The slippery elm, a tree native to North America, has provided natural remedies for a variety of ailments since the Native Americans discovered its medicinal properties, before the first European settlers landed in America. More recently, slippery elm has gained popularity as a weight loss supplement. Unfortunately, no scientific studies have shown weight loss benefits from this herb. Contact your doctor prior to taking slippery elm for any purpose.
Most of the medicinal properties of slippery elm result from the effects of the mucilage, a thick, gluey substance produced by the tree. The mucilage can help sooth irritation or inflammation, softens hardened areas of skin and calms coughs. Common uses for slippery elm include cough, sore throat, gastroesophogeal reflux disease, ulcerative colitis, Chrohn’s disease, diarrhea and external wounds such as burns, psoriasis and boils, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 1.
For Weight Loss
The exact reason slippery elm may help with weight loss remains a mystery. It has the potential to bind to substances in the intestines that the body does not need, such as saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids and excess sugar, and may prevent or slow their absorption into the body, explains Stella Metsovas, a Clinical Nutritionist in Laguna Beach, California, who is “very hesitant to recommend this herb as a cure all fix for weight loss 2. Tea made from slippery elm can help maintain your nutritional status while on a very low calorie diet, explains Stephan Dorlandt, a Clinical Nutritionist and Executive Director of L & S Natural Inc in Los Angeles, California 3. He goes on to explain that slippery elm can also have a diuretic effect that may help you eliminate excess water weight.
The powdered inner bark of the slippery elm tree comes in the form of capsules, tinctures, tablets, powder and lozenges. Traditional uses of slippery elm require taking 800 mg to 1,000 mg in a capsule form three to four times a day, according to the University of Michigan Health System 1. Dorlandt advises making a tea by boiling a mixture of one tablespoon of powdered slippery elm and one cup of boiling water for 30 minutes. He states, “if you make the tea a quart at a time, you can drink it when you are thirsty without having to go through the process of making more.” The tea will be slightly thick, like that of cream soup.
Use caution when taking slippery elm with any other medication or herbal supplement. While there are no known interaction between slippery elm and other medications, Dr. Kimberly Wilson, a Naturopath for Innovations Wellness Center in Plano, Texas, advises patients not to take any other medications two hours before or after ingesting slippery elm, because the herb can slow the absorption rate of medications and decrease their effectiveness 14.
Dorlandt advises not relying solely on slippery elm for your weight loss solution. Combine this herb with a nutritious, reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise. This combination will allow you to adapt new lifestyle habits and keep the weight off even after you stop taking slippery elm.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Slippery Elm
- Stella Metsovas B.S., CCN; Clinical Nutritionist in Private Practice; Laguna Beach, California
- Stephan Dorlandt; Clinical Nutritionist and Executive Director of L & S Natural Inc.;Los Angeles, California
- Dr. Kimberly Wilson; Innovations Wellness Center; Plano, Texas
- Antonis Liokouras/iStock/Getty Images