Updated 26 August 2015

A short history of SA's miracle herb: buchu

BuchuLife products are used to cure inflammation, acting as a natural anti-inflammatory. Buchu is cultivated in the Western Cape and is part of the Cape Flora Kingdom.


Buchu is one of South Africa's best kept secrets. It's our most valuable medicinal plant, yet few of us know how we can use buchu to benefit our health

Karin McCann of Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals , a Cape Town-based company that acquires and processes the buchu plant in South Africa, says the plant's natural anti-inflammatory properties help with pain relief and chronic illness, but the plant has no side effects like other anti-inflammatories.

Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals was established in 2000 and in 2013 signed a benefit sharing agreement with the South African San Council (SASC) and the National Khoisan Council (NKC) in Cape Town.

This partnership acknowledges that, as the earliest inhabitants of our country, the San and the Khoi’s medicinal plant knowledge predated that of any subsequent inhabitants.

As the primary traditional knowledge holders of the many medicinal benefits of the buchu plant, they are legally entitled to a fair and equitable share of the benefits that result from the commercial development of this plant. 

Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals works in partnership with two of the most reputable medical institutions in South Africa. The first is Synexa Life Science where, under the auspices of Professor Patrick Bouic (also Head of Immunology at Tygerberg Hospital), Synexa is involved in all our molecular research.  Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals also focuses on pets with the BuchuLife products and the Ricky Litchfield animal range. 

Buchu is also a natural diuretic and has been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration as a natural weight management supplement. 

Read: The health benefits of Buchu tea 

The history of buchu

- 1700: The introduction of the Buchu plant by the colonists at the Cape to Europe. It was known as the "noble tea" as only the rich could afford it.

- This was also the breakthrough period for buchu, when it became the familiar globally. 8 bales of Buchu were found in the cargo of the famous Titanic.

- 1821: Naturalist William John Burchell introduces buchu to the medical profession. He created buchu vinegar, which he used to heal skin wounds, and eventually buchu brandy which he proclaimed "‘faster disappeared than could be accounted for by the wants of my patient’

-1860: Buchu was imported to the US as a panacea for variety of ailments.

-1970: Oil was extracted from the buchu plant by means of "high vacuum, low steam" process, making it possible to blend and produce pure buchu oil.

-1977: Buchu is indexed in the American Merck Index, and the British Martindale’s Edition and Scottish Medical Journal.

Today, BuchuLife products are manufactured from the buchu oil extracts by Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals, but there are other companies who have caught on to the value of this miracle plant. In fact, so sought after is buchu that in 2002 a shipment of buchu, created by distilling firm Grassroots and worth R43 000, was hijacked in a well-planned ambush between Gouda and Porterville by men who appeared to be Rastafarians.

Read: Is buchu South Africa's 'miracle herb'?

Where is it grown? 

Buchu is a scarce and valuable resource and is found in a small area in the Paarl and Citrusdal regions of South Africa's Western Cape. The Mediterranean climatic conditions - cool temperatures during winter and warm summers - create the perfect environment for buchu to thrive.

Read:How to grow a herb garden 

BuchuLife products

BuchuLife Joint Health Capsules

BuchuLife UTI Relief Capsules

BuchuLife First Aid Gel

BuchuLife Derm-Active Moisturizing Cream

BuchuLife Sparkling Herbal Waters

Ricky Litchfield's Animal Range

Anti-inflammatory Capsules

Antiseptic Gel


Hot Spot Spray

100% Natural Powdered Green and Red Tea Extract

"Good dog treats"

Read more:

When herbal remedies are dangerous 

Compound from Chinese medical herb shows promise for Ebola  

A natural approach to cellulite 


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