Alan Howell Essential Oils


21, Chatsworth Crescent






0208 569 8440


0208 569 8440

0845 458 5757

0845 458 5757

Telephone and Facsimile


+4420 8569 8440:

Touch Life With Beauty

Homepage. About Us. Oils. Creams & Lotions. Soap Products. Herbs & Powders. Boxes & Cases. Bottles & Jars. Miscellaneous Items. Postage. Information 信息  . Workshops. Related Sites.


Essential Oils

By Alan Howell


Agathosma betulina & A. crenulata



Buchu (Agathosma betulina and A. crenulata. Rutaceae) is probably one of the best known South African herbs both locally and internationally.  The indigenous people first introduced buchu as a medicinal plant to the European settlers at the Cape.   The use of the plant subsequently spread to Europe and America where it was used extensively as a medicine. In 1821 buchu was included in the British Pharmacopoeia as a diuretic.

Buchu betulina (A. betulina) is a fragrant shrub with round leaves (round-leaf buchu) which seldom exceeds a height of 1 metre. The flowers are  star-like, and  white or mauve in colour. A. crenulata is an aromatic woody shrub with larger, elongated leaves (long-leaf buchu) which reaches a height of up to 2 metres. The flowers are  white or mauve in colour.   Long-leaf buchu has a different chemical  profile to that of round-leaf buchu.  Oval-leaf buchu, which is a hybrid between the above two species, has characteristic leaves that are intermediary in shape.


Buchu is endemic to the mountains of the Western Cape Province, South Africa, ranging from Clanwilliam in the north, to Paarl in the south.


Essential oil by steam distillation of stem and leaves. The oil is produced from wild and cultivated plants. The area of buchu under cultivation is expanding.


The oil of A. betulina is golden in colour, with a strong-sweetish, mint-like odour and a so-called catty note. A. crenulata is paler in colour, with a sharper, pulegone note.


A. betulina: limonene, menthone, isomenthone, diosphenol, mercapto-menthone

A. crenulata: limonene, menthone, isomenthone, pulegone and acetylthio-menthone


The major use of buchu is in the flavour industry, where it is used to enhance fruit flavours. It is particularly useful for black currant flavours.

Taste: Minty camphoraceous, sweet berry, catty, tropical guava, apricot and peach, green herbal nuances.

Possible Applications: Peach, mint, berry, raspberry, grapefruit, apricot, strawberry, mango, guava, herbal nuances.


The oil is also used  in perfumes such as colognes and chyprè bases, and for fruity notes.

Odour: Sulfurous, green, minty, cooling camphoraceous, sweet, fruity, dirty, berry, musty, catty, with vegetative and fruity nuances of peach and apricot.


In the Pharmacopoeias, buchu is categorised as a urinary tract antiseptic and diuretic.


The indigenous South African peoples  used buchu medicinally as an infusion for stomach complaints, or powdered and mixed with sheep fat, for anointing their bodies. Buchu leaf is still a widely used household medicine in South Africa, usually as a tea, a brandy tincture (buchu brandy), or as a vinegar.


PROPERTIES: Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, carminative, disinfectant, diuretic, insecticide, stimulant, tonic.

USES: Arthritis, cellulite, cystitis, diarrhoea, flatulence, kidney infections, nausea, rheumatism, urinary tract infections, wounds.

CONTRA-INDICATIONS: Pregnancy. Can be over stimulating on the kidneys, use with caution. Due to the pulegone content.

BLENDS: Cedarwood, frankincense, ginger, jasmine lavender, lemon, neroli, orange, palmarosa, patchouli, rosewood, sandalwood, ylang-ylang.

GENERAL USE: Mental and emotional. Buchu is uplifting and stimulating. It clears congested thoughts and brings clarity and focus to a confused mind. Useful in times of fear.

Physical. Buchu has an antiseptic action on the urinary system and is beneficial to inflamation of the urethra, and cystitis and mild prostatitis, and other bladder problems. It is a useful diuretic, possibly aiding conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis, helping the body remove excess toxins and fluid. Used for water retention and aids weight loss and cellulite. It is used to reduce the inflammation of painful joints, especially sprains (compress).

Monograph Index. Learning Touch Life With Beauty