Grown for around four thousand years as a cereal crop as well as for fodder, maize was first cultivated by the Aztecs and Mayans in South America and is the continent’s most widely grown crop today. Cornsilk, used in medicinal purposes, consists of the brown whiskery parts of the styles and stigmas that can be seen at the top of the cobs, and is largely used for urinary disorders.
Parts used: Styles and stigmas (cornsilk), maize meal.
Main constituents: Allantoin, flavonoids, mucilage, potassium, saponins, volatile oil, vitamins C and K.
Effect: Diuretic, mild stimulant, urinary demulcent.
HOW TO USE
Infusion: In general, infusion is considered more effective than the tincture. Drink 1 cup (2 teaspoons herb per cup boiling water) up to 6 times a day for urethritis, urinary retention, urinary gravel, cystitis, or benign prostate gland enlargement.
Tea: Mix together 1 teaspoon each of dried cornsilk and agrimony and 1 cup of boiling water, infuse for 15 minutes, and strain. Give to children with bed-wetting problems; ask a herbalist for advice on children’s dosage.
Tincture: Take 1–2 teaspoons (5–10ml) 3 times a day for acute or chronic inflammation of the urinary system.
Poultice: Combine 2 teaspoons of powdered maize meal and a little water, and mix into a paste, spread on gauze, and use as a poultice for boils and ulcers.
HOW TO GET
Grow: Likes moist yet well-drained soil in full sun. Sow seeds directly in spring when the ground isn’t too wet. May be grown in gardens with the ripe cobs used as a food.
Forage: Maize is cultivated all over the world and cornsilk can be gleaned from standing crops just before harvest, as long as landowners agree. Using scissors, snip the brown whiskery parts of the styles and stigmas from the cob.
Harvest: The cornsilk is collected with the ripe cobs in summer, then separated and dried.