Epazote

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Posted by admin | Posted in Epazote | Posted on 10-01-2016

Epazote isn’t just a tasty Mexican herb. It’s a medicinal too. http://www.thesleuthjournal.com/epazote-discover-its-health-benefits-and-uses/

Chenopodium ambrosioides
[ken-oh-POH-dee-um am-bro-zhee-OY-deez]
(syn Teloxys ambrosioides)

Family: Chenopodiaceae

Pharmaceutical Name: Herba Chenopodii ambrosioidis

Names: ambrosia, ambroisa-like chenopodium, American wormseed, bitter weed, Californian spearmint, demi-god’s food, feather geranium, goosefoot, herb sancti Mariae, Jerusalem oak, Jerusalem oak seed, Jerusalem tea, Jesuit tea, Mexican tea, mouse food, pazote, Spanish tea, stickweed, stinking weed, wild wormseed, wormseed, wormseed goosefoot, worm bush, worm grass, wormweed; Jerusalem parsley, hedge mustard, sweet pigweed, erva-de-santa maria, apasote, chenopode, feuilles a vers, herbe a vers, meksika cayi (Turkish); paico, semen contra, semin contra, simon contegras, payco, paiku, amush, camatai, cashua, amasamas, anserina, mastruco, mastruz, sie-sie, jerusalem tea, ambroisie du mexique, wurmsamen, hierba hormiguera; Urt-hanemalts (Estonian); Saitruunasavikka (Finnish) , Mexikanishes Traubenkraut, Mexicanischer Traubentee, Mexiconisches Teekraut, Jesuitentee, Amerikanishes Wurmsamenkraut, Wolriechender Gänsefuss (German); Kadavoma (Ckannada); Katuayamodakam (Malaya); Sitronmelde (Norwegian); Komosa pizmowa (Polish); Mastruz (portuguese); paico macho, caá ná, té de los Jesuitas, té de España, hierba hormiguera, Yerba de Santa Maria, (Spanish); Citronmalla (Swedish); ambroisie de Mexico, anserine ambroisie, ambroisine, thé des Jesuits, anserine américain, anserine vermifuge (French); chenopodio, ambrosia (Italian); erra formigueira (Portuguese); t’u-ching-chieh (Chinese); A-mhu-hum (chinanteco), Ambrosia of Mexico, Bar of estiercol, Basote (tarahumara), Crest, Cuatsitasut´as (purépecha), Cuitlazotl, Dali (cuicateco), Ep’azot, Epazote, white Epazote, Epazote to eat, Epazote of zorrillo, dwelled Epazote, green Epazote, Epazotl (Nahuatl), olorosa Grass, Ipazote, Kuatsitasi, Lukim-xiu (Mayan), miíno (mixteco), minu (mixteco), N’ai, Nodi (otomi ‘), O-gi-mo (chinanteco), Paasui´ch (tepehuán), Pasoit (tepehuán), Podeey, Post, Pu-undetil (mixe), Shtakala-kajui, Shuppujuic (popoloca), Stani (totonaco), Tij-tzan (huasteco), dung Twig, Vi-tia or Bitia (zapoteco), Yepazotli.

Description: 3-5 feet tall and 2 feet wide or more. Uniquely serrated leaves with strong camphor-like odor; deep red blotches sometimes found on leaves and veins; drooping spikes loaded with tiny round green seed in fall; branching stems form at base, and a thick, trunk-like stem may develop when plant pushes through a barrier; annual.

Cultivation: Thrives along stream beds with some afternoon shade, but can adapt to poor, disturbed soil and full sun (which may promote smaller leaves and premature bolting). Seen along country highways and growing out of cracks in city sidewalks. Sow seed in fall (germination takes 3-4 weeks); thin to about 12 inches apart. Readily reseeds self when established; stems root slowly in water. Fertilizer not necessary, but light applications of compost aid protection against drought. Hang upside down in a dark, well-ventilated room until the leaves are thoroughly dried. Grown commercially in Russia.

Constituents: Volatile oil (up to 90% ascaridol, plus geraniol, cymene, limonene, terpinene, myrcene and methyl salicylate) alpha-pinene, aritasone, butyric-acid, chenopodium, d-camphor, ferulic-acid, geraniol, l-pinocarvone, limonene, malic-acid, menthadiene, menthadiene hydroperoxides, p-cymene, p-cymol, safrole, saponins, spinasterol, tartaric-acid, terpinyl-acetate, terpinyl-salicylate, triacontyl-alcohol, trimethylamine, urease, vanillic-acid.

