Slippery Elm Bark and a Yummy Healing Tea [Vegan]

Just recently, I discovered slippery elm bark (powder). If you are not aware of it, read on! Slippery elm has a number of amazing benefits (particularly for those with irritable bowels); I am a huge fan!

Slippery Elm Bark can be found in the bulk herbs section in your local health food store (or online). I'll give a brief list of the healing properties of the bark and an easy tea recipe which has performed miracles on my digestive track recently. Seeing how many people, especially high stress individuals (that's me!) and Celiacs, have irritated digestive tracks, I thought this information was relevant from Wikipedia and Dr. Karl Smith's informational sites.

Slippery Elm Bark, or ulmus fulva, is an herb from the inner part of the elm bark which is usually sold in a finely ground powder. It hails from the elm tree and masquerades under many names: American elm, Indian elm, red elm, moose elm, sweet elm, rock elm, and winged elm.

It is a very safe and gentle herb and is allergen free (unless you are allergic to elm trees). Slippery Elm Bark herb can be taken by anyone; infants, pregnant women, and the elderly can all enjoy its benefits. The inner bark, normally ground into a powder, is used for a variety of medicinal purposes. The soothing properties of the bark benefit both the skin as well as the respiratory and digestive track.

General Health Benefits and Nutrients:

Slippery Elm Bark can actually sustain life for a short period of time since it is high in many essential nutrients:
  • sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, iodine, copper, zinc, phosphorus, bromine, manganese, and vitamins E, F, K, and P
  • It is excellent for those who are sick or have cancer or other destructive "wasting" diseases.
Medicinal Uses (internal):
  • Digestive Problems:
    • indigestion
    • cramps
    • ulcers
    • colitis, gastritis, GI hyperacidity,
    • kidney problems
    • diarrhea and constipation
  • wasting diseases
  • cancer
  • It soothes nausea and is not likely to be thrown up
To take internally: Make an easy tea! See my recipe at the end. I adjust the slippery elm amount and spices to taste each time.

Another great herbal recipe is from Dr. Smith who gives the following: Take equal parts of slippery elm, marshmallow root (both of these herbs soothe and buffer the stomach and GI tract), comfrey (improves digestion), echinacea (fights off infection), and cayenne capsules (acts as a stimulant and magnifies healing properties of the herbs). Many people use honey, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger to naturally flavor herbal remedies.

Medicinal Uses (External):

The soothing and inflammation-reducing properties of the bark make it ideal for:

  • burns
  • rash (diaper rash)
  • sores, wounds
  • hemorrhoids and boils
To apply externally: Mix slippery elm in some water to make a thick paste and apply it directly on the affected area.

Heal an Irritated or Acidic, Damaged G.I. Tract:

Take as a hot tea or add to your baked goods, soups, smoothies, or really anything to take for an irritated digestive system.

The bark has been shown to neutralize acidity and protect mucous membranes along the GI tract by coating the membrane surface. This "buffering" of the membranes helps the irritated area (stomach, intestines, throat) heal themselves while the acidic offending environment is isolated from the membrane. The coating action also soothes ulcers.

Heal a Sore Throat or Respiratory Infection:

The acid buffering and anti-inflammatory action of the bark soothes sore throats and relieves dry and irritated bronchi and lungs. It is an expectorant, meaning that it breaks up mucous stuck in the throat or bronchi (as is the case in bronchitis or a cold/flu) and causes you to cough it up. Conditions appropriate for slippery elm usage:

  • asthma
  • bronchitis
  • sore throats, coughing, hoarseness
  • tonsillitis
  • pleurisy, lung bleeding, and leukorrhea

To soothe a sore throat: Karl Smith, D. C., has a fantastic page on his University Chiropractic website. He has many easy herbal remedies and good looking recipes if you're adventurous. A favorite lozenge recipe of Dr. Smith's: Take some locally grown honey and mix it with slippery elm powder till it makes a thick paste. Add 1-5 drops of peppermint oil to taste. Put in a container with a lid and store it in the fridge. Eat by the spoonful 2-4 times daily until sore throat subsides.

Here is my easy slippery elm tea that really soothes my tummy and intestines. It really helps constipation and is very gentle. I do not get bloated from it, which is rare. Since the powdered bark absorbs the hot water as it steeps, this tea is filling and prevents me from after meal fridge raids for which I'm famous (always hungry since my absorption is still fairly poor). This tea is allergen free and can be spiced up to your liking. If you can tolerate some light coconut milk, or almond milk (careful, Almond Breeze brand has soy lethicin), both are great in this tea. As I've mentioned before, I don't recommend soy milk since unfermented soy is damaging to your health.

