Slippery Elm Bark
Slippery elm has been used for many years for a variety of ailments. For many of these ailments, it has proven to be a worthwhile treatment.
Slippery elm is native to North America. It can achieve well over fifty feet in height. The leaves have the distinctive "elm" look, elongated, and green.
The inner bark is what is used in medicine, and it can even be used as a food if necessary.
Slippery elm bark has a long history of use in treating sore throats, coughs, and other mild upper respiratory complaints. The sweet mucilage in slippery elm seems to coat and soothe the irritated mucous membranes. Sucking on the lozenges or sipping slippery elm tea with some honey in it is especially effective.
Slippery elm has a unique polysaccharide in the bark that probably accounts for the soothing properties. At one time, and I do not know if you can find it anymore, there was a hot cereal that was made from slippery elm. It was used for conditions such as ulcers, heartburn, and other digestive disturbances.
Dutch Elm disease has taken a severe toll on all elm trees not just the Slippery Elm. We need to hope that war will be won, because these are beautiful and functional trees that are really a part of our history.
You can find Slippery Elm lozenges in health food stores and even some drug stores.
Some people prefer to sip on the tea, and find the warmth very soothing. Again, health food stores will generally carry Slippery Elm tea or powder. If you choose powder, just add a cup of boiling water to a teaspoon powder. Add sugar or honey to your taste.
Another use, which I have never tried, is as a poultice. Add enough water to slippery elm powder to make a paste, apply to minor wounds, inflamed skin, boils, etc. If irritation from the poultice occurs, discontinue. Some people can be allergic to slippery elm.
As with most old home remedies, there is wisdom in the "lore of old". With cold and flu season right around the corner, it couldn't hurt.