Big Bold Health claims to be the first company in the US to produce a certified organic commercial crop of Himalayan Tartary buckwheat for use in supplements and functional food products
Big Bold Health's Himalayan Tartary buckwheat supplements
Photo as seen on the Facebook page of Big Bold Health

US company Big Bold Health has reported that a successful first harvest of Himalayan Tartary buckwheat has produced more than 100,000 lbs (50 tons) of seed for its initiatives, which include both dietary supplements and food products. 

The company claims to be the first in the US to produce a certified organic commercial crop of the lost superfood seed – a crop not widely grown in the country, yet with enormous potential as a functional food ingredient.

Himalayan Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) is a staple crop in parts of Asia and elsewhere, often milled into a flour product or dried and used as tea. However, the plant disappeared from American agriculture during the 20th century as the food supply became more industrialised.

Research to the rescue

In recent years, a small group of researchers around the world has taken an interest in the plant, which differs significantly from common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum). 

Jeffrey Bland, PhD, a nutritional biochemist and a well-known expert in the natural products industry, is one of the researchers on the mission to bring it back to the US market.

“This is a plant with a 2500-year history as a human food,” said Bland. “It has been used for its health benefits in traditional cultures for centuries. Thanks to modern technology and analytical techniques, now we are beginning to understand why. The immune-supportive nutrient profile of this plant is extraordinary.”

‘Bitter is better’

Why haven’t you heard about this superfood before? Bland has a theory: taste. Himalayan Tartary buckwheat can have a bitter flavour. 

In the US, sweetness dominates the food space, a fact that has influenced the American palate and the companies that cater to it. But Bland believes the time is right for a shift. 

Bland believes that US consumers are developing interest in their wellness, and are looking for science-backed food and supplement solutions that get to the root causes of their health concerns. 

“Bitter is better,” said Bland. “In the case of Himalayan Tartary buckwheat, the bitter taste is an indicator of the phytonutrients contained in the plant. This high phytonutrient concentration allowed the plant to be successful over the millennia in incredibly harsh environments.”

Bland noted the crop is a stunning orchestration of nature’s genius because it comprises rutin, quercetin, hesperidin, luteolin, diosmin, and 2-hydroxybenzylamine. 

“Individually, these molecules can play important roles in human health, and together, the synergistic possibilities are eye-opening,” said Bland. “Our clinical studies team has just completed its first study looking at these effects, and I look forward to seeing what future trials will reveal.”

Bland founded Big Bold Health in 2018. He has partnered with other natural products innovators, as well as respected scientists such as Naji Abumrad of Vanderbilt University. 

Patented 2-hydroxybenzylamine, also referred to as 2-HOBA or Hobamine, can be found in Big Bold Health products. This molecule is being studied for its inflammation-modulating effects by Dr Abumrad’s team. 

Bland is also building a US-based grower network of small farms to scale up domestic production of organically certified Himalayan Tartary buckwheat. 

Date published: 4 December 2020

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