Zea_mays

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Zea mays
Poaceae
Common name: Corn silk
Habitat:
Botanical Description:
Parts Used: Flower pistils
Energetics: i
 Zea is mildly sweet and astringent, cool, drying and moistening, nourishing, restoring, stimulating,
dissolving, and softening. It enters the Urinary Bladder, Kidney and Gall Bladder meridians.
 Clears heat, dries damp, reduces infection and inflammation, and stops discharge; promotes bile flow and
reduces liver congestion: Indicated in damp heat in the Kidney, Urinary Bladder and Gall Bladder.
 Promotes urination, resolves toxicosis and drains fluid congestion; dissolves deposits and stones, and
relieves irritation. Indicated in Kidney qi stagnation with toxin accumulation
 Compare with Jin qian cao (Lysimachia) and Guang dong jin gian cao (Desmodium)
Constituents: ii
 Saponins, allantoin, sterols, alkaloid, vit. C, vit. K, potassium, sugars including mucilage, cryptoxanthin,
anthocyanins, plant acids, fixed oil (2%), essential oil (0.1%): carvacrol, terpenes, bitter compounds,
polyphenols (12%), potassium salts
Pharmacology:
 Crude ethanolic extract of corn silk effectively inhibited tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) and E.coli
lipopolysaccharide (LPS) activity in human endothelial cells. TNF and LPS cause upregulation of several
adhesion molecules and enhance leukocyte adhesion to human endothelial cells. By interfering with these
processes, Zea mays is valuable for the treatment of bacterial sepsis and various inflammatory diseases. iii
 No other pharmacology could be found at this time.iv
Medicinal actions: Demulcent, Diuretic, Cholagogue
Traditional Medicinal uses:
 Genitourinary Condtions: Zea has been used in southern France for calculi, gravel and strangury (painful
and interrupted urination in drops produced by spasmodic muscular contraction of the urethra and bladder).
Zea is beneficial in acute and chronic inflammations of the bladder and edema (dropsy) secondary to renal
or cardiac origin. Zea’s diuretic action is largely due to its tonic effect on the heart and vasculature. It is
particularly valuable in the treatment of pediatric bladder disorders, gonorrhea and conditions where the
decomposition of the urine takes place within the bladder. v
Current Medical Uses:
 Genitourinary Condtions: Zea is best used fresh (organic only!) because of the high sugar content, which
gives this plant its diuretic effect. Zea mays contains mucilage and allantoin, which exert demulcent and
vulnerary action. The longer the silk is dried, the less diuretic it is. These sugars are very soluble in water,
as is the allantoin, therefore a cold infusion soaked overnight provides a mucilagenous, soothing, diuretic
sweet drink. Corn silk is rich in potassium salts and therefore is considered to be a potassium-sparing
diuretic. If added to a urinary formula, it should be a generous part, and it combines well with antiseptics.
Zea mays also has mild choleretic activity. Zea mays is indicated in the treatment of urinary inflammation
and irritation, cystitis, pyelitis, gonorrhea, increased phosphates and urates, and edema.
 Hepatobiliary Conditions: Zea is indicated in sub-acute gallstone attack manifesting as sharp right flank pain.
In China, its cholagogue action is utilized in the treatment of simple jaundice. Zea is considered hepatobiliary
sedative (see the comparative Chinese herbs above). vi
Current Research Review:
 Urology:
Diuretic effects: vii
 Design: Placebo controlled double-blind crossover clinical trial
 Patients: Not stated in the abstract
 Therapy: Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major, and Orthosiphon stamineus
 Results: No influence was recorded for the 12- and 24-h urine output or on the sodium excretion
for any of the drugs
Dentistry:
o Plaque and gingivitis: viii
 Design: Double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial
 Patients: Forty three subjects
 Therapy: Mouthwash based on triclosan or mouthwash based on nonsaponifiable maize germ
(Zea mays L).
 Results: The mouthwash based on Zea mays L had no beneficial action on the Plaque Index,
which increased slightly, but it led to an improvement in the Gingival Index.
o

Pharmacy:
 Acute: 2-4 g/day; 1-2 Qt/day or 1 cup every hour [1tsp. = 0.5g]
 1:5 tincture: 3-18 ml /day
Contraindications:
 Zea has a hypoglycemic effect and may antagonize the effects of prothrombopenic anticoagulants such as
dicoumarol and coumadin due to its vitamin K content. ix
Toxicity: none
Holmes, Peter. Energetics of Western Herbs, Vol. 2, 2nd ed. Artemis Press. 1994. p. 614-616
Wren, R.C., Potter’s New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preperations, Potter’s limited, England. 1988.
iii Extract of corn silk (stigma of Zea mays) inhibits the tumour necrosis factor-alpha- and bacterial lipopolysaccharide-induced cell adhesion and
ICAM-1 expression. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):314-8.
iv Personal comment: Steve Parcell, 2002
v Felter, H. W., Lloyd, J.U. King’s American Dispensatory, 18th ed.. Eclectic Medical Publications. Sandy, OR. 1898. 2092-3
vi Holmes, Peter. Energetics of Western Herbs, Vol. 2, 2nd ed. Artemis Press. 1994. p.614-616
vii Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea
mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol. 1992;36(3):225-31.
viii Machuca G, Valencia S, Lacalle JR, et al. A clinical assessment of the effectiveness of a mouthwash based on triclosan and on Zea mays L used
as supplements to brushing. Quintessence Int 1997;28(5):329-35.
ix Brinker, F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions, 2nd ed. Eclectic Medical Publications, Sandy Oregon 1998 . pp. 65, 68
i
ii
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