(syn Teloxys ambrosioides)
Herba Chenopodii ambrosioidis
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);
(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.
3-5 feet tall and 2 feet wide or
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;
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
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
Readily reseeds self when
established; stems root slowly in water.
Fertilizer not necessary,
but light applications of compost aid protection against
Hang upside down in a
dark, well-ventilated room until the leaves are thoroughly
Grown commercially in Russia.
Volatile oil (up to 90%
ascaridol, plus geraniol, cymene, limonene, terpinene,
myrcene and methyl salicylate) alpha-pinene, aritasone,
butyric-acid, chenopodium, d-camphor,
l-pinocarvone, limonene, malic-acid, menthadiene,
menthadiene hydroperoxides, p-cymene, p-cymol, safrole,
saponins, spinasterol, tartaric-acid, terpinyl-acetate,
terpinyl-salicylate, triacontyl-alcohol, trimethylamine,
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
from the Nahuatl words
izotl meaning an
animal with a rank odor (for some it smells like turpentine
The name Baltimore wormseed arose from the fact that
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
One of the many health
problems treated with a Mexican tea folk remedy is athlete’s
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.
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
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
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
clinical studies, ascaridole was documented with activity
against a tropical parasite called
as well as strong anti-malarial and insecticidal actions.
have antispasmodic properties.
A decoction of the leaves
or of the whole plant brings relief to a variety of
Its muscle-relaxing action
has led to its use in the treatment of spasmodic coughs and
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,
and, 50% effective against
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
In other research epazote has been documented with toxic
effects against snails. and an
in vitro action against
drug-resistant strains of
In 2002, a
patent was filed on a Chinese herbal combination containing
epazote for the treatment of peptic ulcers. This combination
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.
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.
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,
Wormseed can be toxic in
overdose causing headache, vomiting, stomach pain and
Do not take during
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,
USES: Used as a fragrance
component in soaps, detergents, cosmetics and perfumes.
Its use is not permitted
The leaves make attractive
garnishes and unique flavorings for hearty corn, squash, or
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.
Crab Cushions with Epazote
cup very finely diced
Tbsp sweet butter
lb fresh crab meat
2 Tbsp chopped
2 Tbsp heavy sweet cream or crème
2 egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste
2 fresh, thin, high-quality flour
1 quart peanut oil
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
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
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.
1 lb fresh green
3 Tbsp finely chopped sweet red onions
serrano chile, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander,
juice of 1 lime
sugar to taste
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
Squash cooked in Michoacan Style
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
1 tsp salt, or to taste
2 chiles serranos, charred
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
Cook over a medium flame,
uncovered, until the squash is soft and the tomato puree has
The vegetables should be
moist but not too juicy.
Adjust the seasoning and
This can be topped with 4
tablespoons of finely grated cheese –queso anejo, Romano, or
Argentinian Sardo—just before serving.
(The Cuisines of
Lightning Chili Powder
16 dried chile pequines, whole (substitute dried cayennes if
3 Tbsp chili powder
4 tsp cayenne powder
4 tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp garlic granules
1 ½ tsp onion
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
tsp juniper berries, whole
½ tsp ground ginger
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
Spicy Brown Rice with Chipotle and Epazote
Tbsp corn oil
1 cup diced mixed red and yellow bell
peppers or 1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup sliced
1 large chipotle en adobo, minced
tsp minced epazote leaves
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup peeled and
diced ripe tomato
tsp toasted and ground
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)
oz green unroasted pumpkin seeds (about 1 heaping cup)
cup finely chopped white
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 cup rich
2 cloves garlic, roasted and peeled
8 large leaves Romaine lettuce, chopped with no stems
1 bunch radish tops
cup loosely packed chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Dry roast pumpkin seeds in
a sauté pan for about 5 minutes until they have finished
aside a few seeds for garnish.
Sauté onion in the oil over low heat until slightly
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
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.
Chick-pea and Hominy Stew
1 30-oz can
hominy, drained and rinsed
3 cups water
2 Tbsp olive
1 cup chopped onion
5 dried red serrano or 2 dried
cayenne peppers, stemmed and seeded
2 large cloves
3 cups cooked chick-peas
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and
cup packed chopped fresh
1 Tbsp chopped fresh epazote
leaves or 1 tsp dried epazote leaves, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the hominy and the
water in a pot.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
While the hominy is cooking, heat the oil in a small
skillet and sauté the onion, serranos, and garlic lightly
for about 5 minutes.
