Slippery Elm

Botanical Name: Ulmus Fulva (a.k.a. Ulmus Rubra) Family: Ulmaceae

Common name(s): Slippery Elm, Red Elm, India Elm, American Elm, Moose Elm


  • Deciduous; tree | Zones 3-97 | 60-ish feet tall | Flowers March – May, seeds May – June, male and female on same plant, wind-pollinated
  • Prefers well-drained, moist soil | Semi-shade to full sun


  • The inner bark – fresh or dried – is used for medicine.
  • Bark should be harvested from ten year old trees in the spring.
  • It is stripped from the trunk and large branches and care must be taken not to kill the tree.


Decoction: Use 1 part powdered bark to 8 parts water, first mixing the bark into a little bit of water until it is blended. simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drink 1/2 cup 3x/day.

Poultice: Mix the powdered bark with enough boiling water to make a paste. Alternatively, mix with echinacea infusion or tincture. Apply to the affected area and bandage. Leave on for 24 hours and repeat as necessary.

Cautions: avoid taking with other medicine because it can interfere with absorption.


Constituents: Mucilage, tannins

Actions: Astringent, demulcent, emollient, nutrient

Uses: Bronchitis, digestive issues, diarrhea, externally on infections like boils and abscesses and to draw out splinters.

Combinations: Combine with Marshmallow for digestive issues. Combine with Echinacea


  • Holistic Herbal, by David Hoffman
  • Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens
  • Herbal Remedies, Andrew Chevallier
  • Photo Credit: Kent McFarland

My experience with this herb is having slippery elm tablets as a child, for sore throats. I have gotten them again and have them in my bedside table. The only problem is that it is hard for me to suck on them and let them work slowly. No. They taste so good I invariably chew them and then tell myself, oops, need to try that again.