The wormwort or wormseed is also known under its alternative Latin name, Teloxys ambrosioides, or its Aztec name, epazotl (modern mexican Spanish: epazote). It is another species with a long tradition of uses. Fascinatingly, it is used both as a spice for a variety of dishes, especially ones with Mexican black beans (frijoles), and as a medicine for gastrointestinal parasites. The name seems to be derived from the Nahua term for skunk, epatl, and relates to the rather unpleasant smell of the plant (some liken it to the urine of a skunk). As long ago as the 16 th century, Fray Bernardino de Sahagun mentioned "epazotl" as a food. Today it is one of the most popular spices and is used medicinally as a vermifuge (to treat worms) as well as to reduce flatulence. It was included in many pharmacopoeias, including the ones of Mexico, the United States, and many European countries, but because of the toxic side effects (mostly of the essential oil) and a lack of evidence in support of its vermicidal effects, it has now been substituted by synthetic vermifuges. Once used worldwide as a medicine, it is today largely restricted to its region of origin, especially Mexico, where epazote is an essential part of the local cuisine and medical tradition, and also a powerful symbol for Mexican identity.
See: Herbs and Vegetables, pp. 118-9
Was this article helpful?