- Slippery Elm: The Digestive Aid that May Fight Breast Cancer
- What Is Slippery Elm?
- 1. Helps Improve Digestive Function
- 2. May Aid in Weight Loss (When Combined With a Low-Calorie Diet)
- 3. Can Help Reduce Oxidative Stress
- 4. May Help Prevent Breast Cancer
- 5. May Reduce Severity of Symptoms of Psoriasis
- Slippery Elm Interesting Facts
- How to Use
- Risks and Side Effects
- Final Thoughts
- SLIPPERY ELM
- More Resources for SLIPPERY ELM
- Slippery Elm Uses, Benefits & Dosage — Drugs.com Herbal Database
- Adverse Reactions
- Uses and Pharmacology
- Pregnancy / Lactation
- Further information
- Related treatment guides
- Slippery Elm Uses, Benefits & Side Effects — Drugs.com Herbal Database
- Common Name(s)
- What is it used for?
- What is the recommended dosage?
- Side Effects
- (slippery elm) Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions
- What are the possible side effects of slippery elm?
- What is the most important information I should know about slippery elm?
- What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking slippery elm?
- How should I take slippery elm?
- What happens if I miss a dose?
- What happens if I overdose?
- What should I avoid while taking slippery elm?
- What other drugs will affect slippery elm?
- Where can I get more information?
- What Slippery Elm Can Help You With
Slippery Elm: The Digestive Aid that May Fight Breast Cancer
Do you struggle with constipation, diarrhea or other digestive issues? If so, it’s worth trying slippery elm, an herbal remedy used in North America since the 19th century that has been shown to treat a number of digestive issues.
What are the uses for slippery elm (also known as red elm)? It contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water.
This mucilage coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines, making it ideal for sore throats, coughs, gastroesophageal reflux diseases, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis and diarrhea.
What Is Slippery Elm?
The slippery elm tree (SE), medically known as Ulmus fulva, is native Eastern North America, including parts of the U.S. and Canada. It’s long been used by Native Americans to make healing salves and tinctures that can help treat various types of wounds, as well as taken orally for the relief of flu and cold- symptoms and sore throats.
The SE tree ia medium-sized tree that can reach well over 50 feet in height and is topped by spreading branches that form an open crown. The tree’s bark has deep fissures, a gummy texture, and a slight but distinct odor. It’s the inner bark that’s most often dried and powdered to be used for medicinal purposes, since it creates a lubricating substance when mixed with water.
Today, slippery elm bark is typically found in tablet and capsule form, or used to make lozenges, powders, teas and extracts.
In addition to mucilage, research demonstrates that SE contains antioxidants and antimicrobial agents, making it a great remedy for wounds, burns, boils, psoriasis and other external skin conditions triggered by inflammation.
other high-antioxidant foods, studies suggest it may also help relieve inflammatory bowel conditions ulcerative colitis, which is why it’s recommended for anyone following an IBS diet.
1. Helps Improve Digestive Function
Is slippery elm a laxative? Although it works differently than some other laxatives, it seems to improve symptoms of constipation, IBD and IBS, including in both adults and children. The fresh inner bark can be used in place of, or along with, other natural laxatives.
In one study, the effects of two different formulas on digestive function were compared, both of which included SE in addition to other herbs.
Formula one was associated with a small but significant increase in bowel movement frequency, as well as reductions in straining, abdominal pain, bloated stomach and IBS symptoms.
Subjects who took formula two experienced a 20 percent increase in bowel movement frequency and significant reductions in straining, abdominal pain, bloating and global IBS symptom severity, as well as improvements in stool consistency. Ultimately, both formulas led to improvements.
SE has also been shown in certain studies to treat diarrhea and diverticulitis. Additionally, it may help protect against ulcers and excess acidity in the GI tract because it causes reflux stimulation of nerve endings, and that reaction leads to increased mucus secretion. Not only does this help most people, but it can actually give much relief to your dog too.
2. May Aid in Weight Loss (When Combined With a Low-Calorie Diet)
Since SE has the ability to improve digestion, this may aid in weight loss.
