This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
MEDICINAL PART. The leaves.
Description. -- This plant has a slender, smooth, upright, perennial stem, between two and three feet high. The leaves are opposite, flat, about an inch long, ovate or obovate, acute, serrated, and dotted. The flowers are pink, and fruit an ovate capsule.
History. -- The Buchu plant is a native of Southern Africa. It does not grow very prolifically. There are two other varieties from which the leaves are taken, and which are of equal value with the Barosma Crenata. The leaves are the parts which are termed officinal. The Hottentots gather these leaves (which emit a sort of minty odor) and powder them. "The powder," says a traveler, "they have named Booko, and they use it for anointing their bodies." They also distil the leaves, and obtain from them a strong spirituous liquor somewhat resembling pale brandy, which they not only use for convivial purposes, but for the cure of various diseases, particularly those which are located in the stomach, bladder, bowels, and kidneys. A decoction of the leaves is systematically applied by them, with success, we are told, to wounds; but this is an assertion of which we have no direct proof. As we get them, the leaves are nearly, or quite, an inch in length, and from a sixth to half an inch in width, elliptical, lanceolate, slightly acute, or shorter and obtuse; their margin is serrated and glandular, upper surface smooth, and of a clear shining green, the under surface paler, with scattered oil points. They taste and smell like pennyroyal; but are neither heating nor bitter when chewed. They have to be kept very carefully, if their odor and virtues are desired to be thoroughly preserved for any reasonable length of time. The leaves of all the varieties are somewhat similar, and possess about the same qualities. They yield their volatile oil and extractive (upon which their virtues are mainly dependent) to alcohol or water.
Properties and Uses. -- Buchu is aromatic and stimulant, diuretic and diaphoretic. It is employed in dyspepsia with a palliative effect, but is chiefly administered in chronic inflammation of the bladder, irritation of the membrane of the urethra, uric acid gravel, diabetes in its first stage, and in incontinence of urine. It is recommended, without good reason, for cutaneous and rheumatic affections. I have no doubt Buchu is of some importance in chronic diseases of the urino-genital organs, for I have tried it; but I am sure that we have many native remedies which are altogether superior, and which are neglected only because the public is so familiar with them that they do not care to give them a fair trial.
Dose. -- Of the powder, twenty to thirty grains; infusion, two to four ounces; tincture, one or two drachms; fl. extract, thirty to sixty drops.