Buchu in Herbal Medicine
Buchu (Barosma betulina, round-leaf buchu) is the herb native to South Africa and popularized in herbal medicine throughout the world. The plant comes from Rutaceae family, and is also known under the common names “bookoo” (original Hottentot name of the herb), “buku”, “bucku”, and “bucco”. For San and Koi people (Africa) buchu is still a part of cultural heritage. This 5-foot shrub has toothes opposite leaves with well visible oil glands which are the source of strong aroma. Buchu flowers are white with purple anthers, and they appear in spring, usually being composed of 5 petals.
Buchu is widely cultivated on the hillsides of South Africa, and is also found growing in some areas of South America. The plant favors well drained soil and an excessive amount of sunlight. In summer, when buchu is in its flowering and fruiting stage, the leaves (and sometimes small flowers) are collected to be processed into herbal preparations.
Buch leaves are major constituents in various herbal combinations and formulas including the herb. Also, the brew made of buchu leaves is a popular remedy for various health conditions. Herbalists suggest only steeping the leaves in hot water, and not boiling them, with one teaspoon of dried leaves per cup.
At the drugstores and herbal shops buchu can be found in fluid extract, leaves powder extract, tincture, and commercial herbal tea.
The major active constituents of buchu are concentrated in the plant’s leaves. They include flavonoids, vitamins of the B group, tannins, violate oil, mucilage and diosphenol. The latter (also known as "barosma camphor") is considered to be the most valuable chemical, possessing antiseptic and diuretic properties. These properties make buchu useful in treating related health conditions. Also, active compounds in the herb make it a good stimulant with beneficial cleansing properties that increase perspiration.
Buchu is favored in herbal medicine for its ability to treat a wide variety of infections be used in any infection of the genito-urinary system. Cystitis, urethritis and prostatitis defeat when treated with buchu. Both killing infection and removing the symptoms of these conditions with its healing properties, the herb is also a part of many related herbal combinations. People with the history of major kidney disease should be aware of oil content that might cause additional irritation. Buchu is used in symptomatic relief or rheumatism, bloating while menstruating; it decreases water retention, and reduces high blood pressure. Active compounds in buchu herbal extracts also decrease inflammation of the colon, gums and mucous membranes. In 19th century the Dutch settlers in Africa popularized buchu brandy, the tincture that is still used for a variety of disorders – from coughs and flu to colds and hangover. Except being used for internal problems, buchu is also applied externally. Bruises and sprains are treated with the leaves steeped in vinegar and applied topically to the problem spot.
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