Slippery Elm Relieves Clindamycin Side Effects

by on November 9th, 2010
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COMMENTARY | When I bought clindamycin for my abscessed tooth, preparatory to a root canal, I was warned that it is hard on the stomach, and to take it with food or without, but with a big glass of water. If I had heeded that warning immediately and started taking slippery elm with the first pill, I would have avoided a fair bit of suffering. But then I wouldn’t have such dramatic results to report.

I had already figured out that it is a good idea to take ibuprofen one pill at a time per hour, than to take 4 pills every four hours, after waking up the house with my screaming in hour three, twice on New Year’s Day before sunrise. Waking every hour to take a pill breaks sleep a lot less than lying awake in pain for an hour at a time. So when I read that one should take four clindamycin as a loading dose, and take two every six hours after that, I decided to take one every three hours to keep levels even and be easier on my stomach.

I’m glad I did. I took the loading dose in late afternoon. I started belching immediately. By about 4 in the morning, I was getting exceedingly bitter acid reflux and explosive, nearly black diarrhea. I made some slippery elm tea, drank a mug, and started drinking at least 1/2 cup with every pill after that.

That first diarrhea burned for a good day, despite treatment with Oil of St. John’s Wort. But with continued ingestion of slippery elm, the diarrhea stopped being explosive, and went from watery to liquid to soft and from dark to light, and stopped within 48 hours, resuming nearly normal bowel movements, and perhaps less.

By the night of day six, I was starting to get acid reflux again, despite sleeping in a chair. It seemed like I hadn’t had a bowel movement for a day, and perhaps they were backing up a bit. It’s possible that one can take too much slippery elm, though I was by no means constipated. So I didn’t take slippery elm with the next two pills, and sure enough, the acid went away and diarrhea returned, just as dark as when it started, though neither watery nor uncontrolled. Resuming the slippery elm brought my bowels back to normal within a few hours.

To make slippery elm tea, add 1/4 teaspoon to a cup of hot water and sweeten with honey if desired. It can be added to any hot drink; it does not mix into cold liquids.

It can also be added to applesauce, baby food, or oatmeal. To use in apple sauce and baby food, mix 1/4 teaspoon with about 1 tablespoon of hot water until it forms a gel; mix this into the food. It can be added dry to dry oatmeal before cooking as well.

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