Epazote: stinky but useful


Epazote (eh-pah-ZOE-teh)

Dysphania ambrosioides

American wormseed

Epazote grows wild in the United States as well as Mexico. The Mexican name derives from the Aztec (Nahuatl) word epazotl meaning skunk. This is a very strong-smelling plant and it bears long, pointy, serrated leaves. This herb is in the Amaranth family and the subfamily of Chenopodiacea (related to spinach) and the genus of Dysphanieae. Epazote was taken to Europe in the 17th century from Mexico and used in various traditional medicines. The herb was used by the Aztecs as a medicine as well as a culinary herb.

Best known for helping to flavor and reduce the gassy effect of beans, Epazote is commonly used in a variety of dishes including salsas in Mexico, Central and South America. Due to the presence of many aromatic compounds but especially ascaridole, epazote is used to kill intestinal parasites. Epazote can be toxic, especially to pregnant women, so it should be used in small quantities. When used as recommended in food it is safe.

Come by Taos Herb Company for a free recipe using epazote.

Consult your health care practitioner about the use of herbs or supplements, especially if you are taking prescription medication.