Have fresh corn? Don’t throw away that corn silk!
Corn Silk can be used to help alleviate symptoms that go along with: bedwetting, cystitis, prostatitis, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, gout and hyperglycemia.
It’s also a natural source of vitamin K and potassium.
Few things in life are more delightful than discovering the goodness in something that the general population discards without a second thought.
Right now, in my part of the world, sweet corn season has reached its peak.
If you’ve ever shucked a lot of corn, you’ll recall how pesky it is trying to get the silk off of the cob. You’ve probably even muttered some not-so-nice things about it, in the process. (I know I have!)
Well, today, we’re going to talk about a few of the wonderful benefits that corn silk has and why we should view it more as a blessing than a curse.
To harvest corn silk:
Simply pull the golden-green strands off of the ears, when shucking your corn, and spread them out on a plate or paper towel to dry. Corn silk is best used fresh, or as a second best option – freshly dried.
Make sure you use homegrown or organic corn. The silk on conventional corn from the supermarket is likely loaded with pesticides that would be counterintuitive to our goal of increased health.
To make a tea:
- Use about 1 tablespoon of chopped corn silk per cup of almost boiling water.
- Cover and let this steep for fifteen to twenty minutes or until cool enough to drink.
- Sweeten with raw honey to taste, if you wish.
You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for two to three days. Doses vary depending on your body weight and condition, but a general recommendation for adults is up to 1 cup of tea, two to three times during the day – avoiding the hours right before bedtime. Reduce doses for children accordingly.
To make an alcohol tincture:
- Fill a small jar about 1/4 to 1/3 full of fresh, chopped corn silk.
- Fill the rest of the jar with a high proof drinkable alcohol – I use 100 proof vodka.
- Cap and let this infuse in a cool, dark place for four to six weeks, shaking occasionally.
Adult dose around 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, several times a day. (Mix with a spoonful of raw honey for higher patient compliance & tastiness!) Shelf life of corn silk tincture is well over a year.
To make a glycerin tincture/glycerite:
Another way to preserve fresh corn silk, is to use vegetable glycerin to make a tincture, instead of vodka. (You can buy pure, organic vegetable glycerin from Mountain Rose Herbs.)
Glycerites are more suitable for children, pets, and those who wish to avoid alcohol.
- Using roughly two to three times the amount of glycerin than fresh corn silk, blend the two in a mini-food processor until thoroughly macerated.
- Pour into a jar, cap and store in a cool dark place, shaking daily.
- After two weeks, remove and strain your glycerite through a fine mesh sieve and/or several layers of cheesecloth.
A suggested starting dose is 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, several times a day. (Reduce for smaller children.) Shelf life is about a year.
Corn silk & pets:
Corn Silk can be used to treat many pets. The tea made with fresh silk works best, especially if you are targeting the urinary tract, but a glycerite can be helpful too.
(Suggested tea dose: about 1/4 cup of tea per 20 lbs of body weight, twice per day. Glycerite dose: 1/4 teaspoon per 20 lbs, twice per day.)
Not recommended for pregnant animals. Check with a qualified vet for further guidance on your pet’s particular situation. Please see the book, Herbs for Pets, for more about treating your pets herbally.
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, or have general concerns, check with a qualified professional before use..
Corn silk for bedwetting:
Corn Silk is a safe and gentle herb to use in the treatment of bedwetting. Use the tea or tincture 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.
Remember, there are many causes of bedwetting, including allergies, poor diet, deeper medical issues, and stress.
As a former “accident-prone” sufferer, I implore you to keep exploring options & examine every aspect of your child’s life, if the corn silk doesn’t seem to help after several weeks.
In my case, I had a horrid elementary school teacher that made me a nervous wreck. It’s a very long story and I even ended up seeing a kidney specialist because of the severity of my problem… but, for the sake of brevity, I’ll jump to the solution: once I transferred schools, I never had an accident again.
Corn silk for cystitis, prostatitis, and urinary tract infection:
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 combines well with corn silk, to help reduce prostate inflammation and help with pain while urinating.
For cystitis, investigate yarrow as an accompaniment to your corn silk.
(These conditions can be serious. Be sure to work with a qualified professional who is aware of your medical history and inform them of any home remedies you are taking. Be especially sure to promptly inform your doctor or nurse if you develop blood in your urine or lower back pain. Avoid corn silk if you’re already on a prescription diuretic.)
Corn silk and kidney stones:
Along with marshmallow root, corn silk may be helpful in easing the passage of a kidney stone. Some people are 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.
Corn silk and gout:
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 on this connection, but it’s well worth a try. (Avoid this home remedy if you are on prescription diuretics.)
Corn silk and hyperglycemia:
Type 1 diabetes runs in my family, so this use is of particular interest to me. Corn silk has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. For more information on this, check out the following studies:
- Comparison of anti-diabetic effects of polysaccharides from corn silk on normal and hyperglycemia rats
- The effects of corn silk on glycaemic metabolism
A few other interesting studies on corn silk for my fellow science nerds:
- Safety of Corn Silk in Humans
- Corn Silk as a treatment for inflammatory diseases that cause oxidative stress
One of my greatest joys is in helping people discover the benefits of things growing right around them.
I hope this article, along with others I’ve written like it, helps you realize that you don’t have to spend a fortune to make safe, simple & effective home remedies for your family. Look closely at what you have available and work with it! :)
Originally published July, 2013, updated August, 2021.
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