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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.


aka American Wormwood, Epazote, Mexican Tea, Spanish Tea, Stick weed, Stinking Weed
(Chenopodium ambrosioides)

CAUTION: Can cause contact dermatitis and allergic reaction.

PROPAGATION: By seed in spring. Annual member of the Goosefoot family native to Mexico.
NEEDS: Average soil and water; full sun.
HARVEST: Leaves, whole plant. Oil is also used.


Diaphoretic, expectorant, antifungal, antispasmodic.
Has been used as a folk remedy for intestinal parasites. (NOTE: The distilled oil is no longer used in the United States for this purpose as it is TOXIC).
Leaves are added to food to reduce intestinal gas.

Strongly aromatic, annual or perennial herb with soft downy leaves used as a food flavoring by the Maya Indians of the Yucatan.
Greatly used in Mexican cooking for seasoning corn, beans, mushrooms and fish.
Infusion of the leaf used as a herb tea in Mexico, Southern France, Germany and the West Indies.

Severe caution!!AMBROSIA (2)
aka Feather Geranium, Herba Sancti Mariae, Jerusalem Oak, Jesuit Tea
(Chenopodium ambrosioides var. anthelminticum)
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SEVERE CAUTION: Can have poisonous effects. Acts like a NARCOTIC affecting the brain, spinal cord and stomach. OVERDOSE OF OIL CAN CAUSE DEATH. Must NOT be taken by pregnant women. Excess causes dizziness, vomiting, stomach pains, convulsions and death (a reaction associated with the oil). May affect liver, kidney, bladder, blood pressure and breathing.

CONTAINS: The fresh plant contains the alkaloid Chenopodine which is a white, tasteless and odorless crystalline powder. Yield of oil from crushed fruit is .6 to 1.0% and contains Ascaridole (60-70%), P-cymeme, a-perpinene, glycol, safrol.

The oil was first isolated in Brazil by a German pharmacist in 1895. The oil was once distilled commercially in Maryland and was known as Baltimore oil.
Commercial harvest of the seeds is 1/2 to 1 ton per acre.

PROPAGATION: By seed in spring. Annual. Native of tropical America which is now found in waste places in North America.
NEEDS: Full sun and average soil and moisture.
SOLVENT: Distilling with water or super-heated steam. Also 70 proof alcohol.


Main use historically has been to remove intestinal parasites. (See severe cautions above). Several drops of the oil were placed on a sugar cube for this purpose. Or, an infusion (1 tsp herb [plant tops and pulverized seeds] to 1 C. boiling water steeped 15 minutes) was given in wineglassful doses. Also, a tsp of the seeds was mixed with honey and given twice a day and then followed by a laxative. Of the powdered seeds - 20 to 30 grains (child's dosage) or 1 to 2 drams for an adult was usually given in honey, jam or syrup before breakfast or at bedtime for 3 or 4 days and then followed by a laxative. If unsuccessful, the routine was repeated after a wait of 2 weeks.
For worms: 20 grains of crushed seed was combined with honey; one dose on an empty stomach followed by a laxative such as castor oil and repeated in 10 days.
Was used for roundworms, hookworms, small tapeworms, and amoebic dystentary.
The oil is a strong emmenagogue; a hot infusion, OR 1 Tbsp of the expressed juice of the leaves, OR a wineglassful of the decoction (boil 1 oz fresh plant and 1 pint milk and add orange peel to flavor) was used to increase menstrual flow.
Said to be a mild cardiac stimulant and to promote secretions of skin and kidneys (Dr. Benjamin Lust).
The oil has been used for asthma, excess mucous, malaria, chorea, hysteria, nervous disorders.
Under the name of Herba Sancti Mariae, (also see Ambrosia-1) it has been used in pulmonary complaints and as an expectorant for asthma.
Whole plant was used by Native Americans in decoction for painful menses; leaves and seeds as a vermifuge.
Was considered a useful remedy in cases of chorea due to narcotico-acrid poison effects.
Seeds were used by Native Americans of Virginia. Was used as a vermifuge by the Natchez Indians; used as a spring tonic and febrifuge by the Creek; the Catawbas beat the plant to mash and used it as a poultice to draw out poison and used it on sores (C. ambrosiodes was also used for this purpose).
In Spain the tea is employed as a blood cleanser; a handful of leaves and flower spikes are minced then put into a mash of corn and wheat for infants to soothe stomach pains and expel worms.
Used externally for athlete's foot and insect bites.

Homeopathic tincture is used for aphasia, apoplexy, asthma, cerebral deafness, convulsions, dropsy, epilepsy, headache, hemicrania, hemiplegia, leucorrhoea, suppressed menses, paralysis, scapula pain, tinnitus, tonsilitis.

The oil was once combined with oil of turpentine, oil of aniseseed, castor oil and olive oil to worm dogs. To expel worms in animals, a handful of leaves and flower spikes is added to a mash of corn and wheat and given to puppies and poultry on an empty stomach early in the morning.

The oil has also been used commercially as a fumigant for mosquitoes and in fertilizer to inhibit insect larvae. The leaves have been used in place of tea in Mexico.

aka Jerusalem Oak, Ambrose, Glass Warts, Feather Geranium, Hindheal
(Chenopodium botrys)

PROPAGATION: By seed in spring. Annual.
NEEDS: Full sun and average soil and moisture.
HARVEST: While in bud stage for crafts; also leaves.

Its main use today is as craft material for dried arrangements. It has been used previously as an expectorant for catarrh, asthma, and coughs, as well as an emmenagogue and as a carminative. It has also been used as a solvent.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH