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Slippery Elm

Ulmus rubra

Indian Elm
Moose Elm
Slippery Elm
Sweet Elm

Parts used
Uses
Habitat and cultivation
Research
How much to take
Side effects and cautions
Applications
Anti-ulcer decoction

Herbs gallery - slippery_elm.jpg


The powdered inner bark of the slippery elm is a wonderfully soothing remedy for the mucous membranes throughout the body. Slippery elm will soothe irritation and inflammation in the stomach, bowels, kidneys and urinary tract, the reproductive system and the whole of the respiratory system. It makes a good remedy for gastritis, acidity, peptic ulcers, colitis, enteritis and for diarrhea. It will relieve cystitis, irritable bladder, nasal and bronchial catarrh, and soothe a dry irritating cough.

The powder can be mixed with warm water or milk to make a nourishing gruel, which will not only soothe indigestion and heartburn, but also provide an easily digested and assimilated meal, ideal for adults and children during convalescence or when debilitated. Honey or powdered cinnamon or ginger can be added to it to improve the flavor. Slippery elm powder can be mixed with water or glycerine to form a paste to apply as a healing and soothing poultice for cuts and wounds, burns and scalds, inflammatory skin problems and ulcers. Slippery elm makes a good drawing remedy for boils and abscesses.

PARTS USED

Inner bark, leaves, flowers.

USES

Nourishing - Taken regularly, slippery elm is nutritious and soothing. Slippery elm is an excellent food in convalescence and debilitated states, especially if the digestion is weak or overly sensitive. Slippery elm is also a good baby food.
Digestive disorders - Slippery elm is a particularly soothing herb and can bring instant relief from acidity, diarrhea, and gastroenteritis. Slippery elm will also help alleviate conditions such as colic, inflammation of the gut, constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Urinary problems - Slippery elm is a useful remedy for urinary problems such as chronic cystitis.
Respiratory conditions - Slippery elm has been used to treat all manner of chest conditions and has a soothing effect on everything from coughs and bronchitis to pleurisy and tuberculosis.
External uses - Applied externally, slippery elm softens and protects the skin. Slippery elm also works very well as a "drawing" poultice for boils and splinters.
Other medical uses - Dry Mouth, Gastritis

HABITAT AND CULTIVATION

Slippery elm is a native of the US and Canada, and is found most commonly in the Appalachian Mountains. The tree thrives on high ground and dry soil. The inner bark of the trunk and branches is collected in spring.

RESEARCH

Mucilage - There is limited research into slippery elm, but its action as an herb with large quantities of mucilage is well understood. When the herb comes into direct contact with inflamed surfaces such as the skin or the intestinal membranes, it soothes and coats the irritated tissue, protects it from injury, and draws out toxins or irritants.
Reflex action - When slippery elm is taken internally, it is thought likely that it causes a reflex stimulation of nerve endings in the stomach and intestines that leads to secretion of mucus by the membranes of the urinary tract.

HOW MUCH TO TAKE

Two or more tablets or capsules (typically 400-500 mg each) can be taken three to four times per day. A tea is made by boiling 1-2 grams of the bark in 200 ml of water for ten to fifteen minutes, which is then cooled before drinking; three to four cups a day can be used. Tincture, 5 ml three times per day, can be taken. Slippery elm is also an ingredient of some cough lozenges and cough syrups.

SIDE EFFECTS AND CAUTIONS

Slippery elm is quite safe, with no known side effects or interactions with any other medicines.

APPLICATIONS

The inner bark, the most important part of the tree, is collected in the following way: select an elm that is at least 10 years old, cut out a rectangle without, however, peeling all the way around so as not to injure the tree-ideally, apply a clay poultice to regenerate the tree. The bark of a healthy elm will fold when pressure is applied. Remove the outer bark. Cut the inner bark into small pieces and dry in the shade for at least 2 weeks. Finely grate and reduce to a powder using a coffee grinder: the finer the powder, the more powerful its effect on ulcers, digestive ulcers, aerophagia or anorexia. The active principles are soluble in warm or cold water: combine the powder with 4 times its volume of water and stir well. Excellent against all sorts of digestive inflammations.
In an infusion, when combined with comfrey, slippery elm treats ulcers; with angelica, it eliminates intestinal gas; and with loosestrife, it stops diarrhea.
Applied externally, powder-based poultices, combined with antibiotic herbs such as burdock or wild thyme, are marvelous against bacterial infections.
In the case of an anal infection, use a water solution or an herbal tea: 4/5 cup (200 ml) with 1 t (5 g) powder, strained and lukewarm, and combined with chamomile, catnip or oak bark. To prepare an enema, increase the amount used to 3/4 oz (20 g) 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!


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