History: The English genus name, goose-foot, is a translation of the scientific genus name Chenopodium: Greek goose and foot; it is motivated by the the threelobed leaf shape characteristic of several plants belonging to this group. The species name ambrosioides ambrosia-like probably refers to the strong odor. Ambrosia is, according to Greek mythology, a nourishment reserved for the Olympic gods, as is implied by its name. The word epazote comes from the Nahuatl words epatl and izotl meaning an animal with a rank odor (for some it smells like turpentine or kerosene). The name Baltimore wormseed arose from the fact that the Baltimore, Maryland, area was the center of production of wormseed in North America for over a century. Brazilians feed Mexican tea to pigs to rid them of parasites. In New Mexico, suppositories of dried pulverized leaves of Mexican tea, ground spearmint and salt have been inserted into the rectum as a remedy for appendicitis. One of the many health problems treated with a Mexican tea folk remedy is athlete’s foot. It has been found that Mexican tea indeed inhibits fungi such as cause this disease, confirming the wisdom of this herbal remedy. The popular use of Mexican tea in New York City by Latinos has led to it becoming somewhat weedy there, growing in cracks of sidewalks and in Central Park.

Medicinal Use: Epazote has been used for centuries beginning with the Mayans. By the middle of the 18th century, medicinal use of the plant was firmly established in the US. Mexican mothers steep epazote in milk and sugar to rid their children of intestinal parasites, especially roundworms and hookworms. In the Yucatan, indigenous Indian groups use epazote for asthma, excessive mucus, chorea (a type of rheumatic fever that affects the brain) and other nervous afflictions. The Tikuna Indians in the Amazon use it to expel worms and as a mild laxative. The Siona-Secoya and Kofán Indian tribes also use the plant to expel intestinal worms (usually by taking one cup of a leaf decoction each morning before eating for three consecutive days). The Kofán Indians also use the plant as a perfume—tying it to their arm for an ‘aromatic’ bracelet (although most Americans consider the smell of the plant quite strong and objectionable – calling it skunk-weed!). Creoles use it as a worm remedy for children and a cold medicine for adults while the Wayãpi use the plant decoction for stomach upsets and internal hemorrhages caused by falls. In Piura the leaf decoction is used to expel intestinal gas, as a mild laxative, as an insecticide, and as a natural remedy for cramps, gout, hemorrhoids, intestinal worms and parasites and hysteria. Some indigenous tribes bathe in a decoction of epazote to reduce fever. Several Indian tribes will also throw a couple of freshly uprooted green plants onto their fires and the resulting smoke is believed to drive mosquitos and flies away. The Catawba made a poultice from the plant, which they used to detoxify snake bite and other poisonings.
Epazote is rich in chemicals called monoterpenes. The seed and fruit contain a large amount of essential oil which has a main active chemical in it called ascaridole. This chemical was first isolated in 1895 by a German pharmacist living in Brazil and it has been attributed with most of the vermifuge (worm-expelling) actions of the plant. Ascaridole has also been documented with sedative and analgesic properties as well as antifungal effects. Application of the oil topically was documented to effectively treat ringworm within 7-12 days in a clinical study with guinea pigs. In other in vitro clinical studies, ascaridole was documented with activity against a tropical parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi as well as strong anti-malarial and insecticidal actions.
Wormseed leaves have antispasmodic properties. A decoction of the leaves or of the whole plant brings relief to a variety of gastrointestinal problems. Its muscle-relaxing action has led to its use in the treatment of spasmodic coughs and asthma. The plant also has external uses. Juice expressed from the whole herb is applied as a wash for hemorrhoids. In addition, the whole plant is thought to have wound-healing properties.
A decoction and infusion of the plant was analyzed in vitro to determine if they had toxic effects. At various concentrations the extracts caused cellular aberrations in the test tube, indicating they had possible toxic effects. However, in the 1970’s the World Health Organization reported that a decoction of 20 g of the leaves of epazote rapidly expelled parasites without any apparent side effects in humans. In 1996 extracts from the leaves of epazote were given to 72 children and adults with intestinal parasitic infections. A stool analysis was performed before and eight days after treatment. On average, an antiparasitic efficacy was seen in 56% of cases. With respect to the tested parasites, epazote leaf extract was 100% effective against the common intestinal parasites, Ancilostoma and Trichuris, and, 50% effective against Ascaris. In a more recent study in 2001, thirty children (ages 3-14 years) with ascariasis (intestinal roundworms) were treated with epazote. Doses given were 1 ml of extract per kg of body weight for younger children (weighing less than 25 pounds), and 2 ml of extract per kg of body weight in older children. One dose was given daily on an empty stomach for three days. Stool examinations were conducted before and 15 days after treatment. Disappearance of the ascaris eggs occurred in 86.7%, while the parasitic burden decreased in 59.5%. In addition, this study also reported that epazote was 100% effective in eliminating the common human tapeworm (Hymenolepsis nana).
In other research epazote has been documented with toxic effects against snails. and an in-vitro action against drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In 2002, a U.S. patent was filed on a Chinese herbal combination containing epazote for the treatment of peptic ulcers. This combination (containing Chenopodium essential oil) was reported to inhibit stress-induced, as well as various chemical and bacteria-induced ulcer formation. The most recent research has documented the anticancerous and antitumorous properties of epazote. In one study an extract of the entire plant of epazote showed the ability to kill human liver cancer cells in the test tube. Another study reported that the essential oil of epazote (as well as its main chemical, ascaridole) showed strong antitumorous actions against numerous different cancerous tumor cells (including several multi-drug resistant tumor cell lines) in the test tube.

