Botany: Corn erect annual with prop roots near the ground and long sword-shaped leaves, one at each node. The plant belongs to genus Zea of Poaceae family. It grows up to 4 m high and is generally thought to be a native of tropical America, where it is said to have been cultivated for 7000 years before Christopher Columbus took it to Spain. Parts used are the long styles and stigmata of the pistils called corn silk and corn oil (maize oil) extracted from the germ of corn (maize).

History and/or Folklore: Indians living in what is now Mexico about 10,000 years ago, first used corn gathered from wild plants as a food source. Near 5000 BC, they learned how to grow corn and its use as an herbal medicine is almost as old. Corn is grown as source of food and food products for people, livestock feed, in herbal medicine, in cosmetics, and industrial products including ceramics, explosives, construction materials, metal moulds, paints, paper goods, textiles, industrial alcohols, and ethanol.

Commercial products:
(1) Cornsilk: normally used are the dried long styles and stigmata of the pistils.

(2) Corn oil: It is obtained with expeller pressing (also called oil pressing) of the germ of corn, then the solvent is evaporated from the corn oil, recovered, and re-used. After extraction, the corn oil is then refined by degumming and/or alkali treatment. Final steps in refining include winterization (the removal of waxes), and deodorization by steam distillation of the oil under a high vacuum.


Traditional use: externally the fresh (or the soaked dried) cornsilk can be applied as a poultice (also called cataplasm; a soft moist mass). It is good for drawing the pus from boils and old or infected wounds.

Cornsilk contains vitamins C and K. It also contains cryptoxanthin, which acts like vitamin A. These vitamins are good for skin nutrition; vitamins C and A are antioxidants (protect DNA from free radicals, inhibit angiogenesis, proliferation and cell apoptosis), vitamin K mostly affects blood coagulation (reduces post-operative bruising in cosmetic surgery or injections, in broken capillaries (net veins), in the treatment of Rosacea, to help reduce dark under-eye circles). Cornsilk also contains β-sitosterol (a plant sterol; like its synthetic analogues hydrocortisone and corticosterone, it has powerful properties including the reduction in skin redness, inflammation and reduction of pruritis). It also contains tannins, which act as drying agents.

Corn oil
Corn oil is also known as a maize oil, maydol, or mazola. The crude oil may contain up to 2% phospholipids (vegetable lecithin, inositol esters). It is used as a hair dressing.

Corn oil also contains estrone (phytohormone); the effects have been shown to include protection of the skin, the reduction of wrinkles, reduction in inflammation and a decrease in pruritis.


Medications for inflammation (Corticosteroids) can interact with corn silk. Some medications for inflammation can decrease potassium in the body. Corn silk might also decrease potassium in the body, so that taking corn silk together with some medications for inflammation might decrease potassium in the body too much.