Slippery elm: Practice Points – Patient Counselling. FAQ

• Slippery elm inner bark is a highly mucilaginous substance, which has been traditionally used as a topical application to soothe irritated and inflamed skin conditions and promote wound healing.

• It is used internally to soothe an irritated throat and is often combined with antiseptic herbs.

• Slippery elm is used to provide symptomatic relief in acid dyspepsia, gastrointestinal reflux and inflammatory bowel diseases, but has not been scientifically studied to any significant extent.

• Overall, slippery elm has not been significantly investigated in clinical studies, so most information is derived from traditional sources.

Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions

What will this herb do for me?

The inner bark of slippery elm is highly mucilaginous, meaning that it forms a thick gel-like substance when combined with water. Traditionally, it has been used internally to relieve symptoms of dyspepsia and inflamed bowel conditions and topically to soothe irritated skin and promote wound healing.

When will it start to work?

Whether used internally for upper gastrointestinal symptoms (such as reflux and dyspepsia) or applied topically to irritated skin, it should theoretically provide quick symptomatic relief; however, research to confirm this is not available.

Are there any safety issues?

Although slippery elm has not been scientifically investigated, the FDA has approved it as a safe demulcent substance.