Managing diabetes involves maintaining blood sugars within a target range. Although more research is necessary, corn silks may provide a natural option to help reduce blood sugars.

Corn silk refers to the threads that grow on corn cobs. People have used corn silk as an herbal remedy for centuries in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine. Proponents suggest that it may have several medicinal applications, which may include reducing inflammation, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

In this article, we will discuss corn silk and whether it can help a person to manage diabetes.

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Diabetes refers to a group of conditions that impacts how the body processes blood glucose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11.3% of the United States population has diabetes and 38% of the adult U.S. population has prediabetes. If a person is unable to control their blood sugars, they increase their risk of experiencing potential complications.

Treatment for diabetes often involves a regime of medications, such as insulin and metformin, to help manage blood sugars and keep them within target ranges.

However, some people may instead choose to use complementary and alternative medicines to help control their blood glucose. Research suggests a high prevalence of alternative options, such as herbal remedies, among people living with diabetes.

Corn silk, also known as Stigma Maydis, refers to a traditional Chinese medicine.

Corn silk describes the thread-like strands that grow underneath the husk of a fresh ear of corn. These thin fibers contain plant compounds that may be responsible for various health benefits. Some evidence suggests that corn silk may possess antidiabetic properties.

However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NICCH) notes that it is vital that a person does not replace medical treatment for diabetes with an unproven health product or practice.

Proponents of corn silk suggest that its natural compounds may be beneficial for managing blood sugars.

For example, a 2015 mouse study and a 2017 review both suggest that corn silk, and its flavonoids, may possess antidiabetic benefits. As such, a 2017 mouse study suggests that the antidiabetic properties of corn silk could make it a good candidate for a functional food or treatment for diabetes.

A 2016 study suggests that corn silk may help by slowing the absorption of starchy foods from the intestine. By slowing this process, blood glucose levels rise more steadily after meals, which avoids sudden blood sugar spikes.

Alternatively, another 2016 study indicates that corn silk has antioxidant and antiglycation properties that can provide protective effects for insulin-secreting cells.

Aside from its potential antidiabetic properties, proponents suggest that corn silk may also offer other health benefits. In traditional medicine, people have used corn silk for swelling and urinary problems.

A 2020 review suggests that possible benefits may include:

  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory: suggests that the compounds present in corn silk are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This could provide a protective effect against different conditions. For example, a 2019 paper suggests it could protect against skin damage.
  • Antihyperlipidemia: A 2016 mouse study suggests that corn silk possesses anti-hyperlipidemic activity. Another 2016 mouse study also indicates that corn silk can help improve cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of cardiovascular conditions.
  • Lowering blood pressure: A 2019 mouse study suggests that corn silk can help lower blood pressure. Similarly, a 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis notes that corn silk tea could help improve the effect of antihypertensive drugs and could offer a natural alternative treatment option.
  • Treating kidney stones: A 2021 mouse study indicates that sugars present in corn silk can help reduce kidney damage and promote uric acid excretion. As such, corn silk could act as a dietary supplement to help reduce kidney stone formation.
  • Reduction of nephrotoxicity: A 2018 mouse study suggests that corn silk can help reduce kidney damage that may occur as a side effect of a certain anticancer drug. Similarly, a 2020 mouse study also adds that corn silk extracts may help to protect the kidneys.

A 2020 review suggests that corn silk is a safe and nontoxic natural product. However, most studies investigating the potential benefits of corn silk are animal studies. As such, further research is necessary to test the safety and risk of potential adverse events in humans.

The NICCH notes that dietary supplements, such as corn silk, require more research to identify any potential side effects. Additionally, there is potential for corn silk to interact with other medications.

Therefore, if people are taking medications for the following conditions, it is advisable that they consult their diabetes care team before using corn silk:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure drugs
  • inflammation
  • blood clotting

Furthermore, herbal supplements do not undergo regulation in the U.S., and there is not much information available on dosages.

If a person wishes to use a corn silk product, it may be advisable to discuss this with a healthcare professional and to look for products with verification from reputable organizations, such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia.

In traditional medical practice, people can use corn silk to produce a tea. Additionally, some people may also add corn silk to their food, as proponents suggest it improves the nutritional profile without affecting the taste.

Corn silk is also widely available as an oral supplement, as capsules, powders, or liquid extracts.

Managing diabetes typically involves a multifaceted approach. Generally, it involves making lifestyle adjustments to help control blood sugar levels and maintain them in target ranges. This can involve:

  • consuming a varied dietary plan
  • regular exercise
  • checking blood sugars

Additionally, a doctor will likely prescribe medications depending on the type of diabetes a person has to help lower blood sugars. For example, for an individual living with type 1 diabetes, a healthcare professional will prescribe insulin.

However, some people may prefer using alternative therapies that may help with the management of diabetes. The NCCIH lists the following as dietary supplements that people may consider using for diabetes:

Although some of these options may show potential benefits, it is not advisable to try them without first consulting a person’s diabetes healthcare team.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires treatment to help a person manage their blood sugar levels. In addition to treating the condition with medication and behavioral changes, there is a growing interest in alternative options such as corn silk.

However, while some research suggests it may have beneficial properties, current evidence is mostly from animal studies. As such, further research in humans is necessary to understand its safety profile and whether it can help with controlling blood glucose levels.

If a person is considering corn silk products, it is advisable that they consult with their diabetes healthcare team, as the herbal supplement may interact with current medications.