Slippery Elm soothes coughs, colds and sore throats and is an ingredient of some cough lozenges and cough syrups.
The mucilage in slippery elm (scientific name: Ulmus Rubra), is what gives this herb the soothing affect for irritated throats and some of the symptoms of a cold. It is actually the fragrant inner bark that offers all the medicinal benefits of this tree, although there is a host of other constituents as well. However, it is the carbohydrates that make up the mucilage that mostly contribute to its effectiveness.
This tree is native to the eastern regions of North America and was traditionally used by Native Americans who discovered many uses for it. In fact, it can also be made into a paste to cover and protect wounds or into a poultice to treat them. Other uses supply materials for baskets and other household goods as well as canoes.
While slippery elm is often used to treat inflamed digestive conditions such as colitis, diarrhea, duodenal ulcers, enteritis and gastritis it is also commonly prescribed to soothe coughs, colds and sore throats.
To make the tea, add one to two heaping teaspoons of finely ground inner bark to a cup or more of boiling water. The mucilage will swell a lot. Some recommend making a paste of the bark powder by mixing it with a bit of water and then add it to your cup. Either way you go, steep for about five minutes. If you choose to use the bark itself and not a powder, slice about one ounce into very thin strips, add to two cups of boiling water and steep for 25 minutes.
Taste: Slippery elm bark has a sweet flavor but you may want to add honey and/or cinnamon or nutmeg to your tea.
This tea, broth or soup also has very good nutritional value and is likened in that value to oatmeal.
Note: It is said that the inner bark should be harvested from ten year old, or older, trees when being used for medicinal purposes.
Precautions: When taking slippery elm internally, such as tea, use care. It’s recommended to drink no more than three cups in one day. However, slippery elm is considered safe although it may interfere with the absorption of medicine taken at the same time due to its gelatinous properties.
Some more information about slippery elm / red elm in this video: