Slippery Elm for Weight Loss

Use of slippery elm for weight loss seems logical because of the unique combination of soluble and insoluble fibers that it contains. Not only weight loss, but, it is widely used as an all weather herbal remedy for gut disorders- constipation, hyperacidity, bowel inflammation, hemorrhoids (piles), Gastroesophageal Reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcer and Crohn’s disease.

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Read more: Slippery elm for Hemorrhoids (Piles)

What is Slippery Elm 

The tree, slippery elm, is native to Canada and parts of the USA. The inner bark of this tree has therapeutic properties. This inner bark is dried and grounded to convert it into powder form:

  • The fine powder is used to make tea and porridge (oral consumption)
  • The coarser powder is used to make poultice and salve (external application)

The slippery elm bark contains mucilage in abundance. Mucilage is a polysaccharide- a form of water soluble fiber that readily absorbs water and swells many times -up to 50 to 140 times than its original size. After absorbing water, it becomes a slick, thick gel that imparts a soothing effect on anything that it comes in contact with.

When you drink the slippery elm tea (bark powder immersed in boiling water), this gummy gel coats and soothes the mucous membranes (inner linings) of your mouth, throat, stomach, intestines and urinary tract to reduce the inflammation, pain and irritation.

It is particularly beneficial for the digestive tract- acts as a protective bandage and soothes the whole digestive system against inflammation, acid reflux and pain.

Slippery Elm for Weight Loss

Slippery elm is considered as a panacea for all the gut related disorders. Let us discuss how it is going to help shed some pounds of body weight:

  • Rich in dietary fibers

The total dietary fiber content of slippery elm, including mucilage, is excellent- not far behind psyllium husk.

Slippery elm fiber content and weight loss

It has a unique composition of soluble and insoluble fibers.

The soluble fibers (mucilage) absorb water turning into a bulky gel and slowly moves down through the digestive tract binding various body wastes (undigested food, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, excessive sugar, salt and disease causing bacteria) along to leave your digestive system clean and toxins free.

At the same time, the swollen mucilage gel provides a feeling of fullness and suppresses the appetite so that you eat less and avoid any chance of overeating. Hence, on your mission to weight loss, it would help to beat those food cravings and stick to your diet regimen.

A research review published in the Journal of Nutrition, Feb 2000 acknowledges the benefits of dietary fiber in reducing obesity because it controls food intake by inducing satiety and satiation.

The insoluble fibers in slippery elm bark make the stool soft and bulky for easy bowel movements to relieve constipation. Regular consumption of slippery elm bark would facilitate thorough and complete bowel emptying to make you feel light and fresh.

An article published in the Time magazine suggests that increasing fiber in the diet can help accelerate the process of weight loss along with other health benefits like reduced levels of cholesterol, blood sugar and inflammation.

  • Aids in digestion

A sluggish, poor digestive health is one of the main reasons for accumulation of fats in your body. Also, poor digestion implies poor body metabolism and slow rate of calorie burning.

Benefits of slippery elm for a healthy digestive system are many to count. As already discussed, it cleanses the whole digestive tract and relieve constipation. Adding to that- the mucilage acts as a food for the healthy gut bacteria (probiotics). The probiotic microbes feed on mucilage for their growth and proliferation to ensure a healthy gut flora.

A review published in the health journal- Gut Microbes, Jan-Feb 2012- suggests that prebiotic fibers can help reduce the risk of obesity by improving gut flora and accelerating the body metabolism.

Apart from that, slippery elm stimulates the nerve endings in digestive tract leading to increased mucus production. It would have a protective action against stomach ulcer and acid reflux.

Read more: Yoga after meals to improve Digestion

  • Diuretic in nature

Sometimes, the problem of water retention causes swelling and increase in body weight. Slippery elm can help here because it has a diuretic effect. It stimulates frequent urination to expel excessive water (and salt) stored in your body.

  • Reduces inflammation

Obesity is linked to chronic inflammation. Slippery elm, due to its rich fiber content and antioxidant activity, can help reduce inflammation and hence, relieve obesity.

A review paper published in the health journal- Einstein (Sao Paulo), June 2010- dietary fibers can help reduce chronic inflammatory responses in human body.

