The ‘Slippery’ part of Slippery Elm refers to the texture of the herb. This is because of the large mucilage content of Slippery Elm, which is also responsible for its wonderful healing and soothing action. In most herbal literature this is termed a ‘demulcent’ or an ’emollient’ agent, which means it is a soothing substance.
It not only soothes and heals all that it comes into contact with, but is highly nutritious. Slippery Elm is a wholesome food for the weak and convalescent, from infants to the elderly.
Slippery Elm makes a wonderfully soothing and healing poultice, applied locally to the problem, for drawing out toxins, especially those associated with boils, spots or abscesses and can assist the removal of splinters.
Applied to wounds, burns and inflammation of any kind, Slippery Elm is soothing and helps heal, and reduce swelling and pain.
Because of the mucilage content of Slippery Elm, it can be just as valuable internally as externally.
Taken as a tea, it can help to relieve the irritations of the mucous membranes in our bodies. This involves the 30 to 32 feet of the alimentary canal or intestinal tract. This wonderful herb is good for such things as sore throats, gastrointestinal ulcers, tuberculosis, asthma, diphtheria, croup, pleurisy, diarrhea, dysentery, and many urinary problems
For a natural antacid, slippery elm is able to neutralize excess acids in the stomach and intestines. I have found that drinking slippery elm tea is quite effective in overcoming indigestion. So next time you reach for one of those antacids that are advertised on the television, think about slippery elm capsules or a nice cup of slippery elm tea. You can find capsules or the bulk herb at your nearest health food store.
Internal Use of Slippery Elm
Slippery Elm Bark can be used to help soothe many different types of digestive complaints, for example:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Colitis and diverticulitis
- Inflammation of the gut or colic
- Can give instant relief to acid indigestion or ‘reflux’ (this is a common use for Slippery Elm)
- Ulcers anywhere in the gut (stomach & intestines)
- Diarrhoea – especially if mixed with a banana and powdered Marshmallow
- As a nutritive (a nourishing herb). Slippery Elm powder is a great food for debilitated states, and as a baby food
- It can also be useful for urinary infections – cystitis for example.
- Traditionally, Slippery Elm bark is also reported to ease chest, lung and bronchial conditions
Powder/tea drink – Mix 1 tsp herb with a little water to a paste. Slowly add half a pint or so of boiling water, stirring or whisking all the time. Drink 2-3 cups daily.
Slippery Elm is often combined with other digestive herbs, such as Aniseed, Peppermint or Cardamom. You may also come across many products formulated for the bowel or kidneys and urinary tract which contain Slippery Elm and other herbs.
Slippery Elm is great by itself for colitis and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). It can also be combined with other herbs including wild yam, bayberry and agrimony to make an excellent combination herbal formula for colitis or IBS. This is great if taken along with Slippery Elm Tea. Find a product, or products, which work for you – either the single herb or a combination of herbs – and continue for a full course of treatment. Have Slippery Elm Tea every day.
A somewhat standard way to make slippery elm gruel is to gradually mix one pint or more of warm (not hot or to the boiling point) honey water with four to six tablespoons of slippery elm root powder. Use a wire wisk to mix the gruel. Do this until the desired consistency is attained. For flavoring, you can add a bit of honey, pure maple syrup or barley malt and/or a dash or two of cinnamon powder. In most cases, this mixture should be readily accepted both by young infants as well as the aged. For those who are severely debilitated and wasting away, you can prepare the gruel with ginseng tea. In times of famine, early American settlers used it as a survival food. It is said GeorgeWashington and his troops survived for several days on slippery elm gruel during the bitter winter at Valley Forge.
Another valuable herb to bear in mind is Cayenne Pepper – Capsicum minimum, which tends to stop bleeding. Cayenne is very, very helpful to counteract any intestinal bleeding.
You can take cayenne pepper in tomato juice. The tomatoe juice cuts the heat of the cayenne. YOu should alwyas take cayenne in a liquid or food. DO NOT TAKE THE CAPULES…For cayenne to do the work it needs to do you need to take it by mouth. It works very well alongside Slippery Elm. (But DO visit your doctor to make sure the bleeding has no sinister cause.)
Cayenne and Slippery Elm are two beautifully simple and truly fantastic herbs. When they are needed – they are incomparable. They would both definitely be in this herbalist’s ‘Top Ten Herbs To Have On A Desert Island.’
Native Americans used slippery elm for cuts. The bleedingwill stop as the powdered herb seals and then protected the wound like a natural cast. Cover and keep dry.