Buchu

Buchu is native to the Cape region of South Africa where it was used as a general stimulant and diuretic by the Khoisan people.

Two main species of buchu are commonly used for medicinal purposes: Agathosma betulina (round-leaf buchu) and Agathosma crenulata (oval-leaf buchu).

Note, however, that results on the efficacy of buchu are inconsistent and that strong recommendations cannot be made.

Traditional uses:

  • General health tonic
  • Mild urinary antiseptic (treats mild cystitis and prostatitis)
  • Appetite stimulant (in small doses)
  • Aids digestion
  • Antispasmodic
  • Diuretic (treats water retention)
  • Stimulant (treats hangovers)
  • Also used to treat colds and flu, coughs, rheumatism and gout

Buchu is also a source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, nitrogen, iron, copper, zinc and boron.

Interesting facts:

Buchu is indigenous to South Africa and is believed to have been the country's first export product. Currently, about 90% of our buchu is exported.

Medicinal use of buchu dates back to the Khoisan people. These plants have also traditionally been used as a fragrance in perfume.

Buchu has a distinctive blackcurrant flavour.

Buchu can be taken orally in the form of an infusion or as a tincture in brandy ("boegoebrandewyn"). The leaves can also be chewed fresh or dried.

Caution:

As buchu has a mild laxative effect, the herb should not be taken in excess.

The use of A. betulina is generally preferred, as A. crenulata contains high levels of pulegone, a potentially toxic substance.

(References: People's Plants - A Guide to Useful Plants of Southern Africa by Prof Ben-Erik van Wyk and Dr Nigel Gericke; and www.buchusa.co.za)

- (updated by Birgit Ottermann, Health24, March 2010)

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