Botanical names: Barosma betulina, Agathosma betulina, Agathosma crenultata
© Martin Wall
Buchu is a low shrub native to the Cape region of South Africa. The dried leaves are harvested during the flowering season. The oil can be obtained by steam distillation of the leaves. The two primary species of buchu used commercially are Agathosma betulina (syn. Barosma betulina) and Agathosma crenulata (syn. Barosma crenultata).
Buchu has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):
|Science Ratings||Health Concerns|
Urinary tract infections and inflammation
and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.
Buchu leaf preparations have a long history of use in traditional herbal medicine as a urinary tract disinfectant and diuretic.1 Buchu was used by herbalists to treat urinary tract infections and inflammation, as well as inflammation of the prostate. In Europe, it was also used to treat gout.2 The original use of buchu by the native peoples of southern Africa is unclear because buchu is a general term for aromatic plants.3 It appears to have been applied topically, possibly as an insect repellant, and also used internally for stomach problems, rheumatism and bladder problems.
The leaves of buchu contain 1.0–3.5% volatile oils as well as flavonoids.4 The urinary tract antiseptic actions of buchu are thought to be due to the volatile oils. The primary volatile oil component thought to have antibacterial action is the monoterpene disophenol. However, one test tube study using buchu oil found no significant antibacterial effect.5
The German Commission E Monograph concludes there is insufficient evidence to support the modern use of buchu for the treatment of urinary tract infections or inflammation.6 However, some traditional herbal practitioners continue to recommend the herb for these conditions. Traditional recommendations for the herb include the use of 1–2 grams of the dried leaf taken three times daily in capsules or in a tea.7 Tinctures can be used at 2–4 ml three times per day.
Buchu may cause gastrointestinal irritation and should only be taken with meals. Also, it should not be used by pregnant or breast-feeding women.
Are there any drug
Certain medicines may interact with buchu. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.
1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 104–5.
2. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, et al. (eds). PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 686–7.
3. Simpson D. Buchu--South Africa’s amazing herbal remedy. Scott Med J 1998;43:189–91 [review]
4. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 102–3.
5. Didry N, Pinkas M. A propos du Buchu. Plantes Méd et Phyothér 1982;16:249–52.
6. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 317.
7. Bradley PR (ed). British Herbal Compendium, vol 1. Bournemouth, England: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 43–5.
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The information presented in Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires September 2008.