The dried inner bark
The inner bark of the Slippery elm tree was traditionally harvested in spring and then dried and stored for future use. The name slippery elm refers to the ‘slippery’ consistency of the dried inner bark once it comes into contact with water. Slippery elm dried inner bark contains two important active components responsible for its therapeutic activity:
Mucilage is considered hydrophilic or ‘water loving’ which gives Slippery elm the ability to trap and retain large quantities of water, anywhere from 50-140 times its original volume. As the dried inner bark swells in size, it develops a gel-like or slippery consistency. The mucilage, considered a soluble fibre, coats the mucous membranes of the digestive system providing demulcent activity which helps to soothe irritation and inflammation of the mucous membranes in the digestive system. The insoluble fibre content of Slippery elm can be broken down by digestive flora into beneficial short chain fatty acids, which when taken internally, provides fuel for the cells of the large intestine.
Tannins from the dried inner bark provide astringent activity, which helps to constrict the mucous membranes and exposed tissues, providing a barrier for the mucous membranes and exposed surfaces.
Health benefits of Slippery elm
- Traditionally used to relieve the symptoms of gastritis and heartburn or gastric reflux
- Helps maintain healthy digestive function
- Provides a barrier to the lining of the digestive system, protecting it from stomach acid
- Soothes irritation and inflammation of the mucous membranes in the digestive system.
For best effect, take Slippery elm three times daily, before food.