A study performed at New York Chiropractic College used normal participants from the faculty, staff, students and community members to participate in a 21-day weight loss program.
Nutritional supplements containing digestive enzymes that were intended to facilitate digestion, reduce cholesterol levels, increase metabolic rate and mediate inflammatory processes were consumed 30 minutes before each meal.
The regimented supplementation program included daily supplementation with a one green drink, as well as a “cleanse supplementation” containing slippery elm plus other herbs and minerals. The cleansing mixture was taken before each meal during week two of the study. During week three, the cleanse supplementation was replaced with prebiotic and probiotic supplementation.
At the end of the study researchers found that participants experienced clinically meaningful reductions in weight and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It was concluded that “Weight loss and improvements in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels occurred after a low-energy-density dietary intervention plus regimented supplementation program.”
3. Can Help Reduce Oxidative Stress
Because it contains compounds called phenolics, SE may act as a natural free radical scavenger and fighter of oxidative stress.
Phenolics are antioxidants that have been shown to elicit cellular responses that counter oxidant stress, which contributes to aging and many chronic diseases. Plant phenolics also seem to help protect against pathogens due to their natural antifungal effects.
4. May Help Prevent Breast Cancer
SE was first promoted as an option to help treat breast cancer, including DCIS, in the 1920s. The inner bark of SE has become an herbal remedy used by some to help support cancer recovery for prevention, and for improving quality of life and side effects among those undergoing conventional breast cancer treatments.
Though more studies need to be conducted, slippery elm — when combined with certain herbs such as burdock root, Indian rhubarb and sheep sorrel (which together form the supplement called Essiac) — may improve conditions for women with breast cancer and improve depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Because it has immune-boosting benefits and anti-inflammatory effects, it may help relieve pain associated with breast cancer.
5. May Reduce Severity of Symptoms of Psoriasis
SE has been shown in certain studies help patients with psoriasis, a condition that currently has no cure.
In one study, five case studies were evaluated of patients with psoriasis following a specific dietary regimen.
The subjects were asked to follow a dietary protocol that included a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, small amounts of protein from fish and fowl, fiber supplements, olive oil, and avoidance of red meat, processed foods and refined carbohydrates. They were also asked to consume saffron tea and slippery elm bark water daily.
The five psoriasis cases, ranging from mild to severe at the study onset, improved on all measured outcomes over a six-month period, demonstrating that SE makes a great addition to any psoriasis diet treatment.
Slippery Elm Interesting Facts
Slippery elm trees, identified by their “slippery” inner bark, may live to be 200 years old. Sometimes called red elm, gray elm or soft elm, this tree grows best on moist, rich soils of lower slopes and flood plains, although it may also grow on dry hillsides with limestone soils.
Although SE trees are abundant and associated with many other hardwood trees, they are not important lumber trees; instead they have been used mostly for medicinal purposes throughout history.
In the U.S., SE trees are uncommon in much of the South, but grow abundantly in the southern part of the lake states and in the corn belt of the Midwest. They can be found growing from Maine west to New York, extreme southern Quebec, southern Ontario, northern Michigan, central Minnesota and in certain other areas.
As described above, there are many medicinal uses for slippery elm. Some Native American tribes believed SE could make childbirth easier. It was also consumed as a tea and was used to treat sore throats. The Iroquois were known to scrape the bark of the slippery elm tree to treat infections, swollen glands and conditions affecting the eyes.
However health-related purposes were not the only use of SE. The bark supplied material for the sides of winter houses and roofs of the Meskwaki. The inner bark was used by many tribes by boiling the bark to make fiber bags, large storage baskets, ropes and cords, making slippery elm one of the most versatile trees on the planet.
How to Use
SE bark can typically be found at your local health food store in a variety of forms — including tea, lozenges, capsules and tablets, poultice, and extract. If possible, speak with an herbalist or nutritionist for help finding what works for you.
