Sometimes referred to as grippe tonic, gripe water is a folk medicine concoction that is often used to help ease pain and discomfort experienced by infants. The home remedy can be used to soothe an upset stomach, pain associated with teething, and ease the discomfort associated with colic. While the exact recipe for gripe water varies, most versions include several different herbs that are prepared in a tincture and administered with the aid of an eyedropper.
The earliest records of this product are found in the middle of the 19th century. In England, an American by the name of William Woodward took note of the fact that a homemade concoction used to help ease the pain associated with malaria and a condition known as fen fever was also effective in alleviating gastrointestinal distress and teething pains for infants. Moving quickly, Woodward created a product that included a small amount of alcohol, sugar water, dill oil, and bicarbonate of soda. Woodward’s Gripe Water is still available today in many retail outlets around the world, and is often sold as a health supplement.
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While grip water for colic is perhaps the most well known use of the home remedy, the uses are not limited to infants alone. Adults who are suffering with indigestion, acid reflux or gas may gain some measure of relief from organic gripe water. In some cases, it is also helpful in controlling flatulence in both infants and adults. Along with commercial products, practitioners of homeopathic and folk medicine often develop their own unique formulas for the tincture, depending on the needs of their patients.
While fennel, dill, and bicarbonate of soda are found in almost every recipe for baby gripe water today, alcohol is often left out of the recipe. Instead, the inclusion of more herbs such as ginger and chamomile are added, often brewing all the herbs in water to create the alcohol-free tincture. The exclusion of alcohol is especially important when allergies to grain products are present, since the tincture could cause additional health issues for the infant or adult receiving the treatment.
In countries where baby gripe water is not recognized as a prescription medication, it is often sold over the counter. Many herb shops and health food stores will carry one brand or another of the product, often in alcohol-based or alcohol free versions. There are a number of brands on the market today that are also found in pharmacies as over the counter products.