Benefits of slippery elm for digestion

Published May 5, 2014

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What is slippery elm?

The dried inner bark of the slippery elm tree has been used as a medicinal remedy by Native American healers for centuries.1 The name ‘slippery elm’ refers to the consistency of the bark when it is mixed with water; it’s ‘slippery. This is due to its high mucilage content. Substances containing mucilage are capable of trapping water, which causes them to swell in size and develop a gel‐like consistency.2 Slippery elm is also a source of a number of nutrients including calcium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B1, magnesium and zinc.2

How does slippery elm support digestive health?

The large amount of mucilage in slippery elm forms a gel‐like layer over mucous membranes such as the throat and digestive tract when it comes into contact with water. This coating soothes the surface. Historically, in western herbal medicine, slippery elm has been used to relieve irritated and inflamed tissues especially the lining of the digestive tract and stomach. It may be suitable for those who experience irritation or inflammation of the digestive tract due to a variety of ailments that cause digestive discomfort.

How do I take it?

in powder and capsule form. Capsules can also be opened and mixed with water to create a soothing drink. It’s generally recommended that slippery elm is taken before meals. As a precaution, it’s also advised to take slippery elm away from other medicines. Due to the barrier that slippery elm forms over the gastrointestinal tract lining, theoretically the rate and/or absorption of medicines into the body may be altered.2

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