An in vitro examination of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of buckwheat honey

J Wound Care. 2008 Apr;17(4):172-4, 176-8. doi: 10.12968/jowc.2008.17.4.28839.


Objective: Hydroxyl radical and hypochlorite anion formed at the wound site from superoxide anion produced by activated polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) are considered important factors in impaired wound healing. Superoxide anion may also react with nitric oxide produced by macrophages to form peroxynitrite, a third strong oxidant that damages surrounding tissue. In order to select honey for use in wound-healing products, different samples were compared for their capacity to reduce levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in vitro.

Method: Honey samples were tested in assays for inhibition of ROS production by activated human PMNs, antioxidant activity (scavenging of superoxide anion in a cell-free system) and inhibition of human complement (reducing levels of ROS by limiting formation of complement factors that attract and stimulate PMNs). For buckwheat honey (NewYork, US), moisture and free acid content were determined by refractive index measurement and potentiometric titration respectively. Honey constituents other than sugars were investigated by thin layer chromatography, using natural product reagent to detect phenolic compounds. Constituents with antioxidant properties were detected by spraying the chromatogram with DPPH.

Results: Although most honey samples were shown to be active, significant differences were observed, with the highly active honey exceeding the activities of samples with minor effects by factors of 4 to 30. Most pronounced activities were found for American buckwheat honey from the state of NewYork. Phenolic constituents of buckwheat honey were shown to have antioxidant activity.

Conclusion: As buckwheat honey was most effective in reducing ROS levels, it was selected for use in wound-healing products. The major antioxidant properties in buckwheat honey derive from its phenolic constituents, which are present in relatively large amounts. Its phenolic compounds may also exert antibacterial activity, whereas its low pH and high free acid content may assist wound healing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biological Assay
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Complement System Proteins / drug effects
  • Complement System Proteins / physiology
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Fagopyrum*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Free Radical Scavengers / therapeutic use*
  • Honey* / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Neutrophils / drug effects
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • Nitric Oxide / adverse effects
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis
  • Peroxynitrous Acid / adverse effects
  • Peroxynitrous Acid / analysis
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / adverse effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / analysis
  • Skin Care / methods
  • Superoxides / adverse effects
  • Superoxides / analysis
  • Wound Healing* / drug effects
  • Wound Healing* / physiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / immunology
  • Wounds and Injuries / metabolism
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Superoxides
  • Peroxynitrous Acid
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Complement System Proteins