Summer is the time for gathering fresh, golden silk right off of ears of corn when you husk them before cooking. If you are grilling your corn cobs with the husk on, then you have a different taste treat, but you have no silk to harvest. I've been known to have barbecues or go to them just to be able to have access to lots of corn in one place! And offering to husk the corn makes me a welcome guest as well as an opportunistic herbalist! I lay the golden silk out to dry on wicker plates like this, first cutting off any wet or browned parts that are usually found growing outside of the husk. I use locally grown, non GMO corn.
Corn silk from corn or maize (Zea mays in botanical terms) makes a demulcent (soothing) tea that is beneficial to the entire urinary tract. It is rich in saponins, volatile oils, flavanoids, mucilage, tannins, and minerals. Corn silk is a potassium-rich diuretic and can be contrasted with pharmaceutical diuretics which generally leech potassium out of the body. The combination of soothing mucilage and astringent tannins help corn silk to bring down inflammation and also to tone and strengthen tissue. The silky strands strengthen immunity naturally and are an aid to healing from and preventing bacterial infections in the urinary system. Corn silk can be helpful with cystitis and is called for when there are recurrent urinary tract infections or recurrent stones and gravel in the bladder or kidneys. I have seen it help men with enlarged prostate glands (benign enlargement) that led to pain and difficulty urinating. It is effective as both a tincture or a tea, though I prefer the tea. Any preparation made from good quality silk (which isn't easy to find commercially) tastes delightfully of corn and goes down easily. It is gentle enough for pregnant women with swollen ankles or other conditions that are marked by edema. Corn silk can be used on its own and also mixes well with other herbs as might be appropriate for a specific person in a specific situation. I've used it mixed together with cleavers where lymph congestion was involved, with goldenrod where infections keep recurring, with queen anne's lace seeds and/or flowers for gravel, and with dandelion leaf for help in toning weakened kidneys. Corn silk's antiseptic, moistening properties are sweet gifts that cool off excess heat and help you go with the flow.