Here are some of the most common uses and forms:
- Diarrhea (in humans and pets): treatment by ingestion of capsules, tablets, tea, tincture and extracts
- Cough (humans and cats): treatment by lozenges, tea, tincture, and extracts
- Acid reflux: treatment by tea, and extracts
- Constipation (pets, especially cats): treatment by powder or extract added to food
- External skin conditions (humans and pets): treatment by shampoo or topical cream infused with extract.
Dosage is usually dependent on weight.
If making SE tea at home (see below) use about 2–3 teaspoons of powder per one-cup serving. You can consume the tea 1–2 times daily.
A general recommendation in capsule/tablet form is a dosage of about 1,600 milligrams daily, taken in 2–3 divided doses. Because the concentration of SE varies depending on the specific supplement, always read the product’s dosage recommendations carefully.
There are many ways you can incorporate SE into your diet. Here are a few recipes to try:
Slippery Elm Tea
- 1 tablespoon slippery elm bark powder
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon local honey (optional)
- 3 ounces almond or coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of cacao
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
- Add boiling water to cup.
- Add the slippery elm bark powder and stir well.
- Then add the honey, almond or coconut milk.
- Stir again.
- Top of with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Here are a couple others to try:
- Slippery Elm Herbal Cough Drops
- Natural First Aid Kit with Slippery Elm
Risks and Side Effects
Does slippery elm have side effects? Though SE is usually well-tolerated, some supplements containing this herb may trigger side effects in some people, such as nausea, increased bowel movements, frequent urination, swollen glands, skin blemishes, flu- symptoms and slight headaches.
Because it coats the digestive tract, it may slow down the absorption of other drugs or herbs. To prevent drug interactions, it may be best to take slippery elm two hours before or after other herbs or medications you may be taking.
SE should only be given to children under the supervision of a knowledgeable practitioner.
Herbal medicines can trigger allergic reactions, including skin rashes, among people who are sensitive to their effects. Therefore, use caution and check with your health care provider, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or using other medications.
Is it safe to take slippery elm every day? other herbs, it’s best to take breaks from using it periodically. Try taking it for several weeks, then taking several weeks off before starting again if necessary.
- Slippery elm is a medium-sized tree native to North America that contains bark that is used to make supplements and medicine.
- The bark contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. This mucilage coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines, making it ideal for sore throat, cough, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis and diarrhea.
- It’s even been used to heal wounds, relieve the flu or common cold, treat infected and swollen glands, and to wash and heal sore eyes.
- The inner bark is where most of the health benefits reside. This bark is dried and powdered to be used for medicinal purposes and typically found as tablets and capsules, slippery elm lozenges, slippery elm powder for making teas or extracts, and coarsely powdered bark for poultices.
Vitamins & Supplements
- Side Effects
Overview Slippery elm is a tree. The inner bark (not the whole bark) is used as medicine.
People take slippery elm for coughs, sore throat, colic, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bladder and urinary tract infections, syphilis, herpes, and for expelling tapeworms.
It is also used for protecting against stomach and duodenal ulcers, for colitis, diverticulitis, GI inflammation, and too much stomach acid. Slippery elm is also taken by mouth to cause an abortion.
Slippery elm is applied to the skin for wounds, burns, gout, rheumatism, cold sores, boils, abscesses, ulcers, toothaches, sore throat, and as a lubricant to ease labor.
In manufacturing, slippery elm is used in some baby foods and adult nutritionals, and in some oral lozenges used for soothing throat pain.Slippery elm contains chemicals that can help soothe sore throats. It can also cause mucous secretion which might be helpful for stomach and intestinal problems. Uses
- Sore throat, when added to lozenges. Commercial lozenges containing slippery elm are preferred to the native herb when used for cough and sore throat. The lozenges prolong the pain-killing effect.
- Cancer. Early research suggests that a specific product containing burdock root, Indian rhubarb, sheep sorrel, and slippery elm bark does not improve quality of life in breast cancer patients.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). An early study shows that taking a specific product containing slippery elm bark, lactulose, oat bran, and licorice root can increase bowel movements and reduce stomach pain and bloating in people with IBS that is characterized by constipation. A different combination product containing slippery elm bark, bilberry, cinnamon, and agrimony can reduce stomach pain, bloating, and gas in people with IBS that is characterized by diarrhea.
