Thursday, August 9, 2012

Slippery Elm Bark (Ulmus fulva)

ULMUS FULVA (Slippery Elm Bark)
Trigger Word(s): promotes digestive absorption, demulcent, nutritive
Botanical Name: Ulmus fulva
Common Name: Slippery Elm
Other Names: gray elm, Indian elm, moose elm, red elm, rock elm, slipweed, sweet elm
Family: Ulmaceae (Elm Family)
Part Used: Inner bark
Slippery elm is a deciduous tree, growing between 20 to 60 feet high in eastern and central North America. The leaves are simple and alternate, unequally toothed with hairs on both sides. They are olive green and are about 4 to 6 inches long. Before the leaves emerge, the leaf buds are followed by a cluster of flowers with red anthers and purplish stigmas. The tree grows in open areas with partial shade to full sun and moist, firm soil (Mars, 2007).
CLASSIFICATION: tonify the yin, moistens mucosa and relieves dryness (Holmes, 2006).
Taste: Sweet (Tierra, 1988)
Temperature: Neutral (Tierra, 1988)
Moisture: Moist (Mars, 2007)
Direction: stabilizing
Element: Air (Cunningham, 2000)
Planet: Saturn (Cunningham, 2000)
Strength: mild remedy with minimal chronic toxicity (Holmes, 2006)
Body System(s): digestive, respiratory, integumentary, excretory
Demulcent: This is a great treatment for sensitive or inflamed mucous membranes of the digestive system (Hoffmann, 2003). It is such a demulcent that midwives used it during labor as a hand lubricant when checking a baby’s position in the birth canal (Mars, 2007).
Nutritive: So nutritious that it is often eaten as a gruel for people that can’t keep any food down, such as those recovering from an illness or going through chemotherapy (Mars, 2007).
Major Chemical Constituent(s):
Mucilage: composed of galactose, 3-methyl glactose, rhamnose and galacturonic acid residues (Hoffmann, 2003). 
Chinese Syndrome(s): lung yin deficiency, stomach and spleen Qi deficiency, bladder damp-heat, large intestine damp-heat/cold, skin damp heat (Holmes, 2006).
Western Disorder:
GI track: diarrhea, constipation (Gladstar, 2001); gastritis, gastric ulcers, duodenal ulcers, enteritis, colitis, dysentery (Hoffmann, 2003); stomach dryness, dislike of food, weight loss, underweight especially in infants and children, chronic loose stool (Holmes, 2006).
Integumentary system: burns (Gladstar, 2001); boils, scalds, carbuncles, inflamed wounds, abscesses, skin ulcers (Hoffmann, 2003).
Respiratory system: relieves dryness of the mouth and throat (Felter, 1922); dry cough with blood streaked sputum, sore throat, chronic bronchitis, croup, lung TB, lung hemorrhage, laryngitis (Holmes, 2006).
Urinary tract: irritation or pain when urinating, UTI, cystitis and urethritis especially when its chronic (Holmes, 2006).
Type of Preparation: Decoction                                                Dosage: 1 part powered root to 8 parts water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink ½ a cup three times a day (Hoffmann, 2003).
Type of Preparation: Infusion                                                    Dosage: For a long infusion, soak 6-14 grams for                                                                                                               30 to 60 minutes (Holmes, 2006).
In individuals with a weak stomach, Slippery elm may cause damp in the intestines with indigestion (Holmes, 2006).
Drug and/or Herb Interactions:
                Slippery elm may slow the absorption of orally administered drugs (Hoffmann, 2003).
Slippery elm is on the “at risk” list because so many trees have been killed for their medicine and because of the Dutch elm disease, a fungus that is carried by a beetle and attacks a tree’s circulatory system (Mars, 2007). Use it sparingly and only buy only farm-grown or ethically collected bark (Gladstar, 2001). Substitutions are also suggested.  Fremontia californica is a native California tree with almost exact properties and uses to the Slippery Elm (Tierra, 1988), and externally marshmallow has similar properties (Gladstar, 2001).
It used to be sold as medicinal flower and used in cooking because it is so nutritious (Gladstar, 2001).
In magical traditions, if you burn slippery elm and throw it into a fire with a knotted yellow cord or thread, all gossip against you will stop (Cunningham, 2000)
Cunningham, Scott. (2000). Cunningham's encyclopedia of magical herbs. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Felter, Harvey. (1922). The eclectic material medica, pharmacology and therapeutics. Cincinati, OH: John K. Scudder. Retrieved June 23, 2010 from
Gladstar, Rosemary. (2001). Family Herbal. North Adams, MA: Storey Books.
Hoffmann, David. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Holmes, Peter. (2006). The Energetics of western herbs. Boulder, CO: Snow Lotus Press, Inc.
Mars, Brigitte. (2007). The Desktop guide to herbal medicine. Laguna Beach: Basic Health Publications, Inc.
Tierra, Michael. (1988). Planetary herbology. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press.

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