Slippery Elm Tea [Vegan]

~ 1 T. slippery elm bark (powder)
1 c. water, boiling
1 T. sweetener of choice**
2-3 oz. light coconut milk (optional) or other "milk" of choice

** I use organic unsulfured blackstrap molasses (optional) or 1 packet (1 g. total, 10 mg herb) Stevia

spices (adjust to your liking):
hearty dashes of:
cinnamon, nutmeg, caradmon (powdered)
dash of 50-50 cayenne pepper & cinnamon mixture
powdered ginger

Variations: Add 1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process - it's processed with alkali)

Just boil the water, spoon in the elm powder, and add the spices to your liking. Stir in the molasses (or other sweetener) and "milk" beverage. Drink hot.

Cindalou's Kitchen Blues: Healthy Celiac / Coeliac Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes


  1. hi Cindalou,

    thanks for the recipe and info - perfect timing :-) (I recently found your site - love it!)

  2. I'm so glad I found your site! I have been thinking a lot lately about switching into more of a vegetarian diet. My partner has asthma, so your information on Slippery Elm Bark is very helpful. Thank you.

  3. I am so glad that I found your site. I have a serious case of hemroids and have for about 10 years. I recently went to an IRC doctor who told me that regardless of the IRC treatment that I would have to have banding and surgery anyways,

    My mom told me that slippery elm will take care of them and that I wouldn´t have to have the surgery and the banding. So thanks for confirming that.

  4. Thank you for the info it's very helpful.

  5. I have been usiing slippery elm bark for 30 years in it's natural form. Imade a tea adding chamemille (sp) pepperment or star anise. I used to get it fresh from an herb store, but since I have moved to florida I have not been able to find any. I am thrilled to hear that it is now in powder form.


  6. Hello Cindy!

    I have been looking around net for this item and i found your site.

    i do have a research on this and i found your blog so helpful and informational.

    Thanks for this post of yours and i hope i can find more interesting post in your site.

    (after this post i'll browse around)

    Thanks again!

  7. Excellent advice for patients to follow.
    I recently came across your blog ,. I have got lot of information from your blog.
    I love the point of asthma.

  8. Cindy,
    thank you so much for posting this information here! I have been looking where to buy a fresh good quality Slippery Elm powder, I bought one from best botanicals, but what arrived doesn't look like the picture above :(. It is for my 4year old. thank you! Laura

  9. The soothing properties of the bark benefit both the skin as well as the respiratory and digestive track.

  10. This particular recipe is actually really great for ulcerative colitis. It coats the intestines and also has antioxidant properties. It can stimulate the nerve endings and cause a really beneficial environment for healing. Thanks for posting it.

  11. thank you so much for posting this information here!

  12. slippery elm makes me feel fine! :)

  13. The receipt is absolutely amazing, thank you for posting.

  14. I found your site through Google and your Tea recipe sounds like just what I need ...wish you the best keep up the good work ...In past generations they did not run to the doctor every little problem...My grandmother always said that all the drugs out there will do you more harm than good.

  15. Thanks for a great recipe, have just been diagnosed as having gluten allergy and celiac, after years of suffering constant heartburn, bloating, roids, ulcers and more. I had read slippery elm would help the healing, I tried your recipe and had instant relief. Thank you.

  16. This was interesting to read. I wasn't aware of Elm Bark tea and the health benefits therein. Chamomile tea is also very healthy for the digestive trace along with other things, but I may have to see if I can find some of this Slippery Elm bark on the market... Cheers!

  17. Thanks for your info on this tea. I also enjoy slippery elm but mix it with an herbed tea of my choice like chamomile or peppermint. I am going to try your recipe above! Looking for some relief from GERD heartburn without taking drugs.

  18. Hey, this is Liana in Fremantle, Western Australia. Wow, thank you for your blog. I've been adding half a teaspoon of Slippery Elm Bark powder to my usual coffee for months now and it's helping heal my chronic bone infection. The flavour of the bark is an acquired taste and takes a few drinks to get used to so please don't give up on it. I feel so much better and I'm sure it's the ingredients in the bark that are helping me. Thank you.

  19. Healing tea is something new to be heard off, i will try this tea , according to it's recipe it looks tasty and delicious , it is good to try something which keeps you healthy.

  20. I am living with crohn's disease and a few of my friends told me about slippery elm bark. They suggested that I try it and it does make a huge difference. I am going to cut back on gluten and am trying to eat healthy foods. My life depends on making better nutritional choices. Thanks to people like you we can educate ourselves to improve our lives.

