Slippery Elm–Medicinal Native American Tree

slippery_elmA beautiful and important native tree, slippery elm is also called Indian Elm and Moose Elm among other things, Slippery Elm is a medium-sized tree, well-known for centuries to many a youngster who chewed its aromatic, alluring, and mucilaginous bark and twigs. In Appalachia, some people still soak the bark of this tree in warm water to make a soothing emollient for skin injuries and wounds. The Indians mashed the bark and used the pulp for gunshot wounds and to ease the painful removal of the lead. Tea brewed from the roots was given to pregnant women at the time of birth. The slipperiness of the bark, sap, and juice was used by midwives to ease the birth itself by applying it topically to the birth canal and infant’s head. One to two ounces of the inner bark were steeped in two cups of water for an hour or more, then strained and used for many medical needs including digestive troubles. For the sick, the powdered and easily digestible bark from the inner layer was flavored with honey or maple syrup and eaten as a strengthening gruel.


elm tree“Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) has been used as an herbal remedy in North America for centuries. Native Americans used slippery elm in healing salves for wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, and skin inflammation. It was also taken orally to relieve coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems.

Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. It also contains antioxidants that help relieve inflammatory bowel conditions. Slippery elm also causes reflux stimulation of nerve endings in the gastrointestinal tract leading to increased mucus secretion. The increased mucus production may protect the gastrointestinal tract against ulcers and excess acidity.”

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.  ~Willa Cather, 1913

Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing “Embraceable You” in spats.  ~Woody Allen

9 responses to “Slippery Elm–Medicinal Native American Tree

  1. Sounds like many good uses. Great post Beth.
    Sue B


  2. Very interesting article. Makes me want to chew on a slippery elm. (for the antioxidents.)


  3. I love your herbal posts, Beth. You have nice photos to illustrate for us. Thanks.


  4. I have it in powder. Neat to see a pic. =)


  5. I’ve seen products containing Slippery Elm.


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