Monday, August 31, 2009

Slippery Elm


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).

Scientific Support

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.


1.Jun CD, Pae HO, Kim YC, Jeong SJ, Yoo JC, Lee EJ, Choi BM, Chae SW, Park RK, Chung HT. Inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis by butanol fraction of the methanol extract of Ulmus davidiana in murine macrophages. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998 Sep;62(2):129-35.

2.Oiseth D. Study on carbohydrate constituents of mucilage of Ulmus glabra Huds. Pharm Acta Helv. 1954 Aug;29(8):251-6.

3.Song SE, Choi BK, Kim SN, Yoo YJ, Kim MM, Park SK, Roh SS, Kim CK. Inhibitory effect of procyanidin oligomer from elm cortex on the matrix metalloproteinases and proteases of periodontopathogens. J Periodontal Res. 2003 Jun;38(3):282-9.

4.Ye G, Cao Q, Chen X, Li S, Jia B. Ulmus macrocarpa hance for the treatment of ulcerative colitis--a report of 36 cases. J Tradit Chin Med. 1990 Jun;10(2):97-8.

5.Youn HJ, Lakritz J, Kim DY, Rottinghaus GE, Marsh AE. Anti-protozoal efficacy of medicinal herb extracts against Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum. Vet Parasitol. 2003 Aug 29;116(1):7-14.

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.

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