Buchu (Barosma Betulina) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Buchu (Barosma Betulina) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Buchu (Barosma Betulina) Overview

Buchu (Barosma Betulina) other names: Agathosma betulina, Agathosma crenulata, Agathosma serratifolia, Barosma betulina, Barosma crenulata, Barosmae folium, Barosma serratifolia, Bookoo, Bucco, Buccu, Bucku, Bukku, Diosma, Diosma crenulata, Diosma serratifolia, Hartogia betulin, Parapetalifera betulina, Parapetalifera crenulata, Parapetalifera odorata, Parapetalifera serrata, Parapetalifera serratifolia, Round Buchu, Short Buch.

Buchu, belonging to the genus Barosma, is a wooded shrub that grows up to a height of six feet and the color of its bark varies from red to brown or violet or deep brown. The leaves of the buchu plant are rubbery, glossy and are spotted with oil glands. These leaves have toothed margins and their color varies from yellow to green to brown. Buchu bears petite flowers whose shape resembles the stars.

Buchu (Barosma Betulina) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Buchu (Barosma Betulina) plant

Initially employed in the form of a medication by the Hottentots, one of the three major tribes of South Africa, the leaves have been employed in the form of a domestic remedy for nearly all known sufferings. In these parts of South Africa, buchu is also used to prepare an alcoholic beverage, called buchu brandy, which is extensively distributed in the region. Earlier, this medication was the officially listed in The National Formulary and was somewhat extensively used in the form of an antiseptic for urinary problems as well as a diuretic. However, in present times, physicians have discontinued the use of buchu, while people who believe in the therapeutic benefits offered by buchu still continue to promote the herb for similar health conditions which a New York City-based patent medicine producer Helmbold suggested its usage over 135 years back.

Whatsoever remedial uses buchu might have are primarily owing to a volatile oil enclosed by its leaves. The major element of this volatile oil comprises diosphenol or buchu camphor. Owing to the presence of this chemical compound, leaves of buchu are used in an assortment of herbal teas marketed in Europe for treating kidney disorders as well as other problems of the urinary bladder. Nevertheless, this volatile oil possesses diuretic properties and also mild antiseptic attributes. Therefore, this needs to be borne in mind especially when any individual is enduring a medical condition that necessitates the use of a particularly effectual remedy. However, there is no reason whatsoever to raise questions regarding safety of using buchu.

Buchu is indigenous to South Africa, where people grow the plant on hillsides. In addition, buchu is also cultivated in several regions of South America. Buchu is generally propagated from cuttings during the later phase of summer and it needs a soil having excellent drainage as well as lots of sunlight. The leaves of this herb are collected in summer when the plant is in bloom or bearing fruits.

Buchu (Barosma Betulina) Health Benefits

Buchu is a plant. The leaf is used to make medicine.

Buchu is used to disinfect the urinary tract during infections of the bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis), prostate (prostatitis), or kidney (pyelonephritis). Buchu is also used to treat sexually transmitted diseases.

Long before the arrival of the Europeans, the indigenous tribes of southern Africa, especially members of the Khoi San tribe of Western Cape area, established the therapeutic use of buchu, especially using the plant to cure urinary problems. When the Dutch arrived in the region in the 17th century and set up their colonies in the Cape region, they were quick to pick up this herb from the natives to treat arthritis, kidney stones, muscle pains, cholera as well as infection of the urinary tract. English settlers in the region, who arrived after the Dutch, claimed that the herb helped them to treat almost all medical conditions suffered by humans. While the volatile oil present in buchu may be responsible for the herb's antiseptic and diuretic attributes, the effectiveness of the plant in curing sexually transmitted diseases is not substantiated scientifically.

Buchu (Barosma Betulina) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Buchu (Barosma Betulina) flower

The Khoikhoin people of South Africa used buchu as a traditional medication for long and used this herb in the form of a common energizer or tonic as well as a diuretic. Buchu is potently fragrant and is taken internally as a carminative (a medication or substance that promotes expulsion of gas from the stomach) with a view to alleviate gas and bloating.

