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Corn Silk

Botanical Name

Zea mays

Common Name

Corn silk, barba de choclo, mais



Parts Used

Flower styles and stigmas

Native To


Harvesting Guidelines

Corn silk is best harvested before the corn kernels fully form, though is still useful when harvested from fully matured cobbs.


Corn silk, the long, silky fibers that protrude from the tops of ears of corn, has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The domestication of corn, which began over 9000 years ago in Central Mexico, led to the cultivation of various strains of corn, including those with longer and more abundant silk. Today, corn silk is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including urinary tract infections and inflammation.

Corn silk has been used for centuries by various cultures for its medicinal properties. In Bolivia, the Qollahuaya Andeans have used it as a diuretic, while in Mexico, it is used to soothe difficulty in urination. The Yaqui people of Pascua Village in Arizona combine ground green corn silk with hot chili peppers and tobacco to create smoke, which is blown into the ear for earache relief. Alternatively, corn silk is smoked with tobacco and blown over the head or teeth for pain relief. These traditional uses highlight the versatility and effectiveness of corn silk as a natural remedy.(1)

Corn silk has been highly valued by herbal practitioners for its various medicinal properties. It is known for its diuretic, demulcent, and antiseptic actions in the urinary system, making it useful for treating conditions such as acute and chronic inflammation of the bladder, chronic cystitis, pyelitis, urinary retention, and gonorrhea. In southern France, corn silk has been used for treating calculi, gravel, and strangury, while in the United States, it has been used for lithemia and concretions of phosphatic and uric acid in the urine, as well as for neutralizing excessive alkalinity of the urine. Corn silk is also considered one of the most valuable urinary sedatives for bladder problems in children. Its diuretic action is believed to be due to its tonic effect on the heart and blood vessels, making it beneficial for dropsy (edema) of cardiac or renal origin.(2)

Corn silk has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for urinary issues. Today, it is still commonly used by Western herbalists as a mild herb that can benefit the urinary system. While fresh plant preparations are considered the most potent, corn silk is also included in dry tea blends. In addition to its urinary benefits, corn silk is also a source of easily assimilated nutrients such as amino acids, calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and flavonoids, making it a nutritive tonic as well.(3)

Studies conducted in Iraq have shown that a combination of parsley seed, fennel seed, and corn silk can have positive effects on chronic urinary tract infections and urinary stones. In a subgroup of 150 patients with chronic UTIs, the formula was found to decrease the presence of pus and bacteria in the urine, while in the subgroup of 150 patients with urinary stones, it reduced the occurrence of crystals in the urine. Another study of 42 patients with UTIs found that consuming an aqueous extract of corn silk (8 grams of cornsilk extracted in 100 ml of boiling water consumed in divided doses over 24 hours) resulted in significant decreases in UTI symptoms, including suprapubic pain, urgency, frequency, and dysuria at days 5, 10, and 20 compared to baseline. The presence of pus cells, red blood cells, and crystals also decreased significantly during this time.(4)


Adult Dose (5)

Infusion: 1 cup (2 tsp fresh or dried herb per 8 fl oz boiled water) 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-4 mL fresh herb (1:3, 95%) or dried herb (1:5, 60%) 4x/day.


No known safety concerns.




(1)Painter, M. (1986). With good heart: Yaqui beliefs and ceremonies in Pascua village (E. Spicer & W. Kaemlein, Eds.). Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

(2)Ellingwood, F. (1919). Maize. Stigmata maidis. The American materia medica: Therapeutics and pharmacognosy.

(3)Wang, B., Xiao, T., Ruan, R., & Liu, W. (2017). Beneficial effects of corn silk on metabolic syndrome. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 23(34), 5097 – 5103.

(4)Sahib, A.S., Mohammed, I.H., Jasim Hamdan, S. (2012). Use of aqueous extract of corn silk in the treatment of urinary tract infection. Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology, 1(2), 93-96.

(5)Hoffmann, D. (1998). The herbal handbook: A user’s guide to medical herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.


Scientific Research:

Information offered on Achula and on this page is for educational purposes only. Achula makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or nursing, and persons with known medical conditions, should consult their licensed healthcare provider before taking any herbal product. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. Achula neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements.


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