If you buy through links on this site, we may earn a small commission. This contributes to the running of the site, thanks for your help.
Slippery Elm bark has been used traditionally to treat gastrointestinal tract diseases, coughing, diarrhea, and by Native Americans.
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, these are sometimes referred to as mucoprotective agents.
It also contains antioxidants that may help with inflammatory bowel conditions. The mechanism of action in the upper stomach and esophagus seems to be reflux stimulation of the nerves in the lining, which causes increased mucous secretion. The increased mucus production may protect the gastrointestinal tract against ulcers and excess acidity.
There has been limited scientific research on slippery elm, but some studies have indicated that slippery elm can help alleviate symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, or conditions like IBS.
One study found that slippery elm had an antioxidant effect in people with Crohn’s disease, in the study there was a similar dose-dependent response in both slippery elm and 5-aminosalicylic acid.
Slippery elm is used to manage symptoms like diarrhea and inflammation. It coats the surface lining of stomach and bowels, and soothes inflamed regions. It is one of the supplements that can help control diarrhea and abdominal discomfort associated with Crohn’s disease and normalizes stools.
Taken orally as a powder, or in a capsule form, the water-absorbent capability of Slippery elm draws water into the stool in the colon, and adds bulk to loose and watery stools.
My Experience with Slippery Elm
In my experience slippery elm has been effective in controlling my IBS type symptoms. I beleive there is a lot of crossover between Inflammatory Bowel disease and IBS, (even though they seem to be regarded separately by many in the medical profession), obviously in regard to the symptoms, but also in regard to the causes, with the differences in severity and tissue damage being on a spectrum that is genetically influenced.
Over many years as I have learned to better control my Crohn’s disease more effectively, through using supplements and dietary changes, I have found Slippery Elm indispensable, as it helped control diarrhea and pain when these were my worst symptoms, whereas now it is very useful for reducing bloating and intestinal irritation, and reducing the discomfort as intestinal contents/gas move through areas with many strictures in my small bowel.
I have also found Slippery Elm very good at controlling acid reflux, and it seems to be successful for a number of people with GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease).
I always take Slippery Elm 2 hours before or after other supplements or medications I am taking, to reduce any interference with adsorption, and I take it with plenty of water.
Slippery elm is generally regarded as safe, and is not known to have serious side effects. Because it coats the digestive tract, it may slow down the absorption of other drugs or supplements.
Slippery elm is not recommended for use in infants or small children, or during pregnancy