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Drugs and diseases reference index

Herbs & Supplements «Slippery Elm Bark»

Elm trees are native to the Appalachian Mountain region in the eastern part of North America. Traditionally, the elm leaves were collected, dried, and used as a tea or skin wash. Natives used the inner bark of the tree for food because it is easily digested and is high in carbohydrates. Natives also used slippery elm to waterproof their baskets, canoes, and dwelling places. Early colonists made a pudding of elm with milk and eggs; it was used to thicken jelly, to prevent grease from going rancid and they carried it on trips as a survival food. As a medicine, elm was considered very useful. It was applied to relieve arthritis, gout, toothache, and all kinds of skin injuries. Internally it was used to eliminate intestinal worms as well as to relieve stomach aches and coughs.

Uses and Indications

Today slippery elm is used in connection with sore throats, respiratory irritations, gastrointestinal conditions, and ulcers. It is used externally as a poultice for wounds, burns, other skin conditions, hemorrhoids, and vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina, usually caused by infection). Slippery elm is also used for food, as a skin softener and smoother, and as a cough medicine.

Dosage and Administration

It is recommended that adults take 2 to 4g three times per day in 500mg capsules. It can also be taken as a decoction with one part slippery elm powder from bark to eight parts water, 4 to 16 mL three times per day or 5 to 20 mL one part to ten parts water taken as often as needed. It can also be added to juice or oatmeal. As an infusion using 4g powdered bark in 500mL boiling water, it is recommended three times per day as a nutritional supplement. For topical application mix coarse powdered bark with boiling water to create a poultice.

For children it is recommended cutting the adult dosage according to the weight of the child. For instance, most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult, so if the child weighs 50 lb (20 to 25 kg), the appropriate dose of slippery elm for this child would be one-third of the adult dosage.

We never recommend using an herbal product for a child without first consulting a medical professional. We also suggest the same for adults.