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   Jun 13

What Is Corn Silk, and Does It Have Benefits?

Corn silk is the long, silky threads that grow on corncobs.

Though it’s often discarded when corn is prepared for eating, it may have several medicinal applications.

As an herbal remedy, corn silk has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine. It’s still used today in many countries, including China, France, Turkey, and the United States (1Trusted Source).

This article explains everything you need to know about corn silk, including its uses, benefits, and dosage.

What is corn silk, and how is it used?

Corn silk is the long, thread-like strands of plant material that grow underneath the husk of a fresh ear of corn.

These shiny, thin fibers aid the pollination and growth of corn, but they’re also used in traditional herbal medicine practices.

Corn silk contains a variety of plant compounds that may be responsible for various health effects.

In traditional Chinese and Native American medicine, it’s used to treat a variety of ailments, including prostate problems, malaria, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and heart disease (1Trusted Source).

More recent research indicates that it may also help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation (1Trusted Source).

Corn silk may be used fresh but is often dried before being consumed as a tea or extract. It may also be taken as a pill.

Summary Corn silk is a type of natural fiber that grows on corn plants. It’s used as an herbal remedy for a variety of illnesses in traditional or folk medicine.

Potential benefits of corn silk

Although corn silk is routinely used in herbal medicine, studies on it are limited.

However, preliminary research suggests that it may have health benefits, especially for certain types of inflammatory conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Provides antioxidants

Antioxidants are plant compounds that protect your body’s cells against free radical damage and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is one of the major causes of a number of chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and inflammation (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).

Corn silk is a naturally rich source of flavonoid antioxidants.

Multiple test-tube and animal studies demonstrate that its flavonoids reduce oxidative stress and protect against free radical damage (1Trusted Source).

These compounds may be responsible for many of corn silk’s benefits.

Has anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation is part of your body’s natural immune response. However, excessive inflammation is linked to a variety of illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes (3Trusted Source).

Test-tube and animal studies have found that corn silk extract may reduce inflammation by suppressing the activity of two major inflammatory compounds (1Trusted Source).

This stringy plant fiber also contains magnesium, which helps regulate your body’s inflammatory response (4, 5Trusted Source).

That said, human research is needed.

May manage blood sugar

Some research indicates that corn silk may lower blood sugar and help manage diabetes symptoms.

One animal study noted that diabetic mice given corn silk flavonoids had significantly reduced blood sugar compared to a control group (6Trusted Source).

A recent test-tube study also revealed that antioxidants in this corn product may help prevent diabetic kidney disease (7Trusted Source).

Although these results are promising, human studies are needed.

May lower blood pressure

Corn silk may be an effective treatment for high blood pressure.

First, it encourages the elimination of excess fluid from your body. As such, it could be a natural alternative to prescribed diuretics, which are often used to reduce blood pressure (1Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

What’s more, a recent study in rats discovered that corn silk extract significantly reduced blood pressure by inhibiting the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) (9Trusted Source).

In one 8-week study, 40 people with high blood pressure were given increasing amounts of this supplement until they reached a dose of 118 mg per pound of body weight (260 mg per kg) (10Trusted Source).

Their blood pressure dropped significantly compared to that of a control group, with those given the highest dose experiencing the greatest reduction (10Trusted Source).

Still, more human research is needed.

May reduce cholesterol

Corn silk may also lower cholesterol(11Trusted Source).

One animal study found that mice given corn silk extract experienced significant reductions in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol alongside increases in HDL (good) cholesterol (12Trusted Source).

In another study in mice fed a high-fat diet, those that received corn silk experienced significantly lower total cholesterol than those that did not get this supplement (13Trusted Source).

Even so, human research is needed.

Summary A handful of studies indicate that corn silk may reduce inflammation, blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. However, more research is needed.

Corn silk dosage

Because human research on corn silk is limited, official dosage recommendations haven’t been established.

A variety of factors could influence your body’s reaction to this supplement, including age, health status, and medical history.

Most available research suggests that corn silk is nontoxic and that daily doses as high as 4.5 grams per pound of body weight (10 grams per kg) are likely safe for most people (1Trusted Source).

That said, most labels for corn silk supplements recommend considerably lower doses of 400–450 mg taken 2–3 times per day.

It’s recommended to start with a low dose to ensure that your body responds favorably, then increase it gradually if necessary.

If you’re unsure about an appropriate dosage, consult your medical provider.

Summary A recommended dosage has not been established for corn silk due to a lack of research. That said, it’s best to start with a lower dose to see how your body reacts.

Corn silk side effects and precautions

While very few adverse effects have been reported, corn silk may not be safe for everyone.

If you’ve experienced an allergic reaction to corn or corn products, you should avoid corn silk.

Furthermore, corn silk is not recommended if you take any of the following medications:

  • diuretics
  • blood pressure drugs
  • diabetes medicine
  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • blood thinners

What’s more, you should avoid this product if you’re taking potassium supplements or have been treated for low potassium levels, as corn silk may increase excretion of this mineral (1Trusted Source).

Additionally, it’s important to consider the quality of the supplement you buy.

In certain countries, including the United States, herbal supplements are not regulated. Therefore, it’s best to choose a brand that has been tested by a third party, such as NSF International, ConsumerLab, or U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).

Be sure to check the ingredient list on the label, as other herbs are sometimes added.

If you’re uncertain whether corn silk is an appropriate supplement for your routine, consult your medical practitioner.

Summary Corn silk is likely safe for most people. Still, you should avoid it if you’re allergic to corn or taking certain medications. Talk to your medical care provider if you’re unsure how this supplement will affect your health.

The bottom line

Corn silk is a natural corn fiber used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine.

Research is limited, but some studies suggest that it may reduce inflammation, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

While corn silk is likely safe for most people, you should consult your medical practitioner before taking it.

Source: Healthline.com

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