Slippery Elm is a mild-flavored, highly nutritious herb with amazing properties. It is used in many herbal combinations for both internal and external use, not only because of its own health-supporting properties but also because of its ability to help hold other herbs together in various preparations.
The superpower that allows Slippery Elm to hold other herbs together is also one of the properties that make it so beneficial to the body. Its gel-like fiber helps to lower bowel transit time, can bind with toxins from the bowel, has a regulatory influence on intestinal flora, and soothes the lining of the digestive tract.
One of the most popular historical uses of Slippery Elm has been as an aid for lung challenges. The calming and soothing properties that make it so beneficial to the gastrointestinal tract also carry over to the lungs. By calming irritation that can cause excessive coughing, Slippery Elm can gently support the lungs clearing. It's become one of the most useful tools in our personal tool chests when lung issues come to call on our kids.
Some herbalists use it as a nourishing food for children and those struggling to regain health and strength. It is considered very soothing to the entire digestive system, and particularly supportive for diarrhea and bowel irritations, or simply as a mild nourishing food for the very young. Since the herb is slightly sweet, it is one that children willingly take, particularly if it is mixed in some hot cereal, a smoothie, or a bit of applesauce.
Perhaps Slippery Elm's most popular claim to fame in our modern times is its ability to calm and soothe sore throats. It's an ingredient in a huge variety of lozenges and throat drops.
The demulcent, emollient, and wound-healing properties of Slippery Elm are due to its mucilage content. Poultices, fomentations, and decoctions of Slippery Elm are easiest to do with pieces of the bark. When adding to food for nutritional benefits, the ground form is easiest to use and releases the most benefits.
Slippery Elm is mucilaginous, meaning that it becomes gelatinous and viscous when mixed with water. If it doesn't mix easily, we suggest using a blender, wire whisk, or fork, or try shaking it in a bottle. It's absorbent and when taken internally should be accompanied by plenty of water.
Uses: We add Slippery Elm to many recipes (hot cereals, sauces, gravies, meat dishes, vegetable dishes, stir-fry, baby food and formulas, waffles and pancakes, ice cream, etc.). It's also a great support for any digestive and colon related conditions. Soften in a small amount of hot water before adding to any dish or smoothie. You may need to run it through the blender once completely softened to incorporate it better into your dish.
Voice of Experience: Slippery Elm is a fantastic herb to "slip" small amounts into dishes on a daily basis. It exponentially boosts the nutritional content AND adds wonderful health supporting benefits.
Storage: Like many other bulk foods, Slippery Elm stores fairly well. It should be kept in an airtight container and stored in a dark, dry, and cool place (no refrigeration is required).
Note: Slippery Elm is generally considered appropriate in teas and culinary amounts for all ages, but please consult your healthcare practitioner if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications. There is limited data on the safety of the use of Slippery Elm in pregnancy, and even some warnings of connection with miscarriages. For this reason, we do not suggest using Slippery Elm while pregnant.