Slippery Elm for Constipation: A herbal laxative

Use of slippery elm for constipation is highly recommended by alternative health experts across the world. Due to its high dietary fiber content, it acts as a natural, non-habitual gentle laxative to relieve constipation. At the same time, its antioxidant properties reduce bowel inflammation and strengthens the digestive tract from inside.

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Edgar Cayce, the most renowned holistic health expert, has suggested drinking slippery elm tea for various digestive health issues including constipation, bowel inflammation, indigestion, hyperacidity and irritable bowel syndrome.

Slippery elm is a medicinal tree native to Canada and USA. The inner bark of this tree is dried, grounded and used for various health benefits.

  • Finely grounded bark is used to prepare tea and porridge for oral consumption
  • Coarsely grounded bark is used to make salve and poultice for external application

What is Constipation

Constipation refers to difficulty in emptying the bowels due to hardening of stools.

Slippery elm is an herbal laxative

In today’s hectic lifestyle, occasional constipation is a new normal. People don’t take it seriously. But, it can be dangerous.

All disease begins in the gut- Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine.

A healthy gut implies a healthy you. Similarly, a compromised gut can become the foundation for various chronic health disorders.

Read more: Slippery elm for Hemorrhoids (piles)

Benefits of Slippery elm for constipation

  • Reduces bowel inflammation

The inner bark of slippery elm tree is rich in mucilage- a type of water soluble fiber which becomes a slick, gummy gel when mixed with water. Technically, mucilage is an easy to digest, non toxic carbohydrate.

When you drink slippery elm bark tea (bark powder steeped in water), this bulky gel coats the mucous membrane (inner lining) of your digestive tract to impart a protective action against inflammation, pain and irritation.

In short, the mucilage gel of slippery elm soothes your whole digestive tract and acts as a protective bandage again inflammation, hyperacidity, pain or any internal wound.

Apart from the mucilage, the antioxidant nutrients in slippery elm play a vital role in reducing bowel inflammation.

How to use slippery elm for constipation

A review paper published in the journal- Intestinal Research, Apr 2014 has acknowledged the antioxidant properties of slippery elm bark to treat inflammatory bowel diseases.

Another review paper published in the Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology, Jan-Feb 2012 has suggested the use of slippery elm bark as an herbal remedy to treat ulcerative colitis.

A research study conducted at the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK suggested slippery elm as an herbal remedy to treat inflammatory bowel disease due to its high mucilage content and antioxidant properties.

  • Acts as a laxative

The dietary fiber content of slippery elm bark is quite comparable to that of psyllium husk.

Slippery elm fiber content and constipation

Slippery elm bark contains an incredibly unique combination of water soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. It makes it an ideal, natural laxative to relieve constipation.

The dietary fibers in slippery elm bark would make your stool soft and bulky so that it can be easily eliminated. At the same time, the mucilage gel would act as a lubricant for your digestive tract, making the matter to pass easily with less irritation.

As reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Oct 2010– an herbal formulation based on slippery elm significantly relieved constipation and related symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain in a sample size of 10 patients. However, further studies with bigger sample sizes were advised to confirm the benefits.

  • Aids in digestion

Constipation is the outcome of poor digestive system. For long term relief from constipation, maintaining a healthy digestion is mandatory. If the food that you are eating is breaking down properly to give you required energy and vital nutrients, then the undigested food wastes (toxins) would not pile up in your body.

Slippery elm for digestion and constipation

Dosage and how to consume

Drinking slippery elm bark tea is the most preferred way of consuming this herb. Simply add one full teaspoon of bark powder in one glass (8 ounces) of boiled water. Mix it well and let it steep for further 15 to 20 minutes. That’s it. The amazing slippery elm tea is ready for you. Now, stir again and drink it. Drink this tea around 30 minutes before the meals- 2 to 3 times a day. It is a flavorless, tasteless herb that causes a chalky taste in your mouth quite similar to that of oatmeal.

For some people, consuming herbs in raw form is a nightmare. To be honest, slippery elm bark tastes just ok and there are chances that you may find its taste quite unpleasant. In that case, you can consume slippery elm capsules before the meals- at least 2000 to 3000 mg per day. Always consume capsules with one full cup of water because mucilage has a tendency to absorb water.

Consuming capsules would be less effective than drinking tea because it restricts the gel coating ability of the herb. Also, tasting an herb before gulping always enhances the herb activity.

Other available forms of slippery elm bark include tea bags and lozenges.

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Precautions and Side effects

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) has approved slippery elm safe for oral consumption. Also, it is listed in the United States Pharmacopeia (U.S.P.) as a safe drug for both- humans and animals.
  • Slippery elm coats your digestive tract. If you take any medicine immediately after drinking tea, then the body may not absorb that medicine properly. It can reduce the medicine effectiveness. Hence, always maintain a gap of 2 hours between drinking slippery elm tea and other medicines/ herbs.
  • In earlier days, slippery elm bark was a popular herb to abort pregnancies. Hence, it is not recommended for pregnant women. The breastfeeding women should also consult their physician before consuming it.

From where to buy

While buying the slippery elm powder and capsules, always go for a reliable brand. Good quality bark powder would be light tan or greyish in color. If it is dark brown in color, it means that it contains outer bark beyond the acceptable limit. The outer bark doesn’t offer any health benefits and it is high in crude fibers which can irritate your gut.

Buy it from an herbal store near to you or get it from Amazon:

Slippery elm bark powder

If you are from USA, click here to check

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If you are from India, click here to check

Slippery elm capsules

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If you are from UK, click here to check

If you are from India, click here to check

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Due to the natural laxative and antioxidant properties, use of slippery elm for constipation is highly recommended. Drink slippery elm tea before the meals and adopt a healthy lifestyle and eating habits to say goodbye to constipation.

  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids like juices, buttermilk and herbal teas
  • Avoid processed, packaged foods which are high in refined white flour, added sugar, salt and saturated fats
  • Include more of whole grains, brown rice, raw fruits and vegetables in your diet
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Regular physical workout- jogging, running, aerobics, gym workout
  • Proper sleep and fixed meal timings
  • Reduce stress and anxiety in your life with the help of yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques.

Read more: Yoga for indigestion and constipation



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