Slippery Elm

Ulmus rubra

Herbs gallery - Slippery Elm

Common names

  • Indian Elm
  • Moose Elm
  • Slippery Elm
  • Sweet Elm

Indigenous to North America, slippery elm trees normally breed in damp, but not drenched forests in the United States as well as in eastern parts of neighboring Canada.

Migrating planters from England have been familiar with various other varieties of elm tree barks and used them to cure coughs and sore throats back home in Europe. The barks of these slippery elm trees were also used a balm to heal fractured bone or cuts.

Later, they used slippery elm as a remedy for urinary tract infections. Even the indigenous inhabitants of America effectively used the barks of slippery elm for treating cold sores as well as boils.

Obviously, barks of slippery elm trees were common for healing battered eyes and also to cure gun-shot injuries during the American Revolution. Basically, the inner bark of slippery elm trees, the part next to the timber, has medicinal properties and is collected during spring.

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Talking about the combination of this tree, the bark of slippery elm has mucilage, while the other constituents of the timber comprise beta-sitosterol as well as campestrol.

It also contains some proportion of calcium oxalate, while the interior of the bark has tannin in small quantities. As it has been mentioned earlier, the bark of slippery elm tree has been traditionally used as a balm to heal external cuts and bruises as well as joint pains resulting from gout or other problems.

Currently, the bark of slippery elm is primarily used to cure soar throats as is widely used as an element tablets available to cure throat inflammation.

As aching throats and cough often accompany each other, the bark of slippery elm tree is also commonly used as a medicine to heal coughs.

It may be noted here that the slippery elm bark can be blended with the bark of wild cherry, leaves of sweet gum, mullein, and also sweetening to prepare cough syrups at home.

Those who can avail the bark of slippery elm directly may chew it. It is reported to have a tasty flavour and provide the same relief in the above mentioned ailments.

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Parts used

Inner bark, leaves, flowers.


When the bark of slippery elm is consumed on a regular basis, it is not only nourishing, but has a comforting effect too. Basically, the bark of slippery elm is a tremendous food when a patient is recuperating or is in an incapacitated condition.

It helps enormously if a person's digestive system is feeble or extra responsive. Most importantly, slippery elm bark is a great and useful diet for infants.

As mentioned earlier, slippery elm has a comforting effect and when applied the herb easily brings instantaneous respite to patients suffering from tartness, diarrhea and gastroenteritis.

Slippery elm bark also has the properties to assist in assuaging people suffering from colic (stomach pain), burning sensation in the gut, constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis as well as tetchy or irritable bowel diseases.

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While slippery elm helps to ease pain and irritation in the stomach, intestines, kidneys and the urinary tract, it is also useful in treating problems related to the reproductive as well as the respiratory system.

If one uses the powder of slippery elm's inner bark, it can produce a superb comforting effect on the mucous membranes covering all over the body.

In addition, the inner bark of slippery elm is of high medicinal value to treat gastritis, sourness, peptic ulcers, colitis as well as enteritis. The herb also has properties of alleviating cystitis, inflammatory bladder, nasal and bronchial catarrh as well as providing relief from an irksome cough.

When the slippery elm inner bark is combined with tepid water or milk to make a nutritious mixture, it provides great comfort in indigestion and heartburn. The mixture also provides for an effective diet for recuperating children and adults or people who are incapacitated.

If the mixture of slippery elm and warm water or milk is difficult to consume, one may add powdered cinnamon or ginger, honey or any sweetener to add flavor to the potion.

For healing external wounds, cuts or injuries, slippery elm bark may be blended with glycerin and applied as a cream over the affected area for quick healing.

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The paste is also useful for healing burns, scalds, ulcers as well as inflammatory skin problems. It may be noted that slippery elm is also useful in healing boils and swellings.

In addition, the herb has also been used as a remedy for all conditions of the chest and has a comforting effect on any problem related to the upper body - bronchitis to pleurisy as well as tuberculosis.

If the powder or paste of slippery elm bark is applied externally on the epidermis, it proves to be an effective remedy to safeguard the skin and keep it soft and natural. In addition, slippery elm also has a beneficial action on boils and cracks on the skin.

Other medical uses

Habitat and cultivation

As mentioned earlier, the slippery tree is indigenous to the United States and neighboring Canada and grows naturally on the Appalachian Mountains. The tree survives best at an altitude and dry soil.

It requires a moist atmosphere, but cannot survive in soaked land. The bark, particularly the inner bark, and the branches of the tree have medicinal properties and are collected during the spring.


Although very little research has been done into the medicinal benefits of the slippery elm, traditional use of the herb has proved that it has sizeable contents of mucilage. It has also been proved that the herb has multifarious remedial utilities.

Whatever research has done into the medicinal properties of slippery elm bark, it has established that when the herb is in direct contact with irritated exteriors like the epidermis or intestinal coverings, it provides a comforting effect and also smothers the inflammatory tissues.

The herb helps in protecting the tissues from any kind of damage and pulls out the contaminants or the annoyances.

If the slippery elm bark extract is consumed internally, it is considered to result in an impulsive stimulus of nerve endings in the stomach and intestines that result to the excretion of mucus by the tissue coverings of the urinary tract.

