Buckwheat – the Super Food

The little known common buckwheat, or Fagopyrum esculentum, is an annual herb with small pink or white flowers and edible seeds, which grows primarily in the Northern Hemisphere. Originally from Asia, most of the buckwheat grown and exported around the world comes from Russia and China. While we typically consume dehulled buckwheat today in foods such as noodles and breads, the entire buckwheat plant has a long tradition of medicinal use in traditional remedies.¹

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, buckwheat seeds invigorate the spleen and eliminate “food stagnation,” or slow digestion. In Korean traditional medicine, buckwheat is used therapeutically to promote detoxification, reduce inflammation, and reduce fevers. In the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, buckwheat is listed as an anti-hemorrhagic and hypotensive drug.² Traditionally, buckwheat leaves were used for ulcers and applied to wounds topically. The cooked leaves were used as a remedy for constipation.³

Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free and unrelated to wheat, despite its name. Its blend of naturally occurring nutrients makes it an excellent choice for those looking for gluten-free options. Recent research has found that buckwheat may have specific benefits as an alternative grain for those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, finding that study participants experienced a significant decrease in inflammatory markers, as well as reduced abdominal pain and bloating when they switched to a buckwheat-based gluten-free diet from a gluten free diet not based on buckwheat.⁴

Buckwheat has an impressive nutritional profile high in essential amino acids and key minerals, including magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and calcium. Buckwheat is also an excellent source of fiber and B vitamins. In addition to its highly nutritious vitamin and mineral composition, buckwheat is high in health-promoting phytonutrient phenols, including tannins and flavonoids, such as quercitin and rutin.¹⁻³ Sprouted buckwheat contains levels of rutin and quercitin 10 times higher than non-sprouted buckwheat.  Gama aminobutyric acid (GABA), also found in buckwheat, has recently been found to reduce blood pressure and inhibit angiotensin-1 converting enzyme (ACE) activity.¹

The potential health benefits of buckwheat are vast, and individuals who follow balanced diets that include buckwheat have been found to have significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Other health benefits of consuming buckwheat may include the following:

  • Antioxidant effect: Rutin is one of the phytonutrients found in buckwheat, which protects against free radicals and inhibits lipid peroxidation. Rutin also protects against free radical-induced DNA damage, which may have cancer protective benefits.² Buckwheat has been found to be higher in antioxidant activity than barley, oats, wheat and rye. Animals fed a buckwheat-enriched diet showed an increased activity in antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.¹
  • Anti-inflammatory effect: Eating buckwheat in place of other gluten-free grains has been found to significantly reduce circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interferon gamma and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 in human participants with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.⁴ In animal models, buckwheat sprout extract has been found to reduce inflammation by down-regulating TNF-alpha and IL-6.⁴
  • Cardiovascular health: Consuming buckwheat or foods enriched with buckwheat has been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels, and support healthy blood pressure, vascular health and proper blood flow.¹
  • Blood sugar balance: Epidemiological research has found that including buckwheat in the diet can lower post-prandial blood sugar concentrations and reduce the overall prevalence of diabetes.¹⁻² Furthermore, buckwheat consumption may increase satiety by influencing post-prandial satiety hormones.¹
  • Cancer protective: In addition to the protective benefits of reducing overall inflammation and the protective effects of its antioxidant compounds, buckwheat extract has been found to inhibit tumor cell proliferation and may induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death in mice. In humans, eating buckwheat is associated with a reduced risk for lung cancer.²
  • Digestive support: A small randomized, crossover trial found that participants experiencing symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity reported significant improvement in symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating and abdominal “heaviness” when they switched their current gluten free diet for a buckwheat-based gluten free diet. Symptoms resumed in severity when patients resumed their normal gluten free diet, suggesting that buckwheat may improve digestive symptoms in those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In addition, the fiber in buckwheat acts as a prebiotic in the digestive tract, supporting digestive health.¹
  • Hepatoprotective: Buckwheat has been found to increase circulating levels of glutathione, an important detoxification molecule.¹ Sprouted buckwheat extract was found to protect animals against fatty liver when fed a high fat diet.²

Article from our friends at Standard Process.


