Gut Soothing Herb: Slippery Elm

Slippery Elm tree!

Slippery Elm tree!

Slippery elm is a great herb for the support of some types of gastrointestinal complaints.  Remember, the gastrointestinal tract begins at the mouth and ends… well you know where (for those who don’t know, ends at the anus).  Slippery elm, also known as the Latin Ulmus rubra, is a tree that is native to eastern North America but now can be found growing almost in any area of North America.  The inner bark is what is used medicinally.  Slippery elm is one of several herbs that exhibit the demulcent property.  Other herbs include aloe vera, marshmallow, Irish moss, flax seeds, psyllium seed husks, chia seeds, kelp, fenugreek, Malabar spinach, and okra.  A demulcent has the action of forming a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and protects inflamed or irritated internal tissues.  Generally, demulcent herbs are rich in mucilage. 

What exactly is mucilage?  Well, have you ever eaten okra?  If so, you have experienced the effects of mucilage.  It is a thick, gluey substance produced by most plants and some microorganisms.  There are plants known to contain far greater concentrations of mucilage than is typically found in most plants.  Slippery elm and the above-mentioned herbs are those plants rich in mucilage.  Make an appointment today with Dr. Vingelen to get back to the most VITAL YOU!