Slippery Elm Bark for Ulcers

By Luke Hughes, Epoch Times Staff
September 7, 2013 Updated: September 7, 2013

Ulcer drugs are among the highest-selling drugs in the world. While these drugs may be appropriate for acute ulcers, they are not suitable for long-term use, despite being commonly prescribed for anything up to 12 months in order to prevent the recurrence of the ulcer.

Two of the best-selling ulcer drugs, Tagamet and Zantac, work by suppressing gastric-acid secretion. While they temporarily alleviate symptoms in some cases, they do not address the underlying causes of the ulcer. Most patients who take these drugs relapse within two years.

Suppressing gastric-acid production inhibits the absorption of calcium and other vitamins and minerals as well as the proper digestion of proteins. Gastric acid plays a protective role against bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which are ingested along with food. In this way, it guards against parasites, food poisoning, and other disorders, including ulcers.

Stomach and duodenal ulcers are basically a result of too much unneutralized gastric acids eating through the delicate mucous membranes. This can cause severe hemorrhaging and can be fatal.

While the reasons for this can be numerous and complex, slippery elm bark powder is the best remedy. The inner bark of the slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) contains high amounts of mucilage that adheres to the gastrointestinal tract, soothing and calming any inflammation and pain. 

This mucilage is also highly nutritious, being high in calcium compounds that are easily absorbed. The mucilage in slippery elm bark is unique in that it surrounds any excess fats in the intestines and pushes them along for easy excretion.

Slippery elm bark powder accomplishes all this without dangerous side effects and without disturbing the process of digestion. Even in the most severe cases of ulceration, slippery elm powder can be taken when nothing else can be kept down. For all gastrointestinal disturbances, slippery elm is the No. 1 herb on the list. 

People who suffer from gastrointestinal disturbances are typically those who swallow their stress. They tend to take their stress in through the intestinal tract. 
Other people take their stress loading in through the muscles, the nervous system, or the adrenal glands. 

People who require slippery elm try to digest all the experiences of the day while eating their meals. All of the insults and grievances, criticisms, and disagreements are digested, slowly, over days. Such people do not have digestive difficulties with a particular type of food. Rather, they have different reactions to that food depending on the circumstances in which it is eaten. 

A business lunch should be avoided at all costs because it can leave such people with gas and discomfort for days afterward. Pleasant surroundings for meal times are necessary.

The lesson inherent in this condition is that meal times are a time to relax and unwind with good company and perhaps a nice glass of wine. It is not the time to digest all the troubles of the day, blaming others or fate for all that has not gone well while throwing down more wine than could possibly be considered an aid to digestion.

The positive-minded people among these types still take time to digest life’s problems and challenges, eating smaller meals when life throws more at them. They will swallow criticism in a positive way, seeing it as an opportunity for self-reflection and improvement rather than as an insult.

Slippery elm bark powder does not mix easily with water, and is much more effectively mixed with yogurt or mashed together with a ripe banana. As a highly nutritious and soothing food, it has been used throughout history, particularly for weaning young babies and also as gruel for the aged and infirm. For this purpose, only a teaspoonful is required.

For ulceration and when tissue damage has already occurred, the dosage can be increased to a dessertspoonful. The effects will last up to 30 hours, so the dose should only need to be taken once daily. Be sure to drink more fluids when taking slippery elm, as it can have a drying effect on the intestines.

Luke Hughes is a classical Western herbalist and horticulturist based in Sydney, Australia.