You are probably familiar with corn silk – those glossy strands which cling stubbornly to to your fresh ears of corn. If you are anything like my family, you probably throw it away but did you know that you can dry the corn silk to make a refreshing cup of tea.
Not only does this tea taste good but it may have certain health benefits too. Corn silk actually contains very similar compounds to those found in herbs like thyme and mint and you would never waste those herbs. Read on to find out the surprising benefits of corn silk and learn how to make the most of it rather than simply tossing it in away with the trash.
Health Benefits of Corn Silk
Most people thinking of corn silk as a nuisance to dispose of before getting to the tasty bits. However, corn silk contains certain valuable compounds that can serve your body well. These include sitosterol and stigmasterol which are extremely effective in controlling high cholesterol and protecting the heart. It also contains certain compounds which can help control blood sugar levels and treat the skin.
Corn silk is most often dried to make a tea but can also be used in the form of a tincture. More on how to prepare corn silk later but first let us take a look at some of its health benefits.
1) Antioxidant Benefits
Corn silk contains plenty of vitamin C – a potent antioxidant which can help the body in various ways. Antioxidants help prevent damage caused by harmful free radicals and can even reverse cell damage and protect against disease. Oxidative stress is at the root of most illnesses including severe illnesses like cancer and heart disease. By increasing your intake of antioxidants, you help protect against oxidative damage and keep your body in the best possible shape.
2) Heart Health
One good reason to make use of the corn silk you may otherwise have thrown away is that the stuff is great for your heart.
Corn silk contains compounds that can reduce cholesterol levels and high cholesterol is one of the major risk factors in heart attack and stroke. It can also help reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes by improving the body’s insulin levels.
Studies have also found that large doses of corn silk can help reduce blood pressure and treat people with hypertension. One study published in 2009 noted its effects on blood pressure and researchers speculated they were down to the diuresis caused by the high potassium levels of the corn silk used. (1)
3. Helps to Treat Gout and Arthritis
Studies have revealed that corn silk has excellent natural anti-inflammatory properties. (2) This might make corn silk helpful in relieving painful inflammatory conditions like arthritis and gout. Corn silk also has natural diuretic properties that may help remove the uric acid build up that causes gout.
By drinking a few cups of corn silk tea each day, you may help relieve the inflammation and pain associated with these conditions. It is certainly worth a try and better than throwing the stuff away.
4) Urinary Tract Infections
One of the most common medicinal uses of corn silk is to treat infections of the urinary tract. Corn silk can help clear toxins from the bladder and the kidney helping to clear up this painful condition.
Corn silk tea has antimicrobial properties as well as diuretic actions meaning it can increase urine production and frequency. Diuretic medication is often prescribed for urinary tract infections to help flush toxins from the body but natural diuretics like corn silk tea come with far fewer side effects.
According to anecdotal evidence from parents, corn silk may also help treat bed wetting in toddlers. Corn silk tea is regarded as safe for children so if you have a child that is wetting the bed regularly, why not give it a try. Give your little one a cup of corn silk tea just before bed and it may well help.
5) Digestive Health
Drinking corn silk tea may also help to settle your stomach and improve your overall digestive health. Corn silk might promote the way in which bile is secreted by your liver. The bile gets stored in your gallbladder and helps you digest your food more effectively. By improving your digestive health, your overall physical and emotional health.
6) Nutritional Benefits
When you throw away your corn silk, you are wasting valuable nutrients that could help your body in a number of different ways. We have already mentioned that corn silk contains vitamin C with its antioxidant uses but it also contains good levels of vitamin K. Vitamin K can help to control bleeding and is especially valuable for women during childbirth.
Corn silk also contains a number of other important nutrients like niacin, riboflavin, thymol, limonene and selenium which have various healthful properties.
7) For The Skin
As well as drinking your corn silk tea for its internal benefits, you can apply it topically to your skin to treat various skin issues. People often use corn silk tea to help relieve the pain and itching from insect bites, stings, minor flesh wounds and rashes. Corn silk has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can help prevent infection from taking hold.
Making Corn Silk Tea
So now that you know more about the benefits of corn silk, you may well be interested in making your own corn silk tea. It is incredibly simple to make, is good for your health and tastes just fine so instead of throwing it away, just follow these simple instructions and get the most out of your corn.
- Remove the corn silk from your ear of corn.
- Chop up a tablespoon or so and boil it with a cup of water.
- Bring the water to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Cover your pan and let the mixture steep for at least ten minutes to extract all the goodness.
- It is now ready to drink but feel free to add some good quality honey to taste.
There is no recommended dose of corn silk tea but it is generally considered to be safe for healthy adults and for children. I have seen people recommend up to 3 cups a day and have never seen any reports of serious side effects. However, because corn silk contains diuretic properties, you should not drink it alongside diuretic medication. Speak to your doctor if you are taking any medications to make sure there are no interactions.
Making a Corn Silk Tincture
You can also use your corn silk to make a tincture by following these instructions.
- Chop up a good amount of corn silk enough to fill quarter of a small jar.
- Cover the corn silk with vodka or another clear alcohol until the jar is full.
- Seal the jar and allow the ingredients to infuse for between 4 and 6 weeks.
- Store it in a cool and dry area and shake the jar every few days.
- After it is ready, strain the mixture and take between a quarter and half a teaspoon twice a day.
- Adding a little honey to your mixture can help sweeten it and make it more palatable.
- You can store the tincture in a cool area and use for up to a year.