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Gripe Water: Benefits, Uses and Potential Side Effects


Gripe water – the very name brings back memories of childhood. The times, as babies, when we had discomfort in the stomach and our mother would give us a dose of gripe water. How many of you still remember its taste? I do, for sure!

The History of Gripe Water

It is an interesting fact to note that the gripe water dates back to the mid-19th century. It was the creation of an English pharmacist William Woodward as a concoction containing dill, sodium bicarbonate, alcohol, and sugar, to soothe the colic symptoms in infants. Hence the name Woodwards Gripe Water. There was a very relatable Television commercial made those days with a famous slogan “Granny told Mother and Mother told me”. 

What is Gripe Water?

Gripe water is an herbal supplement, in liquid form, containing a mixture of various herbs and has many variations of the formulas. It is sold over the counter and is easily available. However, most of the modern formulas contain a combination of various herbs like fennel seed extract, ginger root extract, chamomile, licorice, cinnamon, and lemon balm, to name a few, and do not contain alcohol. Some continue the use of sugar, while some do not.

Benefits of Gripe Water

It is important to note that no studies prove the efficacy of gripe water. No research or trials have been conducted for the same and there is no approval from the health department. The manufacturers may not disclose all the contents used which may prove fatal.   

Relief for Infants:

Gripe water provides almost instant relief from gastrointestinal issues like indigestion, acid reflux, and gas build-up in infants. It facilitates the passing of gas and even soothes colic. Colic occurs when infants continuously cry around 2-3 weeks old, even after being fed and cleaned. This continuous crying could be caused by discomfort from gas or stomach pain. In such cases, gripe water calms the infants and stops their crying. However, there is no definitive information about the real reason for colic pain.

Soothing and Tasteful:

It is claimed that the Gripe water is made of a formula that soothes the stomachs of infants. Infants generally find the pleasant taste of gripe water appealing.

Formulation of Gripe Water:

Modern formulas of gripe water do not contain any alcohol and may or may not contain sugar. These formulas are specifically designed for infants, considering their unique needs. Key ingredients include:

  • Ginger Root Extract: Aids in digestion and reduces stomach swelling.
  • Fennel Seed Extract: Eases gas, bloating, and stomach pain.
  • Chamomile: Soothes the stomach.
  • Lemon Balm: Eases digestion and calms the infant.

Bowel Movements:

Consumption of gripe water can ensure regular and proper bowel movements in infants by regulating their entire digestion process. It also aids in alleviating constipation.


Gripe water may ease the teething discomfort being experienced by infants.


Gripe water can be beneficial in easing hiccups and making the infant less irritable by aiding digestion.

Regulatory Status and Parental Use

Gripe water is not a medication but a dietary supplement as considered by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration authorities. It does not require pre-approval from the FDA before being marketed and sold. The FDA has recalled certain formulations of gripe water as they were found to contain alcohol, which is unsafe for infant consumption.


A study in India found that 64 percent (335) of mothers gave their infants gripe water but most of the infants who were given the same, continued crying. [1] The users of gripe water (parents) have cited how beneficial it is to their infants, hence the widespread administering of it. However, health professionals do not recommend /prescribe gripe water for infants.

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Side Effects of Gripe Water

It is important to note that no studies prove the efficacy of gripe water. No research or trials have been conducted for the same and there is no approval from the health department. The manufacturers may not disclose all the contents used which may prove fatal.   


The formulas may contain too much sugar/sucrose which may affect the teeth causing decay and also be detrimental to the feeding habits of the infants. There may be wheat or dairy products that can cause an upset stomach.

Cannot be Used for Colic:

Babies suffering from Colic should not be given gripe water with a sodium bicarbonate content as it causes an alkaline increase and worsens the symptoms. It can alter the acid-base balance of the body and cause metabolic alkalosis.

Age Limit:

Gripe water should not be given to infants younger than one month as their digestive tract is in the developing stage and is sensitive.


Some infants may develop allergic reactions like hives, watery eyes, swelling of lips/tongue, nausea, itchiness, or breathing pattern changes.


The dosage should be as recommended in a day. Administering extra doses may lead to an overdose of sodium bicarbonate and cause headache, confusion, fussiness, fever, convulsions, or muscle twitching in infants.


There is a possibility of bacteria being introduced into the infant’s digestive system.

Acid reflux:

Excessive use of Gripe water may worsen infant acid reflux symptoms.

Other Interaction:

Gripe water may react with certain medicines and reduce their effectiveness.


We can see that there is no scientific research available on the benefits of gripe water to prove its efficacy. Therefore, if necessary, it is imperative to study the contents of the gripe water before administering it to your infant.


Woodwards have cited that their product is alcohol-free and contains Dill seed oil and Sarjikakshara that “provides symptomatic relief to infants, babies, and children from stomach pain caused due to gas, acidity, and indigestion”. (


It is very much debatable whether gripe water is beneficial or not. It is recommended to consult your health care professional/pediatrician for medical advice and any symptoms related to your infants/babies/children.

the aartery chronicles

Ms Rupal Sonpal

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