Chenopodium ambrosioides

scientific name: 
Chenopodium ambrosioides L.
Teloxys ambrosioides (L.) W. A. Weber
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Bushy taprootedherb, erect, up to 1.5 m, highly aromaticwith a strong garlic-like smell. Lower leaves, sinuate-dentate, 5-8 cm x 1-2cm, upper leaves smaller with smooth margin; inflorescences are cymes, flowers clustered, greenish, perianth 1 mm long; fruit a utricle, seeds red-brown, smooth, ovoid 0.7-0.8 mm long.


Cénesca,38&40,SOE Cogollo,21892,CUVC Girón,228,CFEH Delaigue,6,NHTT Delens,3&300,VEN Giménez,275675-05,VEN Jiménez,1511,JBSD Medina&Méndez,14,CICY Suazo&Cardona,19,HPMHV Merlo&Tinoco,17,HPMHV Longuefosse&Nossin,11,HAVPM Rueda,1644,HULE

cutaneous ulcers:

  aerial parts, crushed, applied locally4


  leaf and/or aerial parts, infusion or decoction, orally1-2

stomach pain:

  aerial parts, infusion or decoction, orally1,3-4

intestinal parasites:

aerial parts, infusion or decoction, orally2,5-13,49-50,52

For intestinal parasites, diarrhea and stomach pain caused by parasites:

prepare a decoction or infusion with 7 grams of aerial parts (leaf, flower, stem) in 300 mL (more than 1 cup) of water.  For decoction, boil for at least 10 minutes in a covered pot; for infusion, add boiling water to 7 grams of aerial parts, cover and leave to cool down during 10 minutes.  Strain and drink 1 cup (250 mL) for adults, 1/2 cup (125 mL) for people weighing 35 kg, and 1/3 cup (80 mL) for children over 5 years.  Drink once a day only for 3 consecutive days46 and do not repeat treatment within six months.

Taking a saline laxative is recommended (e.g. magnesium sulfate) after the last intake; however, no oily purgatives should be taken14.

For skin ulcer:

Wash the injury with purified water and soap.  Wash the aerial plant parts properly, press or crush, and apply to affected area.  Cover with a clean cloth and replace twice a day.

According to published and other information:

Use for diarrhea, stomach pain and intestinal parasites, is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

In no case should the specified manner of preparation and dosage be altered.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should the diarrhea or stomach pain last more than 3 days, or more than 2 days in children over 5 years old, medical attention should be sought.

For diarrhea, this resource is considered complementary to oral re-hydration therapy.

Use for diarrhea, stomach pain and intestinal parasites is recommended only when disorder is caused by ascaris, pinworms and hookworms; not for other types of diarrhoea, stomach pain or other intestinal parasites.

Use is contraindicated in individuals with hepatic disorders, renal insufficiency14, weakened individuals and the elderly.

Not for use by women during pregnancy, as it may be abortifacient, or during breast feeding or by children under 5 years old.

Use for skin ulcer is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys and skin toxicity assays.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should the skin ulcer last more than 5 days, medical attention should be sought for.

In topical application, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

TRAMIL Research15

The lethal dose of ascaridol estimated based on its concentration in the essential oil was 0.075 mL/kg in mouse.


The essential oil applied to the skin of 18 clinically healthy young and adult male albino rabbits did not report signs of toxicity with readings at 24 and 72 hours.


A decoction of the fresh leaves at 30% (0.6 mL, equivalent to 180 mg of fresh plant material) and the pulped fresh leaf were applied topically to an area of approximately 6 cm2 of the skin of male New Zealand rabbits. The compress was removed after 4 hours and observations made of the erythema and edoema after 24, 48 and 72 hours.  No clinical signs were observed, signifying that the fresh crushed leaf and its decoction may be considered non-irritant.

TRAMILResearch51 (will be translatedin 3rd Edition)

Las partes aéreas (infusión y decocción por separado), administradas vía oral (5000 mg/kg/día) a 10 ratones Hsd: ICR (CD-1) de 24.68 ± 1.85 g (5 machos y 5 hembras) durante 5 días con 12 días adicionales de observación, según el protocolo EPA.OPPTS 870.1100. El control se realizó con agua (0.4 mL/20g de ratón) a otros 10 ratones de la misma cepa y características. Durante el ensayo ni en el periodo de observación posterior, se presentó mortalidad, ni se evidenció ningún signo de toxicidad (Test Polidimensional de Irwing). No se observaron cambios en los pesos corporales más que los normales en la curva de crecimiento. La autopsia macroscópica no evidenció alteraciones en los órganos. 

The aqueous extract from the aerial parts, applied subcutaneously (10 mg/kg) once a week for 76 weeks to female rats, increased the tumor growth ratio (5:15).  Applied for 37 weeks to male rats, it also increased the tumor growth ratio (11:15)31.

The essential oil administered orally reported LD50 = 0.38 mL/kg in mice and LD50 = 0.255 g/kg in rats38.

