An Herb Used In Cooking To Decrease Gas
Epazote has been used for hundreds of years in traditional cooking
Epazote is an herb commonly used in Latin cooking, predominantly in Southern Mexico. According to history, its use dates back thousands of years to the ancient Aztec and Mayans.
It is also known as wormseed, pigweed, Jesuit Tea, Mexican tea, and Paico (1). Epazote is a perennial herb that can grow up to four feet high (2). Both the leaves and stems can be eaten. The flavor is bold.
Does Epazote Reduce Gas?
It is commonly used to decrease gas resulting from eating beans
Epazote is most famous for one specific health benefit; reducing the gas that many people experience after eating beans. Can it really allow you to enjoy beans without the aftermath?
It has been used for generations to reduce gas and stomach cramps. Unfortunately, there are no known scientific studies to verify this claim. That being said, given the history and continued use by many for reducing gas, it may be worth a try. Your friends and family may thank you!
How To Use Epazote
Add it to beans, soups, stews
It can be used fresh or dried and is commonly used in bean dishes, soups, stews, and cheese dishes, such as quesadillas.
Epazote in English literally translates to stinky sweat or skunk sweat! Buy it in its fresh form, and you will learn how it earned that title. It has a strong, pungent odor that may at first deter you from using it. But when dried or cooked, the odor softens. The taste is a bit minty/lemony and adds complexity to the dishes it is cooked with. The fresh herb has a much stronger flavor than the dried leaves.
Other Potential Health Benefits Of Epazote
- Epazote contains a compound called ascaridole that is toxic to parasitic worms. The Mayans used it as an infusion/tea to treat parasite infections. This is still done today but should be used under the guidance of a practitioner. Ascaridole can be toxic to the liver when taken in large amounts. (3) (4).
- It does contain fiber, b vitamins, and antioxidants. The amount of these nutrients are small in the quantity of herb used for flavoring.
- If it really does help your gas, it may improve your social life!
In the amounts recommended for flavoring food dishes, it is safe
- It is safely used in small amounts as a spice.
- In large amounts, such as in a tea or extract, caution should be taken
- Epazote is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It can cause uterine contractions and increase the risk of premature birth. (5).
- See additional safety precautions for epazote.
Where To Buy It
Instructions for Using Epazote In Cooking
How to use epazote
Use 1TBSP of the dried herb per cup of dry beans ( 3 cups cooked). If using a live plant, 2-3 sprigs per cup of dry beans are typical.
Give these recipes a try
Similar to other culinary herbs, such as basil and rosemary, epazote can be used fresh or dried. It adds a flavor that is similar to oregano, fennel, or licorice.
Frijoles de la Olla ( beans in a pot) is the most traditional dish made with epazote.
- Frijoles de la Olla using dried epazote
If you’ve never tried Oaxaca cheese (pronounced wah-HA-ka), look for it in your Latin grocery store – it is a delicious flavor and is the cheese of choice for quesadillas made with epazote – see recipe below.
- Cheese quesadillas with fresh epazote
Give Epazote a try. You may be thankful you did!
THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHTED BY AMY BURKHART, MD, RD.
Dr. Amy Burkhart is a doctor (M.D.), Registered Dietitian, R.D., and fellowship-trained in integrative medicine. She specializes in treating chronic digestive disorders from an integrative/functional medicine perspective.