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Slippery Elm

Slippery Elm

Botanical name: Ulmus rubra (U. fulva)

Other names: Indian elm, moose elm, olmo Americano, orme, orme gras, orme rouge, orme roux, red elm, sweet elm

Uses: Demulcent, emollient, astringent, anti-inflammatory, abortifacient

The inner bark extract of the slippery elm tree is known to soothe irritated mucous membranes in the lining of the respiratory tract, stomach and digestive system, making it a popular remedy for sore throat (pharyngitis), gastric ulcers, and intestinal inflammation. Slippery elm is traditionally mixed with honey and water to soothe a sore throat, and is applied to the skin to reduce inflammation. A gruel made from the herb is reportedly well received by convalescing patients who are struggling to eat.

Slippery elm is taken for coughssore throatcolicdiarrhoeaconstipationhaemorrhoidsirritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bladder and urinary tract infectionssyphilisherpes, and for expelling tapeworms. Its stimulation of mucus secretion makes it helpful not only as a remedy but also as a preventive measure against stomach and duodenal ulcers, colitisdiverticulitis, and excess gastric acid. As a topical remedy, slippery elm is applied for wounds, burns, gout, rheumatism, cold sores, boils, and abscesses. Ironically slippery elm may be used as a lubricant to ease childbirth, or taken orally to prompt an abortion.

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

Note: When applied to the skin, some people may experience irritation or an allergic reaction. Slippery elm bark folklore about its producing miscarriage when inserted into the cervix has evolved into rumours of the same result even when taken orally; however, no reliable data exists to substantiate this belief. Still, a pregnant woman wishing to err on the side of abundant caution can include slippery elm on her lengthy list of things to avoid.