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Wednesday, September 7, 2011
SLIPPERY ELM - NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN TREE, NATURALLY SOOTHING: HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF SLIPPERY ELM
Slippery Elm is so-called because of the sticky red mucilage which is found in its inner bark of the trunk and larger branches that smells a little like fenugreek. It is said that the most effective is that which comes from a ten-year old tree or an older one. The Slippery Elm is native to
North America and was much-used by Native Americans. It is sometimes confused with the American Elm tree.
Slippery elm is among the ingredients of a folk remedy for cancer, a medicine called “essiac” which contains other herbs among them burdock and red clover. Slippery elm mucilage contains oleic and palmitic fatty acids, and although research has not been carried out specifically on the ones from the Slippery Elm, fatty acids and monoglycosides have been shown in some studies to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumour cells. Research on the activities of Slippery Elm is in its early stages.
The sticky substance used in medicine contains the vitamins, E, K and P (P are bioflavonoids) as well as the minerals zinc, copper, iron, calcium, selenium, sodium and iodine (found in laver bread).It also contains some tannins, traces of the phytosterols, beta-sisterol and campesterol along with traces of beta-carotene.
Native Americans used the bark and mucilage in poultices for gout, rheumatism, and swollen glands and also to stop the spread of gangrene. On a more mundane level it was and is used for sore throats as it soothes the mucous membranes of the lungs, stomach, intestines and anything it touches. Of course, if you live in a country other that one in
North America, you may want other remedies for a sore throat, so try blackcurrant juice with lemon juice, honey and a little ginger root. Alternatively if you live on the Indian subcontinent a decoction of hareer works as does a concoction made from the Yellow Himalayan raspberry and if it’s the right season, don’t forget little Prunella vulgaris or Self-Heal.
The mucilage from Slippery Elm has antioxidant properties, and has been used for its nutrients to feed the young, elderly and those recovering from an illness. When the sticky substance is dried and then re-hydrated in water it swells and then if you add boiling water to it you can make a bowl of it as a cereal rather as you would oatmeal porridge.
The tree has a small edible fruit which can be made into a tisane with the chopped leaves from the tree. You can also make a tisane out of the slippery, sticky inner bark. Some people dry the inner bark material and grind it to a powder to use for thickening soups, or to add to flour to make bread or cakes with. The inner bark material and leaves may be eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. The Native American used the bark of the tree to abort foetuses, and because of this use it has been banned in several countries
The tree grows at a medium rate and can reach heights of 65 feet and can have a diameter of 49 feet. There seems to be little doubt that it has many health benefits, although scientists have been slow to test these it would appear.