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Agathosma betulina

Agathosma betulina

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Buchu oil, buchu, honey buchu, mountain buchu, bucco, boocoo

Original Habitat

Buchu refers to several Agathosma species and is native to South Africa. It was introduced to the world by Dutch settlers and is now cultivated in most areas that fulfill its growth requirements.[1] Its growth requires well-drained soil and full sun. It is harvested for use in perfumes, potpourris and as a flavouring because of its very unique aroma.[2]

Plant Part Used



The essential oil of A. betulina is used in the food and beverages industry as a flavouring, primarily in fruit products that have a tart taste.[3] It is less often used in the fragrance industry, though is sometimes found in perfumes. In therapeutic aromatherapy, it is primarily used as a single oil and sometimes found in formulations.


The A. betulina shrub grows to a height of 2 metres and has star-shaped flowers that range from light pink to purple in colour. The leaves are thick and leathery with jagged edges and vary in colour from green to brown.

The essential oil of A. betulina is steam-distilled from the leaves. It is yellowish brown thin oil that becomes thicker as it ages.[3] Buchu oil has a medicinal-minty scent.

Chemical Constituents

(Psi)-diosphenol [4][5]

Medicinal Uses


Spasmogenic: Using guinea pig ileum, buchu oil demonstrated spasmogenic activity which was then followed by relaxation of the muscles. These effects are thought to occur through cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).[4] It was also noted that buchu oil blocked calcium channels.

Traditional Use

Urinary tract infections+++
Cleansing of wounds+++
Colds & Coughs+

There are no clinical studies available for review on Buchu essential oil. Its use is not recommended unless under the guidance of a professional.

Contraindications and Precautions

Due to the nature of the chemical constituents, topical use of the oil may cause irritation and sensitivity.

Buchu is a diuretic and should not be used in combination with other products having a similar action.

In an animal setting, buchu oil blocked calcium channel blockers so those on blood pressure medications should consult a medical professional before using.[4]

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid buchu oil.

Not to be used with children.


[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


1.     Simpson D. Buchu--South Africa's amazing herbal remedy. Scott Med J. Dec 1998;43(6):189-191.

2.     Moolla A. 'Buchu' - Agathosma betulina and Agathosma crenulata (Rutaceae): a review. J Ethnopharmacol. 28 Oct 2008;119(3):413-419.

3.     Lis Balchan M. Aromatherapy Science : A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press; 2006:129-130

4.     Posthumus MA. Chemical composition of the essential oils of Agathosma betulina, A. crenulata and an A. betulina x crenulata hybrid (Buchu).  JEOR. 1996;8:223-228.

5.     Bauer K, Garbe D, Surburg H. Common Fragrance and Flavor Materials. Wiley-VCH; 1997:172.

6.     Lis-Balchin M. Buchu (Agathosma betulina and A. crenulata, Rutaceae) essential oils : their pharmacological action on guinea-pig ileum and antimicrobial activity on microorganisms. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2001;53(4):579-582.

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