Dosage: of the oil, 4-20 drops with honey, or molasses, for children according to age. The infusion of the tops and pulverized seeds, 1 teaspoonful to 1 cupful of boiling water; steep 15 min. administer in wineglassful amounts. To expel worms: omit the evening meal, give the prescribed dose and again in the morning before breakfast, followed by a herbal cathartic; repeat for three days to make sure the larva is expelled. Was official in the US Pharmacopeia for more than a century, from 1820-1947.

Homeopathy: Tincture of fresh plant; solution of oil seed—aphasia, apoplexy, ashthma, cerebral deafness, convulsions, dropsy, epilepsy, headache, hemicrania, hemiplegia, leucorrhoea, menses (suppressed), paralysis, scapula (pain in), tinnitus, tonsilitis

Toxicity: Wormseed can be toxic in overdose causing headache, vomiting, stomach pain and dizziness. Do not take during pregnancy.

Aromatherapy Uses:
EXTRACTION: essential oil by steam distillation from the whole herb, especially the fruit or seeds
CHARACTERISTICS: a colorless or pale yellow oil with a woody, camphoraceous, heavy and nauseating odor
ACTIONS: anthelmintic, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, expectorant, hypotensive
USES: Used as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents, cosmetics and perfumes. Its use is not permitted in foods.

Culinary Use: The leaves make attractive garnishes and unique flavorings for hearty corn, squash, or bean soups. Add the dried leaves the last 15 minutes of cooking so that the food will not become bitter and use the fresh herb sparingly, as its flavor must be acquired by most. Used throughout Southern and Central Mexico.

Recipes:
Crab Cushions with Epazote
¼ cup very finely diced white onion
1-2 Tbsp sweet butter
½ lb fresh crab meat
2 Tbsp chopped fresh epazote
2 Tbsp heavy sweet cream or crème fraiche
2 egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste
2 fresh, thin, high-quality flour tortillas
1 quart peanut oil
deep-fry thermometer
Sauté the onion in the butter over low heat, making sure not to color the onions. Cook them until soft and sweet; let cool. Add the cooled onions to the crab meat and mix together in a bowl over ice.
Add the epazote, cream, 1 egg yolk, salt, and pepper; mix well.
Cut the flour tortillas into strips, 2½ by 5 inches, discarding leftover pieces. Add about 1 tablespoon of the crab mixture to each tortilla strip at the end, and roll them up so that they are 2 1/2 inches long. On the last inch of the strip on the inside, brush the tortillas with remaining egg yolk to make them stick. Place on a pan, seam-side down. Refrigerate if not used at once.
Heat the peanut oil to 350-375 degrees and fry the crab cushions until they are lightly browned and puffed slightly. Serve with Tomatillo Salsa. Makes about 16 cushions.

