Slippery elm is one of the finest and most valuable medicines in the herbal world. The powder made into a mucilage beverage or gruel is a bland and nutritive food for babies, the elderly, or convalescents (it possesses as much nutrition as oatmeal, and is an excellent sustaining food). The slippery elm is considered as one of nature’s finest demulcents. It is especially efficient in absorbing noxious gases and neutralizing any acidity in the stomach. Because of its mucilaginous nature, it insures easy passage during the processes of assimilation and elimination. Its action is so gentle that it can be retained by delicate stomachs when other substances will be rejected.
As a poultice, the slippery elm is one of herbal medicines greatest remedies in soothing injured or inflamed parts. This was an important botanical medicine and food for both the American Indians and pioneers. A small to medium sized tree, 4.0-60 feet tall. The white, slightly scented inner bark is mucilaginous (slippery). The oval leaves are rough and sandpapery above, hairy beneath and sharply double toothed with the sides of the base unequal. The twigs are rough-hairy, the older bark is grayish. Red flowers appear in catkins, early spring. A solitary seed is encased in round, wafer-like, smooth surfaced wings. Found in eastern, central North America in rich soil, woods. The roasted nuts are excellent eaten as is, ground into flour, or candied. It is a demulcent, diuretic & emollient. Steep 2 ounces, or more, of the inner bark in 1 quart water for 1 hour or longer, sweeten. Take 1 teaspoon every 30 minutes.
Origin(s): United States.
Latin Name(s): Ulmus rubra.
Also known as: Indian Elm, Red Elm, American Elm.
Plant Part(s) Used: Inner Bark.
Aroma: Without noticeable scent.
GMO Status: Non-GMO.
Additives: Free of any additives or preservatives.
Applications / Preparations: Can be put into capsules, teas, smoothies, hot cereals or infused as an herbal extract. For cosmetic use can be put in salves, balms, ointments & lotions. For decorative use can be added to botanical displays.
Storage: Store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Shelf Life: It is very difficult to pin down an exact expiration date for most single herbs as they do not really expire, they lose potency or strength over time but will still have value. Unlike synthetic material or drugs, herbs can contain many constituents that contribute to their medicinal effects. Even if when we know what the active constituents are, there are often many of them in a single herb, each with different rates of degradation. Some herbs lose their effect more easily. Other herbs that possess more stable compounds such as alkaloids or steroids will last much longer.
A huge part of the degradation rate of herbs depends also on the storage conditions of the herb, & even on the quality of the herb before storage – how it was grown, harvested, dried & processed. If the product is left in hot places or open to sunlight then it will degrade much quicker than if it was stored in cool, dry place & sealed tightly.
A good rule of thumb is that herbs should be stored no longer than 2-3 years but many herbs will have great strength much longer than that. To determine if a an herb is still good you can check the appearance & aroma. Herbs that are no longer acceptable will have lost much of its vibrant color & will instead appear dull & faded. The bigger key though is to smell the raw materials to see if the potent aroma is still present.
Note: Slippery Elm should be taken with at least 250 mL (8 oz) of liquid. Other drugs should be taken 1 hour prior to or several hours after consumption of slippery elm. The mucilage may slow the absorption of orally administered drugs.