HerbNET....for everything herbal......


May 2017--Slippery Elm

                February                                             March                                          April

Contents of
this page

Slippery Elm

ulmus rubra

Ulmus fulva   [ULM-us]

Family:  Ulmaceae

 Names:  American tree, elm, gray elm, Indian elm, moose elm, red elm, rock elm, soft elm, sweet elm, tawny elm

Description:   Deciduous tree to 50 feet with ridged, dark brown bark and whitish, aromatic inner bark.  The leaf buds are covered in thick yellowish felt.  The alternate, roughish, leaves are dark green and oblong to obovate with serrated edges.  Dense clusters of inconspicuous flowers without stalks appear in spring. 

 Cultivation: Prefers poor soil in open and elevated areas; also found in woods and by streams.  Propagate by seed sown in autumn or by suckers in autumn, or by layering in autumn, or by semiripe cuttings in summer or by grafting.  Plants can be damaged by aphids, caterpillars, gall mites and fungal infections.  Commercial collection of the inner bark in spring can lead to permanent damage or destruction of the tree.  Consequently, and especially after taking into account the harmful effect of Dutch elm disease, the slippery elm is becoming less common in the wild and supplies of the inner bark are limited.  The bark is stripped from the trunk and large branches in the spring.  Ten-year-old bark is recommended.  The roots are harvest at any time.

History:   Slippery elm bark is an old-established Native American remedy, hence the tree’s common name, Indian elm. The Ojibwas made a tea from the inner bark to treat sore throat.  Used as an ointment, Slippery Elm sap was employed in Thomsonian medicine during labor as a lubricant for the midwife’s hand when she ascertained the presentation of the infant internally.  Slippery Elm sticks were used in some North American Indian tribes to provoke abortion by inserting them into the cervix.  This practice resulted in a law in some states that slippery elm bark be broken into pieces no longer than 1.5 inches in length before being sold to discourage its use for this purpose.

Constituents:  mucilage, tannin, starch

Properties:  demulcent, emollient, nutrient, laxative, astringent, vulnerary, yin tonic

Energetics:  sweet, neutral 

Meridians/Organs affected: lung, stomach 

Medicinal Uses: A tea of the moist inner bark was taken for digestive problems, particularly diarrhea, since it is rich in a soothing mucilage. It will soothe and astringe at the same time.  After the inner bark has been soaked in warm water, it produces a mucilage that has been used to soften the skin and protect it from chapping and to hasten the healing of skin wounds.  It makes a soothing and nourishing food and herbalists consider it one of the best remedies for healing inflammations of the gastro-intestinal tract. It may be used in gastritis, gastric or duodenal ulcer, enteritis, colitis and the like.  It is a useful remedy for urinary problems such as chronic cystitis.  Slippery elm has been used to treat all manner of chest conditions and has a soothing effect on everything from coughs and bronchitis to pleurisy and tuberculosis.  The powdered bark, commonly known as slippery elm food, may be sold commercially as a nourishing drink for convalescents and those recovering from gastro-intestinal illnesses.  Externally the bark makes an excellent poultice for use in cases of burns, boils, abscesses or ulcers.  It works very well as a “drawing” poultice for boils and splinters.  Native Americans used the bark, beaten to a pulp, to treat gunshot wounds and help remove bullets.  They also used it to treat fever, diarrhea, and respiratory infections, and made a tea from boiled roots to assist women in childbirth. 

Solvent: water  

Digestive problems: marshmallow 

Decoction: Use 1 part of the powdered bark to 8 parts of water.
  Mix the powder in a little water initially to ensure it will mix.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.  Drink half a cup three times a day.
Poultice: Mix the coarse powdered bark with enough boiling water to make a paste 

Anti-Ulcer Decoction
1/3 oz catnip leaves
1/3 oz comfrey leaves
1/3 oz slippery elm powder
2 cups water
Infuse the plants in the boiling water for 10 minutes.  Strain and let cool to lukewarm; combine the slippery elm powder in the teapot. Allow to swell for 10 minutes.  Take small sips between meals or during a crisis.  In a paste (with 6 Tbsp water), it can be applied to all kinds of skin ulcerations.