Tomatillo Salsa
1 lb fresh green tomatillos
3 Tbsp finely chopped sweet red onions
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime
sugar to taste
1-2 Tbsp virgin olive oil
Husk the tomatillos and wash them under very hot water. Cool under cold running water, and puree in food processor or blender. Add the onions, serrano chile, coriander, and lime juice. Add a touch of sugar if the tomatillos are too sour and a little olive oil if you wish. (The Herb Garden Cookbook)

Squash cooked in Michoacan Style
A heavy frying pan
4 Tbsp safflower oil
2 lb zucchini squash, trimmed and diced
4 heaped Tbsp finely chopped white onion
4 Tbsp roughly chopped epazote leaves
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 blender
12 oz tomatoes, broiled
2 chiles serranos, charred
2 cloves garlic, peeled
salt to taste
Heat the oil and add the squash, onion, epazote and salt. Stir well, cover the pan, and cook over a medium flame, stirring occasionally until just tender—about 10 minutes.
Blend together the tomatoes, chilies and garlic and stir the puree into the squash mixture. Cook over a medium flame, uncovered, until the squash is soft and the tomato puree has been absorbed. The vegetables should be moist but not too juicy. Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately.  This can be topped with 4 tablespoons of finely grated cheese –queso anejo, Romano, or Argentinian Sardo—just before serving. (The Cuisines of Mexico)

Taos Lightning Chili Powder
16 dried chile pequines, whole (substitute dried cayennes if necessary)
3 Tbsp chili powder
4 tsp cayenne powder
4 tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp garlic granules
1 ½ tsp onion granules
1 tsp dried Greek oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves, whole
1 tsp black peppercorns, whole
1 tsp cumin seeds, whole
½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
½ tsp juniper berries, whole
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp coriander seeds, whole
¼ tsp dried epazote leaf.
Mix all ingredients together and grind to a powder, or leave unground and powder it as you need it, using a small spice grinder. (Herb Mixtures & Spicy Blends)

Spicy Brown Rice with Chipotle and Epazote
3 Tbsp corn oil
1 cup diced mixed red and yellow bell peppers or 1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup sliced scallions
1 large chipotle en adobo, minced
2 ½ tsp minced epazote leaves
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup peeled and diced ripe tomato
¼ tsp toasted and ground cumin seed
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Sauté the peppers and scallions over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the chipotle, epazote, and rice. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato and cumin and cook over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve hot. (New Southwestern Cooking)

Pipian Verde
4 oz green unroasted pumpkin seeds (about 1 heaping cup)
½ cup finely chopped white onion
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 cup rich chicken stock
1½ cups cilantro
2 cloves garlic, roasted and peeled
8 large leaves Romaine lettuce, chopped with no stems
1 bunch watercress
1 bunch radish tops
1¼ cup loosely packed chopped epazote
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp peanut oil
Dry roast pumpkin seeds in a sauté pan for about 5 minutes until they have finished popping. Set aside a few seeds for garnish. Sauté onion in the oil over low heat until slightly browned. Process the pumpkin seeds and stock in a blender to form a paste. Add ½ cup cilantro and the remaining ingredients, except for the oil, and puree. Add oil to a high-sided pan, and heat until almost smoking. Refry sauce at a sizzle for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously; do not overcook or the sauce will lose its greenness. Return to blender, add the remaining cup of cilantro, and puree together. Garnish with the reserved pumpkin seeds. Serve at room temperature as an accompaniment for sautéed pork or scallops or tossed with pasta. (Coyote Café)

References:
Coyote Café, Mark Miller, 10 Speed Press, 1989; ISBN: 0-89815-245-3
Culinary Herbs, Ernest Small, NRC Research Press, 1997, ISBN: 0-660-16668-2
The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy, Harper & Row, 1986; ISBN: 0-06-181481-4
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997, ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2
The Herb Companion Cooks, Interweave Press, 1994; ISBN: 0-934026-95-5
The Herb Garden Cookbook, Lucinda Hutson, Texas Monthly Press, 1987; ISBN: 0-87719-080-1
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, 1995, Element Books, ISBN: 1-56619-990-5
Indian Herbalogy of North America, Alma R. Hutchens, Merco, 1973
New Southwestern Cooking, Carolyn Dille & Susan Belsinger, Macmillan, 1985; ISBN: 0-02-531610-9

Resources:
Companion Plants, www.companionplants.com seeds
Crimson Sage, http://www.crimson-sage.com Plants

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