Corn silk

Chinese: 玉米须

Pinyin: Yù Mǐ Xū

Parts used: The shiny, thread-like, weak fibers that grow as part of ears of corn

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: BladderLiverSmall intestine

Scientific name: Zea Mays

Other names: Maize silk

Use of corn silk (Yu Mi Xu) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Extract the fibers and use fresh or dry

Dosage: 6- 20 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Encourages urination. Stimulates the Gallbladder and eliminates jaundice. Regulates blood sugar for wasting and thirsting disorders such as diabetes mellitus. Stops bleeding.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which corn silk may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Jaundice Oliguria Diabetes Edema High blood pressure Clogged milk ducts Gallstones Cholecystitis Nosebleed Bleeding gums

Key TCM concepts behind corn silk (Yu Mi Xu)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), corn silk are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Damp that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Damp accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore corn silk are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that corn silk typically don't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin excess. The Neutral nature of corn silk means that you don't have to worry about that!

Corn silk also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like corn silk tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such corn silk are thought to target the Bladder, the Liver and the Small intestine. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. Like the Stomach, the Small Intestine has a digestive role, extracting the "pure" part of what we injest to the Spleen and the "impure" down to the Large Intestine.

Research on corn silk (Yu Mi Xu)

Corn silk is an inhibitor of melanin production and has thus an inhibitory effect on skin pigmentation.1

Sources:

1. Choi, Sang Yoon; Lee, Yeonmi; Kim, Sung Soo; Ju, Hyun Min; Baek, Ji Hwoon; Park, Chul-Soo; Lee, Dong-Hyuk (2014-03-03). "Inhibitory Effect of Corn Silk on Skin Pigmentation". Molecules. 19 (3): 2808–2818. doi:10.3390/molecules19032808.

Use of corn silk (Yu Mi Xu) as food

Corn silk are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Corn silk tea.