Epazote tea has been known since ancient times, particularly to the Aztecs, as being potent for malaria, amenorrhea, parasitic problems and certain digestive ailments. Meanwhile, epazote is also cited as having antispasmodic and abortifacient properties.
Epazote is an annual or perennial green herb that is native to Southern Mexico, as well as Central and South America. Epazote has been known as an invasive weed and typically grows to a height of 3 feet. It is irregularly branched, and possesses oblong-lanceolate leaves up to 12 cm long. Its flowers are small and green, produced in a branched panicle at the apex of the stem.
It is sometimes known by its nicknames: jesuits tea, wormseed, pigweed and Mexican Tea.
Also known by its scientific name of chenopodium ambrosioides, epazote is commonly used both as a medicinal herb and as a spice for traditional Mexican dishes. It is typically added to black beans for flavor and to help avoid the gastric discomfort that sometimes occurs after eating beans. It is widely acknowledged to be an “acquired taste” and its flavor has been described as something like gasoline, kerosene, citrus, camphor and even minty.
Epazote possesses a pungent taste and smell. The Aztecs had a long history of using the herb as a culinary additive, but the word that they used for it, epazotl, translated as “smelly animal”.
The leaves and stems are where the healing benefits of epazote are found. To make epazote tea, simply add about one teaspoon (or 8 stems of the plant) to about 2 quarts of boiling water. Let the mix simmer for 2 minutes. Then remove it from the heat and let it steep for a further 3 minutes. Strain the herbs and drink.
Epazote is said to be toxic when taken in large doses so its intake should be moderated.
The following are some health benefits attributed to this tea:
- May be helpful in treating malaria.
- Thought to be helpful in treating amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea.
- May be helpful against asthma.
- May be helpful in expelling worms.
- Thought to be helpful in preventing flatulence.
- May be helpful against certain nervous disorders, such as hysteria.