- Bladder infection.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of slippery elm for these uses. Side Effects Slippery elm is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth. When applied to the skin, some people can have an allergic reactions and skin irritation. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Folklore says that slippery elm bark can cause a miscarriage when it is inserted into the cervix of a pregnant woman. Over the years, slippery elm got the reputation of being capable of causing an abortion even when taken by mouth. However, there’s no reliable information to confirm this claim. Nevertheless, stay on the safe side and don’t take slippery elm if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Interactions
- Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs) interacts with SLIPPERY ELMSlippery elm contains a type of soft fiber called mucilage. Mucilage can decrease how much medicine the body absorbs. Taking slippery elm at the same time you take medications by mouth can decrease the effectiveness of your medication. To prevent this interaction take slippery elm at least one hour after medications you take by mouth.
The appropriate dose of slippery elm depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions.
At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for slippery elm. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important.
Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
- Czarnecki D, Nixon R, Bekhor P, and et al. Delayed prolonged contact urticaria from the elm tree. Contact Dermatitis 1993;28:196-197.
- Covington TR, et al. Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs. 11th ed. Washington, DC: American Pharmaceutical Association, 1996.
- Hawrelak, J. A. and Myers, S. P. Effects of two natural medicine formulations on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med 2010;16(10):1065-1071. View abstract.
- Monji AB, Zolfonoun E, Ahmadi SJ. Application of water extract of slippery elm tree leaves as a natural reagent for selective spectrophotometric determination of trace amounts of molybdenum(VI) in environmental water samples. Tox Environ Chem. 2009;91(7):1229-1235.
- Pierce A. The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. New York: The Stonesong Press, 1999:19.
- Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler's Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York, NY: The Haworth Herbal Press, 1999.
- Zalapa JE, Brunet J, Guries RP. Isolation and characterization of microsatellite markers for red elm (Ulmus rubra Muhl.) and cross-species amplification with Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila L.). Mol Ecol Resour. 2008 Jan;8(1):109-12. View abstract.
- Zick, S. M., Sen, A., Feng, Y., Green, J., Olatunde, S., and Boon, H. Trial of Essiac to ascertain its effect in women with breast cancer (TEA-BC). J Altern Complement Med 2006;12(10):971-980. View abstract.
More Resources for SLIPPERY ELM
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- Interaction Checker
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances.
Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD.
You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.
Slippery Elm Uses, Benefits & Dosage — Drugs.com Herbal Database
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 23, 2019.
Scientific Name(s): Ulmus rubra Muhl.
Common Name(s): Indian elm, Moose elm, Red elm, Slippery elm, Sweet elm
The mucilaginous property of slippery elm has been used in traditional medicine to treat multiple conditions; however, no clinical studies exist to support these applications. Although limited studies have investigated the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of slippery elm, the information from these studies does not provide any recommendations for use.
No clinical studies exist to support dosage guidelines. Traditional use suggests a dosage of 1 to 3 tsp of slippery elm powder in 240 mL of water, up to 3 times a day.
Avoid use in pregnancy. Abortifacient effects have been described, although they may be related to vaginal use of whole bark pieces to induce abortion. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented. Because the mucilaginous property of slippery elm may decrease absorption rates of other medicines, it may be beneficial to separate slippery elm doses from those of other medicines by 2 to 3 hours.
Oleoresins from several Ulmus species have been reported to cause contact dermatitis, and the pollen of slippery elm is a known allergen.
Research regarding the toxicity of slippery elm is limited.
The genus Ulmus contains 18 species of deciduous shrubs and trees.Hocking 1997 The slippery elm tree is native to eastern Canada and to the eastern and central United States, where it is found most commonly in the Appalachian Mountains.
