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Slippery Elm


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 that is native to eastern Canada and the eastern and central United States. Its name refers to the slippery feeling of the inner bark when it is chewed or mixed with water. The inner bark (not the whole bark) is used as medicine.

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

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. Slippery elm seems to soothe sore throats. Commercial lozenges containing slippery elm are preferred to the native herb when used for this condition. 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 (Essiac, Resperin Canada Limited) does not improve quality of life in breast cancer patients.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Early research suggests 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. The effects of taking slippery elm bark alone are not clear.
  • Bladder infection.
  • Burns and wounds.
  • Coughs.
  • Colic.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Gout.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Herpes.
  • Rheumatism.
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • Syphilis.
  • Tapeworm.
  • Toothache.
  • 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).

Therapeutic Research Faculty copyright

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