Estafiate-Artemisia-ludoviciana

What is Estafiate?

“Estafiate” is one of the many common names for Artemisia ludoviciana, which is also known as white sagebrush, prairie sage, Mexican wormwood, and Louisiana sage, among other names. Despite its Latin name ludoviciana, which means Louisiana, subspecies of Estafiate can be found all over North America. Estafiate usually grows from 1-2 feet tall in rocky or sandy soil, and has leaves that can range from spear-shaped to irregularly- lobed. It produces small, yellowish or green flowers, and the plant is covered in tiny hairs, which lend it a silvery-green appearance. Typically, the fresh or dried leaves (and occasionally the flowers) of Estafiate are used medicinally Although, sometimes referred to being a “sage” because of its similar appearance, Estafiate is not related to sage (Salvia officinalis).

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Estafiate Benefits and Uses

There has not been a great deal of scientific research conducted on the medical benefits of Estafiate, and most of its purported uses come from traditional and folk sources. However, a few ethnopharmacological studies done on Estafiate include the following:

Pain Reduction: In this study, the essential oil of Estafiate was given to mice at dosages of up to 316 mg/kg. It was found that Estafiate had a “significant antinociceptive effect” which may be due to an opioid mechanism. This may confirm the long-standing usage in Mexican folk medicine for treating pain with Estafiate.

Treating Malaria: Mice infected by Plasmodium yoelii were given a tincture of Estafiate for four days. On the fifth day, parasite reproduction was down by 99%.

Treats Diabetes: In Mexico, Estafiate is sometimes used to treat diabetes. In this study, again using mice and dosages of up to 316 mg/kg, it was found that certain preparations of Estafiate decreased blood sugar levels in normal and diabetic mice. An organic extract had the best results, effective on both sets of mice, while an infusion only affected diabetic mice. The essential oil was overall the least effective preparation.

Estafiate contains lactone glycosides such as artemisin and santonin, which probably provide most of the plant’s medicinal effects, and which are known to be anti-parasitic. It also contains thujone, a compound which is considered a poison in large doses, but which

Estafiate-Plant

may also serve a beneficial purpose, such as having antimicrobial properties. (For example, a study using a related plant containing thujone, wormwood, found that it inhibited growth of Candida albicans in vitro.) Additionally, Estafiate contains vitamins and trace minerals.

In addition to the above benefits, Estafiate has many traditional uses, especially in Mexico and by the native peoples of the United States, including the Blackfoot, Cheyenne, and Apache. Estafiate was used in smudging rituals for purification, and was burned to clear evil spirits, bad thoughts, and nightmares. It was commonly used to treat digestive problems, given as a tea for menstruating women, used as a remedy for colic, and applied topically for inflammation and skin infections. Estafiate was also used for expelling worms, like its relative wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), whose common name refers to this purpose.In fact, Estafiate was regarded in some areas as a general, all-purpose remedy.

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Estafiate Dosage 

The dried leaves and flowering tops of Estafiate can be used to make a tea; however, it has an intensely bitter taste and can be difficult to drink. If you choose to make a tea, one teaspoon of dried Estafiate per cup of water should be used, and left to steep for 15 minutes. This tea can be taken as needed, but for safety reasons, start with a small amount, such as ¼ cup. Estafiate can also be taken as a tincture. One source suggests a 1:2 ratio of Estafiate to 95% alcohol, with 5-10 drops taken per day. Many sources indicate that Estafiate was traditionally taken only on a short-term basis for minor complaints.

Estafiate Side Effects and Safety

Estafiate does not have any documented side effects in humans, although it may cause contact dermatitis in certain individuals. However, the FDA considers Estafiate unsafe to consume because it contains thujone, an “active narcotic poison.” In large doses, thujone can cause convulsions, delirium, paralysis, and potentially even death. However, since Estafiate has a long history of use, small, controlled doses should generally not be harmful in otherwise healthy people.

There has been no safety testing done to determine whether Estafiate interacts with any medical conditions or other medications. It should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, especially since Estafiate’s relative, wormwood, is an emmenogogue and possible abortifacient. Because Estafiate is related to other, more well-known members of Artemisia, it can be helpful to study safety information for these plants to get a better idea of its effects.

Where to Buy Estafiate

Estafiate is not an herb that is very popular today, but it does grow wild all over North America, and is more common in the southern United States. If you are collecting Estafiate in the wild, you should cut or carefully pinch the base of the plant, leaving a set of leaves, so the root system will remain healthy. Then, the stems can be bundled and hung to dry in a cool, dry, dark place. Plants collected after they have flowered will be more bitter.

Estafiate can look different depending on the subspecies, and can vary in appearance from plant to plant. The bitterness of Estafiate can also vary depending on the subspecies. If collecting wild is not an option, this is reputable Estafiate.

References:

http://depts.washington.edu/hortlib/resources/resource_search.php?term=1811
https://books.google.ca/books?id=QuTEFv2MB68C&dq=Estafiate&source=gbs_navlinks_s
http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_arlu.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26792321
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9419840
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24892833

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Darcy is an aspiring herbalist with a special interest in healing through natural & alternative means. After being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease Darcy decided to become self-educated and informed about the natural medicines the earth provides us with.

8 COMMENTS

    • There hasn’t been any large scale safety testing done on estafiate tea and how it interacts with other ailments. I’d suggest you consult your herbalist, naturopath and general doctor and discuss it with them.

  1. Ive been drinking estafiate tea for years probably since I was in middle school Im 27 yrs old now. I used to suffer from very bad stomachaches due to stress from school or just from eating too much junk food. Anywho my family is very big on making all types of teas for different illnesses. We keep dried plants and leafs that we cut our self or get from other relatives in our cabinets. I live in a place where estafiate grows everywhere so when I had those very bad stomach pain I would make myself a tea of this and soon after the pain is all gone. There’s a tea that helps clean your liver but I would have to ask around what it is. Also I don’t have a license for any medical use of any teas, but we have found many teas that have helped us over the years.

    • That’s awesome Meg! Glad to hear from someone who is taking advantage of the benefits of Estafiate tea. I’d love to hear about some of the other Tea’s your family drinks!

  2. My family has used estafieta for many, many years. Its wonderful an works for alot of different ailments. Unfortunately i havent had any for awhile an now i have a great grandson that needs some an I can’t find any. …. any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I would love to get some plants … my email southerngal0351@gmail. Please I’d love to hear from someone on advice….ty

    • Hi Jeanette,

      Some countries don’t allow it to be sold but if you’re in the USA it should be accessible. I suggested a few brands in this article.

  3. My friend made me estefiate tea for upset tummy. It was like a miracle tea. I have endometrial and cervical cancer and have horrible side effects from the radiation. Specifically intestinal issues. The tea has helped me but i wonder about the long term pissible side effects. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Victoria,

      I’m glad to see your staying strong and fighting on. It’s great that you’ve found Estafiate to be beneficial for you. As for long term side effects, I’d suggest you talk to your doctor or herbalist, its not right for me to offer medical advice.

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