  1. Gimenez-Batida JA, Zielinski H. Buckwheat as a functional food and its effects on health. J Agric Food Chem 2015(63):7896-7913.
  2. Jing R, Li HQ, Hu CL, et al. Phytochemical and pharmacological profiles of three fagopyrum buckwheats. Int J Mol Sci. 2016(17)589.
  3. Al-Snafi AE. A review on Fagopyrum esculentum: a potential medicinal plant.IOSR Journal of Pharmacy. March 2017. 7(3):21-32.
  4. Dinu M, Macchia D, Pagliai G, et. al. Symptomatic efficacy of buckwheat products in non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NGSG). Asia Pac J Clin Nutr2017;26(4):630-636.

American College of Physicians list Acupuncture as top Treatment for Back Pain


Here are some excerpts from this week’s Wall Street Journal article explaining the latest recommendations from the American College of Physicians on the treatment of Back Pain.  They list Acupuncture as the top choice for both acute and chronic back pain.

Skip the meds. Lower back pain—one of the most common reasons for a doctor’s visit—is best treated with alternative therapies, say new guidelines from the American College of Physicians. About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes and it is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days.

The new guidelines could influence how doctors treat patients with complaints of back pain. They are an update from 2007’s and include a review of more than 150 studies. Recommendations were broken down into acute lower back pain, which is pain lasting less than 12 weeks, and chronic pain, which is pain lasting more than 12 weeks.

For acute pain, the guidelines recommend nondrug therapies first, such as applying heat, massage, acupuncture or spinal manipulation, which is often done by a chiropractor.

For chronic back pain, the guidelines recommend patients also first try nondrug therapies, such as acupuncture, exercise, rehabilitation therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

The reviews focused on improving pain and function If such treatments fail to provide relief, the ACP says NSAIDS should be the first medicine that is used. The third line of treatment should be duloxetine—sold under the brand name Cymbalta and commonly used to treat depression and anxiety—or tramadol, an opioid-like narcotic which is less potent than standard opioids such as oxycodone or fentanyl—but can still cause physical dependence.

Opioids—one of the most commonly prescribed medications for pain relief and a source of increasing addiction and death—should only be considered for chronic back pain when other alternatives—natural and prescription—don’t work, say the guidelines published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The new guidelines warn that opioids should only be considered an option if the doctor and patient have a discussion about the known risks of the drugs, and if used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest period. Experts believe that opioid prescriptions for pain is a common gateway to opioid addiction as well as transitioning to heroin, said Steven Atlas, director of practice-based research at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Even acetaminophen, which includes the brand name Tylenol, is no longer recommended for acute lower back pain relief due to a 2014 study in the journal The Lancet that showed it was no more effective than placebo.

Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy. More often, though, it develops over time due to age-related changes of the spine and disc degeneration.  Most back pain occurs between ages 30 and 50. Individuals who gain weight and don’t exercise have increased risk, as are those who exercise intensely after long periods of not exercising.

If you are in Orlando and have Back Problems call our clinic for a Free Consultation appointment at our Winter Park office to see if Acupuncture can help you!  If you live outside of Central Florida feel free to call us for a referral in your local area.

The Skinny on Bone Broth


Bone broth, or soup as I call it, is one of my favorite diet recommendations to give to patients.  I have been recommending it for years and it is finally hitting the mainstream consciousness.  One reason why I recommend this to so many people is that it is an easy way to add a lot of nutrition to any diet.  It is also loaded with good fats, and is easy to digest, which makes it a perfect food to promote healthy weight loss.

My favorite way to make bone broth is the method I learned during my nutrition class in Chinese Medical School.  You basically take a whole organic chicken and several slices of ginger and simmer these in water for 2-4 hours.  At the end you need to cut up the meat and add any mushrooms or veggies you want and soy sauce for flavor, but that is pretty much it.

I try to make broth every week or two, and keep it in the refrigerator.  Sometimes I use it as soup, but mostly I like to use it to replace water in cooking rice, steaming veggies, etc.  I find that it adds good flavor to pretty much any recipe.

