Slippery Elm Bark (Ulmus rubra) is native to the eastern and central United States and eastern Canada. Slippery elm is most commonly found in the Appalachian Mountains.1 The inner bark of the slippery elm tree contains the medicinal qualities which make it a useful remedy for indigestion, colds, sore throats, and skin wounds.2
What it is used for: Slippery elm is often used as a demulcent and emollient; it is primarily indicated for treatment of irritated and inflamed mucous membranes such as can be found in the throat and digestive tract.3 Because it contains large amounts of mucilage – which coat the surface of mucous membranes when it comes into contact with water – it is often used for its mucilaginous comforting properties, for example, in the case of hemorrhoids.4 Slippery elm has also been used to treat diarrhea and ulcers.5 Other uses include treatment for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, and gastritis.6
Research Highlights: The inner bark contains mucilage, a mixture of polyuronides that removes toxins from mucous membranes and helps soothe them. Its other compounds include procyanidins, starch, and tannins.7 Little research has actually been conducted on slippery elm, but its use by native peoples and in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine has produced substantial body of anecdotal evidence. Its long history of use based on clinical experience suggest that 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), and as a skin softener.8
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As with any medical information on health, it is always best to check with your personal physician who knows your medical history best since they are more qualified in giving you the best recommendation. Our information, advice or recommendation is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have.
1. The Complete Guide to Natural Healing. (2000). International Masters Publishers, AB., 1:99.
3. PDR For Herbal Medicines, 3rd ed. (2004). Thompson PDR, pg. 737.
5. Mowrey, D. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. (1986). Keats Publishing, pg. 241.
6. Balch, P. & Balch, J. (2000). Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd ed., Avery Publishing, pg. 109.
7. The Complete Guide to Natural Healing. (2000). International Masters Publishers, AB. 1:99.