Slippery elm maintains digestive system health and has a long history of traditional use in Western herbal medicine (WHM) for protecting the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).
The dried inner stem bark
The inner stem bark of the Slippery elm tree is 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 stem bark once it comes into contact with water. Slippery elm dried inner stem bark provides mucilage, which gives Slippery elm the ability to trap and retain large quantities of water.
Mucilage and soluble fibre
Mucilage is considered hydrophilic or ‘water loving’ and as the dried inner bark swells in size, it develops a gel-like or slippery consistency. Mucilage, considered a soluble fibre, coats the mucous membranes of the digestive system providing demulcent activity to soothe irritated tissues and to support healthy mucous linings of the digestive system. This helps to protect the GIT barrier lining from stomach acid and other irritants.
The soluble fibre found in Slippery elm is broken down by bowel flora into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), providing a fuel source for cells lining the GIT and stimulating the growth of beneficial endogenous bacteria. Slippery elm maintains digestive system health.
Health benefits of Slippery elm
Slippery elm has traditionally been used in WHM:
- As a nutritive tonic – contains calcium, iron, vitamins B1 and C, magnesium, zinc and potassium
- To soothe GIT mucous membranes
- As a demulcent to soothe irritated tissues See Slippery Elm 400mg
For best effect, take Slippery elm three times a day, before food.