Epazote

Epazote, also known as wormseed or Mexican-tea, is a perennial herb of Mexican and American origin. Its botanical name is Dysphania ambrosioides. It is a pungent herb used as a green vegetable and as an herb. The herbal tea of the plant is popularly used by people of many countries.

The plant grows up to four feet height and is an annual crop. In culinary, the young leaves and shoots are used like any other green leafy vegetable. The mature leaves are used in small quantities for their carminative and digestive properties in other food preparations.

Uses

The herb is used as food for its low-calorie value and also as it contains no cholesterol.

In addition to it its use as a vegetable and herbal tea it provides many other health benefits.

The herbal essential oil extracted from the herb has many such uses and is considered as a medicinal plant than as a culinary plant.

Nutrition facts

In 100gm of the herb it provides an energy value of 32k.cal, 7.44gm carbohydrate equivalent of 6% RDA, dietary fiber 3.8 gm (10% RDA), Folates 15 microgram (54% RDA), Riboflavin 0.348mg (27%), Potassium 470mg (10%), calcium 275mg (27.5%), copper0.190mg (1%), iron 1.88mg (24.5%), magnesium 121mg (30%), manganese 3.098mg (135%), phosphorous 86mg (12%). Pyridoxine 0.152mg (12%), vitamin C 3.6mg (6%), sodium 80mg (5%).

It also contains smaller quantities of protein, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, vitamin A, selenium, and zinc and phytonutrient carotene.

Health benefits of Epazote

As can be observed from the nutrients and vitamins present in the herb it is more useful as a medicine than an ordinary food.

Some of the health benefits derived from Epazote are:

–    It promotes general gastrointestinal health with the anti-oxidants present in it. With a significant amount of dietary fiber, it has the potential to improve digestion and remove flatulence. By facilitating easy bowel movements it prevents and cures constipation.

–    As its other name wormseed suggests, epazote kills most types of worms like roundworms, hookworms, pinworms etc., in the stomach. Early Americans have used the herb to eradicate parasitic worms from the body by consuming an infusion prepared from the herb. Monoterpene compounds present in the herb are responsible for killing the worms.

–    More particularly, people who do not get purified water, this herb comes in handy to protect them against water prone diseases.

–    Folates present in the herb enhances the metabolism in the body and promotes overall good health. Vitamin B complex present in it ensures better health.

–    Vitamin A, carotene, and anti-oxidants enhance the functioning of the immune system. Even though the only small quantity of vitamin A is present in the herb in combination with carotene and other anti-oxidants it improves the immunity system.

–    An oil known as chenopodium oil extracted from the herb removes fungus due to its toxic character. For achieving this benefit the oil has to be well diluted and consumed in small quantities only. Over dosage of the oil should be avoided.

–    Oil from the herb is used as a poultice in treating athlete’s foot and to treat insect bites.

To prevent chronic diseases

–    Anti-oxidants in the herb eliminates the unwanted free radicals accumulated in the body during metabolism. By removing the free radicals, it prevents the formation of harmful cancer cells. Since free radicals are the main reason for chronic diseases elimination of it cures such diseases.

Nutrition powerhouse

–    Vitamins, calcium, zinc, phosphorous and copper present in epazote increases the mineral density and strength of the bones.  Consequently, it prevents age-related bone disorders and osteoporosis, particularly at advanced ages.

–    Presence of varieties of B vitamins, particularly folic acid improves the metabolic activity and enhances the strength of the body. Just 100gm of the herb provides 50% of the recommended daily Amount of folic acid.

–    Consuming the herb regularly as a vegetable food helps reducing the weight of the body. Due to its low-calorie value, it facilitates weight reduction besides strengthening the body with the numerous vitamins and minerals present.

–    Potassium content in the herb is a vasodilator and provides relaxation to the blood vessels and reduces the stress of the cardiovascular system.  All these prevent the occurrence of atherosclerosis and also heart attacks or other heart disorders.

Warning

Pregnant women are advised against consumption of the herb as it can cause contraction of the uterus and may even lead to abortion.

Where to buy epazote

Fresh green, as well as dried herb, are available in online stores throughout the year. The herb can be kept under refrigeration and used as and when needed.

Point to note

Infusion of the herb is more powerful than herbal tea in providing the desired relief.  Concentrated Oil from the herb is known to create disorders of the liver, kidney and nervous system in addition to causing heart-related ailments. Hence only well-diluted oil must be consumed that too in consultation with a medical practitioner.                  

Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.