Slippery elm contains mucilaginous compounds that gives it the description of being “slippery” and also are the reasoning for its herbal therapeutic uses. The mucilaginous effect of slippery elm has been used traditionally and safely for soothing the throat and other mucous membranes during colds and sore throat, and for the irritated mucous membranes of the digestive system during digestive complaints (diarrhea, constipation, Crohn’s disease), and topically on skin during minor irritations (such as poison oak and wound healing).
Although slippery elm lacks clinical support, the soothing effect of the mucilaginous components is well known. Additionally, related elm species have showed evidence of antimicrobial activity and promise for inflammation and diseases of the mucous membranes (Youn et al., 2003; Song et al., 2003; Jun et al, 1998; Ye et al., 1990).
No direct clinical support could be found on slippery elm as a single phytotherapeutic agent.
Safety / Dosage
Slippery elm lacks clinical and toxicity testing, but it has been used as a traditional remedy without any adverse reports. It is generally thought to be completely safe and non-toxic, with no drug-interactions.
Slippery elm is available in different preparations, such as lozenges, capsules, tablets and teas. Generally, 800 mg is taken 3-4 times daily for the soothing of mucous membranes.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This monograph can be found in The Health Professional's Guide to Dietary Supplements (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins) by Shawn M. Talbott, PhD and Kerry Hughes, MS.