Everything you need to know about Slippery Elm Bark and its health benefits. You can order yours at www.iHerb.com with discountcode CUH799.
Slippery Elm Bark
One of the main health benefits of slippery elm, if not the main one, is that it makes a soothing substance for anything it comes in contact woth.
This is owing to the fact that slippery elm bark’s mucilage (gummy substance that oozes from bark when it comes in contact with water) is mainly composed of easy to digest complex carbohydrates which are non-toxic.
A note about the Health Benefits of Slippery Elm and Slippery Elm Uses
Herbs are God and nature’s gifts to us. While the use of herbs and herb remedies has brought excellent results for many people, do note that their health benefitsmay be limited when they are used in isolation. However, when combined with some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition, the impact on one’s health will be greatly magnified.
The inner bark of slippery elm also contains various nutrients, such as beta-sitosterol, campestrol, tannin, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, beta-carotene and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C.
Slippery Elm Bark
As mentioned earlier, the inner bark of the slippery elm tree holds the main health benefits of slippery elm. Because of this important medicinal value, it needs a special mention.
Slippery elm bark is collected in spring from the larger branches and dried. It is tough and flexible of a fine fibrous texture. It has an odour like fenugreek and is very mucilaginous with an insipid taste.
The mucilage is very similar to that found in linseed and does not dissolve, but only swells in water and is so abundant that 10 grains of the powdered bark will make a thick jelly with an ounce of water.
Slippery elm powder, made from the bark, is sold in two forms, i.e., a coarse powder for use as poultices and a fine powder for making a mucilaginous drink. The disintegrated bark forms, when moistened, a flexible and spongy tissue, which is easily moulded into pessaries, teats, and suppositories.
Slippery Elm Uses and Benefits
Today, the herb is used for the many benefits of slippery elm. It comes in handy as a demulcent, emollient, expectorant, diuretic, and nutritive as listed below:
- The health benefits of slippery elm are rooted mainly in its soothing properties. It is thus effectively used as a mucilaginous herb internally to coat and soothe mucous membranes while also absorbing toxins which can cause intestinal imbalances. Slippery elm is an effective remedy for duodenal ulcers, gastritis, diarrhea, colitis,irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids and heartburn.
- The Cherokee have used the viscous inner bark of the slippery elm to prepare a healing salve, and in herbal medicine it is used as one of the best possible poultices for wounds, boils, ulcers, burns and all inflamed surfaces, soothing, healing and reducing pain and inflammation.
- The benefits of slippery elm also extend to being a simple food. As a part of normal diets, slippery elm’s inner bark can be ground and eaten as porridge. It is very nutritious and packed with antioxidants, with a similar taste and consistency like oatmeal. It also makes a wholesome and sustaining food for invalids and infants.
- As a heart remedy, a cocktail of a pint of slippery elm drink has been prescribed alternately with Bugleweed compound.
- The slippery elm plant, more specifically slippery elm bark, is also part of a North American formula called Essiac, which is a popular herbal treatment for cancer.
- Another of the benefits of slippery Elm bark is that it is attributed with healing effects upon diseases of the female organs.
- An earlier use for slippery elm inner bark was as a mechanical irritant to abort foetuses. Its use became widespread and uncontrolled, and therefore it is now banned in a number of countries.
- Slippery elm is particularly valuable both medicinally and as an injection in dysentery and other diseases of the bowels, cystitis as well as irritation of the urinary tract.
- Slippery elm bark is used as an antioxidant to prevent fats going rancid.
- Slippery elm is also used to make burial caskets, rope, chords, fence posts, furniture, and some musical instruments such as drums.
- It has been claimed that a pinch of slippery elm powder put into a hollow tooth arrests the pain and greatly delays decay, if used on first noticing any sign of decay.
- It is also said that ‘lozenges containing 3 grains of elm flavored with methyl salicylate are used as a demulcent ‘. As you can see, the health benefits of slippery elm are quite extensive. Largely, they centre around slippery elm bark’s special soothing quality, which is pretty much made clear in the name of the plant – ‘slippery ‘.Indeed, such a unique medicinal property makes the slippery elm tree a truly special plant. Among all herbs slippery elm is thus a massively essential part of anyone’s herbal armory.
Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) has been used as an herbal remedy in North America for centuries. Native Americans used slippery elm in healing salves for wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, and skin inflammation. It was also taken orally to relieve coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems.
Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. It also contains antioxidants that help relieve inflammatory bowel conditions. Slippery elm also causes reflux stimulation of nerve endings in the gastrointestinal tract leading to increased mucus secretion. The increased mucus production may protect the gastrointestinal tract against ulcers and excess acidity.
There has been little scientific research on slippery elm, but it is often suggested for the following conditions:
- Sore throat
- Gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD)
- Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrom (IBS)
- Wounds, burns, boils, psoriasis, and other skin conditions (external)
Slippery elm is a medium-sized tree native to North America. It can reach well over 50 feet in height and is topped by spreading branches that form an open crown. The red, brown, or orange branches grow downward, and the stalkless flowers are arranged in dense clusters. The plant’s leaves are long and green, and they darken in color during the fall. The bark has deep fissures, a gummy texture, and a slight but distinct odor.
