Medicinal plants

Bucco – Application & Treatment for Health


Even the natives of the South African Cape region considered bucco to be an almost universal remedy. The antiseptic and antibiotic effects of its essential oils are still little known to us, but they are used in natural medicine. The fact that its aromas are also used by the food industry and are therefore “on everyone’s lips” may come as a surprise to some.

Occurrence & Cultivation of Bucco

The bucco shrub (Latin: Barosma betulina ) belongs to the rue family and is native to South Africa. The shrub, which can be up to two meters high and has many branches, with purple to orange-red twigs, is only found in the Cape north and north-east of Cape Town. It was brought to Europe in the 19th century and cultivated mainly in England as an ornamental plant.

There, however, it bore no seeds and was so difficult to propagate from cuttings alone that it soon disappeared again. In the period from May to July, the Bucco produces small white or pink flowers, which later develop into brown fruit capsules. Only the bright, light green, leathery leaves of the plant, which have oil glands on the underside, are used medicinally. The essential oils it contains give the leaves a strong, spicy aroma reminiscent of a mixture of mint and rosemary .

Effect & Application

After harvesting, the leaves of the bucco bush must first be dried and then stored in a dry, dark place as airtight as possible for better durability. The dried leaves are subjected to the steam distillation process to obtain the buckwheat oil. The hot steam serves as a carrier for the organic, volatile components of the plant.

Since these do not mix with the water, the essential oil separates spontaneously from the water when it cools down. It takes four kilos of leaves to extract a single gram of the valuable oil. The anti-inflammatory, diuretic, laxative , digestive and antispasmodic effects of the oil are medically relevant .

Its aromas stimulate the mind and senses, so it is also used in fragrance lamps and room humidifiers. The food industry also makes use of the diverse aromas of buckwheat oil, which are reminiscent of cassis and apple in their fruitiness. It plays an important role in flavoring beverages, foods and sweets.

Bucco leaves are also often added to tea blends for their aroma. Bucco in the form of tea or drops helps with bladder infections and has a generally positive effect on the kidneys and urinary tract. In order for the effect to develop fully, two to three cups of the tea should be drunk per day.

For external injuries as well as for the symptomatic treatment of rheumatic complaints , a so-called “Bucco vinegar” or the commercially available ointment is recommended. Homeopathy uses Barosma betulina in the form of globules or as a liquid solution, each in many different potencies.

Bucco leaf oil with its aromas also provides valuable services in cosmetics. It is used in perfume composition and for eaux de cologne as a fresh top note as well as for fougère and chypre fragrance notes.

Importance for health, treatment & prevention

The natives of South Africa, long contemptuously referred to as “Hottentots” by Europeans, recognized the positive effects of the buckwheat leaves. They traditionally used them primarily as a wound healing agent. At the time of cholera, a so-called cap tincture, which also contained bucco leaves, was used. From 1825, the leaves of the exotic shrub began to be used for medicinal purposes in Germany too.

The Stuttgart druggist Jobst made a significant contribution to this. He published the testimonials of a doctor named Richard Reece who lived and worked with the drug in the Cape of South Africa. The main indication for treatment with Bucco in Germany was initially primarily urinary tract diseases. Bucco is generally effective in inflammatory processes in the urogenital system.

Specifically, it is prescribed for bladder infection (cystitis), bladder slough, gonorrhea (a sexually transmitted bacterial infection, also known colloquially as gonorrhea), irritation and inflammation of the urethra, prostate disease and dropsy . Thanks to its antispasmodic properties, buckwheat oil can relieve stomach cramps and menstrual cramps .

Applied externally, it helps with neuropathic skin diseases as well as minor wounds and injuries. When treating stomach problems, the oil harmonises perfectly with other natural medicines such as hops , lemon balm and St. John’s wort . Aromatherapy makes use of the essential buckwheat oil mainly because of its beneficial effect on the soul.

This is described as generally beneficial, harmonizing and calming. Under the influence of the bucco scent, the inner strength gathers, so that the patient gains new courage and difficult situations seem solvable again. The harmony of the psyche is restored, the person concerned is in harmony with himself again.

In order to underline the aroma of the buco leaf oil, aromatherapy likes to combine it with citrus scents or spicy notes such as mint and rosemary. Classic homeopathy also works with Bucco preparations. In the drug picture, she first mentions purulent mucous secretions of the urethra, a chronically inflamed renal pelvis , kidney stones and chronic, mucopurulent and painful bladder catarrh.

Furthermore, a persistent urge to urinate, purulent urine, prostate problems and fluor vaginalis (vaginal discharge) are listed. Some of the essential oil ingredients may cause adverse reactions in sensitive individuals. Limonene in particular, like its oxidation products, has a high allergenic potential . The pulegone it also contains can cause irritation in the digestive tract and on the skin.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.