One version of a Zuni tribe legend reveals the powerful secrets of corn. It was said that was the magic of the Corn Maidens turned the hearts of the Zuni from war to farming. Their dance atop the corn stalks, visible as the wind stirs the corn tassels, is a vivid reminder of prosperity the Corn Maidens brought. When these goddesses were pursued for selfish reasons, they fled, leaving the corn of the Zuni people to wither and die. Only Paiyatuma, the god of dawn, and the melodies from his painted flute brought them back.
Although this plant is known to most as a valuable food source, the silken tassels the Corn Maidens danced upon are the most popular form of medicine for the herbalist. Fresh green corn silk is collected from the cob and dried for tea or processed into tincture. This medicine keeps the entire urinary tract clean, offering relief to chronic suffers of bladder infections.
The concentration of potassium in corn silk makes it a wonderful supplement for a variety of kidney problems. Potassium is a key mineral in healing the kidneys. Corn silk offers more per gram than bananas.
Potassium is essential for controlling blood pressure. Human bodies are designed to eat mostly plants which are high in potassium and low in sodium. The modern diet is woefully lacking in raw fruits and vegetables. Corn silk offers the stabilizing action of a diuretic with elevated levels of potassium to keep both blood pressure and excess weight down.
Corn silk tea is traditionally served to children to help prevent bed wetting, also known as enuresis. Elderly patients with enuresis benefit from this delicately flavored tea as well.
Corn is known to botanists as zea mays. This nomenclature comes from the Hopi tribe that, along with the Zunis, live in the American Southwest. Zea Mays is translated as “cause of life” and “our mother.” This speaks volumes about the abundance that corn offers. Corn products are in almost every aspect of modern life from biofuel to biodegradable “plastic” to livestock feed. The Corn Maidens are generous but they will not tolerate selfishness. Watching their dance steps rustle the corn silk is a good reminder to use this gift wisely.
Author – Sue Sierralupe
Originally published as The Pocket Herbal on The Practical Herbalist website
Find this and other plant histories in Sue’s e-book “The Pocket Herbal – Medicinal Plants that Changed the World”