Claim: A post on Facebook claims that tea made from corn silk can cure certain illnesses.
Although some studies show that corn silk is routinely used in herbal medicine, its suitability for consumption and for treatment of human diseases is not conclusively verified. However, to be considered safe, more context from health regulatory authorities and researchers on how human beings can use corn silk without causing self harm is vital. As such, there is insufficient evidence to ascertain the claim.
In a Facebook post titled “Health Benefits Of Corn Silk,” Healthforbes, a health oriented page on Facebook, claims that corn silk can cure illnesses.
Some of the listed illnesses the plant can allegedly cure includes Bladder Infection, Kidney Stone, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Bed-wetting, and High Cholesterol Levels are “some of the illnesses cured by corn silk,” the post pointed out.
The post encouraged the use of corn silk as an effective remedy for the listed illnesses and outlined how members of the public can prepare the corn silk tea with hot water for intake.
Healthforbes, the Facebook page that shared the post has over 7k followers. The page predominantly covers nutrition and diseases related information. It also has a website where food and other health related contents are published.
“We Improve the healthcare system globally for everyone to build a stronger and healthier healthcare routine,” it’s “About Us,”a message reads in part.
“We ensure that our content and services and products uphold the highest standards of health, pharmaceuticals, finance and telecommunication Integrity,” another message says.
Misleading myths around the remedy of diseases is a serious concern in Africa. In 2014 during the outbreak of the Ebola disease, several persons were reported dead and several others hospitalised after consuming excessive quantities of salt and bitter kola to prevent Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) attack, following a viral message on social media that the mythical remedy could prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.
What does corn silk do?
Corn Silks are those long hairy thread-like fibers that are discarded when preparing corn for cooking. In an article, Healthline described it as “the long, thread-like strands of plant material that grow underneath the husk of a fresh ear of corn.”
There is a lot of information about the topic on the internet. Ranging from articles to individual opinions, many of them linked the herbal usage of corn silk two centuries ago in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine.
There are also minute studies that have proven the fiber to possess bioactive components capable of “repairing damage to the kidney, bursting kidney stones, preventing prostate cancer, and treating urinary incontinence.”
A recent study titled “Study of kidney repair mechanisms of corn silk leaves; combination in rat model of kidney failure.” The study, published in the International Journal of Pharmacology confirmed an improved renal function in “gentamicin-piroxicam induced kidney failure.”
But, the study concluded that corn silk, in combination with “binahong,” a native plant from Indonesia that is used for tissue healing, possesses renal function improving activity which is slightly better compared to the activity of each extract alone.
Also, the result of another study suggested that corn silk could be used to burst kidney stones. A kidney stone is a hard object that is made from chemicals in the urine. It is painful when passed out.
“Corn silk encourages urination, while the potassium in the herb offset potassium loss caused by increased urination. It contains flavonoids (may sin), Allantois, Alkaloids, Sapiens, Volatile oil, Mucilage, Vitamins B, C and K, Silicon,” the study noted.
A 2021 article by EmedicineHealth also explained that corn silk is used as a medicine for the listed ailments. On diabetes and high blood pressure, it raised a concern that large amounts of corn silk might lower blood sugar. And this “could interfere with blood sugar control in people who have diabetes,” especially when used alongside other diabetes medications.
Other articles also explain how to cure child bed-wetting using corn silk tea. But it is not able to determine the extent of its accuracy. It concluded that “more evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of corn silk for these uses”. Adding to that, Dubawa also observed that all the articles checked carry a disclaimer that refer users to consult their medical doctor before using corn silk for any treatment.
What experts say
An Associate Professor from the Department of Botany, University of Lagos, Dr. Aleem Babalola Kadiri, told DUBAWA that while corn silk is used for treating many diseases, including optical conditions like glaucoma, “all the claims still require scientific proof.”
Another Senior Lecturer in the Botany Department of the University of Lagos, Dr. Temitope Onuminya, told DUBAWA that most studies about the efficacy of corn silk have been conducted on mice and not on humans. She also noted that corn silk, “when taken in high doses, can cause liver toxicity” and “interfere with the medications that patients are using in treating diabetes, as well as high and low blood pressure.”
However, Dr. Onuminya notes that daily doses as high as 4.5 grams per pound of body weight (10 grams per kg) are likely safe for most people and that Corn silk is available as a supplement in some countries. She recommends taking a maximum dosage of “400-450 milligrams 2-3 times per day.” She, however, warned that a dose of more than 2,000 mg/kg can be lethal.
Although corn silk is routinely used in herbal medicine, studies on it are limited. For safe use, there is a need for researchers and health authorities to have a clear consensus as to whether consuming corn silk as a remedy to diseases is safe for humans. Hence, there is insufficient evidence to ascertain the claim.