Slippery elm food: Could this be a real answer for IBS sufferers?

Article By Sian

Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) is a tree native to North America, eastern Canada and the eastern and central regions United States.

It is the dried inner bark of the tree, which is sold in the form of powder, capsules and tea. You can also get lozenges which are used in the treatment of sore throats.

I first heard of Slippery elm over thirty years ago. My grandmother always kept some as she said, "It puts a new lining on your stomach."

My grandfather and mother suffered from sensitive and delicate stomachs at times, and a couple of months ago my mother said why did I not try it for IBS?

I saw nothing on the packet to indicate it was helpful for any bowel disorder, only that it was easily digestible for people with delicate stomachs, so I checked several sites covering Slippery elm food on the internet, and found a lot of information I had not known before.

Certain sites declared that GP's should make a point of advising patients with Crohns Disease, IBS, and other bowel or stomach conditions to drink Slippery elm.

First time try
Following the instructions on the pack I made a paste of the powder with cold milk and topped up with hot (almost boiling) milk. It did indeed seem to settle my stomach, but it was not for about three weeks when I began increasing the dose to two heaped teaspoons (as recommended in one article) that I did notice the difference.

The drink came out very thick, like wallpaper paste! but its mild, nutty taste was pleasant enough.

I would leave it to cool a little and stir it, then drink, and could feel that slippery quality as I swallowed.

I continued this each night before I went to bed, with the idea that during the night, this " gloop " as I called it, would coat my stomach and intestines.

I had read that it takes away inflammation, and thus pain, however since I am prescribed Codeine Phosphate due to the degree of pain I suffer with IBS, I could not imagine anything working if that did not.

Since taking the powder regularly, I have not suffered a bad attack of IBS, certainly not the nausea and agony which sends me crouching to swallow a pill for the sickness, one for the pain and to fill up a hot water bottle.

It has now become part of my daily diet, and one which I would gladly recommend any-one try for at least a month.

The words, "I must go and make my gloop." , as I refer to Slippery elm powder are heard every night in the house at about 9 pm.

It does not prevent the actual needing of a convenient - and close - bathroom, it is not an instant magical cure, but taken on a regular daily basis, it seems to prevent much of the pain I experienced with IBS.

The benefits of the bark lie in the " slippery " or mucilaginous properties, which is soothing to irritated tissues, including the lungs (it was used to treat sufferers of Tuberculosis, as it encourages the body to expel excess mucus) the adrenal glands, and the gastrointestinal tract.

It was traditionally given to people with weak stomachs, as it is highly digestible, even to those who cannot digest milk, and those undergoing chemotherapy, who have no appetite.

It is so safe it can be fed to babies.

It is also nutritious, and it is said that George Washington and his troops survived the terrible winter at Valley Forge on a gruel made from Slippery elm.

Survivors of concentration camps, or prisoner of war camps were sometimes given it to help to build them up after their ordeal.

Made as a thick "porridge" it is said to act as a gentle lavage in cases of constipation and as a milky drink, to prevent diarrhea.

The Native Americans knew the benefits of Slippery elm, and its medicinal properties, which they passed on to the early settlers.

A compound made of the bark could be used to make a type of porridge, or applied externally to wounds as a poultice, including burns.

Midwives used to encourage pregnant women to drink it, since it mucilaginous qualities were said to aid in childbirth.

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