Barosma betulina (P.J.Bergius.) Bartl. & H.L.Wendl.
Hartogia betulina P.J.Bergius
Common Name: Buchu
Buchu is an aromatic, evergreen shrub growing up to 2 metres tall.
A commonly used traditional S. African herbal remedy, it was introduced into western herbal medicine in the 18th century[
]. It is widely cultivated for medicinal use in S. Africa and to a limited extent in S. America[
]. The dried herb is traded internationally.
Africa - S. Africa.
Sandy mountain slopes at elevations of 300 - 700 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Plants require a minimum temperature no lower than about 5°c[
Requires a lime-free, moisture-retentive but well-drained soil in a sunny position[
The plants are extremely aromatic, filling the surrounding area with their scent[
]. The aroma is reminiscent of blackcurrants, though some people detect a mixture of rosemary and peppermint[
The strongly aromatic leaves are used in making a brandy[
]. An extract of the leaves is an ingredient of a herbal wine[
Buchu essential oil, obtained from the leaves, has been approved in the USA as a food flavouring agent, at concentrations of up to about 0.002% (15.4 ppm). A camphor-peppermint aroma, it is used for flavouring candy, ice cream, baked goods and condiments[
]. The oil is also listed by the Council of Europe as a natural source of food flavouring[
Buchu is a strongly aromatic herb that has been shown to stimulate and cleanse the urinary system, and increase perspiration[
]. The plant contains an essential oil, a primary ingredient of which is diosphenol - this has been shown to be a potent diuretic and antiseptic[
]. Other active ingredients in the essential oil are menthone, isomenthone, limonene and pulegone[
The plant also contains the flavonoids rutin and diosmin[
The leaves are used internally in the treatment of kidney and urinary tract infections (especially prostatitis and cystitis), digestive problems, gout, rheumatism, coughs and colds[
Externally, the leaves are used in traditional medicine as a powder to deter insects and in a vinegar-based lotions to soothe bruises and sprains[
]. An infusion in vinegar is used as an antiseptic wash or embrocation[
The leaves are harvested when the plant is flowering, and can be dried for later use[
Research has shown that the plant contains a substance that blocks ultra-violet light, and may have applications in skin preparations[
The dried leaves are powdered and used as an insect repellent[
Cuttings of semi-ripe wood.
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