Corn, Indian

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Corn, Indian

Botanical Name: Zea Mays (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Graminaceae
Synonym: Maize.
Part Used: Seeds.
Habitat: South America; also cultivated in other parts of America, in the West Indian Islands, Australia, Africa, India, etc., and now in France.

Description: A monoecious plant. Male flowers in terminal racemes; spikelets, two-flowered glumes nearly equal, herbaceous, terminating in two sharp points; females, axillary in the sheaths of the leaves. The spikes or ears proceed from the stalls at various distances from the ground, and are closely enveloped in several thin leaves, forming a sheath called the husk; the ears consist of a cylindrical substance, a pith called the cob; on this the seeds are ranged in eight rows, each row having thirty or more seeds. From the eyes or germs of the seeds proceed individual filaments of a silky appearance and bright green colour; these hang from the point of the husk and are called 'the silk.' The use of these filaments or stigmata is to receive the farina which drops from the flowers, and without which the flowers would produce no seed. As soon as this has been effected, the tops and 'the silk' dry up. The maize grains are of varying colour - usually yellow, but often ranging to black.

Constituents: Starch, sugar, fat, salts, water, yellow oil, maizenic acid, azotized matter, gluten, dextrine, glucose, cellulose, silica, phosphates of lime and magnesia, soluble salts of potassa and soda.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Diuretic and mild stimulant. A good emollient poultice for ulcers, swellings, rheumatic pains. An infusion of the parched corn allays nausea and vomiting in many diseases. Cornmeal makes a palatable and nutritious gruel and is an excellent diet for convalescents.

Preparations: A liquid extract is official in U.S.A. and B.P.C.

Other Species: There is only one distinct species, but there are several varieties resulting from difference of soil, culture and climate. Five of these have been described by Stendel - and all are natives of South America. Some of the finest cobs have been raised in Australia, and the plant is also extensively grown in many parts of Africa and India for consumption. Maize is easily digested by the human body, and when cooked as porridge is called by the Americans 'Mush.' Hominy, samp and cerealine are all starchy preparations of split maize. Corn bread contains much more nourishment thanwheaten bread, and is suitable for those suffering from kidney or liver diseases. Maizend or cornflour is prepared from the grains and represents only the fat-forming and heat producing constituents of the grain without mineral salts. It contains only 18 grains of proteids to the pound. Mexicans of today are very skilful in making fermented liquors from maize. One preparation called 'Chicka' resembles beer and cider, and a spirituous liquor called 'Pulque de Mahis,' made from the juice of the stalk of the maize, forms an important article of commerce.