Epazote is a popular Central American herb used by native Mexicans since antiquity. Its strong musky flavor gives unique taste to Mexican and other Latin American cuisines. Its young shoots and leaves used like vegetable in soups while mature, pungent leaves used as digestive and carminatives in bean, fish and corn dishes.
Epazote has largely been viewed as medicinal herb rather than a culinary plant. In general, its leaves used in the cooking to counter indigestion and flatulence effects of beans, high-fiber and protein food. Nonetheless, the herb has many intrinsic plant nutrients which when used optimally would benefit to overall health and wellness.
Its leaves compose of many monoterpene compounds such as ascaridole (60-80%), isoascaridole, p-cymene, limonene, and terpinene. Ascaridole is toxic to several intestinal worms like roundworm, hookworms, pinworm, etc. Native Mayans drank its infusion regularly to keep off from worm infestation.
Epazote has small amounts of vitamin A, and some flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants such as beta-carotenes. Together, they act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and in various disease processes.
The herb has a good amount of minerals like calcium (27% of RDA), manganese, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, and selenium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.