What is slippery elm?
Those who are familiar with plant medicine may have heard of slippery elm before, as it’s touted for its ability to treat conditions like coughs, constipation, toothaches, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Slippery elm is actually a nickname for the red elm, which grows from northern Florida to eastern Texas and parts of southeast North Dakota.
The tree gets its name from the “slippery” gummy texture of the inner bark. This is what’s dried and used in medicine.
Slippery Elm Uses
Mixing slippery elm with water creates mucilage, a thick layer that coats and soothes the throat and digestive tract. It’s not surprising, then, that slippery elm is found in commercial cough drops.
Slippery elm also functions as a diuretic, flushing out toxins from the body. As a result, slippery elm is an ingredient in some natural detox products.
More research needs to be done in order to determine whether slippery elm is really an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases, like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The amount of research into whether slippery elm can and should be used to get rid of UTIs is also lacking, so you should consult your doctor first before taking slippery elm for any of these conditions.
Slippery Elm Cough Drops
Now is the season of coughs and colds, so cough drops that actually work would be a godsend. Unfortunately, many of the cough drops at the drug store contain a lot of sugar. (Sweet, fruity cough drops taste better, after all!) The good news is you can reduce your sugar intake with natural cough drops made from slippery elm.
All it takes to make slippery elm cough drops is a handful of dried slippery elm (you can buy it online or at specialty health stores) and water. Essentially, you make a pot of water and steep the dried slipper elm.
Then, you add manuka honey to taste and pour the liquid into small candy molds. Let everything dry, and then enjoy! Slippery elm cough drops should last up to a week in the pantry — though here’s hoping you won’t need them that long.