We are focusing on gut health for the month of November here at The Herb Shoppe, and rightfully so! Tummies are full of Halloween sweets, and our taste buds are gearing up for more holiday treats. During this time of year, many of us may find ourselves with booked calendars filling up with family visits, travel, and end-of-the-year work deadlines. With so much going on, it’s quite easy to set our healthy habits and routines to the side in order to keep up with our responsibilities. All of the stressors and seasonal shifts can really affect our bodies, from energy levels to immune strength and digestion. Stress and overload within the digestive system can lead to indigestion, a sluggish metabolism, and a whole slew of uncomfortable symptoms. The acid reflux and bloating kick in, and we find ourselves wishing we had some soothing remedies. There's nothing worse than having to miss out due to GI complaints...luckily there is just the plant ally to soothe these situations and keep you on track to reach for seconds at the holiday party!
November’s Herb of the Month is Ulmus Rubra, otherwise known as Slippery Elm. This deciduous tree belongs to the Ulmacaea family and is native to North America. Slippery Elm grows up to 60 feet tall and can live for up to 200 years. The medicine from this tree is found in the inner layer of bark, which can be accessed simply by scraping the outer layer of bark off. This process is usually done in spring when the wood is moisturized and pliable. The rich inner bark of Slippery Elm is mucilaginous and used as a demulcent in herbal medicine. A demulcent herb provides moisture to mucous membranes, tissues, and the digestive tract, which in turn soothes irritation or inflammation. In fact, Slippery Elm contains soluble fiber, and when the bark is soaked in warm water, it softens into the mucilage that traps and stores water! The texture becomes like jelly, hence its name “slippery” elm.
Slippery Elm is most commonly used for digestive complaints such as acid reflux, diarrhea, and digestive inflammation. For these complaints, the mucilage-rich bark gently coats the channels of the digestive tract and quickly soothes inflammation and acidity. It can even restore damaged intestinal lining by coating the digestive tract, which may offer relief for those with chronic illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Slippery Elm is also used as a sleep aid, for immune support, dry coughs, and skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. For the best results, Slippery Elm is most effective when consumed internally as a tea, through capsules, or as a gruel (similar to porridge) made from powder. However, it can be utilized externally for skin conditions or for sleep aid when a poultice is made from the bark, or when it is infused into oil for topical application. Here at The Herb Shoppe, we offer Slippery Elm in our products such as our Well Belly capsules, Calm Bowels tincture, and our Stomach Soother tea. My personal favorite is our Well Belly capsules as they are easy to consume on-the-go and are great for travel!
As our nervous and digestive systems transition into this busy season, let’s remind ourselves that support is just a dose of Slippery Elm away!
Photo by Matt Jones
Indigo Herbs. (2022, August 30). Slippery elm benefits. Indigo Herbs. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk/natural-health-guide/benefits/slippery-elm-bark
Wong, C. (2022, September 28). What is Slippery Elm? Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-slippery-elm-89585