Buchu oil is extracted from Agothosma betulina (also known as Barosma betulina) of the Rutaceae family. It is also known as mountain buchu, bookoo, buku and bucco. The true buchu would be the Agathosma betulina (and perhaps less so, the A crenulata) as only A betulina is now recognized in the BP as having medicinal value due to the diosphenol (camphor) components.
Buchu oil has a strong blackcurrant smell and is normally made as a tincture, extract and oleoresin, which are mostly used for pharmaceutical use. The oil is not used in aromatherapy.
Origin of Buchu oil
Native to South Africa, this heath-like evergreen is an aromatic shrub with simple wrinkled leaves about 1 cm (0.5 inch) long.
It has conspicuous oil glands that release a strong, blackcurrant-like aroma. The delicate stem bears five-petalled white flowers with purple anthers that appear in the spring.
It is said by some that Buchu has a substance that can block out ultraviolet light.
The main chemical component of buchu oil are d-pulegone, iso-pulegone, diosphenol, 4-diosphenol, iso-menthone and menthone.
The “true” Buchu plant – Barosma crenulata – yields an oil high in pulegone and should also be used with care.
Buchu oil is extracted from the dried leaves by steam distillation.
The therapeutic properties of buchu oil are antiseptic, carminative, diuretic, insecticide and tonic.
Buchu oil should not be used during pregnancy.
People with a sensitive skin should avoid it and it should be avoided during pregnancy.
Buchu leaves are used to ward off insects and as an antiseptic, Made in an infusion (tea), Buchu leaves can help with urinary tract infections, digestive problems, gout, rheumatism, coughs and colds (as a tea use 1 teaspoon of fresh leaves per cup of boiling water).
Buchu leaves are also steeped in brandy to produce a “medicinal” brandy used for a variety of ailments.
In vinegar-based lotion, Buchu oil can be used for bruises and sprains.
Buchu oil is not usually used in aromatherapy, but as an infusion (tea) it can help with infections, digestive problems, coughs, colds and rheumatism.