Buchu is a fragrant perennial flowering shrub long utilised in its native South Africa for its bioactive compounds. The use of Buchu in South Africa was first documented by Dutch explorers to Cape Town.
The plant is related to the citrus family and its name is derived from the Greek word for “strong aroma”.
Here’s how Buchu leaf may help treat various ailments, including urinary infections.
Properties of Buchu leaf
The leaf of Buchu, also known as Agathosma, contains a highly valued aromatic essential oil. Agathosma is rich in phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals that demonstrate anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and diuretic properties, making it a potentially powerful healing agent.
Buchu has a long history of use for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. For example, the Khoi-San people used the leaves as an anti-ageing elixir. They also mixed them with fat to make an ointment to protect their skin from the harsh desert climate.
Other uses include as insecticidal and deodorising agents, as well as treatments for gout, urinary and prostate infections, arthritis, eczema, premenstrual cramps and stomach aches.
How Buchu leaf works
Over 120 bioactive ingredients have been identified in Buchu oil. This includes limonene (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant), menthone (antimicrobial) and pulegone (pesticide properties) among others.
Here’s how these active ingredients can work to treat ailments:
- Anti-inflammatory – Buchu’s anti-inflammatory compounds can help reduce inflammation by blocking the synthesis of the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme which has implications for inflammatory conditions. These properties may also help treat arthritis and gout by reducing the production of uric acid, and they may help with exercise recovery by reducing damage to muscle tissue.
- Antimicrobial – the antimicrobial properties of Buchu help fight infection against bacteria (e.g. staphylococcus and e. Coli). Buchu may also help eliminate fungi such as candida.
- Antioxidant – polyphenols in Buchu act as antioxidant free-radical scavengers, helping to reduce the cellular damage caused by oxidation.
- Diuretic – the active ingredient diosphenol in Buchu helps with the production of urine, and it may be useful for urinary tract disorders through its ability to cleanse out the bladder.
- Metabolism – Buchu may help with weight loss by stimulating the metabolism of fatty tissue and cholesterol.
- Detoxification – compounds in Buchu may promote the elimination of toxic substances by stimulating liver enzymes and kidney functions.
Other benefits of Buchu leaf include as a treatment for the relief of nausea and other stomach ailments and digestive complaints, and as an external treatment for bruises and an antiseptic for wounds. It may also be used to treat hypertension.
Treating urinary tract disorders
While Buchu may help many conditions, it is possibly best-known for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). These types of disorders are more common in women than men, as women have a shorter urethra which makes them more vulnerable.
UTIs can be caused by a number of bacteria, with the most common being E. coli. In UTIs the urethra or bladder can become infected, and occasionally the kidneys.
Natural UTI preventative actions include good hygiene and drinking plenty of water to help flush the urinary system. However, Buchu is also considered by natural therapists to provide a good treatment for UTIs. This is because its diuretic actions help to flush pathogens from the urinary system, and its antibacterial properties help prevent the attachment of bacteria.
How to take Buchu leaf
Buchu can be taken in capsule form, or in tinctures to apply to the skin. It can also be taken as a herbal tea. Our Buchu tea blend for example has been specially crafted to provide relief for burning and discomfort during urination.
Buchu’s flavonoids give it a natural blackcurrant taste which makes for a pleasing herbal beverage. To order Buchu tea go to our tea products page.