What is Buchu?
Buchu is harvested from the dried leaves obtained from three species of Barosma. The species derive their common names from the shape of the aromatic leaf. Native to South Africa, the buchus grow as shrubs with leathery leaves that have oil-glandular dots on the underside. Odour and taste of the plants is described as spicy, resembling black currant, but also reminiscent of a mixture between rosemary and peppermint. Buchu oil sometimes is added as a component of black currant flavourings. Most commonly, B. betulina is used in commerce.
What is it used for?
The Khoekhoe people (also spelled Khoikhoi) employed the leaves for the treatment of a great number of ailments. Early patent medicines sold in the United States hailed the virtues of the plant and its volatile oil for the management of diseases ranging from diabetes to nervousness. Buchu first was exported to Britain in 1790. In 1821, it was listed in the British Pharmacopoeia as a medicine for “cystitis, urethritis, nephritis and catarrh of the bladder.”
The drug had been included in the US National Formulary and was described as a diuretic and antiseptic. Buchu remains a popular ingredient in over-the-counter herbal diuretic preparations.
Historically, buchu has been used to treat inflammation, and kidney and urinary tract infections, as a diuretic and as a stomach tonic. Other uses include carminative action and treatment of cystitis, urethritis, prostatitis, and gout. It also has been used for leukorrhea and yeast infections.