Epazote Dysphania ambrosioides is a vivacious aromatic herb used as a seasoning and as a medicinal plant in Mexico and many other countries of the Hispanophone world, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. It is also called acahualillo or milpa tea in Mexico.
Dysphania ambrosioides is a plant that grows up to 1 meter. The stem of the leaves is spiny, long, and slender. Its flowers are small, white with violet stripes in the throat, grouped in clusters at the end of branches. There are several species of Dysphania , but D. ambrosioides is the most common.
Dysphania ambrosioides grows primarily in tropical areas, but it can also be grown in temperate regions with good results. The plants are propagated by seeds. D. ambrosioides is used as a medicinal plant for its supposed cholagogue, spasmolytic, and emenagogue properties. It also possesses anti-inflammatory activity.
Dysphania ambrosioides is known by several other names such as epazote, apacote or paico in México; eucalípto del maiz in Costa Rica; colicero and yerba mansa in Colombia; hierba de la golondrina in Guatemala; taique or chanvre des indies in Haiti; hierba santa, té del país, té de milpa , té puertorriqueño , hierbabuena , paraguay tea and Paraguay grass in Puerto Rico; llantén or acalicanto in Venezuela; té de limón , té zancudo or té de milpa in El Salvador; yerba del perro, erva-de-passarinho , and caldo-de-galinha in Brazil.
Dysphania ambrosioides is used as a vegetable plant for its edible leaves. The tea of D. ambrosioides is also used as a natural insecticide and as a fertilizer with high contents of phosphorus, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and zinc.
Currently, there are several studies assessing the antioxidant properties of Dysphania ambrosioides , particularly in the cis -diols part of this plant secondary metabolites. It has also been suggested that the ingestion of apazote tea reduces or prevents pesticide toxicity.
Global epazote production
Epazote is an annual herb that grows to a height of 1-2 m. It has a strong, pungent smell and is used as a spice in many dishes. The leaves are used fresh or dried, and the plant is also cultivated for its essential oil.
Epazote is native to Mexico and Central America, but it is now grown in many other parts of the world, including the United States, China, and India. The majority of the world's epazote production takes place in Mexico. In 2016, Mexico produced about 8,000 tons of epazote, worth around $16 million. The United States is the second-largest producer of epazote, with a production of around 1,000 tons in 2016.
Epazote is used in many traditional Mexican dishes, such as beans and rice. It is also used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces. The leaves can be used fresh or dried, and the plant is also cultivated for its essential oil.