Re: [gardeners] In preparation for Green Thighs

Marianne Lepa (
Mon, 01 Jun 1998 15:42:35 -0400

At 02:50 PM 6/1/98 +0000, you wrote:
>Epazote has been a staple in seasoning of Latin American food for long, 
>long time. It's also listed as one of the preventatives for gas formation 
>associated with the ingestion of beans (now, isn't that a delicate way of 
>putting it?). I am no expert, but can't think of any reference to epazote 
>being toxic. It's a member of the goosefoot family....chenopodium 
>ambosides (wow, I actually knew that one; I may faint) and is generally 
>listed along with the other pot herbs in this family and genus.
>Anybody have any references to epazote being bad for you?

Hmmm, this sent me looking back into my archived files. There was a
discussion on the Medicinal Herbs list back in December about Epazote,
which is what prompted my interest in growing it. The following is from a
post to that list. It was posted by TeraGram <teragram@SILCOM.COM>

>Poisoning symptoms of Epazote include: Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal
>cramps, dizziness and headache.
>The toxin resides in the resinous glands covering the leaves & stems of the
>plant.  Avoiding poisoning is quite simple. Treat epazote as you would a
>bay leaf.  IE  do not ingest the herb per se... rather, bind it into a
>bouqet garni (tie it into cheese cloth)  and remove the herb before
>Epazote Tea is best used with extreme caution.  People who have been
>exposed to it their entire lives seem to show rather great tolerance for
>its negative effects.  Those who take a large dose their first time
>consuming are sorry they ever heard of the stuff.
>Epazote is an effective antispasmodic, cardiac stimulant, diuretic and
>diaphoretic. A poultice is said to be effective for arthritis.  It is used
>in Cuba and some other southern Hispanic countries as an effective cure for
>many intestinal parasites (roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm & intestinal

As well, in 'The Herb Book' by John Lust, N.D., he warns that an overdose
of wormseed oil can result in poisoning and death. The recommended
medicinal dosage to treat intestinal parasites (except he says it's not
effective against tapeworm) was 3-10 drops of oil 3 times a day for several
days with a two week rest period before repeating the treatment. The wide
range between 3 drops and 10 drops would indicate that different people
have different tolerances, I guess.

Tera does say that people build a tolerance to it, and perhaps that's the
key. I had planned to use it like a bay leaf in the manner Tera suggested
and that's why I reacted with surprise to your recipe Catherine. I guess it
*is* us northern yuppie types that can't stomach the stuff. :-)

Thanks for the botanical info,
Southeastern Ontario AgCan zone 5b