Preliminary research suggests that buckwheat tea prevents an increase in leg volume in this population. More evidence is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Preliminary research suggests that buckwheat herb may be helpful in patients with diabetic retinopathy. More evidence is required before conclusions can be made.

C


There is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of buckwheat on blood lipids. More evidence is required before conclusions can be made.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Cancer, celiac disease, chilblains (ulcers on the extremities due to cold weather), constipation, diabetes, food allergy diagnosis/treatment (gluten intolerance), galactagogue (increases breast milk production), gout, hemorrhage (retinal), high blood pressure, hyperglycemia (high blood glucose), hyperlipidemia (high blood lipids), kidney disease, liver disease, obesity, radiation sickness, skin disorders, varicose veins, vasodilator (dilates blood vessels).

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • In general, buckwheat is typically used as a tea, extract, flour, or tablet.
  • For chronic venous insufficiency, buckwheat tea (100% Fagopyrum esculentum, standardized to a total flavonoid content of 5%, yielding a daily dosage of 270 milligrams of rutin) has been taken by mouth for three months.
  • For diabetic retinopathy, two tablets (containing 0.5 grams of buckwheat herb and 0.03 grams of troxerutin) of pressed buckwheat herb have been taken by mouth three times daily for three months.
  • For high cholesterol, 100 grams of sieved buckwheat flour has been taken by mouth daily for four weeks.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for buckwheat in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), its constituents, or members of the Polygonaceae family. An allergic reaction may occur after inhaling or ingesting buckwheat, occupational exposure, or sleeping on pillows stuffed with buckwheat. Cross-sensitivity exists between buckwheat and rice in some patients.
  • Reports of anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction), rhinitis (stuffy nose), conjunctivitis (eye inflammation), contact urticaria (hives), skin itching, atopic dermatitis, low blood pressure, swelling, gastrointestinal symptoms, asthma, shock, and death have been documented. Life-threatening allergic reactions to buckwheat have also been reported in individuals with latex allergies.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Buckwheat may cause immune effects, gastrointestinal effects in peptic ulcer surgery patients, nausea, vomiting, poor digestion, rash, and wheezing.
  • Use cautiously in patients with celiac disease. However, the Celiac Disease Foundation and Gluten Intolerance Group consider buckwheat safe.
  • Buckwheat may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Buckwheat may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Use cautiously in patients using cholesterol-lowering agents.
  • Use cautiously in patients using photosensitizers (agents that increase sensitivity to light), as buckwheat contains photosensitizing compounds.
  • Buckwheat grain has traditionally been consumed as part of the diet in nonallergic pregnant women. Other sources or parts of buckwheat should be avoided, due to a lack of available evidence.
  • Avoid nonfood parts of the buckwheat plant, as certain parts of the buckwheat plant may be poisonous if ingested.
  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), its constituents, or members of the Polygonaceae family. An allergic reaction may occur after inhaling or ingesting buckwheat, occupational exposure, or sleeping on pillows stuffed with buckwheat. Cross-sensitivity exists between buckwheat and rice in some patients. Reports of anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction), rhinitis (stuffy nose), conjunctivitis (eye inflammation), contact urticaria (hives), skin itching, atopic dermatitis, low blood pressure, swelling, gastrointestinal symptoms, asthma, shock, and death have been documented. Life-threatening allergic reactions to buckwheat have also been reported in individuals with latex allergies.
  • Other: Between 1996 and 1999, an Escherichia coli infection in Japan was traced to various sources, including buckwheat noodles.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Buckwheat grain has traditionally been consumed as part of the diet in nonallergic pregnant women. Other sources or parts of buckwheat should be avoided, due to a lack of available evidence.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Buckwheat may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Buckwheat may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Buckwheat may also interact with anticancer drugs, antidiarrheals, cholesterol-lowering drugs, diuretics (agents that increase urination), and photosensitizers (agents that increase sensitivity to light).

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Buckwheat may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Buckwheat may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Buckwheat may also interact with anticancer herbs and supplements; antidiarrheals; cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements; diets to lower cholesterol, blood sugar, or blood pressure; diuretics (agents that increase urination); flavonoids; photosensitizers (agents that increase sensitivity to light); rutin-containing herbs and foods; soy protein; St. John's wort; or vitamin C.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Archimowicz-Cyrylowska B, Adamek B, Drozdzik M, et al. Clinical effect of buckwheat herb, Ruscus extract and troxerutin on retinopathy and lipids in diabetic patients. Phytother Res 1996;10(8):659-662.
  2. Bijlani RL, Sud S, Sahi A, et al. Effect of sieved buckwheat () flour supplementation on lipid profile and glucose tolerance. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1985;29(2):69-74.
  3. di Cagno R, de Angelis M, Alfonsi G, et al. Pasta made from durum wheat semolina fermented with selected lactobacilli as a tool for a potential decrease of the gluten intolerance. J Agric Food Chem 2005;53(11):4393-4402.
  4. Fritz SB, Gold BL. Buckwheat pillow-induced asthma and allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2003;90(3):355-358.
  5. Gheldof N, Wang XH, Engeseth NJ. Buckwheat honey increases serum antioxidant capacity in humans. J Agric Food Chem 2003;51(5):1500-1505.
  6. Graefe EU, Wittig J, Mueller S,et al. Pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of quercetin glycosides in humans. J Clin Pharmacol 2001;41(5):492-499.
  7. Ihme N, Kiesewetter H, Jung, Fet al. Leg oedema protection from a buckwheat herb tea in patients with chronic venous insufficiency: a single-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1996;50(6):443-447.
  8. Lee SY, Lee KS, Hong CH,et al. Three cases of childhood nocturnal asthma due to buckwheat allergy. Allergy 2001;56(8):763-766.
  9. Leynadier F. [Anaphylaxis. 3 clinical cases]. Allerg Immunol (Paris ) 2001;33(10):409-411.
  10. Park SS, Ohba H. Suppressive activity of protease inhibitors from buckwheat seeds against human T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 2004;117(2):65-74.
  11. Plaza T, Mahler V. [Anaphylactic shock due to French galette. Type I allergic reaction to buckwheat]. Hautarzt 2005;56(2):160-163.
  12. Stember RH. Buckwheat allergy. Allergy Asthma Proc 2006;27(4):393-395.
  13. Tanaka H, Tanio S, Hoshina T, et al. [Epidemiological and bacteriological investigation of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli infection in the Chugoku-Shikoku area]. Kansenshogaku Zasshi 2002;76(6):439-449.
  14. Tanaka K, Matsumoto K, Akasawa A, et al. Pepsin-resistant 16-kD buckwheat protein is associated with immediate hypersensitivity reaction in patients with buckwheat allergy. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2002;129(1):49-56.
  15. Zhang HW, Zhang YH, Lu MJ, et al. Comparison of hypertension, dyslipidaemia and hyperglycaemia between buckwheat seed-consuming and non-consuming Mongolian-Chinese populations in Inner Mongolia, China. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2007;34(9):838-844.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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