The Gut-Healing, Anxiety-Alleviating Food That Functional Docs Love

The herbal remedies provided by nature are an amazing aspect of our planet, and slippery elm is no exception. Formally known as Ulmus rubra (or fulva), the inner back of the elm tree has been used in North America for centuries. Its name stems (no pun intented) from the fact that the bark consists of mucilage, which creates a slick substance when mixed with water. Native Americans used it as a healing salve for sores and wounds, as well as for GI issues and flu-like symptoms. Today, slippery elm is used to treat a variety of ailments from healing digestive distress to soothing stres and anxiety to treating symptoms of psoriasis. Studies are even showin the herb has its benefits for women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Aside from the mucilage, slippery elm is also packed with nutrients. It is not only a potent source of antioxidants but also contains a host of minerals, such as magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, as well as vitamin C and a family of B vitamins, to name a few.

It’s no wonder that this herb provides a powerful medicinal punch! I use the herb regularly in my practice—here is what you need to know about its benefits, how to buy it, its safety record, and its side effects.

How you can experience slippery elm’s benefits.

Slippery elm comes in many forms, and can be found online, or at your local health food store or natural market. It is typically sold as a powder, capsule, tea, or tincture. The way in which you will use it will depend on your treatment needs, but the most common way to consume slippery elm is either as a supplement or tea.

How slippery elm helps with constipation and digestion.

Slippery elm has been shown to relieve symptoms of digestive issues across the board, from heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), to irritable bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, IBS, and diverticulitis. Specifically, slippery elm is a demulcent, meaning it has the capacity to coat mucus membranes in the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. This not only helps to move things along but also works to calm inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract. In one study, when IBS sufferers were given a mixture containing slippery elm, they experienced a reduction in the severity of symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating. Another study attributes the herb’s ability to soothe IBS symptoms to its high antioxidant content.

If you feel as if slippery elm is just what you need to nourish your digestive system, I recommend drinking it in tea form, or try this comforting gut-healing pumpkin porridge. The slippery elm together with the gelatin makes this a very digestive-friendly (and fall-flavored) dish!


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