What are the benefits of slippery elm bark for colitisis?

Written by sheryl walters
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Ulcerative colitis is a disease characterised by swelling and ulcers on the lining of the large intestine (colon and rectum). Symptoms can include abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, bloody stools, diarrhoea and increased intestinal gas. Many things can cause colitis, including infections, inflammation due to poor nutrition, lack of blood flow and radiation in the large bowel. Slippery elm is said to be effective in helping this problem.

More about Colitis

Colitis can be diagnosed by inserting a flexible tube into the large intestine and looking for inflammation in the colon. This is called a colonoscopy. The prognosis varies with each person, depending on the severity. Complications may include bleeding, hole in the colon and infected sores.


Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) is an herbal remedy that has been used by Native Americans for centuries. Although there has been little scientific research on slippery elm, many people have claimed to use it successfully. It can be used topically to ease the symptoms of wounds, boils, ulcers, burns and skin inflammation. It has also been taken by mouth for coughs, sore throats, diarrhoea and stomach problems.


Slippery elm contains mucilage, which becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. Slippery elm coats and soothes inflammation in the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines. In the case of colitis, the mucus covers the colon, reducing inflammation and easing pain. In addition to the healing properties of the gel, it may also offer antioxidants that can ease inflammatory bowel conditions.


To use slippery elm for colitis, the inner bark must be dried and powdered. It can be made into tablets and capsules, into finely powdered bark for making teas or extracts, or into coarsely powdered bark for poultices. Slippery elm is considered safe for both children and adults.


While slippery elm by itself is known to be safe, herbs can interact with other herbs, supplements or medications. Further, because it coats the digestive tract, it may slow down the absorption of other drugs or herbs. Slippery elm is believed to be safe in pregnancy and during breastfeeding, but the outer bark of the elm tree may contain chemicals that could increase the risk of miscarriage, so it may be best for pregnant women to avoid slippery elm. It is always best to take herbs under the supervision of a health care provider.

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