The tree’s rough bark has vertical ridges and is reddish-brown on the trunk and gray-white on the branches. The slippery elm can grow up to 18 to 20 m in height.Chevallier 1996 In the spring, dark brown buds appear at the branch tips and open into small, clustered flowers.Reader's Digest 1986, USDA 2006 White elm (U.
americana) is a related species and has been used for similar medicinal purposes.Chevallier 1996 A synonym is Ulmus fulva Michx.
American Indians and early North American settlers used the inner bark of the slippery elm not only as a material for constructing canoes, shelters, and baskets, but also as a poultice and as an ingredient in a soothing drink.
Chevallier 1996, Duke 2002, Tyler 1994 Upon contact with water, the inner bark yields a thick mucilage or demulcent that was used as an ointment or salve to treat urinary tract inflammation. It was also applied topically for cold sores and boils.
A decoction of the leaves was used as a poultice to remove discoloration around blackened or bruised eyes. During the American Revolution, surgeons treated gunshot wounds with a similar poultice.Reader's Digest 1986 Early North American settlers boiled bear fat with the bark to prevent rancidity.
Duke 2002, Hocking 1997 In the late 19th century, a preparation of elm mucilage was officially recognized in the United States Pharmacopoeia. Other traditional uses of the plant as a demulcent, emollient, and antitussive have been reported.Lewis 1977
Slippery elm contains carbohydrates, including starches, with mucilage being the major constituent,Duke 1992 as well as hexoses, pentoses, and polyuronides.Chevallier 1996, Newall 1996 Other constituents include sesquiterpenes, calcium oxalate, cholesterol (and other phytosterols), and tannins.Chevallier 1996, Lewis 1977, Newall 1996
Uses and Pharmacology
Screening studies have revealed peroxynitrite scavenging activity in the constituents of slippery elm,Choi 2002 as well as evidence of superoxide scavenging in colorectal tissue obtained from patients with inflammatory bowel disease who were treated with slippery elm.Langmead 2002 Another screening study described weak tumoricidal effects for slippery elm.Mazzio 2009
No clinical data exist regarding the use of slippery elm as an antioxidant. Slippery elm is one of several ingredients in the dietary supplements Essiac and Flor Essence, for which antioxidant activity has been attributed,Leonard 2006, Saleem 2009 but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved either product to treat cancer or any other medical condition.NIH 2015
No animal data exist regarding the anti-inflammatory activity of slippery elm.
One open-label study evaluated slippery elm, in combination with other natural products, for the treatment of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Hawrelak 2010 A small study of patients with either constipation- or diarrhea-predominant IBS investigated slippery elm mucilage combined with another polyanionic saccharide (sucrose octasulfate); clinically relevant symptom reduction occurred within approximately 48 hours.
McCullough 2013 A study evaluating 5 cases of psoriasis found that daily consumption of slippery elm, in combination with saffron tea, may result in improved psoriasis severity scores.Brown 2004
No animal data exist regarding indications for slippery elm as a mucilage.
The mucilaginous property of slippery elm has been used to treat multiple conditions; however, no clinical studies exist to support such applications.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use in pregnancy. Abortifacient effects have been described, although they may be related to vaginal use of whole bark pieces to induce abortion.Duke 2002, Rotblatt 2002 Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
Brown AC, Hairfield M, Richards DG, McMillin DL, Mein EA, Nelson CD. Medical nutrition therapy as a potential complementary treatment for psoriasis—five case reports. Altern Med Rev. 2004;9(3):297-307.15387720Chevallier A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants: A Practical Reference Guide to Over 550 Key Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses. New York, NY: DK Publishing; 1996:144.
Choi HR, Choi JS, Han YN, Bae SJ, Chung HY. Peroxynitrite scavenging activity of herb extracts. Phytother Res. 2002;16(4):364-367.12112294Duke J. Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and Their Activities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1992.Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
Hawrelak JA, Myers SP. Effects of two natural medicine formulations on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(10):1065-1071.2095496210.1089/acm.2009.0090Hocking G. A Dictionary of Natural Products. Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing; 1997:826-827.Langmead L, Dawson C, Hawkins C, Banna N, Loo S, Rampton DS.