In an acute general toxicity study of the aqueous alcoholic extract (50%) from the entire plant, by intraperitoneal administration, in mouse gave an LD50 above 1 g/kg39.

The essential oil may cause toxic effects, particularly in weakened individuals, such as nausea, vomiting, depression of the nervous system, liver and kidney damage, deafness, sight disorders, cardiac and respiratory problems14,40.  The administration to an adult of a single oral dose of 5 mL has been reported as fatal40.

The literature cites numerous cases of human poisoning caused by the intake of the essential oil, some of which have caused mortality41-45.

There is no available information documenting the safety of use in children or in nursing mothers.

TRAMIL Research15

The amount of essential oil in the plant grown in dry regions is lower (0.55 mL/50 g dried plant) than in humid regions (0.77 mL/50 g dried plant).

All parts of the plant are rich in an essential oil called chenopodium oil or wormseed oil.  The leaf and inflorescence contain 0.35%, the fruit 0.6 to 3%.  Numerous studies have been performed on the composition of this essential oil, whose main constituents are: monoterpenes: ascaridol (terpenic peroxide, representing 42 to 90% of the essence), ascaridol-glycol, aritasone, b-pinene, limonene, myrcene, cymene, phellandrene, camphor, a-terpinene, a-terpineol, associated with small quantities of methyl salicylate and butyric acid16-17.

The aerial parts contain flavonoids, and citric, tartaric and succinic acids18.

The root contains triterpenic heterosides18.

The fruit contains flavonoids: quercetin, kaempferol and derivatives, iso-rhamnetin19.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of leaf20: calories: 44; water: 87.4%; protein: 1.6%; fat: 0.2%; carbohydrates: 7.6%; fiber: 1.3%; ash: 2.4%; calcium: 340 mg; phosphorus: 52 mg; iron: 5.2 mg; carotene: 2420 µg; thiamine: 0.06 mg; riboflavin: 0.28 mg; niacin: 0.60 mg; ascorbic acid: 11 mg.

TRAMIL Research21

The aqueous extract from the leaf (25 and 100 mg/kg) administered orally to Wistar rats with pylorus ligation (Shay model) significantly diminished the number of gastric ulcers and the ulceration ratio, with no changes either in gastric fluid volume or in free acid quantity.

The aqueous extract from the dried leaf (200 µL/disk) showed activity in vitro against Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus vulgaris and Staphylococcus albus22.

The aerial parts showed activity in vitro against Plasmodium falciparum23.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) from dried aerial parts, by intraperitoneal administration to mice (1 g/kg) and in vitro, showed antimalarial activity against Plasmodium berghei (100 µg/mL) and insecticidal activityon Luptzomyia longipalpis (1 g/L)24.

Others effects are summarized in the following table.

Table 1. Biological activity of Chenopodium ambrosioides essential oil.



Type of test

(and animal used)




not specified

in vitro (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus)




0.1 g/kg

in vivo (dogs)

Toxocara canis




1 mL/animal

in vivo(dogs)




1.5 mL/person

in vivo(i.v. humans)




1000 ppm

in vitro(Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Absidia ramosa, Microsporum gypseum)

very active



not specified

in vitro(Plasmodium vivax)




10 mg/kg

in vivo (rats)



Cardiac depressant

not specified

in vivo(frogs)




0.02 mL/kg

in vivo (dogs, cats, rabbits)



Muscular relaxant

not specified

in vivo(dogs, cats, rabbits)



An etnopharmacological study reported the use of the decoction or infusion (300 mg/kg of dry plant) of the inflorescence and leaf, in adults, as effective for the treatment of ascaridiasis.  A field clinical study in adults (6 g/kg) did not report effectiveness against Necator americanus, Trichuris trichiura and Ascaris lumbricoides.  The relief that is traditionally cited may be associated with the expulsion of senescent worms after treatment35.

The aerial parts are claimed to have anthelmintic activity, especially against ascaris and hookworms, and to be less effective against pinworms14.

The essential oil by oral administration to human adults is thought to have anthelmintic effects36.

The anthelmintic active principle (ascaridol) contained in the essential oil has paralyzing and narcotic effects on ascaris, pinworms and ancylostomas, but is not effective against tapeworms and trichocephalus26-28.




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53 MACDONALD D, VANCREY K, HARRISON P, RANGACHARI PK, ROSENFELD J, WARREN C, SORGER G, 2004 Ascaridole-less infusions of Chenopodium ambrosioides contain a nematocide(s) that is(are) not toxic to mammalian smooth muscle. J Ethnopharmacol 92:215–221.

54 GADANOA AB, GURNI AA, CARBALLO MA, 2006 Argentine folk medicine: Genotoxic effects of Chenopodiaceae family. J Ethnopharmacol 103:246–251.

55 BOULOGNE I, 2009          

Enquête TRAMIL, (Terre-de-Bas et Terre-de-Haut) Les Saintes, UAG, Guadeloupe.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.