Usual dosage

Slippery elm bark may be consumed in different forms. In order to heal the above mentioned aliments, one may take two or more tablets or capsules each of 400 - 500 mg three of four times daily.

Alternatively, one can also consume a tea prepared from boiling one to two grams of slippery elm bark in 200 ml of water for 10-15 minutes and drink it after cooling. Normally, a person may consume 3 to 4 cups of this tea daily to get the best results.

If one is using the tincture of slippery elm bark, it is advisable to five ml of the same daily for best results. In addition, the bark of the slippery tree is also used as a component of tablets, lozenges or syrups to treat sore throats and persistent coughs.

Side effects and cautions

There is no known side effects or interactions with any other medicines. Slippery elm is considered a quite safe herb.


In order to derive the best results from the herb, one must follow certain specifications while collecting the inner bark of the slippery elm tree, which contains the maximum remedial properties. The best time to collect the bark is spring and the procedure of collecting the inner bark of slippery elm is as follows.

First of all one must choose an elm that is at least 10 years old. Next, he cuts out a rectangle without striping all the way around so that he does not injure the tree. The best way to do this is to put on a clay paste to redevelop the tree.

The bark of a vigorous slippery elm will crease when force is applied. Take away the outer bark and slash the inner bark into little pieces and dry in the shadow for at least a fortnight.

Then thinly shred and diminish the inner bark of slippery elm to a dust using a coffee dicer: the better the dust, the more dominant its effect on ulcers, digestive ulcers, aerophagia or anorexia.

The active parts of the bark will dissolve in warm or cold water so blend the powder with four times its volume of water and whip well. This mixture is superb against all kinds of digestive inflammations.

When the bark of slippery elm is blended with comfrey to form an infusion, it is an effective remedy for ulcers. When the bark is added with angelica, the mixture gets rid of all intestinal gas.

And when combined with loosestrife, slippery elm bark helps to prevent or curb diarrhea. A paste prepared from powdered slippery elm bark and antibiotic herbs like burdock or wild thyme can be used externally as an excellent protection against infections from bacteria.

If someone is suffering from an anal contagion, the best way to cure it is to use a water solution or an herbal tea containing 4/5 cup or 200 ml with 1 t or 5 grams of slippery elm powder, strained and tepid, and mixed with chamomile, catnip or oak bark. And if you desire to make an enema, enhance the quantity used to 3/4 oz or 20 grams of slippery elm powder.

Anti-ulcer decoction

  • 1/3 oz (10 g) catnip leaves
  • 1/3 oz (10 g) comfrey leaves
  • 1/3 oz (10 g) slippery elm powder
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water

Infuse the plants in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and let cool to lukewarm; combine the slippery elm powder in the teapot. Allow to swell for 10 minutes.

Take small sips between meals or during a crisis.

In a paste (with 6 T [100 ml] water), it can be applied to all kinds of skin ulcerations.

This decoction treats ulcers, as well as the painful attacks of ulcerous colitis and acute diarrhea.

Note: do not be put off by the slippery elm's sticky texture and fenugreek taste. Its aromatic mucilages can perform miracles!


From Chill Time - Apr-26-2012
I use it as a drink before meals to sooth the intestines during a chronic diverticulitis flare-up. It really cools and calms things down when the abdomen is feeling painful. I use it like you would Metamucil, add about 1-2 tablespoon of the ground powder to juice or sweet tea, it adds a flavor a bit like cinnamon. Like cocoa, it doesn't mix well with liquids if you just stir with a spoon, so it helps to use a hand blender or mini food processor to mix it. If you get too much powder it becomes like oatmeal, you can eat it with a spoon. Or it will thicken your drink to milkshake consistency if you use less powder.
You can also sweeten the tea with licorice root which is also extremely good for digestive issues. Licorice root doesn't taste like licorice candy, there is no anise flavor at all. It is just extremely sweet and earthy tasting, like cinnamon but sweeter and not as strong. I buy both herbs in bulk about 2 cups at a time online or at a natural grocers shop. Pour boiling water over 1T licorice root to fill a tea pot and leave it on the stove all day. Pour a cup several times a day, add 1-2T slippery elm bark powder, mix with the hand blender. Not bad at all, really.
From Diana Ramirez
I have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease and diverticulitis. I have been reading up on slippery elm and currently taking it and it has done wonders for me in maintaining flare ups and relief of painful bowels, inflammation, and diarrhea.
I was diagnosed with colon cancer and Blessed by God and free of it for 3 yrs now. I now have only 1/3 of my colon. The top portion and descending colon is all I have left.
From Merritt
Slippery elm bark has worked wonders for me! My new doctor wanted to keep me off the PPI drugs, as well as chewing gum incessantly to keep heartburn and abdominal pain away. My "dirt tea," as I've called it (since I don't really enjoy the taste) was working on lots of things at once. Now, I find out it's been helping with inflammation, too! I developed gout earlier this year, and wondered why these last 4 months it's improved so much. She didn't even mention slippery elm would help with that. My daughter has a few skin issues - so I can't wait to make the paste to apply and see what it does to help her. God is so good to provide this great healing agent in nature.
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