Slippery elm contraindications

Written by jessica kolifrath
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Slippery elm contraindications
The leaves of the slippery elm look similar to the leaves of other elm trees. (leaf of an elm 3 image by Alexander Oshvintsev from

Slippery elm, also known as Ulmus fulva, has been used medicinally in Native American cultures for centuries. The inner and outer barks have a variety of helpful effects, including increasing mucus in the gastrointestinal tract to help heal ulcers and other stomach problems. Like most herbal supplements, slippery elm has contraindications that should be taken seriously. Consult your doctor before using this supplement.

Allergic Reactions

People with known allergies to elm tree pollen or severe allergies to other tree pollens should avoid taking slippery elm supplements. The experts from The Longwood Herbal Task Force in Massachusetts say that some allergic reactions have been reported, as with any herbal substance. The slippery elm bark used in supplements can also come in contact with other allergens. If you have taken a slippery elm supplement and suffered an allergic reaction, the supplement may be tainted with a pesticide or heavy metals.

Pregnancy and Nursing

The American Pregnancy Association recommends the use of slippery elm inner bark supplements during pregnancy. Small amounts can be used to treat nausea and heartburn, and will relieve minor vaginal irritation. However, the outer bark of the slippery elm is known to cause uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage, according to It's crucial that pregnant women who plan to take slippery elm supplements find a reliable source that guarantees that no outer bark is contained in their products.

Bowel Blockage

The parts of the slippery elm most commonly used are the inner and outer bark. Tree bark contains a high amount of fibre. As with any high-fibre supplement, taking slippery elm bark can worsen an impacted bowel says the Flora Health website. If you suffer from a bowel blockage avoid taking slippery elm. The high fibre content can also irritate your intestinal walls if you exceed the recommended dose and fail to drink the required amount of liquid to move the fibre through your body.

Slows Absorption

Slippery elm may slow absorption of medicines or other herbs, say the experts at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Slippery elm stimulates the production of mucus in the stomach and intestines where most oral medicines dissolve and are absorbed. A thick layer of mucus could prevent these medications from being absorbed completely. Waiting at least two hours between taking slippery elm supplements and oral medications should prevent this from occurring.

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