Epazote Herb: English Names, Uses and Remarkable Benefits

The word “Epazote” is originally from the Nahuatl language, which is a Uto-Aztecan language mainly spoken in central Mexico. 

The Epazote name means “wormseed” when translated into English. This is according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary.  

Other English names for Epazote herb are Mexican tea, Wormseed, Semi contra, Jerusalem Oak, Goosefoot, or Jesuit’s tea. It is referred to as Mexico’s mystery herb.

The fresh or dried leaves and stems are used in Mexican cuisine. Epazote herb is also used to make medicinal tea.

Epazote herb
Epazote Herb

Traditional use of Mexican tea herb was a making a tea to expel parasites from the body. The herb was cultivated for mainly that purpose.

Although the introduction of synthetic compounds changed that, wormseed tea is still widely consumed today. 

What Epazote Herb Looks Like

Epazote herb is native Mexican but the plant has been naturalized in South and Central America. Southern regions of the United States and the Caribbean. 

Epazote was originally classified as a member of the Chenopodium ambrosioides species.

However it was later reclassified as its own species Dysphania anthelmintica.  

Wormseed can be found growing in waste lands, sand dunes, and along river sides and roadways in its native environments.

Epazote grows to an average of three feet in height. The plant thrives in sunny spots and in warmer temperatures.

The stalks are hollow and the leaves are long, slender and dark green in appearance. Wormseed plant blooms small green flowers and produces thousands of tiny seeds.

Epazote Uses

What are Mexican tea leaves good for?  Both fresh and dried Epazote are used in Mexican cuisine.

Fresh leaves are used in dishes such as soups and stews, quesadillas and other recipes made with beans.

Wormseed leaves are also used to make tea for treating colic, diarrhea, stomach pains, decrease gas and coughs.

The tea is mainly used as a medicinal tea for treating worms in Jamaica. However this practice i is not as popular as it once was.

Health Benefits of Epazote

There are a number of benefits to gain from epazote leaves.  According to the USFDA the a hundred grams of Raw Epazote leaves has 32 calories and 3.8 grams of fiber.

The same 100g of young Epazote leaves supplies 54 percent of RDA of Folates.

The herb also provides a decent amount of Calcium and other Minerals as well as small amounts of Vitamins A and C.

Source: USFDA

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Warnings and Precautions

Wormseed contains 60 to 80 percent of the chemical compound Ascaridole. This chemical is toxic and that makes it an effective remedy for expelling intestinal parasites.

However, that toxicity can severely affect humans. Therefore it is advisable to only use a small amount of this herb and to opt for cooking it to reduce some of the toxins.

Seek medical assistance immediately if you experience nausea, headaches, hallucinations or convulsion after ingestion of wormseed tea.

As a precaution, persons who suffer from gout, kidney stones and arthritis should avoid excess use of Epazote because there have been reports of harmful effects from usages of the herb. 

Wormseed Tea and Pregnancy

Mexican tea has been known to cause uterine contractions which can result in premature delivery or abortions.

Therefore women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant are advised not to use the herb.

Related: You May Also Like The Benefits of Pepper Elder

Where to Buy Epazote Herb

If you live in an area where there are Latin markets, you will be able to purchase bunches of fresh Mexican tea leaves.

Otherwise dried leaves can be purchased from online marketplaces. Esty and Amazon and two marketplace where you can find dried Epazote leaves. 

The herbal tea may be marketed  as Semi contra online.

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated on the site should be viewed as medical advice. Please consult with a professional healthcare provider for about matter relating to your medical care.

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