Slippery Elm

Slippery Elm has helped me considerably with an AF related problem, which seems to be a first on the AF site.

I am 82 and have Persistent AF with no co-morbidities and take plenty of exercise. My EP says I do not need medication (except Apixaban) and that my condition will not deteriorate (I find this surprising). He likens me to a car with 4 gears, not 5.

I usually go for a walk in the afternoon and, a couple of months ago, I started to get constriction in my chest at the start or on a hill and had to slow down or even stop. My pulse rate was not affected and once things had settled down, I could walk on without a problem but perhaps only with 3 ½ gears. The problem seemed to be stomach related and, on checking my diet, I found some foods (eg apples, potatoes, rich puds) were worse than others. Whilst waiting for an EP appointment, I tried taking an anti-acid tablet before walking or after suspect foods and this proved to be a great help. Not wanting to be stuck with anti-acids, I talked to a herbalist who suggested Slippery Elm. Success! Virtual elimination of problem.

I have now seen the EP who says my condition is still stable. It appears that the tightness in my chest was due to competition between my stomach and my body for a limited amount of energy, particularly when the food was difficult to digest. He didn’t seem to think that any Vagal implications needed exploring but I shall work on this aspect. He was amused by the Slippery Elm solution and saw nothing against it. Any views?

Thanks to everyone who posts on this site – you have been a great help to me in understanding my condition and tackling the associated problems.

13 Replies

  • Hi handybe2 Very interesting. Not heard of slippery elm before, but having googled it, it appears to be a thing that coats the lining of the gastric tract. This makes complete sense if you look at Dr Gupta's videos about the stomach-heart links. Not dissimilar to my condition where I was getting a lot of burping and indigestion after almost any food, but Gaviscon liquid sorts it out in a matter of minutes, which physically feels liek a coating as well as the antiacid aspect (the tables are not as good), though I am not sure I want to take gavicson for the rest of my life. My AF was, and (after an ablation many years ago) my ectopics still are very vagal in nature.

    The fact that S.E. helps to improve your exercise tolerance is intriguing. Whilst your EP's theory is certainly one way of puttign it, I suspect at root it's because there are a lot of neural connections between the gut and heart and gut problems can irritate those and quite possibly affect the heart's neural (autonomic) inputs. "Simple" vagal aspects (if there is such a thing!) are now much better understood but the whole aspect of all possible neural influences on the heart are not. They keep coming up with theories and then finding some other complicating factor. But if it works, do it!

  • Thanks for your constructive comments, John, and I agree with ideas about neural/vagal connections . I think Gaviscon has an anti-acid effect which is not a good idea for long term use (see BobD's frequent comments among others) and why I went in search of an alternative.

  • Thanks for the posts Handy & John. I have vagally mediated PAF well controlled by Flecainide plus a myriad of lifestyle changes. I can't loose the burping though and mine seems to come on when I am relaxing e.g. when starting out on a walk. Don't know anything about Slippery Elm but its on my list now to check out, Gaviscon yuk!

  • I am going to be trying slippery elm. Fingers crossed. I don't like the idea of taking gaviscon for ever, either, which frankly, sounds like the too-often symptomatic-relief-and-forget-the-causes method. But I do find aniseed gaviscon liquid much more palatable than the alternatives of various tablets, including gaviscon and deflatine.

    From what you say I would think it is definitely worth trying to minimise your vagal tone as much as possible, by finding a way to deal with your burping and wind. The theory points towards that vagal hypertone being at least a risk factor in the AF getting worse.

  • Look for good quality using inner, not outer, bark.

  • Whose do you use?

  • I will tell you on Tuesday. The herbalist gave me a bag of anonymous capsules to last till I see him. I need to find out for myself to make sure they are the best.

  • OK, thanks

  • I'm afraid the herbalist doesn't want to say who his supplier is because he already has problems getting good quality product. I found this on the internet

    although capsules are probably easier to take than powder.

  • I wonder if i could take Slippery Elm. I am taking Warfarin for my AF and i have Coeliac. Doc thinks i may have a Dairy intolerance now.

  • Have you looked at A2 milk ?

  • I've never heard of that . I will find out thanks.

  • SE doesn't seem to have any contra-indications or side effects but probably best to take medical advice if in doubt. Make sure you get a good quality product using the inner (not outer) bark if you do go ahead. What about Goat's milk which my wife finds to be OK for mild dairy intolerance?

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