Herbal slippery elm bark comes from a fairly small tree that is native to North America. It is the inner bark of the tree that has medicinal value and has official drug status in the United States.
The bark is harvested in the spring and dried. The bark is then powdered and has an aroma similar to that of fenugreek. There are two versions of slipper elm powder – A fine powder for using in drinks and a coarser version for poultices. The powder is also available in capsule form.
For the best results, ensure that the slippery elm bark powder you purchase is a grey or fawn color. A darker color suggests that the powder is not of the best quality.
Slippery Elm Medicinal Benefits
- It is a natural expectorant and is therefore beneficial when suffering from coughs, colds, and other disorders of the respiratory system. It can help to clear the airways of excess mucus.
- It has diuretic properties and so can help to keep the body free from toxins and reduce water retention. It can help to keep the urinary system free from infection and inflammation.
- Slippery elm powder can be made into a foodstuff. By taking just one teaspoon of the powder, a paste can be made with cold water and then diluted with a pint of boiling water. This makes a nutritious drink that can be sweetened with cinnamon to make it more palatable. This will help to soothe the stomach lining and is beneficial for stomach and digestive system upsets.
- The slippery elm drink can also help induce restful sleep.
- When used externally as a poultice, slippery elm can help to heal wounds, burns, ulcers, and other skin infections and inflammations. The powder should be mixed with hot water to form a paste and applied with a clean cotton cloth.
- Slippery elm lozenges are available to sooth sore throats. The herb forms a coating over the inflammation. Many brands of throat lozenge have slippery elm as one of the main ingredients.
- It can balance the health of the bowels and is good for both diarrhea and constipation. Sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome will find this herb beneficial.
- The paste can be applied to toothache and help to prevent tooth decay.
Slippery Elm Bark Side Effects
The herb has few side effects, but care should be taken when administering it.
Slippery elm has the ability to coat the stomach lining and other parts of the digestive system and may affect the absorption of other supplements or medications. As such, slippery elm should not be taken within two hours of other medications.
Pregnant women should avoid taking slippery elm powder, as the effects on an unborn child are unknown. It is considered to be safe for children but should be given under the supervision of a doctor.
If users have any concerns, a medical practitioner should be consulted prior to embarking on a course of treatment with the herb.