September 26, 2016

Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva)

Fall is coming and with it the ubiquitous sore throat. My favorite herb for sore throat is Slippery Elm. Perfect name, it slips right over your scratchy raw throat coating it with soothing comfort. It is made from the bark of the Slippery Elm tree. Native to North America, Slippery Elm was used by indigenous American Indians as band aids for wounds. They cut the bark from the tree and stuck it on their injured arm or leg. Herbalists still use if this way, recommending the dressing with slippery elm be changed and wound cleaned at least daily. Dressings of slippery elm have helped mastitis, eruptions, and even leprosy.

The mucilaginous texture of powdered slippery elm bark soothes upset tummies and is nature's "Pedialyte" for maintaining fluids and calming upset gastrointestinal tracts. Gruel of water and powdered slippery elm with a little cinnamon provides protein, amino acids, iodine, bromine, and manganese salts, calcium, starch, and tannins. It helps neutralize acid and settles nausea. All sorts of gastrointestinal aliments have improved with slippery elm. Colitis, gastritis, esophagitis, ulcers have all benefited. Studies have shown that the slippery elm aids digestion, absorbs toxins, and promotes beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Slippery elm should not be used during pregnancy or by anyone allergic to elm. The mucilage that is promoted by slippery elm may reduce effectiveness of other medications and should not be taken with them.

Yours in herbs,
Danielle Rose, MD