The native peoples of southern Africa, most prominently the Khoi San of the western Cape region, pioneered the medicinal use of buchu, employing it to treat urinary problems long before Europeans arrived. Dutch Afrikaner settlers adopted buchu in treating kidney stones, arthritis, cholera, muscle aches, and urinary infections when they colonized the Cape region in the 17th century. English who settled there later claimed it had been used to treat nearly every human affliction.
Although buchu contains volatile oils that may give it mild diuretic and antiseptic properties, its efficacy in treating sexually transmitted diseases is unsubstantiated. Fluids and Odrinil, two prescription medications that relieve premenstrual bloating, both contain buchu.
Traditional remedy - Buchu is a traditional remedy of the Khoikhoin people of South Africa. Buchu is used as a general stimulant and a diuretic. Strongly aromatic, buchu is taken as a carminative, helping to relieve gas and bloating. Modern urinary treatment - Broadly speaking, buchu is used today in Western herbal medicine for the same type of urinary complaints as in the 12th century.
Buchu is commonly prescribed for urinary tract infections, often proving effective in curing acute cystitis when combined with other herbs such as corn silk and juniper. Taken regularly, buchu can help to prevent recurrent attacks of chronic cystitis or urethritis. In addition, buchu is also taken for prostatitis and irritable bladder, often in combination with herbs such as uva-ursi and corn silk.
The active constituent, diosphenol, has a diuretic action and may partly account for the herb's antiseptic effect on the urinary system. Gynecological uses - Buchu infusion or tincture is useful in treatments for cystitis and urethritis, especially when they are related to a pre-existing candida problem, such as yeast infections. The infusion is usually preferable to the tincture, particularly when the onset of infection is sudden. The infusion is also used as a douche for leucorrhea (white vaginal discharge) and occasionally for yeast infections.
The herb is a uterine stimulant and contains pulegone, which is also present in large quantities in pennyroyal. Pulegone is an abortifacient and a powerful emmenagogue (stimulates menstrual flow). Buchu should not, therefore, be taken during pregnancy.