Antioxidant effects of herbal therapies used by patients with inflammatory bowel disease: an in vitro study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2002;16(2):197-205.11860402Leonard SS, Keil D, Mehlman T, Proper S, Shi X, Harris GK. Essiac tea: scavenging of reactive oxygen species and effects on DNA damage [published online October 13, 2005]. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;103(2):288-296.
16226859Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MP. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man’s Health. New York, NY: J Wiley; 1977.Magic and Medicine of Plants. Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest Association; 1986:385.Mazzio EA, Soliman KF. In vitro screening for the tumoricidal properties of international medicinal herbs. Phytother Res. 2009;23(3):385-398.18844256McCullough RW.
Rapid (48–96 hour) symptom-sign relief of ROME III irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional heartburn (FH) & postprandial distress syndrome (PDS) using cross-linked polyanionic saccharides: an implication for pathophysiology. Gastroenterology. 2013;144(5 suppl 1): S-932–S-933.National Cancer Institute. US National Institutes of Health. Essiac/Flor Essence (PDQ).
Updated January 7, 2015. http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/essiac-pdq/#link/_29. Accessed November 20, 2015.Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London, England: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:248.Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus; 2002.
Saleem A, Walshe-Roussel B, Harris C, et al. Characterisation of phenolics in Flor-Essence—a compound herbal product and its contributing herbs. Phytochem Anal. 2009;20(5):395-401.19609882Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press; 1994:93,94.Ulmus rubra Muhl. USDA, NRCS. The PLANTS Database.
http://plants.usda.gov, 30 May 2006. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Accessed 2015.
This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs.
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product.
It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider.
You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.
This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures.
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Related treatment guides
Slippery Elm Uses, Benefits & Side Effects — Drugs.com Herbal Database
The slippery elm tree is native to eastern Canada and eastern and central US, where it is found most commonly in the Appalachian mountains. The trunk is reddish brown with gray-white bark on the branches. In the spring, dark brown floral buds appear and open into small, clustered flowers at the branch tips. White elm (U. americana) is a related species used in a similar manner.
Slippery elm also is known as red elm, Indian elm, moose elm, and sweet elm.
What is it used for?
North American Indians and early settlers used the inner bark of the slippery elm not only to build canoes, shelter, and baskets, but as a poultice or as a soothing drink.
Upon contact with water, the inner bark, collected in spring, yields a thick mucilage or demulcent that was used as an ointment or salve to treat urinary tract inflammation and was applied topically for cold sores and boils. A decoction of the leaves was used as a poultice to remove discoloration around blackened or bruised eyes.
Surgeons during the American Revolution treated gun-shot wounds in this manner. Early settlers boiled bear fat with the bark to prevent rancidity. Late in the 19th century, a preparation of elm mucilage was officially recognized in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
Slippery elm prepared as a poultice coats and protects irritated tissues such as skin or intestinal membranes.
The powdered bark has been used in this manner for local application to treat gout, rheumatism, cold sores, wounds, abscesses, ulcers, and toothaches.
The tannins present are known to possess astringent actions. It also has been known to «draw out» toxins, boils, splinters, or other irritants.
Powdered bark is incorporated into lozenges to provide demulcent action (soothing to mucous membranes) in the treatment of throat irritation. It also is used for its emollient and antitussive actions, to treat bronchitis and other lung afflictions, and to relieve thirst.
When slippery elm preparations are taken internally, they cause reflex stimulation of nerve endings in the GI tract, leading to mucus secretion.
This may be the reason they are effective for protection against stomach ulcers, colitis, diverticulitis, gut inflammation, and acidity.
Slippery elm also is useful for diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, and to expel tapeworms. It also has been used to treat cystitis and urinary inflammations.
The plant also is used as a lubricant to ease labor, as a source of nutrition for convalescence or baby food preparations, and for its activity against herpes and syphilis.
What is the recommended dosage?
Slippery elm inner bark has been used for treatment of ulcers at doses of 1.5 to 3 g/day. It is commonly decocted with ethyl alcohol. No formal clinical studies support this dosage.
