SLIPPERY ELM BARK ~ POWDER
Ulmus fulva /Ulmus rubra
Slippery Elm derives from the inner bark of an American species of Elm known as Red Elm. Although Elm was also used in Europe and is even mentioned by Dioscorides, the use of this plant is more common in the United States and the UK, where it was introduced via the Native American Materia Medica. Elms have become quite a rare sight in the UK and Europe since the outbreak of the Dutch Elm disease wiped out huge populations of these trees. The fact, that it is the inner bark that is collected for medicinal use, which effectively kills the trees, does not bode well for their future, especially since Dutch Elm disease has also ravaged large populations in the United States and Canada. At present Red Elm is being considered for inclusion in the CITES list, so recent conservation efforts to ensure a sustainable harvest don’t come a moment too soon. Slippery Elm was one of the original herbs included in the famous Essiac mixture, the herbal anti-cancer formula devised by the Canadian nurse Rene Caisse.
The main benefit of Slippery Elm is its soothing mucilaginous quality, which is equally comforting for a range of inner conditions as it is as an external application. Internally Slippery Elm soothes a sore throat like no other herb and can be a veritable life saver for singers. It is also excellent as a pacifier for the digestive system when this is in a state of upheaval. It lines the entire length of the mucous membrane of the tract thus reducing any possible irritation, such as may occur when stomach juices come in contact with ulcerated tissue. Thus it can be used in all types of irritable bowel or stomach conditions, ulcers, colitis and similar complaints. Slippery Elm powder also has actual nutritious properties, which makes it suitable as a food for convalescence, either by itself or mixed with other foods, which it will help to keep down. Slippery Elm also soothes an irritated urinary tract and may be helpful in inflammatory conditions of the bladder and kidneys.
Externally, Slippery Elm is an excellent herb for poultices to soothe sore and inflamed skin conditions such as nappy rash and sores. Native Americans also use it in combination with other herbs as a wound dressing or to treat burns, boils and ulcers.