Buchu has long been described as a “miracle herb” and medicinal plant in South Africa, being used for centuries as a folk remedy or “boereraat” for anything from urinary tract infections to nervousness.
Buchu has long been used as a primary treatment for multiple diseases and conditions in various countries, including South Africa, the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom, but its favour declined in the modern era with the development of more effective western solutions.
The herb is currently enjoying renewed interest, due to more and more people seeking alternative natural health remedies, with social media being abuzz with photos of home-made Buchu edibles, such as smoothies, teas and even salads where the leaves are used as garnish.
The Khoisan used to chew the leaves of the plant, but nowadays it is primarily taken as a tea, sometimes sweetened with brown sugar or honey, or consumed as a tincture in brandy.
For external purposes, it may be applied as a vinegar infusion, ointment or essential oil, with the Khoisan being known to use it to repel insects and as a moisturiser. It may also be used to clean wounds and treat bruises, contusions, sprains, fractures and treat rheumatism.
The Khoisan believed it to be an elixir of youth. While the jury is still out on whether it is going to keep you younger looking for longer, one study has found that Buchu is more effective in protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals than Resveratrol, a plant compound found in grapes, red wine, peanuts, cocoa and some berries.
As far as its antibacterial properties are concerned, Buchu has been found to have good antibacterial properties against gram positive bacteria and to a lesser extent for gram negative bacteria. In general, however, most Buchu species do not have antifungal properties, except for Agathosma. Arida, which has been found to effectively treat Candida albicans.
Buchu’s diuretic activity is attributed to the volatile compound called diosphenol, which irritates the gallbladder, causing urine production, and flavonoids which induce urine production.
Some of these flavonoids also have excellent antioxidant properties, allowing Buchu to help prevent and treat ailments that cause oxidative stress, such as atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetics, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular diseases and so forth.
Besides this Buchu oil contains limonene, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties, which allows it to reduce inflammation.
Buchu has been tested on mice to determine its analgesic properties, in other words its effectiveness as a pain killer, with the study finding it more effective than aspirin.
The combined benefits of Buchu as anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and diuretic renders the plant effective in treating urinary tract infections, kidney disease as well as prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
It is also used to stimulate perspiration in rheumatic disease and gout, and as a digestive tonic which treats cholera and stomach complaints, antispasmodic to treat stomach ache, an antipyretic to treat fever, and to treat colds and flu’s.
Besides this, Buchu has been listed as treatment for arthritis, cellulite, nausea, diarrhoea and flatulence.
Buchu is not only good for humans, but may also be used to treat inflammation, bladder infections and urinary tract diseases in animals, such as dogs and horses.
While Buchu is 100% natural and claimed to have no side-effects in the long-term, it is best to seek medical advice before using it to avoid potential side effects. It is not recommended for animals that suffer from kidney disease, and low dosages are advised for humans and animals as the plant contains compounds that may cause toxicity.