Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Buckwheat genuine; common buckwheat; Fagopyrum esculentum; Grano saraceno; Saracen corn; Turkish wheat

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Annual, herbaceous, cold-sensitive useful plant from the knotweed family (pseudo-cereals; not a cereal), which reaches a height of 20-60 cm. Buckwheat produces a triangular, 0.3-0.6 cm large, small nut with a coarse shell as its fruit. The shell is removed before use as food. Buckwheat herb is rich in antioxidant flavenoids, especially rutin.

General information
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Probably first cultivated in China. Spread to Central Europe during the late Middle Ages. In recent decades increasingly used again as a niche product due to changes in food habits. The largest cultivating countries are Russia (about 1 million tons), China (0.3 million tons) and Ukraine (0.2 million tons). In Germany it is cultivated (in insignificant quantities) in the L√ľneburg Heath, in Schleswig-Holstein, Westphalia, the Lower Rhine, the Eifel and in some Alpine valleys. Especially the Russian and Polish cuisine knows buckwheat porridge (buckwheat groats). In Italian cuisine buckwheat flour is used as "grano saraceno" for pizzoccheri and polenta. In French cuisine buckwheat flour is used in buckwheat pancakes (galettes).

Internal therapy
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For an infusion of buckwheat herb, administered as tea over a period of 3 months, a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study with 67 patients with chronic venous insufficiency showed a stronger reduction of lower leg edema compared to a placebo arm.

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Due to the lack of gluten, pure buckwheat is unsuitable for baking bread. However, it is therefore also suitable for people who cannot tolerate gluten (gluten-sensitive enteropathy/dermatitis herpetiformis). Today it is mainly sold in health food shops as whole, peeled grain, in the form of groats, flakes or flour.

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Buckwheat is generally regarded as a valuable foodstuff with high protein and starch content. Buckwheat is gluten-free and can be used as a dietary food for dermatitis herpetiformis and celiac disease. The red dye from the fruit husk, fagopyrin, leads to photosensitization (buckwheat disease; see fagopyrism below) when consumed.

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  1. Ihme N et al (1996) Led oedema protection from buckwheat herb tea in patients with chronic venous insufficiency: a single center, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 50: 443-447
  2. Schoenlechner R, Drausinger J, Ottenschlaeger V, Jurackova K, Berghofer E (2010) Functional properties of gluten-free pasta produced from amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 65: 339-349