Slippery Elm bark (Ulmus fulva Michaux)
Also known as red elm, the slippery elm is a small deciduous tree native to eastern and central North America. Native Americans used slippery elm bark as a treatment for both constipation and diarrhoea. The powdered inner bark is used medicinally and is stripped from the trunk and large branches in the spring.
Slippery elm contains mucilage, tannin, starch and minerals and is a gentle and soothing remedy for any inflammatory condition of the gastro-intestinal tract, for example oesophagitis, gastritis, colitis, gastric or duodenal ulcers and diarrhoea. Its demulcent and nutritive actions make it especially suitable for sensitive or inflamed mucous membrane linings in the digestive system.
It is frequently used as a food during convalescence because it is gentle on the gut and easily assimilated. As a treatment for diarrhoea it soothes and astringes at the same time.
Applied topically, slippery elm makes an excellent poultice for use in cases of boils, abscesses, ulcers or burns.
Because of the worldwide demand for slippery elm, the fine powdered inner bark is in short supply and the coarser outer bark is often substituted – this lacks the efficacy of the inner bark.
NB: The above information is for guidance only, and is not intended to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified practitioner. Some herbs may interact adversely with other medication, so make sure that your health professional is aware of everything you are taking.