The importance of getting bones from non-toxic (organic or free range) animals is vital for good results from bone broth. This is true both for the taste and the nutritional value or the broth. These days I usually get the organic chicken from Costco, although I noticed that Trader Joe’s has these at a great price as well.  I also like to simmer the organ meat that comes with these chickens when making soup as it adds to the overall nutrition of the soup.

The most complete resource on Bone Broth, that I know of, is the book, Nourishing Broth,  by Sally Morell.  (It’s available online at amazon.)  This book is loaded with information on the health benefits of bone broth.  Dr. Mercola also has a great article about bone broth including a couple of recipes which you can find here.

Visit our website if you want to learn more about Chinese dietary therapy and how it can help you achieve permanent weight loss.

Research finds that Acupuncture Relieves Chronic Stress


According to The American Institute of Stress, there are over 50 common signs and symptoms of stress. From things as small as headaches and grinding of the teeth  to things as large as frequent colds and heart palpitations. While stress is something we cannot really avoid, learning how to handle our stress is especially important to our overall health and well-being.

A new study done by Ladan Eshkevari, the assistant program director of the nurse anesthesia program at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, found that stimulating certain body points with acupuncture can alter stress hormones.

The body’s stress response is triggered by two main pathways, one is the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis) in which these areas of the brain are activated to release peptides and proteins such as CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone). They then launch the production of other hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine that rev up the anxiety meter. Once these are activated, the system causes the heart to beat faster and the senses to go on alert. It also diverts the body’s energy away from other operations such as digestion to prime and fuel the muscles into a state of readiness.

All of this is normal and necessary for protecting ourselves from potential threats. However when stress becomes chronic and starts beating us down, it is no longer helpful and can become harmful. We will start to see long term symptoms such as memory impairment, depression, digestive problems, obesity, sleep problems, and heart disease.

However, in Eshkevari controlled experiment it was found that when the subjects were pre-treated with acupuncture there was no spike in stress-associated hormones after they were exposed to chronic stress. In the stressed subjects that received acupuncture, stress hormone levels were similar to those in the control subjects that were not under chronic stress, which suggests the ancient healing modality helps to normalize stress hormone levels.

For those of us already receiving regular acupuncture treatments, we know that it helps relieve the unavoidable stress that comes our way. However, it is great to now have the science to back it up.

If you are thinking of trying acupuncture for stress relief, know that everyone responds to treatment in different ways, so the number of sessions required can vary. Experts in the field recommend a minimum of one session per week for five to eight weeks, and patients often start to feel an immediate reduction in stress after just one session.

At Orlando Acupuncture we offer a Free Initial Consultations with a Chinese Pulse Diagnosis to find out the best treatment plan for your health and your budget. When looking for the right Acupuncturist make sure this is something that is offered to you. If a clinic you are looking into doesn’t offer this, or something like this, you may want to keep looking.

To learn more about acupuncture please visit our website.

Wishing you much health and happiness.

Sources: www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/16/acupuncture-could-help-prevent-stress_n_2883996.html, healthland.time.com/2013/03/15/needle-this-study-hints-at-how-acupuncture-works-to-relieve-stress/, www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/28/relieve-stress-naturally-with-acupuncture/, www.stress.org/stress-effects/, http://www.articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/30/acupuncture-benefits.aspx

Poor Posture May Lead to Lack of Confidence and Additional Stress


What can cause poor posture?

Cell Phones: The hunched-over position of the typical electronic-device user is of particular concern, and is sparking new back and neck-pain problems in teenagers. A study of 6,000 Finnish adolescents found frequent use of computers, mobile phones, videogame players and television was associated with greater rates of neck and lower-back pain.

Weight & Shoes – Lordosis, or swayback, is where the lower spine curves inward, toward the front of the body, and the butt is thrust backward. Overweight people often display this posture, as do women wearing high heels.

Computers: One of the most common posture problems, called kyphosis, is a direct result of spending too much time in front of a computer, experts say. The shoulders hunch forward, the pectoral muscles in the chest tighten, the neck and head extend toward the computer screen, and the spine is no longer vertically aligned.

What is proper posture?

Good posture doesn’t just mean standing with the shoulders thrown back. More important is maintaining good alignment, with ears over the shoulders, shoulders over hips, and hips over the knees and ankles. Body weight should be distributed evenly between the feet

What can poor posture cause?