Extracts from slippery elm have caused contact dermatitis, and the pollen has been reported to be allergenic.
(slippery elm) Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions
Slippery elm is a tree also known as Indian Elm, Moose Elm, Olmo Americano, Orme, Orme Gras, Orme Rouge, Red Elm, Sweet Elm, Ulmus fulva, Ulmus rubra, and other names.
Slippery elm has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in treating sore throat.
Other uses not proven with research have included cancer, infections, irritable bowel syndrome, cough, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids and others.
It is not certain whether slippery elm is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Slippery elm should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.
Slippery elm is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.
Slippery elm may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.
What are the possible side effects of slippery elm?
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Although not all side effects are known, slippery elm is thought to be ly safe for most people when taken by mouth.
Common side effects may include:
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is the most important information I should know about slippery elm?
Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking slippery elm?
Before using slippery elm, talk to your healthcare provider. You may not be able to use slippery elm if you have certain medical conditions.
It is not known whether slippery elm will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are pregnant.
It is not known whether slippery elm passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.
How should I take slippery elm?
When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.
If you choose to use slippery elm, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.
Do not use different formulations of slippery elm (such as tablets, liquids, and others) at the same time, unless specifically directed to do so by a health care professional. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.
Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with slippery elm does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Pancreatitis is inflammation of an organ in the abdomen called the pancreas. See Answer
What happens if I miss a dose?
Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra slippery elm to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking slippery elm?
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.
What other drugs will affect slippery elm?
Other drugs may interact with slippery elm, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.
Do not take slippery elm without medical advice if you are taking:
- any oral medicine (taken by mouth).
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with slippery elm, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this product guide.
Where can I get more information?
Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before using any herbal/health supplement. Whether you are treated by a medical doctor or a practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines/supplements, make sure all your healthcare providers know about all of your medical conditions and treatments.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive.
Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy.
Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners.
The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides.
The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2019 Cerner Multum, Inc.
What Slippery Elm Can Help You With
Slippery elm bark.
Steve Gorton/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) is a type of elm tree native to eastern North America from southern Quebec to northern Florida and east to Texas. The inner bark has long been used in traditional Native American medicine to treat wounds and gastrointestinal ailments. Slippery elm is also a main ingredient in essiac tea.
Slippery elm contains a type of soluble fiber known as mucilage. Mucilage traps and absorbs water, forming a gel- substance that can coat mucous membranes, providing short-term relief of pain and inflammation The high calcium content may also act as a mild antacid.
Slippery elm is also known as red elm, gray elm, soft elm, moose elm, and Indian elm. It should not be confused the American elm (U. americana), the species of which it resembles but has no medicinal properties.
Slippery elm has long been used in folk medicine. It is either taken orally or applied topically to aid in the healing of cuts and burns. Among some of the conditions slippery elm is believed to treat are:
Some proponents claim that slippery elm can treat upper respiratory tract infections, syphilis, herpes, gout, psoriasis, and even breast or lung cancer. To date, there is no clinical evidence to support these claims.
There are some who insist that slippery elm can promote weight loss by suppressing the appetite and «detoxing» the bowel. The presumption is that the production of mucilage can increase the volume of your stomach contents, filling you up faster. The mucilaginous bulk is then believed to «trap» dietary fats and speed bowel clearance. The hypothesis is yet to be proven.
A 2018 study in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that women provided a four-week course of a slippery elm supplement experienced no differences in body composition or waist size compared to those given a placebo.
Despite this, there are some who consume slippery elm powder as a porridge- gruel to «amplify» these effects. Not only is there no evidence that this works, but it is also unknown how safe the practice is.
Slippery elm has been used to make commercial medicines as far back as the 1840s when a physician named Henry Thacker starting producing herbal remedies for sale to doctors. Among them was a slippery elm elixir that was first sold as an oral suspension and later as lozenges. As a natural demulcent, slippery elm can reduce inflammation by coating lining of the throat and esophagus.