Read more: Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory herb

  • Very low in calories

One teaspoon of slippery elm powder would provide only 5 calories. Being very low in calories, slippery elm tea becomes a perfect low calorie natural drink which is nutritious, aids in digestion and helps promote weight loss.

  • Wholesome nutritious food

Popular low calorie diet plans sometimes pose a threat of nutritional deficiency. During weight loss diet protocols, a lot of people show concern if they are meeting the standard nutritional requirements. Despite of being a low calorie food supplement, slippery elm is considered as an easy to digest, wholesome nutritious food. The alternative health experts do recommend slippery elm porridge for infants and people recovering from physical weakness and illness.

From earlier times, Slippery elm is considered as a survival food. During the American revolutionary war, George Washington and his soldiers survived for several days on little more than just slippery elm porridge at Valley Forge.

Hence, consuming slippery elm would enhance your nutritional intake without piling on the calories.

Slippery Elm and Weight Loss

Good to know

  • Antioxidant activity– Slippery elm has potent antioxidant properties. A review published in the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Feb 2002 discussed slippery elm as an herbal remedy to treat inflammatory bowel diseases due to its antioxidant activity and high mucilage content.
  • Reduces cholesterol and maintain normal blood sugar levels.

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Dosage and how to consume

You can either consume slippery elm tea by dissolving bark powder in boiling water or just gulp slippery elm capsules with a large glass of water.

  • Powder form  It is the conventional and preferred way of consuming slippery elm. Prepare your slippery elm tea by adding one to two teaspoonfuls of bark powder in one cup (8 ounces) of boiling water and stir well. Let it steep for 20 minutes, stir again and drink. Additional glass of water would be helpful as mucilage absorbs a lot of water. It tastes bland- flavorless, tasteless, chalky- something close to oatmeal. Drink this tea 20 to 30 minutes before the meals- two to three times a day.
  • Capsules– Consuming slippery elm extract capsules is a more convenient way- hassle free and saves you from tasting the herb. But, it slows down the herb activity a bit. When you taste an herb before gulping, the taste buds in your mouth sends signals to the brain to kick start the body metabolism to enhance the herb activity. Also, the per-dosage cost would be on the higher side with capsules than powder form. The optimum dosage is 3000 to 4000 mg per day. Rest of the instructions are same- consume it well before the meals with a full glass of water.

For a change, you can add slippery elm powder in just any of your food preparation- yogurt, soup, juice or smoothie. Just remember to drink enough water along for best benefits.

Precautionary measures and side effects

  • Slippery elm is certified by the FDA for oral consumption. It is also listed in the United States Pharmacopeia (U.S.P.) as a therapeutic drug for humans and animals both.
  • It is an herbal supplement- safe for internal consumption and doesn’t impose any serious side effects, when used in the long term. The over dosage may cause temporary side effects like diarrhea, stomach cramps and bowel obstruction.
  • It is important to take slippery elm with enough water because it readily absorbs water. Less intake of water can cause choking or bowel obstruction.
  • The mucilage gel coats the digestive tract to slow down the absorption rate of any other medicine or herb that you take. Hence, maintain some gap- around two hours between consuming slippery elm and other medicines to avoid any possible interference.
  • In early times, slippery elm was used for abortion. Hence, pregnant women should not consume it. Also, the nursing (breastfeeding) women should consult their doctors before using it.

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From where to buy

The good quality inner bark powder should be light brown or light tan in color. The reddish brown or dark brown color means that outer bark is mixed in it. The outer bark contains crude fibers which can irritate the gut. Also, the outer bark doesn’t possess any medicinal benefits.

Buy slippery elm of a reputed brand from an herbal store near to you or check it at Amazon:

Slippery elm bark powder

If you are from USA, click here to check

If you are from UK, click here to check

If you are from India, click here to check

Slippery elm capsules

If you are from USA, click here to check

If you are from UK, click here to check

If you are from India, click here to check


Let us quickly revise the benefits of slippery elm for weight loss.

Benefits of Slippery elm for weight loss

Not to forget, slippery elm is not a magical remedy for weight loss. It is an herbal supplement, would prove the most effective when combined with a healthy diet, lifestyle and regular physical workout.



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