Anti-Aging Tea
5 drops cayenne tincture
30 drops burdock tincture
15 drops goldenseal tincture
10 drops ginger root tincture
½ cup slippery elm tea
1 cup warm water
Combine all ingredients. Take 2-3 tablespoons three times per day to improve circulation 

Circulatory Tea
1 tsp burdock root
1 tsp goldenseal root
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp slippery elm bark
2 slices ginger root
3 cups boiling water
Combine the above herbs in a nonmetallic container, and pour the boiling water over them.  Steep for 30 minutes, cool, and strain.  Take up to one cup a day, two tablespoons at a time. 

Veterinary Use: It can be fed to convalescing animals as a nutritional digestive tonic—1 teaspoon of the dried inner bark steeped in 8 oz of hot water to which 1 tsp of honey has been added.  If constipation is a problem, 1 tsp of yogurt can be added to the mixture.  If the animal cannot tolerate honey, eliminate it from the recipe.  A glycerine-based tincture is also effective.  A good starting dose is ¼-1/2 tsp for each 20 lbs of animal’s body weight, once or twice daily. 

Homeopathy:  Pounded dried inner bark, decoction of dried bark and tincture of fresh bark used for constipation, deafness, hemorrhoids, herpes, pain, syphilis 

Ritual Uses: Gender: Cold.  Planet: Saturn.  Element: Earth.  Parts Used: Leaves, Bark.  Basic Power: Protection.  Slippery elm is hung around a child’s neck to ensure speaking skills in later life.  Burn and use in charm bags to stop others from gossiping about you or your friends. 

Persuasion Spell: Powder slippery elm bark.  Place it in a bag around a child’s neck to encourage development of a persuasive tongue. 

Banish Gossip Spell: Create a fire in a cauldron or fireplace.  Burn slippery elm in the fire.  While it’s burning, knot a yellow cord, tying your desire and frustration into the knots.  Throw the cord into the fire.   

Cosmetic Uses:  To remove skin blemishes, it is used warm, spread over the face and left for two hours before washing off.  It will also take inflammation from skin made sore by sun or cold wind.  Used with marshmallow and lard or olive oil it makes a soothing face cream. 

Cream: Take 2 oz of marshmallow leaves and 2 oz slippery elm leaves and boil in 2 pints of water for 20 minutes. Then strain or remove the marshmallow leaves.  Melt together 1 lb of refined lard and 3 oz beeswax in a saucepan over a low flame, then stir in slowly the extract of slippery elm and marshmallow until completely mixed in and our into screw top jars before the mixture becomes cold and sets.  Slippery elm has the power of preventing cream from becoming rancid.  Use a little to massage into the face and neck at bedtime. 

Face Mask: Mix a teaspoonful of the powdered bark of slippery elm with enough hot water to form a creamy consistency.  When cool, apply to the face.  Leave on for 20 minutes and wash off in warm water containing a teaspoonful of lemon juice.  The mask will rid the skin of blemishes and leave it smooth and clean.  It is soothing and healing. 

Culinary Uses: Taken regularly, slippery elm is nutritious and soothing.  It is an excellent

food in convalescence and debilitated states, especially if the digestion is weak or overly sensitive.  It is also a good baby food. 

The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal,
David Hoffman, Element, 1996; ISBN: 1-85230-758-7 
Cosmetics from the Earth
, Roy Genders, Alfred van der Marck Editions, 1985; ISBN: 0-912383-20-8
The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells
, Judika Illes, Harper Collins, 2004
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants
, Arnold & Connie Krochmal, Times Books, 1984; ISBN: 0-8129-6336-9
Herbs for Pets
, Mary L. Wulff-Tilford & Gregory L. Tilford, Bowtie, 2000; ISBN: 1-889540-46-3
Magical Herbalism
, Scott Cunningham, Llewllyn Publications, 1982, ISBN: 0-87542-120-2
Secret Native American Herbal Remedies
, Anthony J Cichoke, Avery Books, 2001; ISBN: 1-58333-100-X
Wild  Medicinal Plants
, Anny Schneider, Stackpole Books, 2002; ISBN: 0-8117-2987-7 

HERBALPEDIA™ is brought to you by The Herb Growing & Marketing Network, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245; 717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261; email: herbworld@aol.com    URL: http://www.herbalpedia.com Editor: Maureen Rogers.  Copyright 2014.  All rights reserved.   Material herein is derived from journals, textbooks, etc. THGMN cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information contained in any reference noted herein, for the misuse of information or any adverse effects by use of any stated material presented.








The Herb Growing & Marketing Network
Maureen Rogers, Director
PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245
717-368=6360; FAX: 717-393-9261