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Nature's Sunshine Products:
When Cranberry Met Buchu

Two Herbs of Particular Interest to Women

Health Issues for Today's Woman Page 2

Cranberry and first they seem like such an unlikely couple-until you get to know them. Once you do, you'll soon come to understand their "marriage" is as natural as north meeting south at the balanced center-North American cranberry and South African buchu.

Although early Americans weren't aware of the cranberry's vitamin C content, it soon became a favorite among 17th century sailor for preventing scurvy.

In the meantime, American colonists used cranberries for sauces and drinks, sometimes combining them with other fruits. Both forms have become increasingly popular the last few years, especially since certain of its known healthful benefits to the urinary system have been validated by modern science.

During the 1840s German researchers were surprised to find that after eating cranberries, human urine contained additional hippuric acid. In 1914, scientists first discovered that the body converted natural acids in cranberries, plums and prunes into hippuric acid. Further studies in 1923 supported this finding.

More confirming experiments have subsequently been announced from time to time, with mounting evidence that cranberries are good for kidney and bladder health. But official admission of the facts did not come easy. Finally, in September 1989, the Journal of the American Medical Association mentioned that perhaps there was something to the folk usage of cranberries.

While other parts of the plant were used for many health concerns by Native Americans, sweetened cranberries made a delicious food for other reasons.

The family name of this native American shrub is Ericacea, from erike, a Greek word meaning "heath" or "bog," where cranberries like to grow. Its scientific name is Vaccinium macrocarpon, a mixture of Latin and Greek meaning "large fruit like the cowberry," a close relative.

Barosma betulena is buchu, and its benefits were first discovered in South Africa by the Hottentot tribe, who used it for many purposes, including the urinary system. These natives discovered its benefits long before the white man came, and 'BooKoo" is a Hottentot word. These people also mixed the aromatic leaves with oil as a body perfume, and as a flavoring for an alcoholic drink.

When you hold a leaf up to the light, you can see many dots within its tissue. These are oil-producing structures that manufacture an oil similar to black currants in flavor, with a powerful, penetrating odor somewhat like peppermint.

Buchu was introduced into England in 1821 as a general tonic, often because it is so soothing during convalescence.

In 1847, Henry T. Helmbold made a buchu extract that he could patent, and probably from his many claims for it, he became a wealthy man! However, today buchu is known to very few Americans or Europeans. In South Africa, it's a prized supplement you will find in almost every household.

It's wonderful to know that Mother Nature provide unique urinary benefits in a safe, simple, and inexpensive way-cranberry and buchu.   Thanks for reading Health Issues for Today's Woman!

"Cranberry...,"Michael Castleman, The Herb Quarterly, Fall 1990, 34-35.
"Cranberry Juice-,"Ira R. Berry, Bestways, November 1985, 40-41.
The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine, Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D., Keats Pub., New Canaan, Ct., 1986, 235.
King's American Dispensatory, vol. 1, Felter/Lloyd, 1898, 371.
Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, James A. Duke, Ph.D., CRC, Boca Raton, Fla., 1986, 77.

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Ref: Sunshine Horizons - Vol. 21 No. 4 - May 1996