10 Amazing Health Benefits of Slippery Elm

by Top10HomeRemedies Team

Slippery elm, also known as red elm or Indian elm, is a tree known for its dark brown to reddish-brown bark.

This bark contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. This mucilage has many healing and medicinal properties.

In addition to the mucilage, slippery elm contains antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, the inner bark also contains various nutrients, such as tannins, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, beta-carotene and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C.

This tree bark can be easily found at your local health food store in numerous forms, including tea, lozenges, capsules and tablets, poultice and liquid extract.

health benefits of slippery elm

Here are the top 10 amazing health benefits of slippery elm.


1. Treats Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Being a demulcent, slippery elm helps soothe the lining of the stomach and intestines. This in turn reduces irritation in the stomach, one of the common symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

It also promotes normal bowel movements and facilitates faster healing.

slippery elm for inflammatory bowel disease

A 2002 study published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics reports that slippery elm has antioxidant effects in vitro and may have therapeutic potential for patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

A later study published in 2010 in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reports that slippery elm enhances bowel movements in patients with constipation-predominant IBS. However, the bark was part of a mixture of ingredients.

To ease symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel syndrome:

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of slippery elm powder to a glass of hot water.
  2. Let it steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Drink it at least 1 hour after taking other medications.
  4. Drink this solution 2 or 3 times a day, as needed.

2. Soothes a Sore Throat

Slippery elm contains mucilage that can coat the throat and provide instant relief from a sore throat, whether it is due to a common cold, cough, laryngitis or tonsillitis. The gel soothes the irritated throat and also reduces inflammation and pain.

In fact, slippery elm is a common ingredient in throat lozenges.

slippery elm soothes a sore throat

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Investigational Biochemistry reports that slippery elm bark is effective in people suffering from laryngitis or throat inflammation and voice problems.

To alleviate a sore throat:

  1. Add 2 teaspoons of the inner bark of slippery elm to 2 cups of boiling water.
  2. Cover and steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then strain it.
  3. Drink this tea twice daily for a few days.

You can also take slippery elm lozenges that you can easily find in the market.

3. Fights Constipation

Due to its high mucilage content, slippery elm is an effective remedy for constipation. When you take slippery elm, it helps stimulate the nerve endings in the gastrointestinal tract. This is why it is so useful for constipation. Due to its demulcent properties, slippery elm is also good for healing hemorrhoids.

slippery elm treats constipation

To treat constipation:

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of slippery elm bark powder in 2 cups of boiling water.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and a little bit of cinnamon powder.
  3. Drink 1 to 2 cups of this gruel twice a day, as needed.

You can also give this thick gruel to children suffering from colic.

4. Combats Heartburn and GERD

Heartburn, characterized by a burning sensation and pain in the stomach and chest, can also be reduced with slippery elm.

The mucilage of slippery elm coats the esophagus and reduces the irritation and inflammation that occurs when stomach acid flows up the esophagus.

slippery elm for heartburn

It is also effective at treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

To minimize heartburn or GERD:

  1. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of slippery elm powder in a glass of water.
  2. Drink it after a meal as a natural remedy for heartburn.

5. Relieves Asthma

Slippery elm is believed to be an antitussive, meaning it aids in treating upper respiratory ailments like asthma or bronchitis.

Its anti-inflammatory nature helps thin the mucus that clogs the airways. It can help prevent the bronchial spasms associated with asthma attacks.

It also provides relief from coughing and tightening of the chest.

slippery elm relieves asthma

To make healing slippery elm tea for asthma:

  1. Add 2 teaspoons of the inner bark of slippery elm to 2 cups of boiling water.
  2. Cover and steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Strain, and add 1 teaspoon of honey.
  4. Drink this tea twice daily when suffering from asthma.

6. Cures Dermatitis

Slippery elm is a highly beneficial herbal remedy for dermatitis, an inflammatory skin condition that causes a burning sensation, redness, itching, swelling and inflammation.

Due to its high mucilage content, it helps moisturize the skin and promotes healing.

slippery elm heals dermatitis

To treat dermatitis:

  1. Wash and then grind a few slippery elm leaves to make a paste.
  2. Apply it on the affected skin.
  3. Allow it to sit on the skin until it dries completely, then wash it off.
  4. Do this 2 or 3 times daily until you see improvement.

7. Treats a Stomach Ulcer

Another benefit of slippery elm is that it helps treat stomach ulcers.

It contains a good amount of mucilage that soothes and calms inflammation and pain. Plus, the mucilage helps remove excess fats in the intestines.

slippery elm reats stomach ulcer

To help treat a stomach ulcer:

  1. Grind the inner bark of slippery elm into a powder.
  2. Mix 1 teaspoon of this powder in 1 cup of warm water.
  3. Drink this mixture 3 or 4 times a day for 1 week.

8. Heals Wounds

The components of slippery elm can help heal wounds and boils as it heals internal tissues. In fact, it helps draw out infected wounds. It is also effective for treating pulled muscles or other painful areas of the body.

slippery elm helps heal wounds

To make a poultice with slippery elm:

  1. Mix course slippery elm powder in enough boiling water to make a paste.
  2. Allow it to cool.
  3. Apply it on the affected area.
  4. Wash it off after a few hours.

Note: Do not keep the slimy poultice on your skin for more than 24 hours as it tends to shrink and pull the skin. Also, do not apply it on an open wound.

9. Reduces Irritation of the Urinary Tract

The mucilage of slippery elm can soothe the lining of the urinary tract. This can reduce unexplained inflammation of the urinary tract and fight painful, irritating symptoms.

Plus, being a mild diuretic, it helps increase the flow of urine and eliminate waste from the body.

slippery elm reduces irritation in urinary tract

  • Drink slippery elm tea 2 or 3 times a day.
  • You can also take a supplement, after consulting your doctor.

10. Aids Weight Loss

Slippery elm improves digestion, and this is why it also aids weight loss. It binds to substances in the intestines that the body does not need and slows their absorption into the body. Plus, its diuretic properties help reduce fluid retention and shed water weight.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine studied people who participated in a 21-day weight loss program. All participants were given freshly prepared, mostly vegan meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was 1,200 to 1,400 calories for women and 1,600 to 1,800 calories for men on a daily basis.

slippery elm aids in weight loss

In this diet plan, slippery elm was also one of the main components, as it contains digestive enzymes to facilitate digestion.

During these three weeks, participants noticed a significant reduction in weight. Also, participants had reduced levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol).

To facilitate weight loss:

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of slippery elm bark powder to 2 cups of hot water.
  2. Allow it to steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Drink this tea 2 or 3 times a day.

Additional Tips

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use slippery elm. It contains compounds that may lead to a miscarriage.
  • When taking a supplement, be sure to read product labels and always consult your doctor before trying a supplement.
  • For safety measures, wait at least 1 hour after taking an oral medication before taking slippery elm.