When I have a problem anywhere in the alimentary canal, from throat to anus, powdered slippery elm bark is the remedy I reach for. Okay, sore throats have several remedies, of which slippery elm is but one. But its soothing, healing, germ-killing mucilage does wonders for: stomach ache; heartburn; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; constipation; ulcers; and radiation damage. It is a specific for ulcers, killing the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria that cause ulcers and healing the lesions.
I saw powdered slippery elm bark first in The Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, by Juliet De Baircli Levy. It is not included in the “Materia Medica Botanica” section of the book, but it’s mentioned repeatedly as a major ingredient of her proprietary NR Gruel.
Unfortunately, being an animal remedy book, she didn’t give instructions for its use in people. The first time I used it, I had a probable case of giardiasis from drinking from a clear mountains stream. (Giardia parasites are common in all surface waters, being spread by ducks. Natives in some areas are immune to the local variety, thus earning it the name “traveler’s trots” and “Montezuma’s revenge.”) I had copious vomiting and diarrhea all night long, every half hour, until the liquids that I was pouring into me squirted out clear. Toward morning, I finally remembered slippery elm, mixing it into orange juice, into which it would not dissolve. Then I tried it in hot coffee; it dissolved; I drank it; one dose stopped the up-chuck and wash-out. It may well have saved my life; dysentery kills many people throughout the world every year.
Since then, I have used it many times for gut problems, and always found it useful, until my late husband was undergoing chemotherapy and his belly was filling up with tumors. Slippery elm can’t beat that kind of blockage of the intestines. But during the previous month of radiation on his brain, it kept his gut working well, mixed into applesauce daily.
Powdered slippery elm bark dissolves well in hot water, not at all in cold liquids. To use it in drinks, mix ¼ teaspoon in a hot drink of any sort. One can also mix it into baby food or applesauce by mixing it with a little hot water, and then mixing the resulting gel into the food. It also can be mixed into dry oatmeal, instant or otherwise, and cooked as usual. One dose will often stop a simple problem like diarrhea or constipation; for more chronic problems like ulcers and colitis, it should be used persistently, three times a day for at least 2 weeks.