Some of the most interesting health benefits of slippery elm include its ability to reduce inflammation, soothe indigestion, heal the skin, eliminate infections, reduce blood pressure, increase blood flow, boost eye health, protect against ulcers, detoxify the body, aid in oral health, and improve respiratory health.
The slippery Elm is native to North America’s east coast and belongs to the Ulmus family. A number of other common names, including red elm, gray elm, and Indian elm, are used to identify it. In the United States, slippery elm is widely cultivated for its bark, ground into a pulp, or dried and used as a powder. Traditionally, Native Americans used this tree for a number of medicinal purposes, and some traditional herbalists and alternative practitioners still rely on slippery elm for a wide range of health conditions. Traditional records show that slippery elm may, in fact, be very beneficial for overall health.
The active compound mucilage found Slippery Elm is what creates the pulp or “gruel” used in traditional medicine. The disintegrated bark can also be dried and added to drinks as a powder. Taking slippery elm supplements can be very beneficial. Let us look at some of those benefits!
Health Benefits of Slippery Elm
Digestive Health: One of the primary uses for slippery elm is as a digestive aid. The mucilage found in the bark of slippery elm is ideal for soothing the digestive tract and eliminating inflammation, primarily the type that causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There is also a significant amount of fibrous tissue found in the bark, which can help to bulk up stool and eliminate issues like diarrhea. Overall, slippery elm is a full-service gastrointestinal cleaner and has been used as such for thousands of years.
Gastric Ulcers: One of the benefits of slippery elm is that it is high in certain acids and coats the lining of the intestines; this means that gastrointestinal issues such as ulcers can be remedied easily by regularly consuming slippery elm tonics.
Anti-inflammatory Activity: Slippery elm has traditionally been used to calm sore throats, as the anti-inflammatory compounds of the bark can significantly reduce irritation in the throat. Again, creating a pulp of the mucilage is the best approach for this remedy, but drinking a powdered mixture will also do the trick, and this fast-acting treatment will have your sore throat coated and protected in no time.
Circulation Issues: There are many other nutrients found in slippery elm beside mucilage, including iron, which is crucial for the production of red blood cells. This can increase circulation, and thereby boost oxygenation to important parts of the body. More importantly, when combined with potassium, which is also present in slippery elm, you are able to fully optimize the cardiovascular system and relieve strain.
Healing Properties: The rapid healing properties of slippery elm have made it a popular tool for those suffering from injuries, burns, abrasions, and serious wounds on the battlefield and out in nature. Salves and balms have long been made from slippery elm bark in order to speed the healing process. Slippery elm is packed with nutrients and minerals, as well as antioxidant compounds, which can quickly induce healing.
Skin Health: If you have suffered from burns, have noticeable scars, or generally poor skin health, slippery elm can be a wonderful remedy. The antioxidants and unique vitamin mixture of this herbal salve can reduce the appearance of wrinkles, eliminate free radicals from the upper skin layers, and even heal age spots to promote a youthful look to the skin. Furthermore, just as it does for wounds, slippery elm can help protect the skin from infections of various types, acting as the first line of defense for the body.
Detoxify the Body: There is also evidence suggesting that slippery elm is an effective diuretic. It is able to increase the amount of toxins, excess salts, and water released from the body via urination. This can boost kidney health and improve the overall functioning of the metabolism.
Anti-inflammatory Properties: The most valuable and diverse effects of slippery elm relate to its anti-inflammatory abilities, particularly for heartburn and hemorrhoids. The strong effect of slippery elm in treating or lessening the severity of these conditions is well documented and widely relied on in alternative medicine circles.
Pain Relief: When the balm or salve of slippery elm is applied to a pulled muscle, bruise, or another painful area of the body, relief is rapid and effective. The antioxidant and analgesic components of slippery elm can quickly soothe a wide range of pain.
Cancer Treatment: Although this is obviously a highly controversial application, slippery elm is a key component in Essiac, a common herbal treatment for various types of cancer. While research into the antioxidant effects of slippery elm has been widely conducted, the conclusions are still somewhat uncertain, so this possible health benefit should be considered in conjunction with medical treatment.
Oral Health: One of the other popular traditional uses of slippery elm was a salve for oral health. If you feel a tooth infection coming on, or have pain in your gums, you can apply some slippery elm to the cap of the tooth and the surrounding gums to prevent infection and relieve pain through the anti-inflammatory properties of the herb.
A Final Word of Warning: Slippery Elm can be too intense for people with sensitive skin, so when first applying a salve or balm, observe your skin’s reaction before adding more. Skin reactions, however, are typically mild. Should you experience irritation, itching, or redness, discontinue use. Note: Slippery elm should not be used by pregnant women as it can cause premature labor.