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Slippery Elm

Slippery Elm


This is a small tree that is found in North America. It has long leaves and rough branches. The leaves have hairs and the flowers have no stalks. The leaf buds are covered with wool that is yellow in appearance.

The tree has no commercial value so it is completely stripped and left to die. The inner bark is quite flexible but very tough. The outer surface of the bark is reddish yellow and may consist of patches that are reddish brown in colour.

The bark that should be used should be about ten years old. The reason why it has its name “slippery elm” is because when it is mixed with water, it forms a slippery constituency.

Medicinal uses

Unlike other drugs which are still under testing, slippery elm is recognised by the FDA as a medicinal herb that is safe and can be taken on a non prescription basis. The following are some of the medicinal uses of the slippery elm bark:

  1. The herb can be used to sooth the inner lining of the digestive system. It does this by coating the mucus membranes and absorbing all the toxins which are known to cause an imbalance in the digestive tract.
  2. It can be used to treat diarrhoea, heart burn, haemorrhoids, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis.
  3. It can be used to treat respiratory problems, coughs and sore throats.
  4. The herb can be used as a remedy for heart diseases.
  5. It can also be used to treat cancer.
  6. Diseases in the female organs ca be treated using the slippery elm. It is believed to harbour healing effects.
  7. When it is applied on to the skin, slippery elm can help to heal infections and wounds. It was traditionally used to treat boils and wounds.
  8. When the slippery elm is taken as a tea or as a capsule, it can be used to treat asthma by reducing the bronco spasms it is usually associated with.

Dosage and administration

The herb is available in capsule, tea or powder form. It ca be combined with other herbs such as aloe, ginger or peppermint. It is advisable that you always consult your doctor before you start taking any herb, slipper elm included.

When taking the tea, you should take a mug full of the tea three times a day minimal, twice a day. The capsules on the other hand should be taken with a glass of water. It is recommended that you take about three or four of the capsules.

The dosage of the herb will also be determined by the person’s health and age. This means that for young babies, the dosage might be different from that of adults.

Parts used

The inner bark is the part of the tree that is used for medicinal value.


  1. The slippery elm tree can be used as food. The bark can e grounded into powder and made as porridge. It is very nutritious and contains a lot of anti oxidants. The taste is similar to oatmeal as well as the consistency.
  2. In order to prevent fats from becoming rancid, the slippery elm can be used as an anti oxidant.
  3. The tree can be used to make musical instruments e.g. drums, furniture, fence posts, chords, ropes and burial caskets.
  4. It can be used as a pain killer. The powdery form of the plant can be put into the decaying tooth and prevents further decay.

Side effects

It has been used for years to treat the body and strengthen it. Herbs have been know to trigger some side effects and cause the body to have severe reactions that require medical attention.

It is however advised that all people who want to take herb and are pregnant or under any other form of medication, should seek the help of a physician.

There are no registered interactions of slippery elm with anything else. It is considered to be safe even for pregnant and nursing mothers. However, it has been noted that it slows down the interaction with other drugs or herbs. It is therefore advised that you take the herb two hours before you take other medications or other herbs.




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