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.
Buchu has long been known at the Cape as a stimulant tonic and remedy for stomachic troubles, where it is infused in Brandy and known as Buchu Brandy. Its use was learnt from the Hottentots.
Indigenous to the Cape region of South Africa, Buchu is an aromatic plant known for its essential-oil producing ability and its multiple healing properties. Known taxonomically as Agathosma betulina and Agathosma crenulata, its traditional benefits have made their way from Africa to the Western world.
The word “Buchu” originated from the Khoi-San people of southern Africa, and was a word used in reference to any plant that could be dried or powdered. Nowadays, the name Buchu refers to the abovementioned Agathosma species. Previously known as Barosma betulia, the name originates from the word Barosma (Greek) meaning “heavy smell” and the word betulina (Latin) which means “birch-like”, a word used in reference to the serrated birch-like appearance of the leaves.
The Cape Government exercises strict control over the gathering of Buchu leaves and has lately made the terms and conditions more onerous, in order to prevent the wholesale destruction of the wild plants, no person being permitted to pick or buy Buchu without a licence. Cultivation experiments with Buchu have been made from time to time by private persons, and during the war experiments were conducted at the National Botanic Gardens, Kirstenbosch (near Cape Town), the result of which (given in the South African Journal of Industries, 1919, 2, 748) indicate that, under suitable conditions, the commercial cultivation of Buchu should prove a success, B. betulina, the most valuable kind, being the species alone to be grown. The plant is particularly adapted to dry conditions, and may be cultivated on sunny hillsides where other crops will not succeed.It is doubtful whether the cultivation of Buehu could be conducted satisfactorily outside South Africa. B. betulina was introduced to this country in 1790, but does not appear to be in eultivation at the present time, except as a greenhouse plant. This and B. serratifolia are grown in Kew Gardens.
Flavonoids found in buchu may modulate inflammation and strengthen connective tissue. They may be used in the acute and long-term use for chronic or recurrent UTI, reducing the symptoms caused by UTI’s. The diuretic actions of Buchu will also assist in the reduction of inflammation by helping to flush bacteria out of the urinary tract through its ability to increase urinary output, serving to reduce colonisation of the urethra by bacteria, reducing the duration of the UTI.
Buchu may be used in the form of a herbal tincture or a herbal tea. The tincture will deliver adequate quantities of the herb allowing its actions to be distributed throughout the body. The tea will support the herbal action of the tincture and simultaneously increase fluid intake.
Buchu may be used alone or in combination with other plants. In combination, the synergistic interactions of the extracts found in buchu and those of other plants will produce a better therapeutic effect in the treatment of a variety of ailments, or, in this instance, in the treatment of UTI’s. Antibiotic resistance is rife, and is the cause of a prolonged disease course. A combination of antimicrobial agents helps prevent resistance to antibiotics, increases the spectrum of activity and may even reduce the side effects of therapy. A combination of the plants Agathosma crenulata, Dodonaea viscose and Eucalyptus globules produces a broad spectrum and enhanced antimicrobial activity. Combination of these plants in a 1:1:1 ratio provides additive and synergistic effects where the extracts of each plant act via multiple mechanisms to reduce the number of disease causing microbials. The mixture of bioactive constituents target numerous target sites and work in a synergistic manner. The combination of these plants give an additive anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, analgesic, antibacterial and antiviral effect