Add the sautéed vegetables, chick-peas, stock, and
tomatoes to the hominy.
Stir the stew and simmer, uncovered, for about 10
the parsley, epazote, and salt and pepper.
Stir, cover and cook over low heat for another 5
minutes or so.
Taste for seasoning and serve hot with a lime wedge to
garnish each bowl.
(New Southwestern Cooking)
Frijoles Negros in Olla
1 lb dried black beans
water or broth to cover beans by
about 1 1 /2 inches
3 Tbsp olive oil or bacon fat
1 whole onion, quartered and
studded with 2 cloves
4-6 whole garlic cloves
tsp cumin seeds
hoja santa leaf, torn into
1-2 whole dried red chile (ancho or pasilla)
salt to taste
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
3 sprigs fresh epazote
Wash beans well.
Cover with water or broth.
Add oil, onion, garlic and cumin.
Bring to boil; reduce heat, adding the hoja santa and
the dried chiles, and simmer for approximately 2½
Should too much water evaporate, add hot water to prevent
beans from bursting.
When almost tender, add the salt, oregano, and
epazote, and cook for another 15 minutes.
When beans are tender, the liquid should just cover
them; too much liquid will give a watery broth.
(The Herb Companion Cooks)
Mole soup with Epazote
(from Hot & Spicy Mexican, by DeWitt, Wilan and Stock
8-10 Chipotle Chiles (smoked
Jalapenos-can be found in Mexican markets), seeds and stems
Hot water as needed
4 TB vegetable oil
3-pound chicken, cut into 6-8 pieces
cup chicken broth
1 t salt
cup epazote, chopped (a
very fragrant fresh herb; substitute 1/8 cup fresh mint plus
1/4 cup basil)
Roast the tomatoes until
the skins blister; allow them to cool slightly and then peel
and cut the tomatoes in half.
Tear the chiles into strips, cover with hot water,
and re-hydrate them for 20 minutes. Place the chiles and
their soaking water into a blender, add the tomatoes and
garlic, and puree until the mixture is smooth.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet,
pour in the pureed mixture, and sauté for 5 minutes.
Heat the remaining oil in a medium-sized skillet,
lightly brown the chicken, add the water, chicken stock, and
salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20
Pour the sautéed chile mixture over the chicken,
cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the epazote and simmer
for 10 minutes more. Serve hot with cooked rice.
Bass in Epazote
(Róbalo en Epazote)
6 fish filets
6 epazote leaves
cups of sour cream
cup of a farmer's cheese
salt and pepper
the fish. Put them in salt and pepper and fold them in half
with a sprig of epazote in the middle; fasten them with a
toothpick. Put them in a frying pan with a half cup of
water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover.
Cover the fish with onion, cheese and sour cream.
Recover the pan and cook for 10 more minutes. Serve when the
cheese is soft. (The fish may also be cooked in an oven).
Oaxacan Green Mole
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2/3 cup small white beans
pounds lean, boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1½ -inch
1 pound pork bones, cut into 2-inch pieces
medium white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
pound fresh tomatillos, husked, washed
2 large cloves
2 serrano chilies, or 1 jalapeno, or to
teaspoon cumin seeds,
tablespoons lard or
cup plus 1 tablespoon masa
with 6 tablespoons hot
Salt, about 1 teaspoon
4 large sprigs
2 small sprigs epazote or additional
2 leaves hoja santa, or substitute
cups chopped green tops
from fresh fennel
mixed with ½ teaspoon
ground black pepper
Parsley sprigs for
Soak beans in 2 cups water 4 to 8 hours or heat them
to a boil 1 minute and then let stand 1 hour.
Drain beans; place in a large saucepan with 3 quarts
water, pork and bones. Heat to a boil, skim off foam, then
add onion and garlic. Cook, partly covered, over medium-low
heat, stirring occasionally, until beans and meat are
tender, 1½ to 2
hours. (If the liquid level drops below the level of the
beans and meat, add hot water.)
