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Slippery Elm

Ulmus fulva, Ulmus rubra

Slippery ElmNames: Red Elm

Habitat: Central and Northern USA.

Collection: The bark is stripped from the trunk and large branches in the spring. In commercial use this usually leads to the tree dying, as a large part of the bark is stripped. Ten year old bark is recommended.

Part Used: Inner bark.

Constituents: Mucilage, composed of galactose, 3-methyl galactose, rhamnose and galacturonic acid residues.

Actions: Demulcent, emollient, nutrient, astringent, anti-inflammatory.

Indications: Slippery Elm Bark is a soothing nutritive demulcent which is perfectly suited for sensitive or inflamed mucous membrane linings in the digestive system. It may be used in gastritis, gastric or duodenal ulcer, enteritis, colitis and the like. It is often used as a food during convalescence as it is gentle and easily assimilated. In diarrhea it will soothe and astringe at the same time. Externally it makes an excellent poultice for use in cases of boils, abscesses or ulcers.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is the best demulcent for internal and external use. It lubricates and soothes alimentary mucosa, relieves intestinal irritation, and quietens the nervous system They give the following specific indications : acute gastritis and duodenal ulcer, gastritis, diarrhea, dysentary, enteritis. Inflammation of the mouth and throat. Vaginitis. Burns, scalds and abrasions. Hemorrhoids and anal fissure. Varicose ulcer. Abscesses, boils, carbuncles, inflamed wounds and ulcers.

Kings Dispensatory describes it as nutritive, expectorant, diuretic, demulcent and emollient. In mucous inflammations of the lungs, bowels, stomach, bladder or kidneys, it may be used freely in the form of a mucilaginous drink (1 ounce of the powdered bark to 1 pint of water). It is highly beneficial in diarrhea, dysentery, coughs, pleurisy, strangury and sore throat, in all of which it tends powerfully to allay the inflammation.

Combinations: It combines well with just about the whole materia medica!

Preparations & Dosage:

  • Decoction: use 1 part of the powdered bark to 8 parts of water. Mix the powder in a little water initially to ensure it will mix. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, Drink half a cup three times a day.
  • Poultice: mix the coarse powdered bark with enough boiling water to make a paste.

Soothing - Excellent for bowels and bladder, lungs, diarrhea, stomach, kidney, inflammations, ulcers, bronchitis

Among the gentlest of healing plants. A source of Monatomic Rhodium and Iridium. Excellent and soothing for upsets in the digestive tract from throat to colon. A prime ingredient in the legendary blend popularized by Rene Caisse.

Monatomic Rhodium & Iridium, Phytonutrients, Vitamins, Minerals & Fibers

Slippery Elm is an incredibly soothing herb, with fast acting relief for many digestive and bowel problems. It certainly lives up to its reputation. If you have or are thinking of making a herbal first aid kit, Slippery Elm is essential. It's safe and nutritious for all the family - a herb you should always have close at hand. The 'Slippery' part of Slippery Elm refers to the texture of the herb. This is because of the large mucilage content of Slippery Elm, which is also responsible for its wonderful healing and soothing action. In most herbal literature this is termed a 'demulcent' or an 'emollient' agent, which means it is a soothing substance. It not only soothes and heals all that it comes into contact with, but is highly nutritious. Slippery Elm is a wholesome food for the weak and convalescent, from infants to the elderly.

Slippery Elm Bark is a soothing nutritive demulcent which is perfectly suited for sensitive or inflamed mucous membrane linings in the digestive system. It may be used in gastritis, gastric or duodenal ulcer, enteritis, colitis and the like. It is often used as a food during convalescence as it is gentle and easily assimilated. In diarrhea it will soothe and astringe at the same time. Externally it makes an excellent poultice for use in cases of boils, abscesses or ulcers.

While there has been little scientific research on slippery elm, it has a long history of use based on clinical experience. Some of the conditions that seem to respond to slippery elm include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Mild respiratory ailments
  • Gastritis, peptic ulcer, and other gastrointestinal conditions
  • Diarrhea
  • Wounds, burns, boils, and other skin conditions (external)
  • Skin softener

Slippery elm has been used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for gastrointestinal symptoms including bloody diarrhea. This herb is thought to work for such intestinal problems because of its demulcent properties, which means that it coats and soothes the digestive tract. Recent laboratory research on slippery elm suggests that this traditional application may prove to have scientific merit in treating inflammatory bowel disease (namely, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis); the authors of this study propose that it is the antioxidant properties of slippery elm that would offer such protection. Conclusions regarding this preliminary information, however, will have to wait on studies of people.

Slippery elm is also one of four herbs included in Essiac formula that is used for cancer treatment. This remedy, developed in Canada in the early 1930's, was expanded from its original slippery elm, burdock root, sheep sorrel and Turkish rhubarb to also include red clover, water cress, blessed thistle, and kelp.


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