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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

a.k.a. Maize, Indian Corn, Jugnog, Ornamental Corn, Sea Mays, Sweet Corn, Turkey Corn, Vegetable Corn, Waxy Corn
(Zea Mays)

FYIThere are five basic types of corn with many varieties representative of each: DENT Corn (white to yellow), FLINT Corn (all colors; shrinks on drying), POPCORN (hard grain), SWEET or VEGETABLE Corn (high sugar content), WAXY Corn (starchy with a waxy appearance). Flint and Dent corn are used for Oil, Cereal, Flour, and Animal feed. Waxy Corn is used mainly in the Far East for its tapioca-like starch.

Corn was one of the Americas important gifts to the rest of the world. Native to Central, South, and North America, it grows 6 to 8 feet (depending on moisture available) with bright, shiny, green LEAVES and a thick, fibrous STALK. The EARS are covered by husks with a layer of CORNSILK between them.

Has an important place in Aztec herbals. Aztec and Mayan cultures revolved around Corn, even to the extent of human sacrifice to satisfy the Corn god and insure a satisfactory harvest. Corn arrived late in China, but was included in Chinese herbal literature after 1600.

Cornsilk appeared in the USP from 1894-1906 and in the NF from 1916-1946. §

CONTAINS: FLOWERS CONTAIN: Allantoin, alkaloids.
SEED/KERNAL (per 100 g) = 10.6 g water, 1.8 g fiber, 1.3 g ash, 9 mg calcium, 290 mg phosphorus, 2.5 mg iron, 140 ug B-carotene equivalent, 0.43 mg thiamine, 0.10 mg riboflavin, 1.9 mg niacin, trace amount of vitamin C; also contains starch, sugar, fat, salts, water, gluten, dextrine, cellulose, silica, phosphate of lime, phosphate of magnesium, potassium hydroxide..
SILK CONTAINS: cryptoxanthin, resin, saponins, alkaloids, vitamin C, vitamin K, sitosterol, stigmasterol, malic acid, palmitic acid, tartaric acid, oxalic acid, pantothenic acid, maizenic acid, fixed oil, chlorophyll, albuminoids.

PROPAGATION: By SEED in spring. Annual. Garden and farm crop.
NEEDS 70 to 80 day growing period. Full sun. Rich fertile soil (some varieties are adapted for a dry climate). Does best with a soil addition of well-rotted compost as it is a heavy feeder. Since it is wind-pollinated, it is best grown in a block. Susceptible to damage by birds, raccoons, and other animals. Gardeners using Biodynamic methods encourage the growth of Purslane, Pigweed, and Lambs Quarters around the corn to provide a ground cover to hold moisture and bring up nourishment from the subsoil and make it available for the corn. Native Americans traditionally planted in hills with Pumpkin and Beans, the Pumpkins providing the ground cover with its large bristly leaves that helped to discourage predators like raccoons.
HARVEST Creamy tassels (silks) before they turn brown (for medicinal use); lay on non-metallic screens or muslin to dry in a warm airy place out of direct light (1 to 2 weeks); used fresh or dried (must be COMPLETELY DRY before storing). The ears when ripe are a familiar food for both man and animals.
PART USED Cornsilk (fresh or dried; replace each year), Kernals, Oil, Cornstarch
FORM Infusion, Decoction, Tincture, Fluid Extract, Cornstarch, Oil, Poultice, Ointment
SOLVENT Water, diluted Alcohol
RELATED VARIETIES Z.m. 'Black Aztec': Kernals are blue-black at maturity. Eaten fresh when young, or ground for blue cornmeal when mature.
Z.m. 'Strawberry Corn': Ornamental with Mahogany colored kernals. The whole head is dried for decoration.


