Slippery Elm – More than just a Laxative Herb!

slippery elm bark

Ulmus fulva

Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) is well known as a herbal helper to relieve constipation, but what most people don’t know is that it has been used internally and externally as both food and medicine for thousands of years in Ayurvedic, Native American, Traditional Chinese, and Western medicine.

The inner bark is ground to a powder and then mixed with water to make a thick paste. Some people prefer to take it in capsule form. The paste will help to soothe an irritated throat, ease digestive troubles, relieve teething in babies, or use it externally on boils, abscesses and open wounds. The thick paste is usually administered one tablespoon every hour for acute conditions.

You can also thin the paste out by using a 2-6 teaspoons of the powder with 2 cups of warm-hot water and making

slippery elm

slippery elm powder

a smooth porridge-like nutritious and medicinal food. Vary the amounts until it reaches a consistency that appeals to your particular tastes. You will need to season this combination with sweet spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla, and add berries, citrus rind, apples, pears and maple syrup or honey to create a delicious healing meal. This will help to nourish, heal, and soothe internal organs and the spices will improve digestion and circulation, which further promotes healing. This simple combination, without the fruits, is wonderful when you are treating a person in recovery from illness, particularly where appetite loss is an issue.

If you happen to come across the bark in cut rather than powdered form, then you can make a tea using 2 teaspoons per cup of water. Slippery elm combines well with other herbs, so you can tailor it to specific conditions by including calming, digestive, or antiseptic botanicals for added benefit.

To use Slippery Elm as a poultice, slowly add hot water to the powder until you have a very thick paste and apply over the affected area. For open wounds, it is important to add antiseptic herbs, such as goldenseal for additional healing properties. You can also use the poultice for painful joint and muscle conditions, or as a masque for problem skin.

7 thoughts on “Slippery Elm – More than just a Laxative Herb!

  1. very little info about slippery elm, you could have given more variety of ways to use slippery elm, like tea, lozenges, food recipe.

    But surely slippery elm is a boon to humanity.

    • Hi nargiz – I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. This blog post is intended as a starting point for people who are interested in using herbs in their daily lives, and have perhaps only ever come across slippery elm as being used to relieve constipation. I would suggest that you take a look at specific herbal and healing websites or check out your local library if you are interested in finding out more about this much under-rated herbal food. I wholeheartedly encourage personal research when it comes to health rather than the spoonfed approach, and am always delighted to provide recipes and further information when requested. You may also note that I have given comprehensive information on how to use slippery elm both externally and internally, including as a tea and a food. I am more than happy to provide a lozenge recipe if you are genuinely interested.

      Thanks for your feedback!

  2. Great job wildflowermeg, I also use slippery elm in my hair care products on my natural 4c hair as well as the natural hair care products I sell!

  3. I am interested in slippery elm for my toddler. I have the liquid extract from Gaia herbs. Do you have any thoughts about dose or best application. It’s for constipation relief and eczema.

    • Hi Teresa – Best to consult your natural health practitioner for specific dosage instructions for your toddler. You can often mix it into juice, smoothies or food. I hope this helps!

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