Meanwhile, heat a griddle or large skillet over
medium heat. Put a piece of foil on the hot surface, set the
tomatillos on top and roast, turning regularly, until
blistered, blackened and soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove to a
food processor or blender.
Roast garlic and chilies directly on the hot surface,
turning frequently, until chilies are blackened and
blistered, about 5 minutes, and
is blackened and soft, about 10 minutes. Scrape
black skin off chilies and remove seeds; peel garlic.
Add both to the tomatillos; add cumin. Puree.
When beans and meat are
tender, pour them into a colander set over a large bowl.
Pick meat off bones; discard bones, return meat to the
colander with the beans; set aside. Skim fat off broth.
(There should be at least 5 cups broth; if not, add water.)
Set the clean pan over medium-high heat; add lard or
oil. When hot enough to make a drop of tomatillo puree
sizzle, add it all at once. Stir constantly 4 to 5 minutes
as the mixture sears and thickens, then add 4 cups of the
broth. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat 20 minutes.
Gradually mix 2/3 cup of the remaining broth into
masa harina mixture in a small bowl. Push the mixture
through a wire mesh strainer into the simmering tomatillo
mixture, whisking constantly, until thickened. Add the beans
and meat, season with salt and let simmer, stirring
occasionally, while you prepare herb puree.
herb puree, put parsley, epazote if using, hoja santa or
fennel mixture and 1/3 cup broth into a food processor or
blender. Puree, adding a little more liquid if necessary.
Stir the herb puree into the bean mixture. Add a little more
broth or water if necessary to thin to a medium consistency.
Serve in warm, deep plates; garnish with parsley.
Mexican Chicken Rice Soup
1 chicken, 2½
pounds, washed and dried
quarts chicken stock
2 teaspoons sea salt, to taste
medium carrot, peeled and chopped
cleaned and chopped
1 chayote, skin on, pitted and
2/3 cup shortgrain rice
Juice of 1 lime
tablespoons finely chopped fresh epazote or mint
Combine the chicken with the
stock in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and
cook, uncovered, 30 minutes. Add the vegetables and rice and
cook 20 minutes longer.
Cool the chicken in the
stock. Lift out the chicken and remove and discard the skin
and bones. Shred the chicken and return to the pot. Stir in
the lime juice and epazote or mint and reheat the soup.
Yield: 6 servings
Grilled Salmon in Corn Husks
large ears corn -- unshucked
teaspoons chipotle rub
cup unsalted butter --
pound salmon filet --
center-cut portioned -- each about -- 4x1- ½ x1"
4 fresh epazote leaves
chopped 1 tablespoon
thinly sliced tomatillo salsa
Shuck corn, reserving largest outer husks (about 20 to 24)
for wrapping salmon and tearing some remaining husks
lengthwise into narrow strips for tying packages. Grill corn
on a rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals, turning it
frequently, until browned (not blackened) all over, about 12
minutes, and cool to room temperature. Cut kernels from cobs
(there will be about 1 3/4 cups) and in a bowl stir together
with chipotle rub and butter until combined well. On a work
surface arrange 5 to 6 large husks side by side, overlapping
long sides. Arrange a salmon piece in the center with length
parallel to long sides of husks and top with on fourth corn
mixture, one fourth epazote, and one fourth scallion. Fold
long sides and ends of husks overfilling and tie with strips
of husks. (Don't be a perfectionist about this. If it's not
possible to fold in ends of husks, tie off each end and
middle with husk strips.) Make 3 more packages in same
manner with remaining husks, corn mixture, epazote, and
scallion. Grill packages around edges (to avoid hottest part
of coals) of a rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals,
covered, turning them once, until husks are charred and
salmon is just cooked through, about 6 minutes on each side.
(Packages may open while cooking, and butter might drip,
causing flare-ups.) Serve salmon packages with salsa.
Mark Miller, 10 Speed Press, 1989; ISBN: 0-89815-245-
Ernest Small, NRC Research Press, 1997, ISBN: 0-660-16668-2
The Cuisines of
Diana Kennedy, Harper & Row, 1986; ISBN: 0-06-181481-4
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants,
Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997, ISBN:
The Herb Companion Cooks,
Interweave Press, 1994; ISBN: 0-934026-95-5
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