Corn, which is one of the most important crops in the world, was first cultivated by native peoples in Mexico thousands of years ago. This plant was the result of the domestication of the ancient wild grass called teosinte, which looked very difficult from our corn today. Thus, this humble yet very useful cereal grain was a human invention and without the intervention of humans, it wouldn’t develop to corn as we know it today. From Mexico, corn spread north into the Southwestern part of the United States and south down the coast to Peru. As Native Americans migrated to different parts of North America, they brought corn with them.
Since corn was a Native American invention, it was the native people who taught European colonists to cultivate it. As it became popular, it also spread to different parts of the world. Corn has become a very important crop, not only because of its importance as a human food; but also for being a livestock feed, a biofuel, and a raw material for different products. In fact, even corn silk which many people throw away as trash is full of nutrients that can bring healing and help ensure good help to those who consume it as tea.
Characteristics of Corn Silk
Maize or corn is a staple food in many parts of the world. Its total production surpasses that of wheat and rice. This cereal grain which originated in the Americas was first domesticated by indigenous people in Southern Mexico 10,000 years ago. It is an annual grass that belongs to the Gramineae family and is a relative of wheat, rye, barley, rice, sorghum, and sugarcane.
The corn plant which can grow up to 15 feet tall with an average spread of 3 feet has a stout erect stems, large narrow leaves, male flowers that are borne on the tassel terminating the main axis of the stem, and female flowers which become edible ears when mature. Varieties of corn include those with red, blue, pink, and black kernels, but the most popular are the yellow and white corn.
Modern Medicinal Value of Corn Silk Tea
Corn silk tea is a source of Stigmasterol and Sitostero, compounds which can prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol. Other benefits of this tea include the following:
- It helps keep the kidneys healthy
Corn silk is a good natural diuretic that can help the kidneys by increasing the amount of urine. Thus, harmful substances such as toxins are flushed out of the body. Since corn silk usage can increase urine flow, it decreases the chances of kidney stone formation. Tea made from this can help treat painful urination, urinary tract infection, bladder infection, and inflammation of the urinary system.
- It may regulate blood sugar
High blood sugar levels can lead to a number of complications which include stroke, kidney problems, and diabetes. Corn silk tea can help regulate these by increasing the body’s production of insulin (a hormone that lowers levels of blood glucose). Through increased insulin production, this drink can also help cells take in glucose which is used for energy.
- It may lower blood pressure
Too much sodium can cause extra fluid to build up in one’s blood vessels. This can result to hypertension. Corn silk may help prevent or treat high blood pressure by getting rid excess of excess fluid and salt through the urine.
An animal study also suggests that corn silk extract may significantly lower blood pressure by inhibiting the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). ACE inhibitors prevent the production of angiotensin II, a substance that narrows the blood vessels and raises the blood pressure.
- It may help fight obesity
Whilst the cause of obesity includes more than one factor which includes lifestyle, food choices, and genetics, corn silk may be helpful for those who want to maintain their weight. Some people put on extra weight because of the accumulation of waste and excess water in the body.
As a diuretic, corn silk can help manage one’s weight since it eliminates excess fluids and waste.
- It facilitates blood clotting
Corn silk may help quicken the healing of cuts and wounds because it contains vitamin K, which controls bleeding and facilitates healthy blood clotting. This fat-soluble vitamin is also essential for bone health since it makes proteins for healthy bones.
Aside from the benefits mentioned above, corn silk tea is a good source of beta-carotene, menthol, thymol, riboflavin, selenium, niacin, vitamin C, and other powerful antioxidants. Whilst this is a very healthy drink for people with normal conditions, patients who take diuretics, blood pressure drugs, medicines for diabetes, anti-inflammatory drugs, and blood thinners are not recommended to drink corn silk tea.