buchu Buchu

Buchu | Barosma betulina/Agathosma betulina

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include buchu, round leaf buchu, bucco, boecko, boegoe, bookoo, diosma.


Buchu is a native of the lower part of the African continent, South Africa in particular and is a member of the Rutaceae family (as are citrus fruits). Its choice of habitat is the unique fynbos of the Western Cape mountains. They prefer sloping ground with poor sandy soil and hot summers.

It is a small woody evergreen shrub with green, slightly serrated leaves which have a delicious blackcurrant like aroma. It tends to be more of a low spreading shrub with little vertical height but can grow up to 2m. Its flowers can be white or pale pink.


The leaves are the part used medicinally.


The native peoples of South Africa have used buchu as medicine for many hundreds of years and have a strong sense of connection and reverence for the plant. They introduced to the Dutch settlers in the early 1600's. It is also highly prized worldwide for its essential oil which is used as a flavouring in the production of foods, drinks, alcoholic beverages, perfumes and many other cosmetic products. A few drops of the oil added to any other fruit beverage or preparation is said to greatly enhance the flavours of all fruits in the mixture.



Buchu dried leaves and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.







harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The leaves are the parts used medicinally. The leaves are picked before flowering to ensure seed dispersal is not affected. It is notoriously difficult to cultivate outside of its natural and native habitat in South Africa.
Recent high demand for wild buchu leaves is leading to over-harvesting and efforts are being made to cultivate buchu in large quantities to preserve wild populations and allow them to proliferate once again. Harvesting should be carried out under license only but buchu 'poachers' are plentiful. A reputable source is important to preserve precious wild populations. A very similar plant, Agathosma crenulata is often substituted but is thought to be an inferior medicine.


Buchu dried leaves and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.







therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Buchu is primarily used in western herbal medicine for urinary or bladder infections, infections anywhere in the genito-urinary system and as a warming and stimulating tonic to the kidneys and for kidney disorders. It soothes the burning and irritation from conditions such as cystitis, urethritis and prostatitis. It can also be used in formulas to help with the prevention or treatment of bladder stones, bladder weakness, kidney stones, bedwetting, urinary incontinence, blood in the urine and nephritis.


The native Khoi San people of South Africa have chewed the leaves to relieve stomach upsets, rheumatism, arthritis and gout as well as rubbing the leaves on the skin as an insect repellent and for its antiseptic qualities on wounds and skin abrasions. When the leaves and twigs are soaked in brandy, it is considered a bit of a cure-all.


When the leaves mixed with some form of fat or oil (the traditional preparation for external use) it can be rubbed on the skin to promote a feeling of general well being as the essential oils are absorbed into the skin. It also deodorises, repels insects, acts as a mild sunscreen and helps to cool and soften the skin.


It's leaves are rich in essential oils such as diosphenol which acts as a stimulation to production of urine. This means it can be used to eliminate water retention, help to lower high blood pressure and assist with shedding excess weight.


It has a diuretic action which promotes the production and flow of urine and the excretion of bodily toxins. It can also be use to cleanse the body of excess uric acid and therefore be used as part of a formula for gout.


Buchu is a useful herb for prostate problems such as enlargement, infection, aching penis or groin and in reducing the amount of times one needs to urinate.


When taken as a hot tea it brings on a cleansing sweat with a pleasant smell so is a natural deodoriser. It can be combined with other herbs (such as yarrow, elderflower) for the treatment of colds and flu.


Buchu can also help to normalise blood sugar levels so can be taken in the early stages of diabetes to reduce high blood sugar.


It is considered a tonic for the stomach and can help relieve flatulence and poor digestion.


Has an anti-catarrhal action, working on all the mucous membranes including those in the stomach, respiratory passages and genito-urinary passages.


It can be added to herbal formulas in the relief of general back ache, lumbago and sciatica.


Used as apou;tice it can speed up the healing of bruises and sprains or strains.


Stimulates the action of the uterine muscles (so avoid in pregnancy) and can help with symptoms of PMS such as water retention and bloating. It can also be used as a douche for vaginal infections and unhealthy vaginal discharges such as from yeast infections. Pelvic congestion can be cleared with the use of buchu and the nerves to the area are soothed.



Here is a link to a beautifully written page explaining the history of buchu as medicine and the folk lore attached to it.






dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

*Avoid during pregnancy and breast feeding.
*As with all herbs that increase urine output, buchu should be used sparingly in this way or the body can become depleted of potassium.  eating potassium rich foods such as bananas and dark green leaves can help to counteract this.
* Use cautiously if the kidneys are exhausted.
*It can produce digestive upset in certain sensitive individuals, discontinue use if this occurs.


Tincture: 2-4 ml in a little water, 3 times daily.

Dried herb in tea form: 1 teaspoon per cup, 3 times daily.


*Buchu tea has a slightly different action as a tea - when taken cold or at room temperature, it is more strongly diuretic (increases urine output). When taken hot it acts more as a diaphoretic (opens the pores of the skin and promotes sweating).


*Do not boil or simmer buchu as the essential oils and other medicinal components are destroyed.



Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.






Child watering plants




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