3 Things to Know About Slippery Elm

Also known as Moose Elm, Red Elm

This is my second blog entry about a drug-free remedy that is important to me and possibly many readers as well.

Disclosure: I don’t get paid by Traditional Medicines Company to discuss their product.

How it shows up in popular culture:

Sore throats used to really affect my quality of life. Many years ago I found “Throat Coat” tea in the food Co-op. The main ingredient was Slippery Elm, along with licorice and marshmallow; and it really felt like it coated my throat and gave me as much or more relief than over the counter pain medications for my very painful sore throats. In a short while it was available in just about every grocery store’s tea aisle.

I believe I have had Throat Coat tea in my pantry nonstop for over 20 years (By the way, how the he&@ has it been 20+ years since I was an undergrad? How can that be? I feel like I’m still IN my 20s, lol.)

Another place it has shown up: in Functional Medicine presentations, they discuss using Slippery Elm to heal the gut lining and restore balance to the very important bacteria that live there. Accordingly to one webinar speaker, if people regularly treated their gut with Slippery Elm they might not have to cut out many foods that irritate their digestion. Ie, instead of cutting out wheat, then dairy, then fermented foods, and on and on forever to experience temporarily relief after each change….what if we just heal the gut in the first place so we don’t feel the need to cut out more and more foods?

Photochemical and Nutrient Content

Phytochemicals: Beta-carotene, campesterol, mucilage, starch, tannin. Nutrients: Calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C.

Actions and Uses

Soothes inflamed mucous membranes of the bowels, stomach, and urinary tract. Good for diarrhea and ulcers and for treatment of colds, flu, and sore throat. Beneficial for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, diverticulosis, and gastritis.

**As an aside, I’ve seen a bazillion patients with sore throats over the years. More than 50% of sufferers are disappointed when they learn their sore throat isn’t step throat, meaning they have a viral infection and will not be receiving antibiotics for their throats.

Instead they are encouraged to do things to help feel better while their body heals itself with a little bit of time.

I once worked in an Urgent Care populated with very…entitled?…priveledged?…patients who were NOT leaving without a prescription or something of that type. (Private clinic, didn’t accept Medicaid, above average neighborhood, etc).

When the strep came back negative and I knew the amount of push-back I was about to receive when I went back into the exam room to tell them they had a viral infection, I softened the blow and generated a ton of empathy. I relayed my story of painful throats for which antibiotics would do nothing, and I talked about pain control, including the success I’d had with Throat Coat. If the patient was interested, and had no other contraindications to the tea contents, I would offer them a packet from my private stash, with the appropriate legal/CYA medical disclaimers, and a dose of humor.

Many folks were happy to leave with empathy for their pain and a tea packet when they weren’t getting an antibiotic. Some people rolled their eyes and muttered about my incompetence. Good thing my job is to deliver appropriate care!

Of course, satisfaction scores at that priveledged clinic determined how much we were paid, so you’d better believe my bank account suffered because I gave out tea instead of unnecessary antibiotics. All in a Primary Care day’s work!

And folks wonder why I want my own clinic. Maybe because I won’t dock my own pay when I practice ethical medicine, lol.

If you’ve tried Slippery Elm please leave a note about your results.

-E.R.