Oval-leaf Buchu

Native to South Africa, this genus consists of about 135 species of small, tender, evergreen shrubs. Most species are intensely aromatic. Their attractive habit, aroma and flowers, produced at an early age, make them popular as ornamentals in warmer parts of the world, or as indoor plants in temperate areas. "Buchu", an African word for dusting powder, is used for several Agathosma species, gathered for this and other medicinal and industrial uses. Several species are important and popular herbs in tribal culture, the powdered leaves being mixed with fat to make anointing oil. Agathosma betulina syn. Barosma betulina (round-leaf buchu), is similar in appearance to A. crenulata, though slightly smaller, and is used in identical ways; its aroma is more akin to camphor and peppermint. This species has a restricted natural distribution and is becoming scarce. Plantations have been established to reduce pressure on wild populations. Research has shown that buchus contain a substance that blocks ultraviolet light; it may have applications in skin products.

The leaves of the buchu, a low, stubby shrub from the Cape region of South Africa, have been used traditionally to treat urinary tract inflammation and infections, as well as inflammation of the prostate gland. Buchu's ability to treat infections is thought to be due to its volatile oils, especially disophenol, which may have antibacterial action.

Heath-like, evergreen shrub with ovate, toothed leaves, to 3.5cm (1¼in) long, bearing conspicuous oil glands that release a strong, blackcurrant-like aroma. Five-petaled white flowers with purple anthers appear in spring.

Common Name:
Oval-leaf Buchu
Botanical Name:
Agathosma crenulata syn. Barosma crenulata, Agasthosma Betulina Diosma crenulata
Other Names:
Bookoo, Bucco, Buchu, Diosma, Short Buchu
Native Location:
S Africa
Well-drained acid soil in full sun. Cut back hard in spring to control size.
By seed sown in spring; by semi-ripe cutting in summer, in sand, at 13-18°C (55-64°F)
1-2m (3-6ft)
1-2m (3-6ft)
Min. 5°C (41°F)
Parts Used:
A blackcurrant-scented herb that stimulates and cleanses the urinary system and increases perspiration. The active ingredient is diosphenol, or "barosma camphor", which is a potent antiseptic and diuretic.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for urinary tract infections (especially prostatitis and cystitis), digestive problems, gout, rheumatism, coughs, and colds, often combined with Althea officinalis (see Marshmallow). Externally in traditional African medicine as an anti-insect powder and in a vinegar-based lotion for bruises or sprains.
To treat veneral disease, infections of the prostate, kidneys, and other parts of the urinary tract.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of buchu is 3 to 6 gm of dried leaves per day, taken as a tea in divided doses; or 2 to 4 ml of fluid extract per day (1:2 dilution); or 5 to 10 ml of tincture per day (1:5 dilution).
Possible Side Effects:
Bucchu's side effects include loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, and increased menstrual flow.
Drug Interactions:
Taking buchu with these drugs can increase the risk of bleeding or bruising:
Abciximab, (ReoPro) Antithrombin III, (Thrombate III) Argatropan, (Argatropan) Aspirin, (Bufferin, Ecotrin)
Aspirin and Dipyridamole, (Aggrenox) Bivalirudin, (Angiomax) Clopidogrel, (Plavix) Dalteparin, (Fragmin)
Danaparoid, (Orgaran) Dipyramidole, (Novo-Dipiradol, Persantine) Enoxaparin, (Lovenox) Eptifibatide, (Integrillin)
Fondaparinux, (Arixtra) Heparin, (Hepalean, Hep-Lock) Indobufen, (Ibustrin) Lepirudin, (Refludan)
Ticlopidine, (Alti-Ticlopidine, Ticlid) Tinzaparin, (Innohep) Tirofiban, (Aggrastat) Warfarin, (Coumadin, Jantoven)
Taking buchu with these drugs can increase the risk of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar):
Acarbose, (Prandase, Precose) Acetohexamide, (Acetohexamide) Chlorpropamide, (Diabinese, Novo-Propamide) Glicazide, (Diamicron, Novo-Glicazide)
Glimepiride, (Amaryl) Glipizide, (Glucotrol) Glipizide and Metformin, (Metaglip) Gliquidone, (Beglynor, Glurenorm)
Glyburide, (Diabeta, Micronase) Glyburide and Meformin, (Glucovance) Insulin, (Humulin, Novolin R) Metformin, (Glucophage, Riomet)
Miglitol, (Glyset) Nateglinide, (Starlix) Pioglitazone, (Actos) Repaglinide, (GlucoNorm, Prandin)
Rosiglitazone, (Avandia) Rosiglitazone and Metformin, (Avandamet) Tolazamide, (Tolinase) Tolbutamide, (Apo-Tolbutamide, Tol-Tab)
Taking buch with these drugs can be harmful:
Lithium, (Carbolith, Eskalith)—May increase the action of the drug and cause lithium toxicity.
Disease Effects:
May worsen cases of kidney infection of urinary tract inflammation.
Culinary Uses:
Used with Artemisia afra to flavor brandy and wine in parts of Africa.
Economic Uses:
Extracts used to give a blackcurrant flavor to foods and drinks by manufacturers and to enhance the blackcurrant aroma of cassis.
Encylopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pg. 106
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by George T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox, PhD Copyright ©2007 by Barry Fox,PhD Pp99-100