Now Buchu Farms Branch Out Into Water - Herb is a Goldmine
Now, buchu farm branches out into water
Colour the farm ochre, wreath it in onion-white smoke, wrap it over with the wild camphorous scent of buchu and bundle the slopes with those round leaf (agothosma betulina) and oval leaf (agothosma crenulata) bushes.
Waterfall Health Farm is in Paarl, where about 30 years Edward Godfrey has been harvesting the indigenous mountain herb to package off as an essential oil and dry leaf to the flavor and pharmaceutical industries worldwide.
Now the Waterfall stills, distilling those essential oils, are coming up with something new for the local market – Spring Distilled Buchu Water.
The water for the oil distillation process is from the pure mountain spring water and runoff is from the oil distillation.
This isn’t a thirst-quenching drink. It’s a lightly-bitter herbal health potion, well known as such for centuries. You take a glass on a daily basis (if you’re sensible), or you take it when you have urinary tract disorders, kidney stones, cystitis or rheumatism. It also has been found to relieve symptoms of high blood pressure, arthritis, fibrositis and is commonly used for stomach complaints and coughs and colds.
Juliette, Eddie’s wife will take you through buchu’s everyday ingredient (its distinctive scent is its barosma champhor), the CSIR test results, its local history, its plant morphology and its fascination folklore.
“Gram for gram,” Juliette says it has 100mg more calcium than milk, 23mg more ferric than spinach, 100 00ug more vitamin E than wheat and 500IU more vitamin A than tea. “We’ve been exporting the essential oil and the dry leaf to Britain, the United States, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France and Holland for all these years, but actually the Cape colonists introduced buchu to Europe way back in the late 17thcentury.
“It was expensive and virtually worth its weight in gold, when it was prized as a health tea in fashionable society.”
Back home our ever-sensible indigenous people used the dried leaves as a remedy for the treatment of almost every known affliction, to cleanse and heal wounds, buchu brandy for sores and contusions and internal healing, buchu baths for relief from rheumatism and buchu body cream (mixed with sheep fat) as a sun cream and insect repellant.
“Buchu helps weight-loss by being a natural diuretic and by flushing the liver,” says Juliette. “I recommend it as a general tonic and, as it has essential vitamins and minerals, buchu stimulates circulation. Ten days on buchu water and you feel that surge of energy.”
Five days on, at 250ml a day, the bags under my eyes caused mainly by water retention, are emptying.
The little buchu bushes, aslant on the 40 degree mountain slopes like leaf-green hedgehogs, are harvested by hand by workers, some of whom have been with Edward for 30 years.
“You have to be an experienced buchu cutter to be able to tell the oval from the round leaf. They mustn’t be mixed, they have different chemical properties,” says Juliette.
“Per hectare, next to table grapes, buchu is the second most lucrative crop. It’s resistance to most bugs, being indigenous it doesn’t need water and should not be sprayed. In fact, because the leaves pick up the spray from the Costa’s olives next door, our neighbours kindly spray only when the wind is right!”
Harvesting is from November to April, distillation goes on day and night, as the buchu oil is volatile and the quicker you distill, the better the yields.
Outside, there is the woody smoke, there are seedlings under light spray, and there is a group of Waterfall workers hitting the dry buchu leaves.
“Slatting!” says Juliette, as we watch 70-year-old Mathinus Swart beating.
Waterfall Health Farms
Introduces South Africa’s wonderful medicinal herb
Buchu Water has been found to relieve symptoms of the following:
- High blood pressure
- Rheumatism and Gout
- Kidney and liver disorders
- Cystitis and Prostatitis
- Stomach complaints
- Overweight problems
- Cough and Colds
- Hangover cure
Buchu is recommended as a general tonic.
Cape Argus, South Africa, February 1999, Readership 355,000