FOS and slippery elm (Ulmus fulva)

Fructooligosaccharide, or FOS, refers to a short chain of fructose molecules with a natural, mildly sweet taste. FOS is a soluble, but indigestible carbohydrate with a low caloric value, typically derived from inulin in Jeruselum artichoke or other tubers in the West. In Japan, where it has been popular for many years, it is usually derived from Aspergillus cultured on saccharose.

FOS improves overall health of the gastrointestinal tract by supporting the growth of "friendly" bacteria in the large intestine. In doing so, it appears to increase calcium absorption, and may also increase magnesium absorption. Some references to FOS indicate it may assist in the prevention of yeast overgrowth.

FOS naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables, particularly those with edible rhizomes, bulbs and fleshy tubers, such as sweet potato, chicory root, garlic and onions, and to a lesser extent in barley, bananas and tomatoes. The Jerusalem artichoke contains the highest amounts of FOS.

Health benefits of FOS

  • Considered to be a "prebiotic," i.e., a food for beneficial probiotic organisms
  • Promotes friendly bacteria in the large intestine
  • Assists in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • May improve absorption of calcium, magnesium, phosphate and iron
  • Slippery elm—Ulmus fulva or Ulmus rubra

Ulmus fulva, also known as Ulmus rubra, or slippery elm, is a medium-height tree (to 80 feet) growing widely in Southeastern Canada and Eastern to Central United States. The inner bark of Ulmus fulva is highly mucilaginous and believed to have healing powers. It has has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries, as an emollient, vulnerary, astringent, and anti-cough remedy.

The inner bark of Ulmus fulva contains tannins, phytosterols, calcium oxalate, vitamin E, salicylic acid, capric acid, caprylic acid and decanoic acid. A poultice of the dried powder has been used for generations to heal and soothe skin conditions, such as weeping skin lesions, burns, boils and ulcers. As an herbal demulcent, it has also shown positive effects in treating inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract, heartburn, dysentery and diarrhea.

Health benefits of slippery elm

  • internally soothes irritation of mucous membranes, including the lining of the intestines
  • externally soothes and speeds healing of wounds in general
  • no known side effects or contraindications