  21. Used SEB on my terminally ill, barely 13 year old cat who has lymphoma of the small intestine. He couldn't keep food down (a feeding tube) with chemo. SEB is what I decided to use when all the vet's drugs had him wasting away, not eating, and vomiting. They didn't think he would live 3 to 6 months after all his "crashes." After 8 months of chemo, I stopped it - it was too much for him. He has used SEB instead of Pepcid or other stomach aids with great success. My baby is currently 16 1/2. Never give up and go with your instincts.

  22. I mix a teaspoonful of slippery elm powder in with my morning bowlful of porridge, makes it a bit sticky but finished off with spoonful of manuka honey (also good for the gut) it disguises the flavour and slips down a treat.  Have been using it for IBS symptoms - good results

  23. I also made this at home and it was delicious!

  24. Thank you for posting this, I wish I would have known as my precious little Chloe who was 13 1/2 died a year ago this March from Intestinal Cancer. I would have tried anything to help her, she was so special, I miss her terribly. While this post made me tear up I am thankful in the event I have to use it on one of my other cats. :) 

  25. Thank you for the Slippery Elm Bark info. I found out about the power from my naturopathic doctor who prescribed it for my diverticulosis. I was aware of slippery elm lozenges for sore throat but never knew it came in powder form. I take a teaspoon straight with water or with aloe vera juice. It really eases the inflammation and helps to neutralize my excess stomach acid. I recommend anyone with GI problems try it.

  26. I take slippery elm and am all my medications

  27. Sheridragonfly00July 30, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    How  did you get it down the cat , in what form?
    Any ideas for a cat that would not drink it and
    hard to swallow ..was it pill form or  powder?
    What brand and how much did you use and how did you suggest
    giving it to a cat? THanks sheri

  28. 8/7/12- What brand did you use and what dosage did you give?
    email: num1abbafan@aol.com

  29. I posted my question before I saw yours! I DO give SE already to my cat, but I'm not happy with the brand. Its in capsule and has magnesium stearate (a flowing agent), which is not harmful, but cant really be too good. I want to give the "pure" form and am looking for a good quality brand.

  30. (cont.) I mix it in his food, but am thinking he wont absorb nutrients from his food so am doing it this way. Mix it with water, it will get a little thick, get a smaller syringe from your pharmacy or vet (without the needle) and squeeze it in his mouth. Used to be videos on utube how to give cats med. or food this way (like turkey baby food, when they wont eat, to get past it).

  31. Thank you so much, this has been really informative for me. I have unbelievable issues due to crohns disease, so I'm turning to this for a little help. I'm on alot of strong medications, but they dint help with sone of the ongoing issues. Skin wise as well.
    This sounds like something worth trying.
    So, thank you. :)

  32. A little info from a forestry major who student taught dendrology while in grad school. Ulmus fulva was a later name given to slippery elm, which had previously been classified as Ulmus rubra. For some reason the later name stuck among herbalists though, even though it is not the accepted name. American elm, Ulmus americana, is a different species, as is rock elm, Ulmus thomasii. From what I understand, you wouldn't want to use either american elm or rock elm as though it were the same as slippery elm. I'm not sure about the name winged elm either, as all elm seeds are winged. The other common names, red, indian, moose and sweet elm, I am aware of though.

  33. On your slippery elm tea recipe, did you mean one teaspoon (t) slippery elm bark? It indicates one tablespoon (T), which seems like a whole lot for just one cup of water. I just tried it with only a tsp. of slippery elm and cocoa (I didn't measure the honey), and it's delicious and has a pleasant, creamy texture. I can't imagine it with triple the slippery elm.
    Thanks for the info and idea. I now have a new evening treat!

  34. Doctor Oz.com recommended slippery elm on his website. I'd never heard of it, but went to Down to Earth in Honolulu and they had it. I'll try it! Need a colon cleanse and this was one of the ingredients he recommended.

  35. I have found SEB to be wonderful for me too! I have tried a number of natural supplements which have helped greatly. I will list them out here and hopefully they will help others as well: 1- Slippery Elm, mixed into a tea (made into a 'slurry' as it thickens) with organic turmeric powder. You don't have to include the turmeric, but turmeric (organic) is an amazing healing spice and excellent anti-oxidant. Also: MucosaHeal (capsules) by a company called iMix. You can find it online or at your local health food store depending on where you live. DGL chewable lozenges have also been wonderful for my GERD / Stomach inflammation. DGL also helps to calm and soothe any inflammation in the GI tract. (I want to say check with your MD first if you have any underlying medical conditions, but many doctors don't know what these supplements are, so if they don't, check with your Naturopath or Homeopath. Good luck and stay positive! :)


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