Native to South Africa, buchu leaf is harvested from three species of the genus Barosma, previously called Agathosma. Buchu leaf is a traditional herbal remedy for urinary tract infections and for bladder and prostate inflammation. People also use this herb for relieving inflammation associated with gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Research does not support any suggested benefits of buchu leaf, according to Drugs.com. Some side effects are possible with this herbal remedy, so consult a qualified health care provider before taking buchu leaf.
Buchu leaf can cause stomach irritation due to its essential oil components diosmin and pulegone, as explained by Drugs.com. Side effects may include loss of appetite, diarrhea and nausea. An upset stomach is more likely when taking buchu leaf without eating beforehand, according to the Loyola University Health System.
Urinary Tract and Liver Side Effects
People have traditionally used buchu leaf as a diuretic, so the herb may increase frequency of urination if it works as claimed. Use of diuretics can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Diosmin and pulegone may be irritating to the kidneys, according to Drugs.com, and pulegone also is hepatotoxic, meaning it can cause liver damage.
Side Effects Specific to Women
Pregnant women should not take buchu leaf supplements, because the substance has uterine stimulant effects and can cause miscarriage, according to Drugs.com. Mountain Rose Herbs notes that breastfeeding women should use "extreme caution" in regard to this substance due to the pulegone content. Menstruating women also should be aware that buchu leaf can increase menstrual flow.
As with any herbal supplement, some people may experience an allergic reaction to buchu leaf. Signs as listed by the LUHS may include a rash, hives, itchiness, swelling, tightness in the chest or throat, chest pain or breathing difficulty. An allergic reaction to buchu leaf calls for immediate medical attention, as it could lead to anaphylaxis. This severe shock reaction involves a sudden drop in blood pressure and severe breathing problems, and it can be life-threatening.