When someone in my family has a stomach ache or is experiencing any sort of digestive distress (from perhaps eating out or too many sweets at a party), Slippery Elm is by far my favorite herb to use as a soothing tonic.
Slippery Elm is an herb native to North America and is derived from the inner bark of the elm tree. It has long been used by Traditional Cultures in the New World for a variety of ailments, but its use as a digestive aid is probably the most popular.
Slippery Elm is very soothing to the entire digestive tract as it forms a soothing film over any mucous membrane it comes into contact with. Not that this matters much (to me at least), but the FDA has even approved Slippery Elm as a safe, demulcent substance, which means that it relieves minor pain and inflammation in mucous membranes such as what lines the digestive system.
The ability to temporarily reduce inflammation and pain makes Slippery Elm especially helpful for conditions such as IBS and colitis. It can also soften and add bulk to stools, so it is useful for both diarrhea and constipation issues. Its soothing/coating qualities protect the throat and so can be helpful for persistent reflux problems as well. Even folks with ulcers and gastritis can find benefit using Slippery Elm.
Slippery Elm is truly the “go to herb” for digestive problems!
I have found that the most effective way to utilize this herb is as a tincture although you can purchase it in pill or powder form as well. Used as a tincture, it easily coats all mucous membranes from the mouth right through to the rectum as it passes through the body. It is easy to take in a swallow or two of water as it tastes great! My kids ask for it anytime they feel the need and it can safely be used up to 3X per day (28-56 drops in some water each time is what my bottle says – always follow the directions on whatever brand you buy, of course).
Truthfully, I’ve found that you don’t need anywhere near 28-36 drops per dose. I give myself or my family maybe 10-15 drops in an ounce or so of water and that typically works fine the very first time. I occasionally need to give another dose a few hours later, but most of the time, one dose works wonders!
So next time you are at the healthfood store, pick up a bottle of Slippery Elm tincture and keep it in your wellness cabinet with your other herbs and whole food supplements. And, please make sure that whatever brand you choose is sustainably harvested!
And don’t ever forget to take Slippery Elm with you when you travel! This herb is a must to keep tummy aches at bay when eating out on a frequent basis when the quality of the food is lower than what you would serve at home.
*Please note that Slippery Elm should not be used during pregnancy as it can dilate the cervix and/or stimulate uterine contractions.