Thacker's Slippery Elm Lozenges are still produced today, in addition to a slippery elm lip balm used to treat chapped lips. Other manufacturers have since joined in, producing slippery extracts, tinctures, lotions, and herbal teas.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classified slippery elm as a botanical drug, believing it safe for the treatment of minor sore throat pain.
However, the agency fell short of declaring it effective, characterizing slippery elm as «a demulcent with limited clinical effects.»
While slippery elm is believed by some to relieve the symptoms of acid reflux, the drug action is relatively short-lasting (around 30 minutes) and does nothing to treat the underlying causes of reflux.
Proponents of slippery elm claim that it can alleviate many of the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (such as ulcerative colitis) by forming a temporary protective barrier in the intestines. To date, the evidence of this is mixed.
A 2002 study from England found that slippery elm exerted antioxidant effects on colon tissue samples taken from people with ulcerative colitis. What the test tube study did not show is whether the same effect would occur if a slippery elm was taken orally.
Meanwhile, other scientists have looked into whether slippery elm can control the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), classified either as constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C) or diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D).
A 2008 study from Australia reported that two different herbal supplements containing slippery elm were able to increase bowel frequency by 20 percent in people with IBS-C but had minimal effect in people with IBS-D.
Both groups were also said to experience improvements is straining, abdominal pain, and bloating. Despite the positive findings, the conclusions were limited by the fact that the research was conducted by a commercial herbal drug manufacturer.
Due to the sparsity of research, little is known about the safety of slippery elm. Side effects commonly cited include nausea and skin irritation. Some people may also experience allergy, usually those who are allergic to elm pollen or have a cross-reactive allergy to peach.
Because slippery elm can coat the digestive tract, it may interfere with the absorption of certain drugs. To avoid this, separate the doses of slippery elm and your other drugs by at least two hours. When you do take your regular medications, drink plenty of water unless otherwise indicated.
The outer bark of the slippery elm tree has long been used in folk medicine to induce abortion. Although there is little evidence that this actually works, women who are pregnant or intend to get pregnant should avoid slippery elm just to be safe.
There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of slippery elm. While slippery elm is considered safe when used for the short-term treatment of sore throat, you shouldn't assume that is can be used with impunity. As a general rule, never exceed the recommended dose on the product label.
Slippery elm remedies are typically made from the powdered inner bark of the tree. The powder is then used to manufacture supplements in capsule form or to create extracts for use in tinctures, lozenges, salves, and lip balms. Slippery elm powder can also be purchased in bulk or packaged in tea bags.
Dietary supplements are not stringently regulated in the United States and do not need to undergo rigorous testing or research before reaching the market shelves. Because of this, the quality of supplements can vary considerably from one brand to the next.
To better ensure quality and safety, only purchase supplements from manufacturers with an established brand presence. While vitamin manufacturers will often voluntarily submit their products for testing by an independent certifying body ( the U.S. Pharmacopeia or ConsumerLab), herbal supplements manufacturers rarely do.
Use your best judgment when buying a slippery elm supplement and try not to be swayed by health claims that may or may not be true.
Is slippery elm an endangered species?
Slippery elm is not yet an endangered species, but there are grave fears about its sustainability. Their preferred habitat, the floodplains, have been aggressively targeted for urban development and channel construction. Because the timber is not of much commercial use, little effort has been made to replant the trees.
Moreover, due to the onslaught to Dutch Elm Disease, there are very few mature slippery elm trees left in nature.
The slippery elm is currently on the «special concern» list in Rhode Island and is already believed to be eradicated from Maine. Environmentalists urge against the use of wild-harvested bark to prevent the total loss of this ancient species.
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MedlinePlus. Slippery Elm. Updated November 5, 2017.
Hawrelak, J. and Myer, S. Effects of two natural medicine formulations on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Oct;16(10):1065-71. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2009.0090.
Langmead, L.; Dawson, C.; Hawkins, C. et al. Antioxidant effects of herbal therapies used by patients with inflammatory bowel disease: an in vitro study. Aliment Pharmacol Therapeu. 2002;16(2):197-205.