The epazote is an aromatic edible herb , whose name comes from the Nahuatl epazotl , whose scientific term is Dyspharia ambrosioides . It is native to America, specifically central and southern Mexico, as well as part of Central America, from where its cultivation spread to the rest of the continent.The epazote usually grows between 1.10m and 1.20m approximately, and is used to flavor food in the gastronomy of several Latin American countries. In Mexico, it is added to the preparation of shelled corn , in a food called “esquite”. It is a plant widely used by several indigenous peoples as a medicinal plant and for its flavor and aroma characteristics.It has already been known and applied by the Aztecs, the Mayans, the Zapotecs, the Mexica and the Chichimecas, among other peoples, who used it for cooking and for various cures within traditional indigenous medicine. Over the centuries, several medicinal properties have been attributed to it , many of which are scientifically proven.

What is the use of epazote for?

It is believed that the epazote was introduced in Europe around the year 1577 through Spain, as a plant to which the natives gave various healing virtues. The knowledge about epazote was introduced into European medicine by Francisco Hernández de Boncalo (or Toledo), who was a physician to King Felipe II of Spain.

It serves to:

  • Wellness and nutrition purposes
  • Take nutrients for the body
  • Seasoning food and flavoring
  • Treat gynecological conditions
  • Treat skin problems
  • Reduce inflammation and eliminate flatulence
  • Eliminate intestinal worms

Wellness and nutrition purposes

Epazote is an edible herb with countless applications in the food and medicinal fields. Its chemical composition provides nutrition and wellness in numerous ways:

  • Adds flavor to food
  • Its essential oils smooth the skin
  • Decreases menstrual cramps
  • Relieves belly swelling
  • Provides plant fiber to the diet
  • Provides minerals
  • Fight diarrhea
  • Fight stomach gas or flatulence
  • Provides a particular aroma to stews
  • Has anti-inflammatory effects
  • Has anthelmintic action (destroys worm-shaped parasites)
  • Remove bad odors
  • Treat stomach disorders

Take nutrients for the body

Epazote, being an edible herb, in addition to spicing up food, benefits us by providing vitamins and minerals, such as:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Minerals: magnesium, selenium, zinc, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, and potassium
  • Important amounts of fiber
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Chlorophyll
  • Superoxide dismutase enzyme

In the composition of epazote, vitamin A, vitamin C, chlorophyll and superoxide dismutase function as antioxidants. The latter, in particular, is one of the most powerful antioxidants known.

Seasoning food and flavoring

Being an aromatic herb that has a peculiar flavor, for centuries epazote has been used in the preparation of multiple stews, being one of the basic herbs in broths, chilaquiles, moles de olla, tamales and other dishes of Mexican cuisine. area in which it is widely appealed.

Its most common use is in salty dishes , as the taste sensation it gives is intense , complementing these foods well. In some regions, epazote is used as a plant to scent rooms, as its aroma is fresh and pleasant, and it spreads easily throughout the room. It is sown in small pots for this purpose.

Treat gynecological conditions

Epazote is used in a traditional way in herbal medicine, for the treatment of menstrual conditions such as:

  • Delays in the period
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Amenorrhea
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Swollen belly

It helps to reduce inflammation of the belly and even to fight some parasites, so it is customary to drink a light tea of ​​this plant after meals.

Treat skin problems

The essential oils of epazote are included among the ingredients of some plasters and cosmetics , because they have the effect of making the skin smoother. Also, due to this quality, it is usually used in the form of a mask or application to the scalp , to eliminate dryness and give the hair a shiny and smooth appearance.

Reduce inflammation and eliminate flatulence

Epazote has anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it is often used in traditional and herbal medicines in the form of plasters to treat inflammations in organs and tissues and in the belly.

For the latter, it is also drunk as a tea or infusion. The epazote helps to eliminate the gases that usually saturate the large intestine, which impacts as inflammation in the lower abdomen. For this purpose, it is usually used when cooking some foods that usually generate these gases in digestion, such as beans, whole or shelled corn, broad beans, chickpeas and some stews.

Eliminate intestinal worms

Epazote is used to eliminate intestinal worms or helminths, thanks to the fact that it has a substance called ascaridol , which is a powerful anthelmintic capable of eradicating and expelling most of the species of these organisms. It is because of this excretion of parasites that epazote is a deworming agent .

For this reason, in herbal medicine and in the traditional medicine of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, epazote is usually administered in the form of infusions to people suffering from an invasion of worms or helminths. The ingestion of epazote encourages, in addition to the elimination of these parasites, their expulsion through feces.

Contraindications of epazote

Epazote, despite being a safe herb in moderate consumption, should be administered under medical supervision or completely avoided in people such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Minors

It is essential to consult the nutritionist to know the amount of epazote to be applied in the treatment.

Epazote is added to esquite or shelled corn.

Side effects of epazote

In the proper doses, epazote is a safe herb for most patients who consume it. In cases of excessive consumption, it can cause side effects.

Epazote can be toxic when added too much to food, due to substances that make it up, such as:

  • Ascaridol
  • Saponins
  • Terpinenos
  • Butyric acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Methylene salicylate
  • Alcanfor dextrógiro
  • Safrol
  • Other biochemical substances that can be harmful in excessive consumption

Some of the side effects of epazote due to poisoning are:

  • Vertigo
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Bloody vomiting
  • Kidney disorders
  • Lung disorders

When highly concentrated essential oils are used in high doses or for a long time, they can even cause death by paralysis of the respiratory centers .

However, it is reiterated that its consumption in food as an aromatic herb to flavor does not usually produce adverse effects . Only the high concentrations present in essential oils are those that represent a danger for the consumer. These are the infusions used in herbal medicine and other naturopathic remedies that concentrate these substances.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical opinion. Consult a doctor.



Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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