Slippery Elm Bark: Complete Guide – Everything You Need To Know [2024]

Slippery Elm bark is a natural remedy that has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. It has been traditionally used to soothe sore throats, treat wounds, and ease digestive disorder symptoms.

The use of this bark has been gaining in popularity in recent years due to its acclaimed health benefits. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties. 1 2

It is also said to help with digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and diarrhea. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is arguably limited in the opinion of mainstream medical practitioners. 3 4

This Complete Guide will cover everything you need to know about this bark, including its history, traditional uses, potential health benefits, side effects, dosage, and how to use it. We will also examine the current scientific research on this bark in comparison to other options to help you make informed decisions about whether it is right for you.

What is Slippery Elm Bark?

This bark is the inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree (Ulmus rubra), which is native to the central and eastern United States and Ontario, Canada. The bark has been used for centuries by Native American tribes for its medicinal properties. It is known for its mucilage content, which gives it a slippery texture when mixed with water. 5

History of Slippery Elm Bark

The use of the bark from the Slippery Elm tree dates back to the 19th century when it was commonly used as a remedy for sore throats, coughs, and digestive issues. During the American Civil War, it was used as a food source when supplies were scarce. In the 20th century, it was used as an ingredient in throat lozenges and cough syrups.

slippery elm bark benefits - tree

There is also a long history of the use of this bark in Ayurveda. Slippery Elm has been used in conjunction with Licorice Root and Triphala to improve gastrointestinal health and treat certain diseases. 6

Benefits of Slippery Elm Bark

The bark of this tree has long been regarded as medicinal by generations of Native Americans, and the world has discovered more about the variety of potential health benefits as time has gone by. Some of the benefits that it offers are understood to include:

  1. Gut Health 7 8 9 10 11
    • Relieving symptoms of gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
    • Reducing inflammation in the gut
    • Stimulating mucus production to protect the digestive tract lining
    • Relieving constipation and diarrhea
    • Healing ulcers and boosting the immune system for overall gut health
    • Reducing symptoms of IBS
    • Relieving nausea and vomiting
  2. Anti-inflammatory properties
    • Reducing inflammation in arthritis, sore throat, and respiratory infections
  3. Skin Health 12
    • Soothing skin irritations such as burns, wounds, and rashes
    • Beneficial effects on psoriasis
  4. Prebiotic properties
    • Feeding good bacteria in the gut, improving gut health, and supporting a healthy immune system

How to Use Slippery Elm Bark

Forms of Slippery Elm Bark

This bark can be found in several forms, including:

  • Capsules
  • Lozenges
  • Powders
  • Teas, and
  • Extracts.

The most common form is powder, which can be mixed with water or other liquids to create a gel-like substance. Lozenges are another popular form, which can be taken to soothe sore throats or coughs.

Dosage and Administration

The information provided here about how to use the bark of the Slippery Elm tree is not to be considered medical advice, this is simply for illustrative purposes. If you are considering making this a part of your routine, you should speak with a specialist first.

The typical recommended dosage of this bark varies depending on the form of the supplement and the intended use. For example, a typical dosage for a powder supplement is usually 1 to 2 tablespoons mixed with water or juice, taken 3 to 4 times per day. For lozenges, the recommended dosage is typically 1 to 2 lozenges every 2 to 3 hours.

When taking Slippery Elm bark, it is important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. The supplement may cause slight constipation, so it is important to drink enough water to avoid this side effect.

Overall, this bark is generally considered a safe and natural supplement that can be used to treat a variety of conditions.

Side Effects and Precautions

Possible Side Effects

Slippery Elm is generally considered safe for most people when taken orally and ingested. However, some people may experience mild side effects, including:

  • Stomach discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These side effects are typically mild and go away on their own. However, if you experience any severe side effects, such as difficulty breathing or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat, seek emergency medical help immediately.

Precautions and Warnings

Although Slippery Elm is generally considered safe, there are some precautions and warnings you should be aware of before taking it. These include:

  • Allergic reactions
    • If you are allergic to Slippery Elm or any of its components, do not take it.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding
    • There is not enough scientific evidence to determine the safety of this bark during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. It is best to avoid using it during these times.
  • Medication interactions
    • Slippery Elm may interact with certain medications, including lithium, digoxin, and medications that are broken down by the liver.
  • Topical use
    • Applying it topically may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some people. If you experience any skin irritation or allergic reaction, stop using immediately.

It is important to talk to your doctor before taking this bark, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications.

Choosing a Quality Product

When buying this bark, or products containing it, like Ultimate Fibre, it is important to choose a high-quality product. Look for products that are organic, non-GMO, and free from additives and fillers.

Additionally, make sure the product has been tested for purity and potency.

