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Fagopyrum is a genus of flowing plants in the family polygonaceae. In total, this genus contains 16 species of plants, but two are of importance as crops. These are the fagopyrum esculentum, or common buckwheat, and the fagopyrum tataricum, or tartary buckwheat.
Despite its name, buckwheat is not a cereal or grain crop. It is often referred to as a pseudocereal to make this clear. Buckwheat originated in central Asia, and was brought to Europe. In France, it is known as saracen corn for this reason. The plant grows in almost any type of soil and is extremely invasive. In North America, it is grown in central Canada and the northeastern United States.
Many parts of the buckwheat plant can be eaten, including the leaves, which can be eaten raw or cooked. Buckwheat seeds can also be eaten cooked or raw, and have a nutty flavor with a gritty texture. The plant can also be ground into a powder, which is used for making cakes, breads, and noodles. Beer is also produced from buckwheat powder.
The leaves of the buckwheat plant contain rutin, which is a bioflavonoid, and is also known as Vitamin P. Bioflavonoids are a type of plant metabolites that aid in the pigmentation of flowers and leaves, and also protect plants from insects and microbes. Rutin is a yellow-green colored crystal with a needle shape.
In addition to fagopyrum plants, rutin is also found in black tea, apple peel, and citrus fruits. It has substantial antioxidant properties and can increase the effectiveness of vitamin C when the two are taken together. Rutin bolsters capillaries, and can help increase a body's resistance to bruising or bleeding. The compound also has anti-inflammatory effects.
Homeopathic treatment involving fagopyrum extract and essential oils is often prescribed using the alternative medicine concept of like cures like. A person suffering from itchy eyes, for example, may be 'cured' by taking fagopyrum extract, as this is what the extract will cause in a healthy body. Other ailments treated by fagopyrum include memory problems, neck stiffness, or deep head pain. Also, an intermittent pulse, numb feet, or hot, swollen skin can be an indication that fagopyrum treatment may be of assistance.
The leaves and flowers of buckwheat are often used in homeopathic treatments as well. They are cultivated and then dried in darkness, since light will cause their active ingredients to degrade. The seeds of the plant are also used to create poultices for helping nursing mothers' milk to flow. The leaves are also used as a treatment for liver disorders.