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  Subject Portals: Phytomedicine
   
Agathosma betulina
Rutaceae

Common names
buchu, round leaf buchu
 
Family
Rutaceae
 
Description
Buchu is an evergreen shrub growing to 2 m tall, with small, characteristically rounded leaves of which the tips curve backwards, about 20 mm long and broad. The white or pale purple flowers are small and star-shaped, with five petals. The fruit is a five-parted capsule which splits open to release the seeds. It is known by the common name round leaf buchu and has historically been used as a flavouring agent and an herbal remedy..
 
Parts Used
Dry or fresh leaves
 
Medicinal Uses
Buchu is widely used and has a great reputation for treating kidney and urinary tract diseases, for the symptomatic relief of rheumatism, and also for external application on wounds and bruises (in folk medicine as "buchu vinegar"). Buchu is an ex¬cellent tonic and is used to treat minor digestive disturbances like stomachache and colic. Buchu leaf and buchu oil are important flavour components in herbal teas and food products. Also used for dysuria, cystitis, urethritis, prostatis, rheumatism, colds and cough.

The essential oils and extracts of the leaves are used as flavoring for teas, candy, and a liquor known as buchu brandy in South Africa. The two main oils of A. betulina are isomenthone and diosphenol. The extract is said to taste like blackcurrant. It has historically been used as a medicine for urinary tract disorders and wounds.

 
Preparation and Dosage
A dose of 1- 2 g of dry leaf (or equivalent quantities in the form of tinctures) are taken three times per day.
 
Active Ingredients
Buchu contains essential oil (2.5%) with limonene, isomenthone, diosphenol (bu¬chu camphor) and terpinen-4-01 as the main com¬pounds. Sulphur-containing minor compounds (such as 8-mercapto-p-methane-3-one) are partly respon¬sible for the characteristic black currant smell and flavour. Oil from oval leaf buchu (A. crenulata) is less desirable because it contains little or no diosphenol and high levels of pulegone, a potentially toxic com¬pound. Mucilage, resins and flavonoids (mainly diosmin) are present.
 
Pharmacological Effects
Buchu and buchu oil are considered to have urinary antiseptic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties.
 
Distribution
Agathosma betulina (previously Barosma betulina) native to the lower elevation mountains of western South Africa, where it occurs near streams in fynbos habitats, and has a restricted natural distribution area in the moun¬tains of the Western Cape Province. It is cultivated on a small but increasing scale.
 
Bibliography
1. Medicinal plants of South Africa. Ben-Erik van Wyk, Bosch van Oudshoorn, Nigel Gericke. Pretoria: Briza, 1997.
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agathosma_betulina (03 June 2009)
 

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