In 1790, buchu was exported to Britain for the first time and buchu was accepted as an official medication in 1821. Buchu was catalogued in the British Pharmacopoeia as a valuable medication for treating health conditions like cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder), urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), catarrh of the urinary bladder and nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys).

Generally speaking, contemporarily, buchu is employed in Western herbal medicine for similar kinds of urinary problems as the herb was used in the 12th century. Today, the herb is generally prescribed for infection of the urinary tract, frequently being successful in treating severe cases of cystitis when it is used in combination with other herbs, for instance juniper and corn silk. If preparations containing buchu are taken internally on a regular basis, this herb may help in preventing urethritis or periodic attacks of persistent cystitis. Additionally, buchu is also taken for treating prostatitis as well as irritable bladder, usually along with other herbs like corn silk and uva-ursi. Diosphenol is the active component of buchu and it possesses diuretic properties. This substance may partially be responsible for the antiseptic actions of the herb on the urinary system.

The infusion or tincture prepared with buchu is effective in treating urethritis and cystitis, particularly when these conditions are associated with a previously existing problem of Candida, for instance yeast infections. Generally, buchu infusion is preferable to the tincture, especially when the commencement of the contagion is unexpected. In addition, buchu infusion is also employed in the form of a douche for treating leucorrhea (a white vaginal discharge) and sometimes to treat infections caused by yeasts. Buchu is known to be a stimulant for the uterine and encloses pulegone, a substance that is also found in significant quantities in pennyroyal. Pulegone is a substance that causes abortion (abortifacient) as well as it is a potent emmanagogue (a medication or substance that encourages menstrual flow). However, here is a word of caution. Buchu should never be given during pregnancy.

Remedial preparations using leaves of buchu have a long account of being used in traditional herbal medication in the form of a disinfectant for the urinary tract as well as a diuretic. Since earliest days, practitioners of herbal medicine used buchu to cure inflammation of the urinary tract, in addition to the inflammation of the prostate. In Europe, herbalists also recommended the use of buchu for treating gout. Nevertheless, the innovative usage of buchu by the native tribes of southern Africa is yet to be ascertained since the word ‘buchu' is a common term used to describe aromatic plants. According to many researchers and herbalists, the native tribes of southern Africa possibly used buchu in the form of an insect repellent. In addition, they may have also used the herb internally to cure stomach disorders, problems of the urinary bladder as well as rheumatism.

In manufacturing, the oil from buchu is used to give a fruit flavor (often black currant) to foods.

Buchu (Barosma Betulina) Side effects

Buchu (Barosma Betulina) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Buchu (Barosma Betulina) leaf

Generally considered to be a safe herb, buchu may also result in a number of side effects. For instance, buchu may cause gastrointestinal exasperation and, hence, it is advisable that you take this herb only with meals. In addition, buchu should not be given during pregnancy or to nursing mothers.

Buchu is likely safe in food amounts and is possibly safe when used appropriately in medicinal amounts. But it is possibly unsafe in larger amounts and when the oil is consumed. Buchu may irritate the stomach and kidneys and increase menstrual flow. It may also cause liver damage, so liver function in people who use buchu should be monitored by a healthcare provider.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don’t use buchu in amounts that are larger than usual food amounts if you are pregnant. Buchu is likely unsafe when taken during pregnancy. There have been reports linking buchu to miscarriages. If you are breast-feeding, buchu is possibly safe in food amounts, but don’t take larger amounts. Not enough is known about the safety of buchu during breast-feeding.

Bleeding disorders: Buchu might slow blood clotting and increase bleeding. In theory, buchu might make bleeding disorders worse.

Kidney infections: Even though some people use buchu for kidney infections, health experts advise against this.

Urinary tract inflammation: Don’t use buchu if you have pain and swelling in the urinary tract.

Surgery: Buchu might slow blood clotting. There is some concern that it might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using buchu at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.