Corn Silk (Zea mays)
Corn silk, or maize, is a tall member of the grass family. Ears of corn are grown on tall stalks. The ears are normally harvested to be used as food, livestock feed and many commercial applications ranging from cooking oil to bio-fuel. The silk, or stigmas, of the ears is the portion used medicinally. When fertilized, the silk turns dry and brown and corn kernels will develop on the ear. This plant has been grown for more than 7,000 in North America. It was introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Corn silk is used to treat urinary disorders. It is a diuretic, so it encourages the body to flush out toxins by increasing urination. It is effective for inflammatory conditions of the urinary system and the kidneys. The extract made from the pollen on the silk is used for prostate conditions and bedwetting in children. The raw pollen can increase the appetite. It has also been used to treat heart problems, jaundice, obesity and malaria. It is high in vitamin K, and was used for hemorrhage during childbirth. It has also been used to treat gonorrhea. It is also used for cystitis, urethritis and parostitis, or mumps.
Externally Corn silk can be used as a poultice for sores and boils.
Other Uses Corn silk is used in cosmetic face powders. It is also one of the ingredients in products advertised to help people pass mandatory drug tests.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
For bedwetting, corn silk can be combined with St. John's wort, horsetail, lemon balm and wild oats. For cystitis, combine with yarrow, couchgrass, bearberry and buchu. You may also find commercial herbal remedy formulas that contain this herb along with other herbs.
Corn ear tops The silk that grows on the tops of ears of corn are harvested before pollination to be used medicinally.
There are no known contraindications for the use of this herb. There are no known drug interactions.
Preparation and Dosage
Corn silk can be found commercially. Follow the directions on the label. If you gather the fresh herb, make sure the corn has not been sprayed with insecticides. herbal tea can easily be made by adding 2 teaspoons of the dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water. Steep the tea for 10 to 15 minutes before straining. Drink the tea three times per day. For a tincture, take 3 to 6 ml three times per day. You can also find this herbal remedy in capsules. Take 2 400 mg capsules with meals three times per day.