Slippery Elm Before Bed: What Science Says, Side Effects, and More

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The slippery elm is an elm located in North America. For many years, it has been used by native Americans as a medical herb for treating wounds, burns, and skin inflammations and consumed orally to treat soar throats and stomach aches.

It has a scientific name of “Ulmus Rubra” and is characterized by having a slimy bark that turns slippery when mixed with water.

You may mistake the elm's leaves for the mint plant's leaves because of how similar they look. Native Americans used both to relieve stomach aches, but slippery elm had other medical uses that we discuss below.

How is the slippery elm made and consumed?

There are several forms of consumption for slippery elms. It can be made in the form of medical tablets, consumable powders to be used in teas, or coarse powders to put on the skin to treat inflammations.

In this case, the slippery elm's inner bark is dried and ground to manufacture it in powder form.

Slippery elm forms:

  • Finely powdered bark (for teas)
  • Coarsely powdered bark (for poultices as skin treatment)
  • Tablets or capsules
  • Lozenges

What symptoms are slippery elms used to treat?

woman using slippery elm as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease

IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)

  • The demulcent properties of slippery elm bark indicate its ability to calm the irritated lining of the digestive tract.
  • Slippery elm bark helps treat Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms as well, according to a recent study.
  • Another study showed that slippery elm had antioxidant effects in Crohn's disease patients. Some researchers believe that this might help with sleep health. We have another article in which we discuss more antioxidants such as Alpha-Lipoic acid, which is a type of antioxidant, and how it may improve sleeping quality.

Relieve Cough and Sore Throat

  • Given how slippery elms contain Mucilage, which is a sticky sugar mixture found in its bark and is indigestible, slippery elms can make a lining on the throat that can help relieve coughing and sore throats.

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) Treatment

  • When stomach acid runs back into the esophagus and irritates the lining, a chronic condition known as GERD results. The reflux of acids caused by GERD can cause throat discomfort which affects sleep quality. Given the slippery elm botanical properties, it can be used for GERD treatment; thereby, possibly improving sleep quality.

There are other medical uses for slippery elm, but most of them need further studies to support them. Given these medical uses mentioned, is it any good to use slippery elm before bed?

elm tree picture

Is slippery elm beneficial to our sleeping quality?

Given the benefits of how slippery elm can help treat soar throats and coughing, it’s almost impossible not to recommend it before bedtime to get better and higher quality sleep, with no constant coughing and irritating soar throats.

In addition to how it can help treat patients with inflammatory bowel diseases and help reduce stomach irritations, it’s a perfect scenario to use slippery elms before bedtime.

However, there could be potential downsides to using slippery elm. Some users may have allergic reactions and skin inflammations as a result of using slippery elm. Therefore, it’s always a good decision to consult a medical professional about using slippery elm.

Side Effects of Slippery Elm

Possible Interaction With Other Medications

Using slippery elm before bed can have negative interactions with other medications. Since slippery elm coats the digestive tract, it may slow down and decrease the effectiveness of other drugs. If you take a sleeping pill before night and then take slippery elm, the sleeping pill may take longer to take effect or may not work at all.

This might be a solid reason to reconsider taking slippery elm before bed for many people that rely on other medications and supplements before bedtime. It is advised to use slippery elm at least 2 hours before sleeping or before taking any other medications as a solution to this side effect.

May Cause Allergic Reactions and Skin Irritations

Sensitive people may experience allergic reactions. When applied to the skin, slippery elm ointment can sometimes trigger a rash.

Might Cause Miscarriage

It should be noted that children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should probably avoid slippery elm.

Pregnant women are occasionally cautioned to stay away from slippery elm because its outer bark may contain chemicals that could increase the chance of miscarriage.

Is there a way to obtain slippery elm by eating food?

It's actually possible to eat slippery elm bark, it’s considered edible. Additionally, slippery elm is an ingredient in several cough syrups, infant cereals, and energy beverages.

Can Slippery Elm Result in Weight Loss?

woman using measuring weight

Research suggests that slippery elm may assist people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels and, in turn, their weight. Those who are overweight or have too much body fat may benefit from this. But there's not much data to back up these assertions.

Slippery Elm Dosage

There are no dosing recommendations based on clinical studies. One to three teaspoons of slippery elm powder in 240 mL of water up to three times a day is the recommended dose, according to traditional practice.

As for a poultice (to be applied to the skin) mix the coarse powder with boiling water, then allow it to cool before putting it on the skin. The affected area should be poulticed.


Slippery elm has many benefits that make it seem like the perfect fit for consumption before sleeping. And it does not have many side effects, however, medical professionals recommend taking slippery elm during the day as its properties may affect the use of other medications.

If you’d still like to give it a try at bedtime, take a couple of capsules of slippery elm to see if it helps your cough, sore throat, or stomach problems. And do it at least 2 hours before bedtime and 2 hours before taking any other medication, or 1 hour after.

Dom Abraham

Editorial Director

As the lead content writer at Sleepiverse. Dom pours his heart into writing mattress reviews, bedding product reviews, and medically-reviewed health articles. Dom is from Portugal and likes to spend his free time writing on the beach as it gives him a sense of comfort. Aside from writing mattress reviews in front of the soothing beach view, Dom likes to experiment with new amazing food ideas.