The Health Benefits of Epazote, the Quintessential Mexican Herb

– by Tara Miller

raw food mexican herbs

The first time I tried epazote (pronounced eh-pah-ZOH-tay), I had no idea what it was. I had just asked for an order of chilaquiles, a Mexican breakfast dish of tortilla strips, cheese, eggs, and salsa. What I got was absolutely delicious, but it didn’t quite taste like chilaquiles that I was used to at other restaurants.

After asking the waiter, I figured it out the extreme flavor was produced by this tiny little plant-like herb that looked more like a wimpier cousin of the collard green. After that burst of flavor, I bought some myself and use it in so much of my diet.

Although the flavor of epazote is certainly something of an acquired taste, its health benefits are numerous. For one, it’s packed with tons of nutrients, including vitamin A, B complex, C, proteins, calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, complex carbs, and dietary fiber.

epazote health benefitsf you think that’s not enough reason to use this delectable herb in your foods, epazote is commonly used in Mexico for various medicinal properties.

It is used to treat respiratory ailments like amenorrhea, malaria, chorea, catarrh, and asthma. An oil called chenopodium, which is derived from the epazote plant, has been used also to kill intestinal worms. Perhaps most useful, the epazote plant helps to curb flatulence, a big reason that it is included in many bean dishes. It has also been thought to prevent chronic diseases like osteoporosis, anemia, and Alzheimer’s.

So how do we use epazote in our diets?

Although it is generally best when cooked in soups, bean dishes, enchiladas, chilaquiles, mole, and many more traditional Mexican dishes, if you follow a raw diet only, you can still include epazote in your meals. For one, you can chop it and throw it in the blender when making fresh salsas. Although as noted before, the flavor is quite strong, similar in taste to anise or fennel, I’ve personally used it in green smoothies, which definitely adds a kick of flavor to a drink that can run on the bland side for my personal tastes.

epazote leaves and flowerOne disclaimer should be made regarding my favorite new herb, epazote. Use it in recipes sparingly that is, only a sprig or two is usually sufficient since it’s so packed with flavor. Consuming in large quantities, especially raw, can be poisonous [this is more true of the flowers and seeds than the greens]. Also do not consume while pregnant. Otherwise, enjoy a sprinkling of epazote in your meals and you’ll see how wonderfully tasty and healthy it can be!

About the author:

This guest contribution was submitted by Tara Miller, who regularly writes for psychology degree.  She especially loves hearing back from her readers. Questions or comments can be sent to: [email protected]

** For more ideas on how to use herbs for healing, Click HERE.  **


  1. Roslyn Manson says

    I live in Cherry Hill NJ and want to know where I can buy Epazote. How is it sold? How long does it last? Can it be frozen and used in the future.


  2. Kathie Enstad says

    Hmmm. Never heard of it. Can you buy it at a regular grocery store?


    Reply by stacey on March 23rd, 2011

    Hi Kathie!

    I hadn’t heard of this green either (but perhaps living in Winnipeg, Manitoba plays a significant role in my lack of exposure). I did some looking online and the general impression I get is that if you live in a major center that has specialty Mexican or Latin markets, you may be lucky enough to find this herb fresh.

    Though apparently, if you have some foraging skills and live in the right area (apparently Arkansas?), it grows plentiful and wild:

    Otherwise, I did find an online source where you can purchase the seeds to grow yourself and try it at home:



  3. says

    Epazote…. looks like a member of the Chenopodia–family. But these do not taste very exciting.
    Do you have a latin name?
    Thank you for sharing…


    Reply by stacey on March 24th, 2011

    Hi Hans… Looks like you’re right! According to my google search:

    Latin Name: Chenopodium ambrosioides
    Alternate Names: Wormseed, Mexican Tea, Yerba Santa Maria, Pazote
    The common name Epazote also includes the species Chenopodium anthelmintium, which is used interchangeably with Chenopodium ambrosioides.

    Actually there are more interesting fact and uses on the page I found this on:


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