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Slippery Elm Bark

Jan 19, 2022

The Health Benefits Of Slippery Elm Bark

Slippery Elm Bark (Ulmus Fulva or Ulmus Rubra)

Slippery Elm is a North American tree that grows in the Eastern US, Southern Canada and East Texas. It's known scientifically as Ulmus Fulva, but Ulmus Rubra’s name was the original one published. Ulmus Rubra is the Latin name. "Ulmus" means elm and "Rubra" means red. 

Other names for the Slippery Elm tree include Red Elm, Indian Elm, Moose Elm, Sweet Elm, Winged Elm and Grey Elm. This tree is not to be confused with the American Elm. [1]

The Clear Story Behind Slippery Elm Bark

Slippery Elm trees are native to central and eastern North America and are among the most well-known medicinal trees in the U.S. It is a medium-sized tree reaching approximately 70 feet in height. They grow pretty quickly and can live to about 200 years of age.

However, the best time to harvest bark is when the tree has reached ten years of age. Only the bark, which is water-soluble, is beneficial to the health and wellness industry. [2]. 

Native Americans found that Slippery Elm Bark had medicinal properties. Baskets and canoes were items of value that they made from the tree and its bark fibers. Fresh meats lasted longer when wrapped in moist Slippery Elm fibers. Native American herbalists made healing salves and poultices for skin irritations, burns, wounds and feverish foreheads.

Mixing the bark with water created mucilage, a thick gel substance that was soothing to anything it touched. By chewing the bark, it soothed sore throats and coughs. When taken orally, Slippery Elm Bark also helped resolve diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues. [3].

During the Revolutionary War, it’s believed that George Washington and his troops utilized the healing and nutritional properties of Slippery Elm. Mainly, the leaves were applied to burns, injuries, and gunshot wounds [4]. While stationed at Valley Forge, troops survived for a time by actually eating the inner bark of Slippery Elm and Sassafrass [5].

Benefits of Slippery Elm Bark

The inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree creates a thick, moist gel-like substance once it's mixed with water. The result is called mucilage which has cooling and soothing properties that reduce inflammation. The mucilage creates a protective film when applied to burns, wounds and other skin conditions.  It is known to ease the burning associated with acid reflux (heartburn) [6].

Historically, Native Americans and Early Colonists used Slippery Elm to treat various health concerns.  Coughs and sore throats could be relieved by taking a syrup made from the bark. Slippery Elm Bark treats digestive problems including colic, constipation, diarrhea, hemorrhoids and even intestinal worms. Slippery Elm may also relieve symptoms associated with gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS and Crohn’s.

Before modern times, the gel-like mucilage from the Slippery Elm Tree was used as a lubricant during childbirth to make delivery smoother.

Slippery Elm Bark continues to be harvested in modern times to help with digestive issues like constipation. When mixed with other herbs, it reduces uncomfortable stomach bloating. The soothing effect of the mucilage reduces inflammation in the intestines, which helps resolve diarrhea and stomach pain [6].

How is Slippery Elm Bark Used?

For centuries prior to modern medicine, Slippery Elm was viewed as having many health benefits and routinely used to treat many conditions. Today, that same tree is still widely used for its healing and soothing properties. Red Elm is typically taken orally or applied topically directly to the skin. It is available in an assortment of products and various forms :

  • Lozenges
  • Teas (Essiac)
  • Liquid or syrup
  • Fine powders (for adding to drinks)
  • Coarse powders (for poultices)
  • Emollients (creams, gels, salves, ointments, etc.)
  • Capsules
  • Tablets
  • Moisturizers & lotions
  • Hair products
  • Beauty products
  • Clear Probiotics supplements

Slippery Elm Bark is an alkaline herb that acts as a demulcent. A demulcent is a substance known for its ability to coat and protect the inner walls of the stomach and intestines. This protective coating soothes inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract associated with gastrointestinal issues.

Why Clear Probiotics Utilizes Slippery Elm Bark

We specifically chose Slippery Elm Bark as an ingredient in our Clear Probiotics line-up due to its soothing anti-inflammatory properties. It has a long history of being used for specific gastrointestinal issues, including digestive system efficiency and to relieve digestive discomfort. Taken daily, our carefully formulated probiotic supplements including Slippery Elm may improve gut health, immunity system well-being and overall wellness.

The Science of Slippery Elm Bark / The Research Behind Ulmus Fulva

The Therapeutic Capabilities of Slippery Elm Bark

This article offers an in-depth look at therapeutic uses for Slippery Elm, possible side effects and drug interactions. You’ll also find more information about the tree and its benefits.

Healthwise Knowledgebase: Slippery Elm

This database offers a list of ailments that benefit from using Slippery Elm. A detailed explanation of how Slippery Elm helps each common condition.

Essiac Tea: Is It Good For You?

Slippery Elm is one of the ingredients in Essiac tea which was created in Canada and has been a debatable alternative for cancer treatment. Learn what other benefits Essiac offers.

Resources:

  1. Cathy Wong. What Is Slippery Elm? Very Well Health. [Internet] October 2021. Accessed January 12, 2022: https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-slippery-elm-89585 
  1. Eric P. Burkhart, Ph.D. Slippery Elm in the Herbal Marketplace – Past, Present & Future. United Plant Savers. [Internet] February 2017. Accessed January 12, 2022: https://unitedplantsavers.org/slippery-elm-in-the-herbal-marketplace-past-present-future/ 
  2. "Slippery Elm ." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. . Encyclopedia.com. [Internet] December 2021. Accessed January 12, 2022: https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/slippery-elm 
  3. Rosebud Woman Staff. Ingredients - Slippery Elm. Rosebud Woman. [Internet] Accessed January 13, 2022: https://rosewoman.com/collections/slippery-elm 
  4. SLIPPERY ELM BARK: A GREAT AMERICAN TRADITION! HerbU. [Internet] Accessed January 13, 2022: https://herbu.org/slippery-elm-bark-a-great-american-tradition/ 
  5. Super Trees Staff. Slippery Elm: Benefits and Facts. Super Trees. [Internet]. Accessed January 13, 2022: https://supertrees.com/slippery-elm-facts/

Photo by Kelly L from Pexels

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Clear products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This website does not offer medical advice. You should seek advice from a medical professional or from your physician.