Tag Archives: herbal remedies in Mexico

Natural Healing — Epazote

Dysphania ambrosioides Photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr

I had been reluctant to investigate the medicinal properties of epazote (Chenopodium Ambrosioides) simply because it’s touted as the “miracle weed/herb” in a lot of Mexican herb forums. I know, a bit prejudicial on my part. So, in an effort to provide impartial research, today I’m going to share what I learned when I finally took up the gauntlet. 

Epazote, native to Mexico, was formally classified under the name Chenopodium ambrosioides but has since been reclassified as Dysphania ambrosioides. Other names include Jesuit’s tea, payqu, mastruz, quinoa, and herba Santa Maria. Alternative spellings in Mexico for epazote include epasote, ipazote, and pazote. In Maya, it is known as lukum-xiu. In Purhépecha it is cuatzitish-atcingo. In otomí it’s gail, and in the state of Puebla, it is known as Alskini. The name epazote comes from the Nahuatl, epazotl, which means stinky. It does have a strong aroma, in case you were wondering.

In Mexico, epazote is most often used for parasites, stomachache, menstrual cramp relief, increase lactation, and in the treatment of bites or stings. It’s also a common flavoring for beans, menudo, chilate, chile atole, chilaquiles, and quesadillas.

For stomach pain, a leaf infusion is prepared either with water or milk. For menstrual issues, it is combined with ruda (Ruta graveolens), zoapatle (Montanoa tomentosa), or cabellos de elote (corn silk). To treat bites and stings, the chopped leaves are added to tobacco leaves and placed over the wound as a poultice. To expel parasites, 20 to 60 grams of the chopped herb is added to an infusion of milk and garlic and allowed to steep overnight and drunk for 9 days before breakfast. While undergoing parasite treatment, the afflicted should not eat pork or chile according to common belief. 

Atole blanco con epazote is prescribed for individuals suffering from “espanto” (anxiety). It is drunk for 9 mornings. In the event of extreme anxiety, a cup can also be had in the afternoon. 

Epazote has a vasorelaxant effect. It has antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antimicrobial, anti-biofilm, anti-malarial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also is effective in the treatment of the central nervous system and sleep disorders. It stimulates the immune system and provides pain relief. Regular use prevents bone loss. Topical use stimulates wound closure and bone healing.

Note: Long-term use of this plant should be avoided as it can be toxic. It also should be avoided during pregnancy.

Epazote Tea

5 grams of epazote stems and leaves (Dysphania ambrosioides)

Boil ½ liter of water. Add the epazote. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain and serve. Drink one cup before breakfast for 2 or 3 days for indigestion.


Interested in discovering a path to wellness through traditional medicine? Discover Mexican herbalism with common remedies used today in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

1 Comment

Filed under Health, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing

Natural Healing — Tomillo

Photo credit: Syrio Thymus vulgaris

The other day at the plant place, I came across a lovely thyme plant that I just had to have for my garden. As part of my introduction process, I had to do an intensive research session on medicinal properties. As my devoted reader, you too get to enjoy my obsession with plants in today’s post.

Tomillo (Thymus vulgaris) is native to Europe and therefore a plant brought to Mexico by the Spanish after the conquest. In Mexico, this is a culinary and medicinal herb. It’s used to flavor beans, calm a cough, and as a digestive aid.

It has antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. It has been shown to have beneficial immunomodulatory and potent smooth muscle relaxant effects, making it a good choice for treating respiratory ailments. It is also effective against several RNA viruses, including coronaviruses. Its antispastic effects on the intestine and antibacterial and antimicrobial properties also support its use as a digestive aid. 

It can also be used as a bioinsecticide. Studies have shown that it is toxic to larvae of insects that carry the dengue virus. It is an effective food preservative as it inhibits microbial growth.

Tomillo and Ajo Infusion for Hacking Cough

  • 1 tablespoon of tomillo leaves (Thymus vulgaris)
  • 1 ajo clove (Allium sativum)

Pour one cup of boiling water over the tomillo leaves and ajo. Allow it to steep for 15 minutes before straining. Add miel (honey) and limón (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) to taste.

Tomillo Cough Expectorant

  • 2 parts gordolobo (Verbascum thapsiforme sdahere)
  • 1 part bugambilia morada (Bougainvillea glabra)
  • 1 part manzanilla (Matricaria chamomilla)
  • 1 part jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • 1 part tomillo (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Pinch of ground canela (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 spoonfuls of the mixture. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain and add a pinch of canela. Drink as needed to reduce excess phlegm.


Want to learn a new way to look at plants?

Discover common traditional medicine practiced in Mexico today

with the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing

Natural Healing — Pirúl

Photo credit: Georges Jansoone

Pirúl (Schinus molle) is also known as pirú, perú, Falso Pimentero, gualeguay, Árbol Del Perú, Peruvian Peppertree, and in Nahuatl, it is Pelonquáhuitl. As you may have guessed, it is native to the Peruvian Andes. The botanical name molle comes from mulli, which is the Quechua word for tree. The indigenous put a high value on the pirúl because of its many uses. Textiles were dyed using Pirúl leaves. Oil extracted from the leaves was used by the Incas to embalm their dead. The high sugar content of its fruit meant that it was a common ingredient in atole, pulque, and chicha, a fermented corn beverage. The fruit was also used as a pepper substitute.

Credit for the first pirúl cultivation in Mexico is given to Virrey Antonio de Mendoza in the mid-1500s. Francisco Hernández de Toledo recorded that indigenous healers used parts of the pirúl to close wounds, stop bleeding, heal hemorrhoids, treat cataracts, and ease arthritis pain. The sap was dissolved in water as a purgative. Full branches from this leafy tree were used in limpias (cleansings).

In traditional remedies used by curanderas today, this plant treats wounds, infections, toothache, rheumatism, and menstrual disorders among other ailments. It is also prescribed as an antidepressant and diuretic as well as an effective insecticide.

To help with constipation, make an infusion from 1 tablespoon of pirúl leaves in one liter of water. Drink one cup three times a day after meals. Crushed leaves can be used in a wash for conjunctivitis. A foot bath with fresh pirúl leaves, which have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, can reduce foot swelling. 

A bark decoction for bronchitis or respiratory issues is prepared by boiling one tablespoon of bark in one liter of water for ten minutes. Sun-dried or comal-toasted leaves can be applied as a poultice to relieve rheumatism pain and sciatica. Fresh fruit in an infusion serves as a diuretic. The resin can be chewed like gum to heal mouth ulcers. A water extract made from the leaves is used to treat amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea. For sores and skin inflammations, the resin can be used topically, the ground leaves used as plasters, and a leaf infusion is made to wash the affected area. Pirúl has proven antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial effects.

The leaves have antimicrobial, antibacterial, antinociceptive, antimalarial, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Pirúl shows signs of immunomodulatory properties as it activates the immune system. The fruit is antioxidant and antimicrobial. It also demonstrates preventative potential against oxidative and inflammatory stress.  Additionally, Pirúl has an antidepressant-like effect as effective as commonly prescribed medications. 

Note: The fruit and leaves are potentially poisonous to pigs, poultry, fish, and calves. There have also been reports of children experiencing vomiting and diarrhea after eating the fruit. Individuals with low blood pressure should not use any remedies that contain pirúl. 


Learn more traditional herbal remedies in Mexico!

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Natural Healing