Health & Lifestyle

Slippery Elm: what is it and why is it beneficial to the gut?

Slippery Elm: what is it and why is it beneficial to the gut?

I had my follow up call with my YorkTest nutritionist a couple of weeks ago and I explained that, when I first cut out dairy, my symptoms significantly reduced. But over the past month, I’ve been really struggling with bloating despite still not eating dairy. She advised me to start taking Slippery Elm. She gave me some brief information about why Slippery Elm is beneficial for the gut so I decided to do some additional research before starting to take it. Here’s what I found…

What is Slippery Elm?

As you might expect (although admittedly I didn’t put two and two together), Slippery Elm is actually a species of elm tree. These trees are native to North America but are found throughout eastern and central US. The medicinal properties of Slippery Elm come from the inner bark which, as the name suggests, has a glue-like quality.

Slippery Elm is harvested sustainably by leaving enough bark on each tree to protect it from harm. It is sold in three forms; as a capsule, a lozenge or a powder. I purchased the capsule form from Biocare (Bio Health Slippery Elm Capsules 300mg Pack of 120) which I take three times per day with plenty of water.

What is Slippery Elm?

How does Slippery Elm help the gut?

My favourite explanation of how Slippery Elm works is by describing it as a bandage. Essentially it is a sticky herb which lines the digestive tract making it an effective remedy for gastritis, colitis, heartburn and duodenal ulcers, as well as irritable bowel syndrome.

Thinking about how Slippery Elm works, we have to imagine what the gut looks like when it is damaged or you suffer from ‘Leaky Gut’. The surface tissue becomes rough and sore so it’s no surprise that by continuing to push food through your digestive system, the gut will really struggle to heal and you might get inflammation resulting in bloating, diarrhoea, constipation or cramps.

What is Slippery Elm?

Slippery Elm works by sticking to the lining of the gut giving it a break from further irritation and allowing the gut to heal. This is why herbalists recommend taking Slippery Elm frequently at first to ensure that the gut gets a prolonged period of time where it is protected from food to allow it to heal. It might not take long at all to heal the gut – maybe as little as three days – but it’s advised to continue to take it until any symptoms completely disappear.

Does Slippery Elm work?

I’ve been taking Slippery Elm for less than a week now and I have to say, I don’t think my stomach has ever felt to good in terms of actual bloating (or lack of). However, perhaps foolishly, I actually cut out gluten from my diet at around the same time as starting to take Slippery Elm because I had experienced a significant link between eating gluten and having a very swollen stomach so I can’t 100% say this is a result of taking the herb.

One thing I have noticed over the last couple of days however is stomach cramps after eating. I have no idea if this could be related to taking Slippery Elm but I will continue to monitor this over the next couple of weeks.

What is Slippery Elm?

Ultimately, the main thing for me is stopping the bloating that I experience so, considering I have experienced very positive results since taking Slippery Elm, I will be continuing to take it until I am confident that I have given my gut time to heal. I will also continue to cut out gluten and dairy from my diet but I do hope that over the next few months I will be able to reintroduce these food groups.

Do you take any supplements to help your gut? Let me know by commenting below :).

Love, Kate x

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