Elm for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Elm is a plant belonging to the Oleaceae family. Useful against  gastrointestinal problems, it is rich in tannins, minerals and bitter principles. Let’s find out better.

Properties of the elm

The characteristic properties attributed to elm since ancient times are purifying, astringent, sudoriferous, anti-inflammatory of the mucous membranes and, in particular, healing properties.

The parts used in the elm are mainly the bark and leaves from which natural remedies are obtained such as herbal teas, mother tinctures, bud extractives and other extracts.

The main active ingredients are tannic substances, phlobaphenes, phytosferin, minerals such as potassium and silica and also bitter ingredients. Mucilage, for example, is rich in special tannins and is contained in particular in the roots. These special mucilages are able to adhere like a film on the intestinal walls protecting and regenerating them, which is why the elm is a very useful remedy for gastrointestinal problems .

It also helps dissolve and expel mucus and toxins by purifying the surface of various organs, thus promoting the performance of their functions in the best possible way.

How to use

INTERNAL USE: generally we take mucilaginous decoctions of elm bark, able to relieve the discomfort due to ailments that attack the throat and intestines and to lubricate the mucous membrane.

The bud extract of field elm is also indicated as a useful remedy against acne because it is able to regulate the production of sebum. The dosage is 30 drops in two fingers of water, to be taken between meals 2 or 3 times a day.

EXTERNAL USE: the tannin mucilages of the elm are excellent to be applied also as a gel on small wounds, abrasions and punctures: thanks to the healing and anti-inflammatory power, the body will benefit from it. Furthermore, the decoction can be used for external compresses, always with the aim of helping the skin to heal in the presence of acne, eczema, dermatitis and herpes.

Contraindications of elm

No particular contraindication is linked to the use of elm-based products. Generally, as a matter of precaution, a limited use of medicinal products is recommended for pregnant women.

Description of the plant

Generally there are two types of elm used for medicinal purposes: the American elm (Ulmus American and Ulmus rubra) and the Ulmus campestris.

These are trees capable of reaching even thirty meters, particularly long-lived, in fact, they easily exceed 50 years of age. The shape of the crown is cone-shaped and usually rounded. The bark is dark and very wrinkled, in fact, it is crossed in all directions by incisions and cracks.

A peculiarity of its branches is the appearance that from hairy in the first two years of growth they become smooth as adults. The leaves are ovoid with a serrated edge and usually have an asymmetrical leaf base. The flowers are hermaphroditic, gathered in clusters, red in color that bloom from February to April.

The fruit is a yellow samara which, when it falls, rotates like a helix to the ground. The smell is almost imperceptible and the taste is sour.

Elm habitat

The field elm and the red elm are widespread in Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and North America, in the woods and uncultivated fields from sea level up to 1500 meters, thanks to its ability to resist cold and winds.


Its properties and in particular the ability to heal wounds has been known since ancient times both in the West and in the East. There is evidence of the use of the elm with healing properties by American shamans and it was praised even by Pliny the Elder.

In the Middle Ages it was widely used to help heal the wounds of soldiers and knights struck in battle. 

In recent years, elms in Europe have been dying more and more from a rapidly spreading disease. Scholars and scientists are looking for an effective cure for this disease.

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