Slippery Elm Herbarium
Latin name: Ulmus rubra
Common Names: Red elm, sweet elm, moose elm, rock elm
Descriptive Characteristics: This deciduous tree reaches 65-70 feet according to Heinerman (1996). The bark is reddish/dark brown. The inner bark is whitish and slightly sweet. The twigs are hairy and the buds have rusty hairs. The leaves are thick, stiff and hairy.
Parts used: Inner bark
Texture: What was included in the kit was fluffy and fibrous.
Odor: strong pleasant smell
Constituents: mucilage (composed of galactose, 3-methyl galactose, rhamnose, and galacturonic acid residues) (Hoffman, 2003, p. 591.) Chevallier (2016) adds starch and tannins (p. 145).
Therapeutic Actions: Anti-inflammatory, demulcent, expectorant Hoffman (2003) adds emollient, nutrient, astringent (p. 591). Chevallier 92016) adds laxative (p. 145).
Indications: coughs, sore throat, bronchitis, wound care and inflammation. Hoffman (2003) adds is perfect for soothing inflamed mucous membranes lining of the digestive system – gastritis, gastric or duodenal ulcers, enteritis, colitis, etc. treats diarrhea. Externally it can treat boils, ulcers and abscesses. Chevallier (2016) adds the nutrients are great in baby food, for the gut, and convalescence. Urinary problems such as chronic cystitis. He says all manner of chest conditions and adds pleurisy and tuberculosis as further examples. Externally, it softens and protects the skin – poultice is used to draw out splinters and to heal boils (p. 145).
Formulary: I’m not sure which constituent would equate to this recipe below but Heinerman has 2 recipes that call for slippery elm that are used to replace nourishment to help recover from illness. Given the recipe below is to help recover from a cold, I think this also applies. I scrolled up to recall what was up there since I’ve been staring at this all day, expectorant also works here.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Colitis, Ileitis) (p. 134): Add small pieces of slippery elm bark to a strong catnip tea. Also, if the person doesn’t use tobacco, a bit of fine tobacco on the tunny can help.
Stomachache (p. 134): Drink a slippery elm tea.
Acidity and indigestion (p. 307):
Acne and boils (p. 305):
Constipation in children (p. 3018):
Hemorrhoids (p. 302):
Dosage: Since I can’t find dosages anywhere, I went to the class lesson. (I actually have all the class lesson information saved in a different document for future reference but I wanted to find other sources. All doses for adults, three to four times a day unless stated:
Decoction: 4-T to 6-T
Gruel: 6-T to 8-T
Infusion: 8-T to 10-T
Tincture: 2-ml to 5-ml
Hoffman (2003, p. 591)
Decoctions: 1 part powdered root to 8 parts water. Bring to boil, simmer 10-15 min. ½ c, 3/day
Poultice: enough boiling water to make a paste.
Powdered bark: 5-20ml in water 3/day (1:10 ratio)
Chevallier (2016, p. 145)
1Infusion: 1 heaping t in 3c warm water, steep 5 min. Drink for diarrhea 1-2 /day
Poultice: for wounds: add several drops of calendula tincture to 1t powdered slippery elm, make a paste. Apply.
Capsules: for bronchitis: 200mg, 2-3 /day
Powder: 1t with water 2-3/day
Tablets: for diarrhea.
Safety, Precautions and Contraindications: due to the heavy mucilage content, it's great for skin irritations and mucus membranes but it may prevent absorption of prescription medications. There isn't much science on this herb (according to Ulbricht, 2010, 663) but there are teas, decoctions, liquid extracts, powdered inner bark preparations, and capsules/tablets available commercially which speaks volumes for safety.
Lab, Notes and Media:
Cough Syrup Formula
1/3-oz licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra root
1/3-oz slippery elm Ulmus rubra bark
1/3-oz flaxseed Linum usitatissimum
1/3-pint molasses or 1/6 lb. honey or raw sugar
Prepare a decoction with the licorice but my brand new scale refuses to acknowledge the small amount of herbs required so I had to eye-ball the herbs.
My teapot comes with a stainless-steel infuser so I put the licorice in there and it worked well in this phase of the operation. However, I got busy with my son and forgot what I had going on. Luckily there was still a good amount of liquid in there when I got him down for a nap.
Straining was a snap, just lift the basket out. I let it cool until I was able to touch it.
I put the slippery elm and flaxseed in the infuser (here is where I went wrong) and put it back in once it was cool. I poured the remaining 2 pints of water over the herbs and let it sit. I don’t know how long because I realized I didn’t have a proper container to put this in so I had to go to the store. NOTE: The instructions on this lab were confusing. While the recipe says 1 pint, the directions said to add 2 pints of water. 2/3 of a pint was supposed to be added as the initial amount was 1/3 pint.
When I got home, I removed the infuser and poured the liquid into the freshly cleaned jar.
I added the honey (my scale works well for measuring fluid ounces so at least it’s half useful…) and that’s when I realized how thin the liquid was. When I thought back, I realized the infuser I used has holes that are too small for the thick liquid to get through. Next time I will either use different infusers (I have a set that have bigger holes which I think would work great here) or I will use the method described in the lesson.
The bottle is now in the refrigerator. The instructions say “store in a cool, dark place” but I bought amber jars. I still thought the fridge was a good place. When you have a cough, sometimes something cool going down your throat feels great!
On 13 January 2019, I started 21g of herb in a 1:5 25%. There wasn’t enough liquid so I doubled it to 1:10 and my menstruum was 210ml. With 40% alcohol, I used 132ml of alcohol and 78ml of distilled water. My yield was 100ml. It smelled good but looked like beer.
Mills and Bone (2010) state on page 92 swells when mixed with water and is a demulcent and laxative. Vaginal insertion of the bark can cause an abortion. Mills and Bone (2010) on page 59 states it may reduce or prevent absorption of other medications, in particular, vitamin B and lithium. Pan et al. (2017) did an interesting study that showed slippery elm’s antioxidative and antitumorigenic properties can actually block the negative affects of alcohol on the liver in mice.
Chevallier, A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: 550 Herbs and Remedies for common Ailments. New York, NY: DK, a Division of Penguin Random House, LLC. p. 145.
Class lesson. Retrieved from https://achs.instructure.com/courses/1159/pages/ulmus-fulva-slippery-elm-monograph?module_item_id=128088
Gladstar, R. (2012). Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. P. 142, 168.
Griffin, J. (1997). Mother Nature’s Herbal: A Complete Guide for Experiencing the Beauty, Knowledge, & Synergy of Everything that Grows. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications. P. 7-11, 132, 134, 142.
Heinerman, J. (1996). Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs and Spices. New York, New York: Penguin Group. 103-104.
Hoffman, David. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. p. 591.
Mills, S. & Bone, K. (2010). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. Elsevier Limited. 59, 92.
Pan, J. H., Lim, Y., Kim, J. H., Heo, W., Lee, K. Y., Shin, H. J., Kim, J. K., Lee, J. H., & Kim Y. J. (2017). Root bark of Ulmus davidiana var. japonica restrains acute alcohol-induced hepatic steatosis onset in mice by inhibiting ROS accumulation. PLoS ONE, 12(11), e0188381. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0188381
Ulbricht, C. E. (2010). Natural Standard Herb & Supplement Guide: An Evidence-based Guide. Mosby, Inc. Elsevier, Inc. 663.
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