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Buckwheat Plant

Buckwheat Plant

Botanical Description & Habitat

Fagopyrum tataricum, F. esculentum

Family
Polygonaceae

Habitat
Indigenous to central Asia, but occurs in Europe and North America as a cultivated plant.

Medicinal Parts
Dried Herb: leaves and flowers

See also:
Buckwheat - Cooked

Historical Properties & Uses

Buckwheat does not have a long or splendid history of folklore use. It has mainly been used as cereal crop. A fraction of the plant in which the flavonoids is concentrated has been applied as an anti-hemorrhagic and hypotensive agent. These uses make sense in light of modern research findings on the capillary-toning action of the plant.

Method of Action

The Pharmacology of Buckwheat
Buckwheat contains copious amounts of rutin and other flavonoids, along with fagopyrin and pigment. The flavonoids decrease capillary permeability and fragility (thereby increasing the tensile strength and flexibility of capillary walls), thus increasing the flow of blood to the extremities of the body, especially the lower limbs and the brain. This effect would explain the herb's usefulness in treating hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and in preventing the occurrence of peripheral vascular problems.

As mentioned above buckwheat leaf contains much rutin; in fact buckwheat is the primary source of commercial rutin, occurring to the extent of 3-8%. Rutin is quercetin-3-rutinoside. Its aglycone is quercetin, another extremely valuable flavonoid.

The British Pharmacopoeia lists applications for buckwheat depending on the capillary effects: retinal hemorrhage (see bilberry), purpura, frostbite and chilblains (see butcher's broom), hypertension, radiation damage. It is especially indicated in case of raised arterial tension with capillary bleeding. Buckwheat combines well with vitamin C, the bioflavonoids, bilberry, butcher's broom, centella and ginkgo.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
Veratrum alkaloids may potentiate the activity of buckwheat (up to 50%).

Additive effects may occur between the hypotensive property of this herb and that of dopamine receptor agonists such as bromocriptine mesylate.

Buckwkeat should be used with caution in conjunction with CNS depressants or stimulants. The hypotensive effect of buckwheat may be potentiated by anoretic drugs such as fenfluramine whose effects are mediated by brainstem serotonin, and may be additive with the analgesics nalbuphine HCl and propoxyphene HCl.

Comments
The hypotensive property of buckwkeat plant may be additive with the CNS depressant activity of the analgesic nalbuphine HCl. The same is true of the analgesic propoxyphene HCl.

Due to hypotensive principles, it would be wise to avoid using buckwkeat with procarbazine antineoplastic agents, to eliminate the chance of CNS depression.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Buckwheat normally has no toxic side effects. However, the presence of fagopyrin can cause some degree of photosensitization with prolonged use.

Preparation & Administration

Use three times daily

Infusion or compressed tablet
Use 2-4g of dried leaf
Store in dark

References

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, British Herbal Medicine Association, 1983.

Braun, H. & Frohne, D. Heilplanzen-Lexikon Fuer Aerzte und Apotheker.
Gustav Fisher Verlag, Stuttgart, New York, 1987.

Couch, J.F., Naghski, J. & Krewson, C.F. Science, 103, 197- 198, 1946.

Lockett, M. & J.W. Fairbairn (ed.): The Pharmacology of Plant Phenolics,
Academic Press, New York, 1959, pp. 81-89.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director
of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent
Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.