Slippery Elm Bark Powder


Botanical NameUlmus rubra

Common Name:

  • English: Slippery Elm, Red Elm, Indian Elm, American Elm,
  • Also, known as:  Michaux, Ulme, Orme, Olmo, Moose Elm, Hemar, Kitamaara

Habitat: The United States, Canada

Origin: USA

Harvested: Wild

Parts Used: Inner Bark                                                             

General Information:

The Slippery Elm is a small tree abundant in various parts of North America. The branches are very rough, the leaves long, unequally toothed, rough with hairs on both sides, the leaf-buds covered with a dense yellow Wool. The flowers are stalkless. The inner bark has important medicinal value and is an official drug of the United States Pharmacopoeia. The bark, which is the only part used, is collected in spring from the bole and larger branches and dried. Large quantities are collected, especially in the lower part of the state of Michigan. As the wood has no commercial value, the tree is fully stripped and consequently dies. The bark as it appears in commerce for use in medicine consists only of the inner bark and is sold in flat pieces 2 to 3 feet long and several inches wide, but only about 1 to 2 of an inch in thickness. It is very tough and flexible, of a fine fibrous texture, finely striated longitudinally on both surfaces, the outer surface reddish-yellow, with patches of reddish-brown, which are part of the outer bark adhering to the inner bark. It has an odor like Fenugreek and a very mucilaginous, insipid taste. The strips can be bent double without breaking: if broken, the rough fracture is mealy, strongly but finely fibrous. The clean transverse section shows numerous medullary rays and alternate bands of bark parenchyma, thus giving it a chequered appearance. A section moistened and left for a few minutes, and again examined, shows large swollen mucilage cells. The powdered bark is sold in two forms: a coarse powder for use as poultices and fine powder for making a mucilaginous drink. The disintegrated bark forms, when moistened, a flexible and spongy tissue, which is easily molded into pessaries, teats, and suppositories.

It is recommended that a ten year old bark should be used. There are about twenty species belonging to the Elm family (Ulmaceae). Slippery, or Red, elm is smaller than the rest of the elm family (60 ft. or less) with a wide-open crown. The bark and leaves are characteristically rough, deeply furrowed; under layers, ruddy brown, protecting the white aromatic fibers used medicinally; odor distinct; taste mucilaginous. The leaves are extremely rough on top, deep yellowish olive-green, lighter and sometimes rusty beneath; flowering in March or April before the leaves appear; fruit nearly round in outline, winged without hairy fringe, ripening in the spring at intervals of two to four years

How to use:

Powdered Herb:

There are different ways to use a powdered herb.

Food Preparation: You can add powdered herbs to any superfood, herbal smoothie, sauces, spreads and even cookies. Also, for children, you can mix powdered herbs with honey or glycerin to make a paste. The thicker the paste, the more potent and herbal in taste. The sweet taste of honey and glycerin will help the medicine go down. This method is also known as "Electuaries".

Capsules: Encapsulating your own powdered herb at home, give you assurance that the contents of the capsules are pure herb and no filler or any other products. These capsules can be taken with liquid.

Poultice: Poultice can be made with an herbal powder and liquid (mostly water) to form a paste which is then applied to the skin. This method is very helpful for skin conditions.

Herbal shot: Powdered herb can be mixed with water, fruit juice or other liquid to make herbal shot. 


You should consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

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This information has not been evaluated by Health Canada.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.