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Slippery Elm

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What other names is Slippery Elm known by?

Indian Elm, Moose Elm, Olmo Americano, Orme, Orme Gras, Orme Rouge, Orme Roux, Red Elm, Sweet Elm, Ulmus fulva, Ulmus rubra.

What is Slippery Elm?

Slippery elm is a tree. The inner bark (not the whole bark) is used as medicine.

People take slippery elm for coughs, sore throat, colic, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bladder and urinary tract infections, syphilis, herpes, and for expelling tapeworms. It is also used for protecting against stomach and duodenal ulcers, for colitis, diverticulitis, GI inflammation, and too much stomach acid. Slippery elm is also taken by mouth to cause an abortion.

Slippery elm is applied to the skin for wounds, burns, gout, rheumatism, cold sores, boils, abscesses, ulcers, toothaches, sore throat, and as a lubricant to ease labor.

In manufacturing, slippery elm is used in some baby foods and adult nutritionals, and in some oral lozenges used for soothing throat pain.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Sore throat, when added to lozenges. Commercial lozenges containing slippery elm are preferred to the native herb when used for cough and sore throat. The lozenges prolong the pain-killing effect.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Cancer. Early research suggests that a specific product containing burdock root, Indian rhubarb, sheep sorrel, and slippery elm bark does not improve quality of life in breast cancer patients.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). An early study shows that taking a specific product containing slippery elm bark, lactulose, oat bran, and licorice root can increase bowel movements and reduce stomach pain and bloating in people with IBS that is characterized by constipation. A different combination product containing slippery elm bark, bilberry, cinnamon, and agrimony can reduce stomach pain, bloating, and gas in people with IBS that is characterized by diarrhea.
  • Coughs.
  • Colic.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Bladder infection.
  • Urinary tract infections.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of slippery elm for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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