As the name indicates, it comes from the inner bark of an American elm tree. It’s actually a Native American remedy which they passed on to the European settlers, which they immediately adopted it into their herbal system. It comes in two forms. You’ll mostly find it as a light brown powder. It tastes very much like oatmeal- a sweet, earthy, malty, creamy kind of flavor.
It’s recommended for situations when a person can’t keep any food or water down, a sort of dysentery. It’s also been used as a food source during famine because it’s very nutritious and filling, and soothing to digestion.
How do you use it?
You can add it to drinks, elixirs, smoothies, and oatmeal. Slippery elm powder is light and fluffy, so a pound bag can go a long way because you’ll only need a couple tablespoons.
Slippery Elm Bark’s Benefits to Digestion
It’s mucilaginous so it’s soothing to digestion. If you’ve ever seen chia seeds, flax seeds, or irish moss put in water, they’ll soak up. The slippery elm does a very similar thing. When it’s put in water, it expands and soaks up, forming into a soothing gel through your stomach and intestines. It cools inflammation, moving through the mucus membranes, stomach, duodenum, small intestine, large intestine, and all the way out to your anus.
With almost any diet that involves vegetables, nuts, or raw foods, they can be cleansing but also abrasive. This can be irritating to the GI tract and not that great for the long term without having some sort of strategy to soothe the tract.
Remember that the lining of the digestive tract is a very soft, sensitive organ. Taking in things like tortilla chips, fibrous foods, or nuts can be very irritating to these soft tissues. That’s fine for many people, but it’s important to have strategies to balance this out and to soothe that. I think in most diets this part of the equation is left out. Some people are starting to eat irish moss and chia seeds, but slippery elm should be brought to the attention as well because it’s so soothing, mucilaginous and healing to all the mucus membranes and digestive system.
Cleansing Action of Slippery Elm
It’s also important for those of us who are wanting to cleanse our digestive tract, not so much as an aggressive/short-term way, but regular long-term maintenance for something that’s sustainable and something we can do without stressing our body with an aggressive cleanse.
The bulking action slippery elm has in our digestive tract swells up in our intestines and all the way through our digestive tract and sort of pushes everything out. If we have mucus, impacted or old, undigested food hanging out in the system, it’s grabbed and sucked up to be able to eliminate it easily and more effectively.
Helps to Regulate Bowel Movements
When you do have a bowel movement, it’s much fuller, more well-formed, and everything slides out more efficiently. You can get a good indication as to what is going on in your overall health by the health of your bowel movements and how regular you are, and not necessarily how many times you go because that’s more of a relative thing and different for each person.
From what I’ve researched, slippery elm is one of the safest there is for herbs because it’s so well tolerated, gentle, and healing.
Slippery elm is kind of a pre-biotic as well. It can create a good environment for your beneficial bacteria to grow. If you’re eating a lot of fermented foods, it’s an excellent food to add in because it’s a great substrate for those bacteria to grow.