Ulmus rubra

Slippery Elm

Ulmus rubra

Slippery Elm

Gaia Herbs no longer makes any products using Slippery Elm, due to its "at risk" status on the United Plant Saver's list. It is endangered due to overharvesting and to Dutch Elm disease which has taken out many of the once very prolific Elm species. Since the inner bark of Slippery Elm is used, harvesting the tree can kill the tree, and Slippery Elm should not be used from wild-harvested sources. Slippery Elm is related to the American Elm (Ulmus americana) and is sometimes also called Red Elm or Moose Elm. It can reach up to sixty feet in height and is native from Quebec to Florida and extends west to the Dakotas and Texas. The name developed due to the mucilaginous inner bark which pioneers in North America chewed for quenching thirst. Slippery Elm was official in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1820-1936 as a demulcent and used in poultices for gunshot wounds by physicians during the American Revolution. The yolk of the Liberty Bell is made from Slippery Elm. It is important to note that American settlers learned about the uses of this tree from Native Americans.

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Traditional Health Benefits of Slippery Elm

Urinary Tract Support, Immune Support, Digestive Support

What is Slippery Elm Used for?

Slippery elm is mucilaginous and therefore a very good demulcent. It is used to add moisture or soothe irritated tissue and can be found in many natural throat lozenges. It can be used as a powder mixed into water, as a tea or infusion, in capsules, topically as a poultice, and as a liquid extract. It has been used to address digestive disturbances where it acts as a gentle supportive agent to the intestines and promotes healthy mucosal tissue.

View Important Precautions

Active Constituents of Slippery Elm


Parts Used

Inner bark

Additional Resources

1.) Newall CA, Anderson LA, Philpson JD. Herbal Medicine: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London, UK: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996. 2.) The Review of Natural Products by Facts and Comparisons. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Co., 1999. 3.) Tilgner, Sharol (1999). Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth. Pleasant Hill, Oregon: Wise Acres Publishing. 4.) Braun, Lesley; Cohen, Marc (2006). Herbs and Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Guide (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone. p. 586.

Important Precautions

Slippery Elm is an endangered plant in the wild, and it is important to only use sustainably harvested sources, and only use when absolutely necessary. Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

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