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Slippery Elm

Slippery Elm

What is Slippery Elm?

Slippery elm is a tree native to North America and it is the inner bark that has the medicinal value.  Slippery elm, or slippery elm bark, contains mucilage, complex carbohydrates, tannins, calcium oxalate, phytosterols, sesquiterpenes, flavenoids, salicylic acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, decanoic acid, and vitamin E.  The mucilage is a demulcent and emollient.  Tannins are typically used as astringents to treat weeping skin lesions, diarrhea, or bleeding.  The tannins also help to tighten and constrict tissue.  Mucilage is a slippery, sticky, and soothing substance that often has a high nutritional value, as it does in slippery elm.

Benefits of Slippery Elm

Slippery elm is a demulcent, emollient, expectorant, and diuretic.  Demulcent means that it is soothing, softening, buffering, and has poison-drawing qualities.  This herb has a number of health benefits.  It helps to neutralise stomach acids, boost the adrenal glands, draw out impurities, and heal all parts of the body.  The mucilage coats the mouth, oesophagus, and gastrointestinal tract with a slick residue.  It soothes the inflammation of ulcers in the stomach and duodenum and helps to provide a barrier between the ulcer and stomach acid.  It soothes irritations or ulcerations in the stomach and intestines and is good for helping with gastrointestinal conditions.

Slippery elm can help to soothe a sore throat, alleviate the pain of colic or stomach ulcers, and relieve inflammatory bowel conditions.  Slippery elm helps with digestion and cleanses the colon.  It is particularly helpful for easing a cough and soothing a sore throat as it coats the area and reduces irritation.  Slippery elm is a tonic that benefits the adrenal glands, respiratory system, and the gastrointestinal tract.  Used topically, slippery elm can relieve minor injuries such as burns, cold sores, razor burns, scrapes, and sunburn.

Other things that slippery elm can help with include:

  • abscesses
  • asthma
  • bronchitis
  • burns
  • colitis
  • constipation
  • coughs
  • nappy rash
  • diarrhea

Dosage of and Side Effects of Slippery Elm

The generally advised dosage of slippery elm is to take between 4 and 10 grams of the dried inner bark in capsule form three to four times a day.  You can also make a tea by boiling teaspoons-full of loose bark in a cup of water for ten to fifteen minutes, cooled before drinking.  Three to four cups of this tea can be drunk per day.  To use externally, mix coarse powdered bark with boiling water to make a poultice.

Slippery elm is safe when taken at the recommended dosages.  It is completely non toxic and has no known drug interactions.  However, some people may develop an allergic rash when it is applied to the skin.


Topic: Herbal Medicine

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