Mexican Tea: 7 Health Benefits, How to Consume & Side Effects

Updated in December 2023

Mexican tea is a medicinal plant that is frequently used in tradicional medicine to treat intestinal worms, relieve indigestion and strengthen immunity.

It is scientifically known as Chenopodium ambrosioides (or its synonym Dysphania ambrosioides), It is a small bush with long leaves of varying sizes, and small white flowers.

Mexican tea can be purchased at markets or natural health stores in its natural form, as dreid flowers or as an essential oil. Because it is a plant with toxic effects (mainly when consumed in higher than recommended doses a prolonged period of time), it should be taken as directed by a medicinal plant specialist. The tea version made with leaves is best to use instead of the essential oil, as the oil has a higher concentration of potentially toxic substances. 

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Health benefits

Although this plant is commonly used in traditional medicine, there are few studies to support its efficacy in the human body. Some studies have been done on animals, however, and the plant has shown benefits such as: 

1. Eliminating intestinal worms

This is one of the most common uses of Mexican tea. According to some studies done on humans, this plant appears to present a strong effect against intestinal worms, including pinworms and tapeworms.

This action appears to be related to the main active substance in the plant, ascaridole, which works similarly to worm medication, like albendazole

2. Strengthening the immune system 

According to studies done on animals, Mexican tea extract appears to regulate important defense cells (like macrophages and lymphocytes), which can strengthen the immune system, 

A mix of Mexican leaves mixed with milk is also popularly used to treat respiratory diseases, like bronchitis and tuberculosis. It has natural expectorant and immune-strengthening properties. 

3. Reducing inflammation

Another common use of Mexican tea is relieving inflammations, especially joint problems like osteoarthritis. In addition, the plant also helps to relieve related pain. This analgesic action was observed in the alcohol extract of the plant, and appears to act on NMDA receptors. 

4. Improving indigestion

Although there are no studies that prove the plant's action on indigestion, it is one of the most popular uses of this plant. A Mexican tea infusion can be consumed after large meals to promote digestion, as it can increase the production of gastric juice. 

5. Reducing blood pressure

In Marrocos, Mexican tea is commonly use to treat high blood pressure. Studies done on rate show that this effect is possible due to muscarinic-2 receptors in the heart, and can therefore reduce heart beats and relax heart muscle. 

6. Combating bacterial, viral or fungal infections

Mexican tea extracts and oil essential appear to present an antimicrobial action which can eliminate various types of bacteria, virus and fungi. 

7. Preventing osteoporosis

In other studies done on rats, the use of Mexican tea hydroalcohol is able to prevent bone losses. It may help to prevent the development of osteoporosis, particularly in women entering menopause. 

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Can Mexican tea treat COVID-19?

A study completed in 2020 by the Oswaldo Cruz Institute [1] confirmed the theory that the flavonoids present in Mexican tea can prevent replication of the novel coronavirus, which can speed-up recovery and cure.

However, the study was completed on a digital model and was not tested in the lab on live organisms. Therefore, the exact dose needed to achieve this effect is not known, and therefore no health organizations have recognized Mexican tea as an official form of treatment. 

How to consume

The most common way to consume Mexican tea is to make a tea infusion: 

  • Mexican tea infusion: Place one tablespoon of dried Mexican tea plants in boiling water and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Then strain and drink half to one full cup in the morning for three days.

In addition to making tea, Mexican tea can also be used in its essential oil form. However, it should only be used as directed by a medicinal plant specialist. 

Possible side effects

The side effects of Mexican tea include skin and mucosal irritation, headache, vomiting, nausea, palpitations, liver damage, kidney damage, vision changes and seizures. These are more likely to occur with higher than recommended doses or for prolonged use of over three days. 

Can Mexican tea cause abortion?

When high doses are consumed, Mexican tea can alter the way muscles contract in the body. Therefore, although there are no studies to confirm this, it is possible that Mexican tea can cause abortion. For this reason, it is not recommended for pregnant women. 

Contraindications for use

Mexican tea is contraindicated for use during pregnant, breastfeeding and in children under two. Mexican tea is a medicinal plant that can be toxic, and you should see a medicinal plant specialist to confirm the correct dosing.