Medicinal Use of Corn Silk (Stigma Maydis)


Corn silk (Stigma maydis) is an important herb used traditionally by the Chinese, and Native Americans to treat many diseases. It is also used as traditional medicine in many parts of the world such as Turkey, United States and France. Its potential antioxidant and healthcare applications as diuretic agent, in hyperglycemia reduction, as anti-depressant and anti-fatigue use have been claimed in several reports. Other uses of corn silk include teas and supplements to treat urinary related problems. The potential use is very much related to its properties and mechanism of action of its plant’s bioactive constituents such as flavonoids and terpenoids. As such, this review will cover the research findings on the potential applications of corn silk in healthcare which include its phytochemical and pharmacological activities. In addition, the botanical description and its toxicological studies are also included.

Keywords: corn silk, antioxidant, healthcare, pharmacology, phytochemical
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  1. Introduction
    Herbs which have been used for centuries in treating various illnesses play a major role in forming the basic platform of modern medicines [1]. The therapeutic effects of many traditional herbs are due to the presences of natural antioxidants, especially phenolic compounds [2]. These compounds are able to scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) that may cause various diseases related to oxidative stress such as cancer, hypertension, and cognitive disfunction. In order to protect humans from oxidative stress, various herbs and plants are being utilized for their potential benefits in preventing diseases related to oxidative stress and in preserving health.

One of these herbs is corn silk (Stigma maydis). Corn silk (CS) is made from stigmas, the yellowish thread like strands from the female flower of maize. It is a waste material from corn cultivation and available in abundance [3]. It has been consumed for a long time as a therapeutic remedy for various illnesses and is important as an alternative natural-based treatment. It has been used as traditional medicine in many parts of the world such as China, Turkey, United States and France. It is used for the treatment of cystitis, edema, kidney stones, diuretic, prostate disorder, and urinary infections as well as bedwetting and obesity [4,5,6,7,8,9]. It soothes and relaxes the lining of the bladder and urinary tubules, hence reducing irritation and increasing urine secretion [10]. Other beneficial treatments of CS include anti-fatigue activity, anti-depressant activity and kaliuretic [4,11,12]. In addition, it possesses excellent antioxidant capacity [13,14] and demonstrated protective effects in radiation and nephrotoxicity [15,16]. However, a recent study showed that there is no antibacterial activity in CS when it was investigated against bacterial species such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumonia, Escherichia coli and Streptococcus pyogenes [17]. In China, it is considered very important medicinal plant in the treatment of prostate problems [18]. Meanwhile, the Native Americans used CS to treat urinary tract infections, malaria and heart problems [19]. Although not scientifically proven, CS tea has been claimed to have many benefits to human health such as lowering blood pressure, decrease prostate inflammation, diabetic and urinary tract infection, edema, obesity and promote relaxation. To date, there are various CS commercial products for medicinal uses are available in the market [20].

CS is rich in phenolic compounds, particularly flavonoids [21]. It also consists of proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium salts, volatiles oils and steroids such as sitosterol and stigmasterol, alkaloids, and saponins [14]. Due to its potential benefits, there are several studies reported the pharmacological activities of CS. This review focuses on the available scientific evidence on potential uses of CS in healthcare including its phytochemical, pharmacological, and botanical description and its toxicological studies.