Slippery Elm bark vs Black Walnut hulls -Feature

If you are buying the bark in powder form, opt for a product that has been finely ground to ensure maximum absorption. If you prefer capsules or tablets, make sure they are easy to swallow and contain a sufficient amount of the bark as an extract.


If you are curious about what you might choose other than this bark, the following comparatives may be of interest to you:


What are the benefits of Slippery Elm Bark?

It has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including sore throat, cough, digestive issues, and skin irritations. It contains mucilage, a gel-like substance that can soothe and protect the lining of the digestive tract.

Recent studies have shown that this bark may also help treat the symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

How do I take Slippery Elm Bark?

It is available in various forms, including capsules, lozenges, teas, and powders. It is important to follow the recommended dosage on the product label or as directed by a healthcare professional. It is also important to drink plenty of water when taking it to prevent dehydration.

Are there any side effects of Slippery Elm Bark?

The bark is generally considered safe when taken in recommended doses. However, some people may experience mild side effects, such as nausea, stomach upset, or allergic reactions.

Where can I buy Slippery Elm Bark?

It is available at health food stores, online retailers, and some pharmacies. It is important to choose a reputable brand and to check the product label for the recommended dosage and any potential allergens. This bark is also one of the ingredients used in the Ultimate Fibre range.


This bark has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. Its natural anti-inflammatory and soothing properties make it a popular choice for treating a variety of ailments, from digestive issues to sore throats and skin conditions.

While there is limited scientific evidence to support the use of Slippery Elm, many people have reported positive results from using it. It is generally considered safe for most people, but as with any supplement or medication, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before using it, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking other medications.

If you do decide to try this, it is important to follow the recommended dosage and be aware of any potential side effects. Some people may experience mild gastrointestinal discomforts, such as bloating or gas, but these symptoms are usually temporary and go away on their own.

Overall, this bark is a natural and potentially effective remedy for a variety of health issues. While more research is needed to fully understand its benefits and potential risks, it is a safe and affordable option for many people looking for a natural alternative to traditional medications.

Join the conversation on Instagram and Pinterest and let us know your thoughts on Slippery Elm bark.


  1. “Slippery Elm, its Biochemistry, and use as a Complementary and Alternative Treatment for Laryngeal Irritation” – C. R. Watts, B. Rousseau, January 2012 [ReserachGate] [Archive] ↩︎
  2. “Ethnoveterinary medicines used for ruminants in British Columbia, Canada” – C. Lans, N. Turner, T. Khan, G. Brauer, W. Boepple, 26 February 2007 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  3. “Slippery Elm” – S. E. Edwards, I. da Costa Rocha, E. M. Williamson, M. Heinrich, February 2015 [ResearchGate] [Archive] ↩︎
  4. “Effects of two natural medicine formulations on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: a pilot study” – J. A. Hawrelak, S. P. Myers, October 2010 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  5. “Slippery Elm” – Forest Services Research Station Staff, September 2021 [USDA] [Archive] ↩︎
  6. “Prebiotic Potential of Herbal Medicines Used in Digestive Health and Disease” – C. T. Peterson, V. Sharma, S. Uchitel, K. Denniston, D. Chopra, P. J. Mills, S. N. Peterson, 1 July 2018 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  7. “Can You Use Slippery Elm to Treat Acid Reflux?” – D. Weatherspoon, N. Silver, 20 August 2018 [Healthline] [Archive] ↩︎
  8. “Top 9 Ways Slippery Elm Benefits Your Health + How To Use It” – W. Cole, 28 March 2023 [Dr. Will Cole] [Archive] ↩︎
  9. “Effectiveness of Nutritional Ingredients on Upper Gastrointestinal Conditions and Symptoms: A Narrative Review” – R. M. Schulz, N. K. Ahuja, J. L. Slavin, February 2014 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  10. “Natural Product-Derived Drugs for the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases” – Y. E. Joo, April 2014 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  11. “Prebiotic Potential of Herbal Medicines Used in Digestive Health and Disease” – C. T. Peterson, V. Sharma, S. Uchitel, K. Denniston, D. Chopra, P. J. Mills, S. N. Peterson, 1 July 2018 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  12. “Medical nutrition therapy as a potential complementary treatment for psoriasis–five case reports” – A. C. Brown, M. Hairfield, D. G. Richards, D. L. McMillin, E. A. Mein, C. D. Nelson, Date [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎

Last Updated on 5 months by D&C Editorial Team


About the Author

Matthew has been on an active journey towards living a healthy life from a young age. Influenced by his Grandmother, a practicing Naturopath who served her community from the 1940's to the 1980's, his views on living holistically were shaped from a young age. Growing up in different parts of Australia, his connection with the Ocean and a passion for sustainability comes through in everything he does and shares.

"I'm not a Doctor, and I don't play one on the Internet." - me

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