Buchu, Latin name Agathosma betulina, is a small shrub native to South Africa where it is used as a popular flavoring agent to impart a peppermint-like flavor to brandies and wines. First used by the Hottentot tribe, it gained wide use in Europe and Africa where the dried leaves of buchu have long been used as a folk remedy for the treatment of almost every known affliction.
Employed as a diuretic and antiseptic, the long leaves of this herb are brewed for use in treatment of inflammation of the urethra, blood in the urine, bladder infections and other chronic urinary tract disorders. It is also said to be an effective remedy for kidney stones, cystitis, and rheumatism.
Buchu contains barosma champhor and other volatile oils which account for its mild diuretic and antiseptic activity. Buchu is considered to be an extremely safe herb and there are no reported toxic effects. If using for treatment of a urinary tract infection the only caution would be to be sure of have a proper diagnosis of the ailment, since Buchu is completely ineffective in treating sexually transmitted diseases, for which is was once widely thought to be a remedy.