Corn Silk (Zea mays)
Common names: Corn Silk, Corn Style
Taxonomic name: Zea mays
Uses: Urinary and bladder issues, blood pressure
Area of origin: Mexico
Warnings: It’s a diuretic so should be used with care if you have blood pressure issues.
Corn is highly nutritious and a great way to restore vitality and energy, but it is the ‘silk’ from the flowers that we are concerned with here.
Many herbs have a specific relationship to specific organs or systems and Corn Silk works directly on the organs of the urinary tract. Interestingly, though (and this is just my interpretation), it works best on those parts that come after the kidneys, from the bladder onwards.
Corn Silk is useful in many urinary tract issues. This makes it an interesting learning herb, as we can see how it can be used both as a tonic to increase tissue activity in the urinary tract, as well as toning and strengthening the mucous membranes directly.
Corn Silk does these things because it has a high level of tannins which are astringent, tightening and toning the membranes, reducing inflammation. It also contains saponins (soap like compounds) that have a direct soothing effect on those membranes. These aren’t affected by the acidity of the stomach but begin to work when they reach the alkaline conditions of our urinary tract.
Corn Silk is a diuretic, that is, it increases the flow of urine, washing out irritating materials. It is also sweet. In many forms of medicine, sweet plants are a tonic, helping improve the functioning of the body as a whole, helping fight infections and damage.
Corn Silk can also be used for blood pressure problems, as it can normalise blood pressure by eliminating excess fluids through urination. Many guides recommend it for congestive heart problems without working directly on the heart. Always get advice in situations involving that organ.
It’s best used fresh to maximise its cooling property, but dry works quite well too. The best time to harvest the silk is before it gets pollinated, but if you do that, you won’t get the cob. There will always be some dry silk on the plant, so it is always available through the life of the plant.