The inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree (not the entire bark) is used as medicine. Slippery elm is applied to the skin for treating wounds, burns, gout, rheumatism, cold sores, boils, abscesses, ulcers, toothaches, sore throat, and as a lubricant to ease labor.
Slippery elm has a soothing effect that is used in treatment of many digestive ailments. It can relieve pain due to ulcers, heartburn and gastrointestinal disorders. It increases mucous secretion and hence the mucousal layer protects the insides of the stomach and intestines from ulcers and other inflammatory disorders.
Its anti inflammatory properties are used in soothing sore throats and reducing irritation in the oesophagus.
It has a variety of nutrients including iron which helps in production of red blood cells, thus improving blood circulation and oxygenation throughout the body.
If you have scars/ burns or generally bad skin condition, then slippery elm can be an effective remedy. The antioxidants can fight the free radicals protecting the skin from damage.
Slippery elm can eliminate toxins, and excess salt through the urine. Thus it improves the kidney function, detoxifying the body of the harmful elements.
It increases mucous formation and hence adds a protective mucous layer on the insides of stomach and intestines. This prevents you from the damage of the stomach and intestinal walls in form of ulcers or any other gastrointestinal disorder.
Slippery elm has a high content of procyanidins in it that improves hair resistance and makes it stronger. Its extracts promote healthy growth of hair and improve the hair volume.
Due to the oily nature of slippery elm, it works as an excellent conditioner and heals the damaged hair, making it smooth and shiny. Many hair care products use the slippery elm extracts in their formulations to treat dull, dry, & damaged hair. It is also applied with hair masks to get rid of dandruff.
It is externally used to treat minor wounds, because it can promote healing. Research is yet to find evidence to back up these claims. Yet, herbalists claim that it can relieve the pain of burns, scrapes, rashes, boils, skin ulcers and other minor abrasions. However, they advise people not to use it on open cuts/ wounds.
Though this is still controversial, slippery elm is the main component in Essiac, a common herbal therapy for different types of cancers. The findings are still somewhat unclear, but research continues in order for it to be helpful to its fullest potential.