Health Guide

Slippery elm

What is it?

Slippery elm is an herbal medicine used to treat cough and sore throat. It may also be used to treat acute bronchitis (bron-ki-tis) which is swelling and irritation of the windpipe (trachea) or the airways to the lungs. In children, Slippery elm may be used to treat upset stomach and diarrhea (loose BMs). Slippery elm bark may be made into a paste and put on the skin to heal wounds and treat other skin problems.

Other names for Slippery elm include : Ulmus fulva, Indian elm, Moose elm, Red elm, and Sweet elm.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse about how much Slippery elm you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Slippery elm. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more Slippery elm or take it more often than what is written on the directions.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Slippery elm may interact with other medicines you may be taking. Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse before taking Slippery elm with any other medicine.


  • Slippery elm should not be used during pregnancy.
  • Before taking Slippery elm, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects.

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hand, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash.

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Red, swollen or painful skin that may itch, sting, or burn. The skin may also be bumpy, dry, scaly, and crusty.


1. Anon: British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Diddles Ltd, Guildford and King's Lynn, Exeter,UK; 1996.

2. Chevallier A: The Encyclopedia of Medicial Plants. DK Publishing Company, New York, NY; 1996.

3. Fetrow CW & Avila JR: Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Corp, Springhouse, PA; 1999.

4. Hutchens AR: Indian Herbalogy of North America. Merco, Windsor, Ontario, Canada; 1973.

5. Lewis WH & Elwin-Lewis MPF: Medical Botany. Wiley Interscience, New York, NY; 1977.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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