Pain – incorrect posture will place additional strain on all parts of your body, particularly on your lower back and neck. If you keep correct posture, you will be protecting your spine, organs, joints, muscles and bones, helping to prevent the onset of conditions such as arthritis.

Depression – New research is also demonstrating links between body position and mood. It has long been known that depression can lead to a slumped posture. But new evidence suggests the reverse is also true—that slouching can spark negative emotions and thoughts

How does poor posture lead to stress?

Bad posture restricts breathing, and reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Without regular oxygen to the brain, you cannot always think straight, making it easier to feel panicked or overwhelmed.

Can good posture lead to more self confidence?

This picture from the Washington post illustrates what happens to our spine when we type on a keyboard and stare at a computer. Along the bottom are exercises you can do to improve posture

Sitting - Washington Post

Top: X-ray illustration of the effects on the spine from prolonged sitting. Middle: Illustration of proper way to sit in a chair. Bottom: Exercises used to help improve posture


Sitting 2

Woman in pain after a long day of sitting at a workstation

Yes, no matter what you feel inside, if you stand tall, the feelings will likely follow. Just as the simple act of smiling can release serotonin even when you are depressed posture can trigger a better mental attitude. You might even enter a positive feedback loop, where other people respond to you in such a way as to confirm these initially faked emotions. Also note that an erect posture inspires a sense of power, a sense of control, boosts testosterone, and sooths nerves by turning down the anxiety-linked hormone known as cortisol.

Sources: Wall Street Journal Article June 23, 2014 http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-bad-sitting-posture-at-work-leads-to-bad-standing-posture-all-the-time-1403564767, Psychology Today Article June 19, 2013 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-winner-effect/201306/can-your-posture-make-you-feel-in-control-and-less-stressed How Good Posture can Relieve Stress, Above Stress.com, February 9, 2012, http://abovestress.com/stress-relief-community-what-good-posture-can-do-for-stress-levels.html, Spine and Health.com, August 6, 2012 – http://spineandhealth.com.au/is-your-stress-giving-you-bad-posture  

Yet Another Hospital adds Acupuncture to their cancer protocol


I was so excited to read this article about another hospital adding Acupuncture to their facility that I had to put it on my Blog.

Everyday more doctors are recommending acupuncture therapy to their patients for more than just pain relief. One of the most common uses of acupuncture in Western Medicine arena has been with cancer patients. Another hospital, this one at the University of Colorado, has included acupuncture as part of their treatment protocol for cancer patients. This represents a merging the ancient medicine with the latest modern medical techniques. Other University hospitals that integrate acupuncture and conventional treatments include the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State, the University of Texas, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Miami, and Stanford University.

Joseph VanZale is receiving acupuncture on a regular basis as part of his cancer treatment. He says it is already helping him to cope with the side effects of chemotherapy. “My energy and my weight was going down at an incredible level.” But after weeks of acupuncture treatment by Dr. Ban Wong things have improved. VanZale says, “I’m walking without a cane, longer distances, the other day I got on a treadmill.” VanZale says acupuncture is crucial to relieving stress and the interaction with Dr. Wong lifts his spirits. Many say creating innovative medicine has been a long time coming. It’s something that gives the patient the best of both worlds.

Dr. Wong, a University Of Colorado Hospital Chinese medicine specialist, says acupuncture increases blood circulation, which can have a rejuvenating effect for patients battling nausea and other side effects of conventional cancer treatments. He says, “Studies using functional MRIs show when we do acupuncture our brain actually responds and different areas of the brain light up.” Jordan Mann, who works in the Integrative Medicine branch of the hospital says, “Traditional ancient medicine with western current medicine are bringing people the best chance they have to get well and stay well and prevent illness in the first place.” Joseph’s wife Monica says she can’t believe the difference in her husband of 48 years and is grateful that the University Of Colorado Hospital is “modern” enough to bring these two practices together for the good of patients. She says, “We have a really good normal life. Our new normal is great.”

Source: Shaul Turner, Fox 31 KDVR, 3/13/14 http://kdvr.com/2014/03/13/cu-hospital-uses-accupuncture-as-part-of-cancer-treatment/

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com