The plant (Fagopyrum tataricum) differs from common buckwheat in several respects, including in its concentration of a molecule called 2-HOBA, which is said to foster immune fitness by improving vascular system function.
The ingredient was discovered via the work of Dr Naji Abumrad, MD, a surgeon at Vanderbilt University. The ingredient’s development was until recently housed within a company called Metabolic Technologies, which is a spinoff of Iowa State University.
Now the ingredient is being pushed by Big Bold Health, which is the brainchild of Jeffrey Bland, PhD, who is also the president of the Personalized Medicine Institute. The ingredient is already for sale on Amazon and via the company’s website in a finished product called HTB Rejuvenate. Metabolic Technologies itself was recently acquired by branded ingredient manufacturing and marketing firm TSI Health, which Bland said is cooperating in the new ingredient’s development.
The molecule, 2-HOBA, or 2-hydroxybenzylamine, is found is a number of plant sources. But Bland said this particular phytochemical, which the company has patented as Hobamine, is found in high concentrations in this particular heirloom food crop.
Bland said the ingredient came out of Dr Abumrad’s work early work on HMB, or beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyric acid. Dr Abumrad’s early interest in this ingredient had to do with his specialty in obesity and bariatric surgery and the ability of HMB to ameliorate muscle loss post surgery. This ingredient came to be branded as myHMB, and was the focus of TSI’s recent acquisition of Metabolic Technologies. Dr Abumrad also started looking for other bioactive molecules from natural sources that could help his patients.
“Dr Abumrad had occasion to look at some of the ingredients that had been found in traditional ancient food crops and in particular buckwheat stood out. Buckwheat had a history of helping to lower people’s blood pressure. Was that just because people changed their diets, or was there something special in the buckwheat?” Bland said.
Learning curve for growing the crop
Growing the crop was seen as one of hurdles that had to be cleared in the ingredient’s commercial development. Tartary buckwheat has several characteristics, including a tall, willowy growing habit, that make it a challenge to adapt to efficient mechanical harvesting.
“We partnered with Sam Beer of Angelica Mill in New York. He's as smart as it gets for this crop. We own this crop now in the US and are developing specialized milling for all sorts of formats and applications. It is tough to farm, but, thanks to Sam, we know how,” Bland said.
“We're up to 120 acres, with plans to keep growing as we build the market for this essential ingredient for immuno-rejuvenation. The world needs ingredients like this to reset immune function at a cellular level, so we're scaling up,” he said.
“We will sell Himalayan Tartary buckwheat in several formats, from milled brans and flours, to powders, to capsules. We will sell it as a stand alone, and in blends specifically formulated for immuno-rejuvenation. The 2-HOBA extract is perfect for some of these formats, but our plans involve much more Himalayan Tartary buckwheat moving at higher volumes,” Bland added.