Powerful diuretic; sweet, cooling, soothing, neutral, alterative, demulcent, diuretic, hypoglycemic (possibly), lithotriptic, cholagogue, tonic; affects bladder, small intestine, and liver.
Has been used to relieve pain of urinary tract infection and to prevent formation of urinary stones. Has been used for cystitis, urethritis, prostatitis, pyelitis, oliguria, urinary stones, edema, jaundice, high blood pressure, hay fever, migraine, asthma, kidney stones, and bed wetting.
Corn oil has been included in the diet as part of a plan to control high blood pressure, cholesterol, arteriosclerosis.
Cornmeal boiled with milk has been applied to burns, inflammations, and hard swellings. In some parts of North America a traditional poultice for inflammation was salted cornmeal. Cornstarch mixed with a bit of Castor Oil to form a paste has been used to relieve skin irritations; also cornstarch has been used as a powder to soothe chafing. Cornsilk in a corn oil base has been used in ointment form to treat wounds and ulcerations.
A starch suspension has been used as an antidote to iodine poisoning.
The Cornsilk tea has also been used as an enema and to treat uric acid buildup.
Was used by the Aztecs to clear 'heat from the heart'. They also made a decoction of ground corn in water to promote lactation. The Maya soaked raw corn in water and drank the liquid to treat bloody urine.
Native Americans used a warm poultice of cornmeal to bring boils to a head at which time they were lanced. The Cherokee combined the cornmeal with peach leaves for boils and swellings. Some tribes used a decoction of blue corn as a wash for sore mouth. The Chickasaw would hold the affected part of the body over the smoke of burning cobs to treat sores which were created by overzealous scratching of itches.
In Chinese traditional medicine Corn has been used for gall stones, jaundice, heptatitis and cirrhosis. The cobs stripped of the fruit have been used to treat nosebleed and unusual uterine bleeding. The hulls have been used to treat diarrhea in children. The roots and leaves in decoction form have been used to treat dysuria, gravel, strangury, blenorrhea. The cornsilk decocted with banana and watermelon peel has been used for high blood pressure. The cob in decoction form has been used for epitaxis and menorrhagia. The seed has been used for cancer, tumors, and warts. The whole plant has been used as an anticancer agent.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
GRAINS = 60 to 120
CORNSILK = 6 to 20 g (1½ to 5 tsp)
INFUSION = Steep 1 tsp corn silk for a few minutes in 1/2 C water just off the boil (or 2 tsp to 1 cup water); strain; taken 1 tsp every 2 or 3 hours either warm or lukewarm.
TINCTURE = 2 ml (1/2 tsp or 30 drops) in water 3 times daily.

Homeopathic preparations are used to treat: albumenuria, cystitis, dropsy, gonorrhea, heart failure, malaria, renal colic, pyelitis, retained urine.

Used as fodder for livestock.
As a grain is included in natural diets for dogs and cats for its nutritional value.
Corn flour is included in diets for dogs to improve muscle tone.
Cornsilk is used to treat kidney problems and inflammations in dogs.
Grated corn kernals are added to diets of dogs to treat infertility.

Immature (baby) ears eaten as a vegetable.
The fresh, ripe seeds (kernals) are eaten as a vegetable, most notably 'on the cob'.
The dried kernals are used commercially for cereals, corn flour, cornmeal, grits, polenta, and for production of corn oil (cold pressed).
The inedible husks are used to wrap foods when grilling to impart a nutty flavor.
Native Americans used corn for hominy, succotash, samp, sagamite, pone, and pemmican.
Indian Corn has been used in the making of beer.
CORN SYRUP SUBSTITUTE = Combine 1 cup of cane sugar and 1/4 cup water (or other liquid in the recipe).

The alkaloids contained in the female flowers were once extracted and used in Peruvian religious rites.
Corn is used to a large extent in the pharmaceutical industry.
Cornsilk is part of herbal tobacco blends. Has also been smoked in a pipe (corncob pipe - what else).

Often included in quack weight reducing remedies due to its diuretic abilities.

©2001 & 2006 by Ernestina Parziale, CH