Corn Silk (Yu Mi Xu)
Botanical Name: Maize, Zea mays
Corn Silk has a long history of gently and thoroughly treating urinary complaints. The word “maize” derived from Mexican native languages meaning “mother” or “mother of life.” Corn Silk is also used to treat coronary heart problems as it lowers blood pressure and eases hypertension. It is native to Mexico and was spread throughout the Americas around 2500 years ago. It is considered by many native tribes to be a gift from the gods.
Below is an overview of Corn Silk, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Corn Silk.
Western Name: Corn Silk
Also Known As: Maize, Corn, Indian Corn, Sweet Corn, Purple Corn
Organs/Systems: Urogenital Organs, Kidneys, Heart, Skin
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Diuretic, Demulcent, Antibacterial, Kaliuretic, (encouraging the retention of sodium and the excretion of potassium.) Emollient, Antioxidant, Anti-fatigue, Antidepressant.
Pin Yin: Yu Mi Xu
Also Known As: Yu Mi Shu (Translates as “Jade Rice Whiskers”)
Meridians: Kidney, Bladder, Liver, Gall Bladder
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Clears Damp Heat from the Liver and Gall Bladder: Bloating, rheumatism, skin eruptions, gout, wasting and thirsting disorder, hepatitis, cholelithiasis, cholecystitis, hypertension. Promotes and Regulates Urination/Reduces Edema: painful urination, frequent urination, bedwetting. Softens Masses: stones. Restores Essence.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Corn silk (stamens) of the corn plant.
Flavors/Temps: Bit Bitter, Sweet, Astringent, Cooling, and both Drying and Moistening.
Caution: Corn silk is a very mild herb considered very safe. Do not use if you are taking Lasix (furosemide).
History/Folklore: Native to the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico, it was domesticated about 9000 years ago. Centuries of indigenous selection resulted in the development of maize plants capable of growing several cobs per plant. The Olmec and Mayans cultivated it in numerous varieties for cooking, grinding and processing. It was spread to the US around 2500 B.C. and then to Europe in the late 15th and 16th Centuries. It is the most widely grown crop in the US, mainly used to make ethanol. Transgenic (genetically modified corn) makes up 85% of maize planted in the US as of 2009.
The botanical name “Zea” derived from the Greek word meaning, “to live.” The word “maize” evolved from Mexican native languages meaning “mother” or “mother of life.”
The Chickasaw tribe squeezed oil from the plant and rubbed it into the scalp to prevent dandruff. Other Eastern tribes used it in poultices for boils, burns and to treat inflammation.
Typically, corn silk is harvested when corn kernels are in the milk stage. You can steep a handful of corn silk in water and drink it to help prevent enema.
Not everyone benefits from the plant’s excretion of potassium, but people with chronic fatigue, adrenal burnout and general “cold” symptoms may. Corn silk continues to be studied for its possible cancer reducing effects as it reduces certain cancer forming compounds. It also has an estrogenic and ovulation induction effect observed in animal studies.
Corn silk contains proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Some of the plants compounds are believed to work like diuretics, help blood sugar levels and help reduce inflammation. It contains many of the phytochemicals found in barley greens, the thymol found in thyme and also the menthol found in mint. A complex polysaccharide (which activates macrophages, white blood cells, to engulf and dissolve infectious microorganisms) is also present. Corn silk also has volatile oils that can neutralize fungi and yeast.
Corn silk can be mixed with corn oil for application to the skin. Corn silk tea is a great remedy for incontinence, urinary tract inflammation, cystitis and prostatitis. Even if you feel fine, corn silk makes a nice cup of tea that you can simply enjoy at any time. (2 cups of water to 2 tablespoons of fresh or dried corn silk)You can use fresh corn silk, or mince it into small pieces as a topping for salads. You can dry corn silk by laying it on a flat basket or mesh and set it out on the counter to dry, not in direct sunlight. When it is dry and crispy it can be stored in a jar or paper bag where it will keep it for about a year.
When treating urinary tract infections of kidney stones, you can confidently recommend 10-15 grams or 4-5 cups a throughout the day until the condition relaxes. A large handful of the herb steeped for 20 minutes in a liter of boiling water is a common recipe. It can also be combined with goldenseal or marshmallow enhancing each of the herbs therapeutic abilities.
Cornmeal can be used as a binder for poultices and cornstarch is a remedy for iodine poisoning. Starch from maize is made into plastics, fabrics, adhesives and many other chemical products. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable or starch. Corn husks were used to make masks, baskets, dolls and sleeping mats. After eating, the left over corn cobs were used to make darts, burn as fuel or made into ceremonial rattles.
High concentration of Potassium, Vitamin K (depending on how it is stored.), 8-Cineole, Alpha-terpineol, Beta-carotene, Beta-sitosterol, Saponins, Glycosides, Geraniol, Hordenine, Limonene, Menthol, Niacin, Riboflavin, Selenium, Thymol, Vitamin C, Calcium, Sterols, and Vitexin.
Evolution of Maize
Thousands of years of cultivation by the Native Americans of Mexico and North America evolved maize from a tall grass with small kernels into today’s delicious plant with corn cobs and corn silk.
Up to 39 Feet Tall
Some varieties of corn (maize) can grow to be 39 feet tall.
An Excellent Tea
2 cups of water to 2 tablespoons of fresh or dried corn silk makes an excellent tea.
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