Summer Harvest: Corn Silk


All summer long, I’ve been buying fresh corn on the cob at the farmer’s market. In addition to eating the fresh corn, I also like to collect & dry the corn silk tassels. I like having some on hand, with my medicinal herbs, and this is the season to gather it.

How to Prepare

Peel back the green husks, and gently separate the delicate silk tassels from the kernels on the cob. Cut off the darker, dried out part, that was left exposed to air. The tassels that were protected beneath the husks are lighter and fresh.

Spread the tassels out on a plate or baking sheet to dry, and put the baking sheet in the oven and leave it overnight, allowing the heat from the pilot light to dry the cornsilk. A dehydrator would probably also work fine. Don’t forget that you have herbs drying in the oven!

Once the corn silk is dried, gather it up into little nests, then transfer them to a glass jar, and store it in the cupboard. A cup of cornsilk tea will be very mild. Since the silk is so fine and light, it is voluminous without being weighty. Consider how much silk is on a single ear of corn: this is probably a good estimate to make a cup or two of tea. Simply let it steep in hot water for 10-15 minutes, then drink & enjoy.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Common Name: Corn silk tassels

Plant Family: Graminaceae (Grass family)

Botanical Name: Zea mays

PinYin Name: Yu Mi Xu - literal English translation: “jade rice whiskers”

Category: Herbs that Drain Dampness; Clear Damp Heat; Diuretics

Flavor & Energetics: neutral, sweet, bland

Meridians entered & Organs affected: Bladder, Gallbladder, Kidney, Liver

Cornsilk is primarily a gentle, effective diuretic, and soothing to the urinary tract. It combines well with Uva Ursi & Marshmallow root, for early signs of urinary tract infection. Its neutral, bland properties help to clear heat out of the urinary tract.

Corn: Botanical Illustration

“The tea is used as a diuretic, for minor urinary tract infections, burning urination from any cause, and water retention.

The silk has ben used by brujos and brujas for spells and divination.

[Prepare as] simple tea, [drink] as needed.

Highly useful,

Non-toxic.”

~ Los Remedios: Traditional Herbal Remedies of the Southwest by Michael Moore

Herbs really excel at preventive medicine, and this is another good example: We want to have the remedy on hand at the first hint of burning urination, to prevent an infection from taking hold. Because cornsilk is such a mild remedy, it can be consumed daily. In this way, it would help to maintain a healthy urinary tract, bladder, and kidney system.

Susun Weed, in her book Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health, the Wise Woman Way, lists corn silk as useful for a range of bladder and prostate issues, including incontinence, overactive bladder, shy bladder, UTIs and prostatitis. She also mentions corn silk as an ingredient in an herbal smoking blend, as part of a tobacco-free protocol for cervical cancer.

When we are attuned to early signs of imbalance, we are better able to prevent more serious conditions from developing. But even in more advanced situations, cornsilk can still be an effective remedy. It may not be the most potent anti-microbial herb, but it plays a significant supporting role in an herbal formula.

“Even though it is effective for kidney stones, it is one of the milder and safer diuretics. This is an example of a