Botany And History

Epazote is a culinary spice and herbal medicine that is commonly employed as such in Spanish or Spanish-influenced communities, although its use predates the influence of the Spanish in those communities where its usage is prevalent. The earliest recorded use of epazote dates back to the time of the Aztec, Olmec, and Mayan civilizations, which employed the herb chiefly as medicine, and only secondarily as a culinary spice. Said to be a native of temperate and tropical areas in the United States (where it sometimes has a status of being an invasive and unwanted weed), epazote can also be found in profuse numbers in subtropical areas of Europe. Its predominant usage in Spanish and Spanish-influenced culture seems to stem from its ardent usage in Mexican cuisine, although its employment as a culinary herb is in fact more far-flung. Its use as a medicinal herb however is somewhat limited only to those select areas where its employment is already widespread, chiefly due to its obscurity or general unavailability in other settings.

Epazote is typically a small and short-lived perennial plant that grows to no more than 1.2 metres tall. In ideal climes, epazote will even exhibit annual characteristics in soil types that suit its 'temperament'. It is chiefly characterized by is tiny, oblong leaves that taper to a lance-like point, and for its small green flowers found at the tips of the stems. [1]

Epazote - Herbal Uses

Despite being somewhat unpopular outside of Mexico, to those who are in the know and to those who are fond of, or who specialize in Mexican cuisine, epazote is a very common, if not frequently employed spice incorporated into a wide assortment of foodstuffs. Fresh, raw epazote is comparable in taste and aroma to anise or tarragon, although it tends to be bolder and more pungent than either of the two. When used as a spice, epazote may be employed in either its fresh, or its dried form, although it is more commonly employed in its former state than it is in the latter. Epazote is most commonly found as an indispensible additive to bean-based dishes, as it not only helps to impart a well-rounded zest to what would otherwise be a very bold and full-bodied meal, but it also helps to stave off the unwanted side effects associated with bean consumption - namely, flatulence, indigestion, and dyspepsia - chiefly due to its potent carminative properties. The use of epazote for culinary purposes is not limited to its incorporation into bean-based dishes however, as it can be used as a complimentary additive to other foodstuffs such as cheese, chili, eggs, potatoes, and even various types of soup. [2] Dried epazote leaves may even be integrated into the production of specialized alcoholic beverages that act as digestifs, known as bitters or bitter tonics.

When used medicinally, epazote may be made into a light tisane via infusion (in its dry form), or via a very mild decoction. The resulting liquor which can veer from intensely grassy to highly bitter and astringent is chiefly employed as a carminative, although in varying concentrations or potencies, it can also be used to treat a wide array of problems including dysmenorrhea, catarrh, asthma, and even amenorrhea. In very potent concentrations, epazote may even act as an antithelmintic (purgative), while moderate dosages of weak decoctions can also be used as a febrifuge. [3]

Because of the presence of chenopodium, the active compound responsible for the purgative properties of epazote, the plant must never be used in very large concentrations, or otherwise incorporated into foodstuffs on a regular basis. Unlike most botanically-based poisons, the toxic compounds found in epazote are not denatured by heat, and while they are not deadly in small doses, it has the potential to be lethal in extremely high dosages. The toxin found in epazote may also have a tendency to be accumulated by the body, so sparse and rare usage is a must.

The toxic nature of epazote may be further taken advantage of in a safer, albeit indirect way. Because it is a known antithelmetic, it can be used in a similar vein to rid one's person, or one's pets of parasites such as lice and intestinal worms (although its use for the latter effect should be done only by, or with the assistance of an expert herbalist). To rid pets or one's person of lice, ticks, and their ilk, dried epazote leaves may be powdered and mixed with ground and powdered wormwood. This can be sprinkled unto hair, fur, and any other surrounding areas where lice or other external parasites may be found lurking. [4] A faster and more efficient way of employing epazote as a means to rid one's person, or one's pets of external parasites is to create a very potent decoction of the leaves, which is then applied topically to the affected areas repeatedly for three days to up to a week to ensure a thorough riddance of the pests.

Epazote - Esoteric Uses

While not chiefly employed for magickal purposes in traditional Western herbal lore, the magicians and shamans of Mexico once employed epazote as a protective herb. Dried, it was typically placed in medicine pouches, or otherwise employed by local shamans (aka curanderas in the form of smudge sticks or incense. With this in mind, most urban magicians and neo-shamans also employ epazote for counter-hexing, warding, and cleansing. The liquor from decoctions of epazote may also be used as a cleansing wash to help slough away negative energies. Just as its medicinal properties helps to get rid of parasites, when employed magickally, epazote can be used to rid oneself of malignant entities, and parasitic spirits. Because it is related to the dead and the departed, epazote may also be used as an offertory herb in ancestor worship or thanksgiving rites for the departed. Its protective abilities make it indispensable in the creation of medicine pouches, herbal hexing bottles, and other accoutrements for warding. [5]

Names of Epazote, Past and Present

French: feuilles a vers / herbe a vers
Spanish: pazote / semen contra / semin contra / simon contegras / ipasote / ypasote / paico
Nahuatl: epazotl
German: ganzenvoet
Swedish: welriekende
English: epazote (adapted) / wormseed / Jesuit's tea / Mexican tea / pigweed / west Indian goosefoot / hedge mustard / Jerusalem parsley / skunkweed
Latin (esoteric): herba sancti Mariae
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Dysphania ambrosioides / Chnopodium ambrosioides


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysphania_ambrosioides

[2] https://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/dehydrated-epazote

[3] https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/epazote.html

[4] https://www.sandmountainherbs.com/epazote_wormseed.html

[5] https://i-refuse-to-recede.blogspot.com/2009/10/herb-of-week-epazote.html

Main article researched and created by Alexander Leonhardt.
© herbshealthhappiness.com

1. Famous Chef Sheds 60lbs Researching New Paleo Recipes: Get The Cookbook FREE Here

2. #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat

3. Drink THIS first thing in the morning (3 major benefits)

4. [PROOF] Reverse Diabetes with a "Pancreas Jumpstart"

5. Why Some People LOOK Fat that Aren't

6. Amazing Secret Techniques To Protect Your Home From Thieves, Looters And Thugs

7. The #1 WORST food that CAUSES Faster Aging (beware -- Are you eating this?)

If you enjoyed this page:

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | GDPR | About This Site