The inner bark is dried and powdered, and used for medicinal purposes.
How to Take It:
- Tea: Pour 2 cups boiling water over 4 g (roughly 2 tablespoons) of powdered bark, then steep for 3 – 5 minutes. Drink 3 times per day.
- Tincture: 5 mL 3 times per day. Note: Contains alcohol.
- Capsules: 400 – 500 mg 3 – 4 times daily for 4 – 8 weeks. Take with a full glass of water.
- Lozenges: follow dosing instructions on label.
- External application: Mix coarse powdered bark with boiling water to make a poultice; cool and apply to affected area. Never apply slippery elm to an open wound.
The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
Slippery elm has no serious side effects. Because it coats the digestive tract, it may slow down the absorption of other drugs or herbs. You should take slippery elm 2 hours before or after other herbs or medications you may be taking.
Scientists think slippery elm is safe in pregnancy and during breastfeeding, but no scientific studies have been done to confirm this. In fact, some herbalists believe that slippery elm can cause miscarriage. The outer bark of the elm tree may contain substances that could increase the risk of miscarriage, so sometimes pregnant women are advised to avoid slippery elm. Do not take any herbal supplements when pregnant or breastfeeding unless you’re under the supervision of a physician.
There are no scientific reports of slippery elm interacting with any other medications, although it may slow down the absorption of other drugs or herbs (see “Precautions” section).
Plant Medicine: Slippery Elm Bark
When in need of medicine, I turn to nature for the antidote. I always find what I need to heal my body, whether a change of food is needed, the use of bitter herbs or a herbal poultice to soothe any wounded flesh. Most of the time I am lead to the right plant by my body’s intelligent search for the proper medicine. Well, that is if I take the time to listen, and after years of learning that my body knows best, I now stop and pay close attention to that deep inner voice.
Plants can be food and they can also have powerful medicinal properties. You want to know where to find them in nature and certain plants you want to have within easy reach for life’s emergencies. Slippery elm bark is one such plant to keep in the medicine cabinet. It comes from the inner bark of the slippery elm tree, a rather large, deciduous tree that grows throughout north America. Mucilaginous, or gummy, in nature, the bark soothes inflamed tissue and heals the internal body, especially the intestinal tract, and also works wonders as a poultice for external wounds.
I discovered this around 1987 when I awoke one morning with a flaming toothache and facing the possibility of yet another root canal. Not this time! says I, and off in search for a cure I went. My local health food store yielded up a book or two on herbs and my intuition pulled me towards the Slippery Elm. I emptied a few capsules of ground powder into a cup, stirred in four ounces of hot water and let it grow thick and gelatinous. Yeawww, I was having second thoughts; but then it didn’t smell so bad and a quick taste on the tongue found it rather pleasant, so I cut up a few squares of cotton, soaked them in the mixture and, when cool, tucked a piece between cheek and gum, changing the poultice every two hours.
Right away the pain was soothed and within a few days, the gum inflammation had subsided. By the end of the week, it had cleared up entirely. Eureka! I cried, and moved on with my life. A short time later I was contacted by a young man who was dying of AIDS. He had just come down to Florida from New York City and was looking for someone to provide him with meals based on the macrobiotic principles of cooking. I was informed that he could not chew food as his mouth was filled with cancerous lesions from Karposi Sarcoma. When we met I could see he was wasting away and any attempt to eat caused tremendous pain from the mouth sores. Remembering how the slippery elm bark had soothed my inflamed gum tissue, I made up a batch, instructing him to soak the cotton and keep as many in his mouth as possible. Right away the pain was soothed and within the week the lesions had begun to heal so that he could begin to eat solid food again. I was as amazed as everyone else and was pleased to have brought him some relief in his final weeks of life. It also taught me a valuable lesson about the power of natural medicine and set me on a course to learn more.
Over the years I have recommended slippery elm bark to clients with digestive issues. When taken internally it soothes, coats and heals inflamed tissue including the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat, stomach, bowels and kidneys. Individuals suffering from colitis, constipation, cystitis, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome can benefit from taking it as a tea or in capsule form. The only caution herbalists include is for pregnant women not to use slippery elm bark as it may cause miscarriage. Other health conditions aided by slippery elm bark include sore throat, tonsillitis, and some swear it is the quickest remedy for controlling diarrhea. External skin conditions benefit from a poultice used to soothe diaper rash, inflamed gum, and mouth sores; although it is not recommended to use on open skin wounds.
When working with medicinal plants and herbs, be sure to check with your doctor so they do not interfere with any medications you are taking. The mucilage of slippery elm can coat the stomach and intestines, slowing down the absorption of other medications. In this case you will need to take slippery elm either two hours before or two hours after you take your meds.