Corn is the most studied, versatile, and debased of all New World vegetables. Its history is long and complex, and the literature of corn is immense. However, if we harvest our own corn or purchase organic corn we can reap the secret benefits that hide beneath its leaves. There is nothing more delightful than discovering the goodness in something (or someone!) that the general population discards without a second thought. So I want to share the amazing benefits of Corn silk and why we should view it more as a blessing than a curse.
Corn is a plant that was believed to be first cultivated by the Aztecs and Mayans. This grain which is a member of the grass family has been a very significant part of the Mexican and American culture for over 7,000 years. But it’s also readily available in other parts of the world Anyone who has ever prepared fresh corn for dinner may be familiar with the thin thread-like strands that are typically pulled off with the husk of the corn. The hair-like fibers you throw away are actually a beneficial herb used for centuries to treat various ailments. Corn silk or ‘zea mays’ are known to have many positive effects on your body.
I recently learned that corn silk can be dried, prepared and made into a beneficial tea which can be used for a variety of reasons. You can also us it as a topping for just about any salad dish; just make sure you cut it into tiny pieces.
But first, let me get the GMO questions out of the way.
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Which means the DNA of a plant, crop, grain, seeds and animal products have been altered genetically. Are GMO’s safe? the short answer is no. What foods typically contain GMO? corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet to name a few, which are mainly grown in the USA. Yes, most supermarkets and many market stalls sell corn and Yes, corn is a by-product for many everyday products that we all use, such as gas, oil, cosmetics, wax paper and cardboard, soap, toothpaste, plastics and the list goes on.
Corn is also fed to animals as not only a source of energy but to also bring the animals up to market weight before they are sold. So keep in mind, if you eat animal products yet your concerned about GMO’s or refuse to eat GMO’s, whatever the animals consume (GMO’s) will ultimately work its way up the food chain to your dinner plate!
I appreciate and respect the concerns people have about eating genetically modified foods, I share that same concern; as GMO’s can cause many health problems such as an allergic reaction to the gene, the transfer of the gene from the genetically modified food to your body and the transfer of the modified gene to other crops. You can avoid genetically modified corn by buying organic corn and corn products. Better still, grow your own!
And that’s what we’re going to look at now, Organic Corn Silk.
Before you put the kettle on and start peeling away the corn leaves, I want to tell you about some of the remedial benefits of corn silk that are well known to alleviate the following conditions.
Bedwetting – Corn Silk is a safe and gentle herb to use in the treatment of bedwetting. Drink the tea during the day (up until about 4 or 5 hours before bed) to help strengthen a weak urinary system. You may want to combine it with plantain or yarrow for more effect.
Cystitis, Prostatitis, and Urinary tract infections – Corn silk is anti-inflammatory and protects and soothes the urinary tract and kidneys. It acts as a diuretic and increases the output of urine, without adding further irritation to an already inflamed system. For urinary tract infections, try combining with uva ursi or Oregon grape. Saw Palmetto (this is a plant that bears fruit which is used for medicine) combines well with corn silk, to help reduce prostate inflammation and help with pain while urinating. For cystitis, consider yarrow as an accompaniment to your corn silk.
kidney stones – Along with marshmallow root, corn silk may be helpful in easing the passage of a kidney stone. Some people might be able to take corn silk for longer periods of time, as a tonic herb. This may help reduce incidents of flare-ups while you work on underlying diet and stone triggering issues.
Gout – I recently learned that many people report relief from gout after drinking corn silk tea. It could be that the diuretic action helps flush out excess toxins & waste. (Based on that premise, dandelion tea or tincture may help as well.) More studies need to be done between this connection, but it’s well worth a try. (Avoid this home remedy, if you are on prescription diuretics.)
As for nutritional benefits, corn silk contains proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals Ca, K, Mg and Na salts, fixed and volatile oils, steroids such as sitosterol and stigmasterol, alkaloids, saponins, tannins, and flavonoids.
Now let’s prepare the tea!
Even if you don’t suffer from any of the above conditions or ailments, Corn Silk makes a really great tea. Actually, after you’ve eaten your corn salad wrap you could end your meal with a refreshing Corn Silk tea. Here’s what you need.
If the silk is not already dry, depending on the climate you live in, you could put the silk outside to dry in the sun on a tray, or in colder climates place it in the oven or in the dehydrator if you have one on a very low heat.
Use at least 1 tablespoon of dried chopped Corn Silk, per cup of boiling water. Very similar to how you would make herbal tea! Cover it and let the tea steep for 10-15 minutes until it’s cool. You can also add agave nectar to add some additional sweetness if you like, but it will have its own natural sweetness. Strain the silk from the water, and there you have it, Corn Silk tea. Voila!
If you want to try this tea and organic corn is not available near you, or you can’t be bothered to fiddle with the stringy silk, Corn Silk tea bags are available online and at Chinese herbal stores, you may also find specialist wholefood stores stock them too.
Let me know if you’ve tried Corn Silk tea before and if you have any questions please leave me a message below.
If you have an allergy to corn or are taking a prescription diuretic, don’t take corn silk. If you have other medical conditions, are pregnant or nursing, have severe pollen or other allergies, or any general health or medical concerns, it’s a good idea to check with a qualified professional before use.