7 Surprising Benefits of Epazote

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Some of the health benefits of epazote may include its ability to reduce flatulence, reduce respiratory conditions, eliminate parasites, improve the metabolism, protect the immune system, help with weight loss efforts, heal wounds, and reduce menstrual discomfort.

What is Epazote?

Native to Central America and parts of Mexico, epazote is a well-known herb that has been used for generations. Growing up to 4 feet tall, this annual herb can be used in culinary applications, as a topical ointment, as a tea base, and can provide powerful essential oils.  Since its powerful effects were discovered by the outside world, it has been cultivated in other temperate areas, including certain areas of Europe and North America, but it is still not widely grown or exported. In fact, it is considered an invasive weed in some areas, as it is quite hardy and can survive in somewhat challenging conditions. It is considered a good companion plant, as its essential oils tend to mask the smell of flowers, thereby protecting vegetables and flowers in gardens. [1]

Although it is most commonly considered as an herb, it can also be used as a leafy vegetable in certain culinary preparations, and is frequently found in soups, tamales, egg dishes, chilies, moles, and quesadillas. The flavor itself is difficult to define, but is usually likened to a citrus, mint, or tarragon-type flavor, which makes it quite versatile as a flavoring agent. However, in most global cultures that use this herb, it is used as a base for epazote tea, an invigorating and spicy variety that is beloved by millions around the world. [2]

Not only is epazote delicious in all of its forms, but the organic compounds and nutritional components of epazote make it a wonderful addition to your daily/weekly diet. Let’s take a closer look at what makes epazote so beneficial to human health.

Close-up of fresh raw green epazote and kidney beans on a wooden table

Epazote has largely been considered as a medicinal herb rather than a culinary plant. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Epazote, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]89.21
Energy 32
Energy [kJ]134
Protein [g]0.33
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.52
Ash [g]2.5
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]7.44
Fiber, total dietary [g]3.8
Calcium, Ca [mg]275
Iron, Fe [mg]1.88
Magnesium, Mg [mg]121
Phosphorus, P [mg]86
Potassium, K [mg]633
Sodium, Na [mg]43
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.1
Copper, Cu [mg]0.19
Manganese, Mn [mg]3.1
Selenium, Se [µg]0.9
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]3.6
Thiamin [mg]0.03
Riboflavin [mg]0.35
Niacin [mg]0.64
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.18
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.15
Folate, total [µg]215
Folate, food [µg]215
Folate, DFE [µg]215
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]3
Carotene, beta [µg]38
Vitamin A, IU [IU]57
Sources include : USDA [3]

Epazote Nutrition Facts

Epazote contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin B (specifically folic acid), and vitamin C, as well as calcium, manganese, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and zinc. It also contains dietary fiber and a small amount of protein.

Health Benefits of Epazote

Health benefits of epazote includes:

Potential Gastrointestinal Effects

Like most other leafy, green vegetables, epazote has a significant level of fiber, which can help improve the digestive process and stimulates the smooth movement of the bowels. By improving the efficiency of the gastrointestinal system, epazote can reduce constipation, cramping, bloating, and even more serious conditions. Traditionally, however, epazote was most commonly used to eliminate flatulence and eliminate indigestion, both of which are always a good thing! [4]

May Promote Weight Loss

There are only 32 calories in 100 grams of epazote, yet this leafy green plant is packed with nutrients and organic compounds that your body needs. Therefore, if you are trying to lose weight, remain healthy, and feel full, this fiber- and nutrient-heavy plant is a very wise choice! [5]

May Help Treat Worms

One of the other popular traditional uses of epazote was to treat worms of different types. Hookworms and roundworms, as well as other parasitic worms in the body, can be neutralized by the active ingredients in epazote, which makes it an ideal dietary choice for people where water filtration and basic sanitary conditions may not be available. [6]

May Improve Metabolic Activity

The B-complex family of vitamins can be an extremely important element in human health, and while each member does have a slightly different role in human health, they are all generally associated with the strength and efficiency of the metabolism. Epazote delivers significant levels of 6 different B vitamins, particularly folic acid. A single serving of epazote may contain more than 50% of the daily recommended amount of folic acid, which is important for proper development and growth. [7]

May Boost Immunity

The possibly moderate levels of vitamin A found in epazote, along with various other carotenes and antioxidant compounds, make this herb very important for the immune system. The antioxidant activity of epazote may protect the skin from free radical damage, and can also neutralize free radicals that cause various types of chronic diseases. [8]

May Improve Bone Health

The diverse range of minerals found in epazote mean that it can be very helpful in protecting your bones as you age. Significant levels of calcium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, and manganese contribute to bone mineral density and stave off osteoporosis, meaning that your bones will keep you strong and healthy well into your later years. [9]

May Help Improve Blood Pressure and Heart Health

Potassium is probably one of the most overlooked, yet essential, minerals in our body. The possibly moderate levels of potassium found in epazote can act as vasodilators, relaxing the blood vessels and reducing the strain on our cardiovascular system, thereby lowering the chances of developing atherosclerosis, consequently protecting us from heart attacks and strokes! [10]

A Final Word of Warning

The high levels of certain organic compounds in epazote, including folic acid, as well as the potency of the essential oil that can be extracted, mean that epazote can be dangerous if consumed in large quantities. Gastroenteritis and other gastrointestinal issues have been reported by people who have consumed unusually large quantities of the herb or the essential oil. As always, consult a medical professional before adding a new element to your regular diet. [11]


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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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