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What is Slippery Elm?

Slippery elm, also known as Ulmus ruba, Indian elm, soft elm or red elm, is a tree that grows in central and eastern North America. Its name refers to the slippery feeling of the inner bark when chewed or mixed with liquid. Slippery elm trees have dark or reddish-brown bark and can reach heights of up to 80 feet.

For centuries the indigenous people of North America would use its inner bark, which is the only part of the tree to be used medicinally, to treat many health conditions including fevers, wounds and sore throats. When the bark is mixed with water, it creates a gummy mucilage, which coats internally and soothes anything it touches.  European settlers soon added slippery elm to their own medicine chest and it soared in popularity. Today this traditional herbal remedy can be found in teas, nutritional supplements, throat lozenges and more.  

Slippery Elm Benefits:

While more research is needed, Slippery elm can benefit several areas of the body.

  1. Digestive issues. As a demulcent, slippery elm has properties that can soothe the stomach and intestines and promote regularity.
  2. Throat and bronchial health. Slippery elm contains mucilage, a sticky sugar mixture that can’t be broken down in your digestive tract but does a good job coating the throat. This is why slippery elm is often found in throat lozenges.  
  3. Urinary health. It’s thought that slippery elm can soothe the lining of the urinary tract for greater comfort while also acting as a mild cleansing agent to help increase urine flow and eliminate waste.
  4. Occasional mild heartburn. The mucilage also coats the esophagus and may ease mild heartburn.

Where to Find Slippery Elm

Slippery elm is an herb available in lozenges, tablets, powders, teas, and capsules.   

Because slippery elm coats the digestive tract, it may interfere with other medications you may be taking. As with any supplement, be sure to consult with your doctor before adding it to your health regimen.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Individual results may vary.

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