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.
General health tonic
Mild urinary antiseptic (treats mild cystitis and prostatitis)
Appetite stimulant (in small doses)
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.
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.
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)