Botanical names: Barosma betulina, Agathosma
betulina, Agathosma crenultata
© Martin Wall
Parts used and where grown
Buchu is a low shrub native to the Cape region of South Africa. The dried leaves are
harvested during the flowering season. The oil can be obtained by steam distillation of the
leaves. The two primary species of buchu used commercially are Agathosma betulina
(syn. Barosma betulina) and Agathosma crenulata (syn. Barosma
Buchu has been used in
connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual
health concern for complete information):
Historical or traditional use (may
or may not be supported by scientific studies)
Buchu leaf preparations have a long history of use in traditional herbal medicine as a
urinary tract disinfectant and
diuretic.1 Buchu was used by herbalists to treat urinary tract infections and inflammation, as well as
inflammation of the prostate. In Europe, it was also used to treat gout.2 The original use of buchu by the
native peoples of southern Africa is unclear because buchu is a general term for aromatic
plants.3 It appears to have been applied topically, possibly as an insect
repellant, and also used internally for stomach problems, rheumatism and bladder problems.
The leaves of buchu contain 1.0–3.5% volatile oils as well as flavonoids.4
The urinary tract antiseptic actions of buchu are thought to be due to the volatile oils. The
primary volatile oil component thought to have antibacterial action is the monoterpene
disophenol. However, one test tube study using buchu oil found no significant antibacterial
How much is usually taken?
The German Commission E Monograph concludes there is insufficient evidence to support the
modern use of buchu for the treatment of urinary tract infections or inflammation.6
However, some traditional herbal practitioners continue to recommend the herb for these
conditions. Traditional recommendations for the herb include the use of 1–2 grams of the
dried leaf taken three times daily in capsules or in a tea.7 Tinctures can be used
at 2–4 ml three times per day.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Buchu may cause gastrointestinal irritation and should only be taken with meals. Also, it
should not be used by pregnant or
Are there any drug
Certain medicines may interact with buchu. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.
1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients
Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996,
2. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, et al. (eds). PDR for Herbal
Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 686–7.
3. Simpson D. Buchu--South Africa’s amazing herbal remedy.
Scott Med J 1998;43:189–91 [review]
4. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton,
FL: CRC Press, 1994, 102–3.
5. Didry N, Pinkas M. A propos du Buchu. Plantes Méd et
6. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete
German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American
Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 317.
7. Bradley PR (ed). British Herbal Compendium, vol 1.
Bournemouth, England: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 43–5.