How to Use Slippery Elm


The slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), also known as the red, gray, soft, moose and Indian elm is a medium-sized member of the elm family. The slippery elm moniker comes from the mucilaginous property of its inner bark. Many herbal health practitioners attest to its ability to reduce inflammation in the GI tract and epidermis. Extensive testing has not been done to support the extent of the benefits of slippery elm as for these purposes, but the FDA has approved it as safe to use.

Step 1

Use a small axe to harvest the inner bark of slippery elm trees that is over 10 years old. To minimize harm to the tree, harvest from large branches or the trunk of the tree. Remove the outer layer of bark first then chip off the inner layer.

Step 2

Lay the bark out to dry in a cool, dry place until it is brittle and crumbles easily. While it dries, weigh it down with bricks or other heavy objects so that it remains flat.

Step 3

Use a mortar and pestle to grind it into a fine powder for use in teas, or a rough powder for use in poultices.

Step 4

Place 4 grams of slippery elm into a tea infuser and steep it in 2 cups of boiling-hot water for 5 minutes. Drink this tea three times daily to alleviate the symptoms of heartburn, a sore throat or cough, GERD (Gastro-esophogeal reflux disease), diarrhea, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Step 5

Mix a poultice of roughly powdered bark and boiling water--enough to cover the affected area. Allow the poultice to cool and place it on burns, bruises, boils, psoriasis or other epidermal conditions, but do not place your slippery elm poultice on an open wound.

Tips and Warnings

  • Slippery elm bark may inhibit the absorption of medication. Wait 2 hours after ingesting slippery elm bark to take any medication. Pregnant women should not take slippery elm. It increases the chances of miscarriage.

Things You'll Need

  • Small axe
  • Brick
  • Mortar
  • Pestle
  • Tea infuser
  • Pot
  • 2 cups water


  • Mayo Clinic: Alternative Medicine
  • USDA Forest Service: Ulmus rubra Muhl. Slippery Elm
  • University of Maryland: Slippery Elm
  • Love to Know Herbs: Slippery Elm Bark
  • Non-Timber Forest Products: Slippery Elm
Keywords: use slippery elm, harvest slippery elm, slippery elm tea, powder slippery elm

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.