Slippery Elm

Also indexed as:Ulmus fulva, Ulmus rubra
Slippery Elm: Main Image © Steven Foster
Botanical names:
Ulmus fulva, Ulmus rubra

Parts Used & Where Grown

The slippery elm tree is native to North America, where it still grows primarily. The inner bark of the tree is the main part used for medicinal preparations.

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
Common Cold and Sore Throat
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Herbs high in mucilage, such as slippery elm, are often helpful for relief of coughs and irritated throats.
Cough
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
The mucilage of slippery elm gives it a soothing effect for coughs.
Crohn’s Disease
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Slippery elm helps soothe inflamed tissues. Doctors sometimes use this herb in combination with marshmallow, cranesbill, and several other herbs to sooth the digestive tract.
Diarrhea
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Herbs high in mucilage such as slippery elm may help reduce the irritation to the walls of the intestinal tract that can occur with diarrhea.
Gastritis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Slippery elm is high in mucilage, which may be advantageous for people with gastritis because its slippery nature soothes irritated mucus membranes of the digestive tract.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Slippery elm is a soothing herb traditionally used to treat reflux and heartburn.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Slippery elm may have an anti-inflammatory effect in the stomach and intestines, and its mucilage content appears to protect against the damaging effects of acid on the esophagus.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Native Americans found innumerable medicinal and other uses for this tree. Canoes, baskets, and other household goods were made from the tree and its bark. Slippery elm was also used internally for conditions such as sore throats and diarrhea.1 As a poultice, it was considered a remedy for many inflammatory skin conditions.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.