Boiled Gallic Water: A Traditional Remedy, Potential Benefits And Side Effects

Boiled Gallic Water: A Traditional Remedy, Potential Benefits And Side Effects

Boiling water with oak galls to make a medicinal drink known as gallic water has been practiced since ancient times. This traditional remedy has long been used as a folk cure, but modern research is now uncovering its potential health benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the usefulness, advantages, and disadvantages of drinking boiled gallic water.

What is Gallic Water?

Gallic water is water that has been boiled with oak galls. Oak galls are abnormal growths that form on oak trees when the tree becomes infected by certain types of gall wasps or fungi. These knobby growths are rich in tannins, and when added to boiling water the tannins are extracted, giving the water an amber hue.

The tannins extracted from oak galls consist primarily of gallic acid and ellagic acid. These phytochemicals are types of polyphenols that have been associated with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects in scientific studies.

So by brewing a tea from oak galls, you extract these potentially beneficial plant compounds into the water. This traditional medicinal drink has been consumed for centuries in various cultures including Greece, Persia, China, and the Ozark mountain region of the United States.

Potential Benefits of Gallic Water

Research suggests that regularly drinking gallic water may offer certain health advantages. Here are some of the main potential benefits:

  • Antioxidant effects – The polyphenols in gallic water are potent antioxidants that may help protect cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. This antioxidant action could promote overall health.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects – The anti-inflammatory properties of gallic water may help reduce inflammation in the body. This could have benefits for inflammatory conditions and diseases.
  • Antimicrobial effects – Gallic water has been shown to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This antimicrobial activity could support immune system health.
  • Astringent effects – The tannins in gallic water have an astringent effect, meaning they can constrict tissue. This may help stop minor bleeding and promote healing.
  • Kidney stone prevention – Early research indicates the antioxidants in gallic water may help prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones by reducing oxidation and crystal formation.

While these potential benefits show promise, more human research is still needed to confirm the efficacy of drinking boiled gallic water.

How to Make Gallic Water

Making a basic gallic water tea is simple:


  • 3-4 ounces of oak galls
  • 1 quart of water


  1. Crush oak galls to expose more surface area.
  2. Add crushed oak galls to a pot of water. Use about 3-4 ounces of galls per quart of water.
  3. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. The longer it steeps, the darker and more concentrated the tea.
  5. Strain out galls and pour tea into clean bottles.
  6. Drink 1-2 cups daily. Can be reheated as needed but doesn’t need to be boiled again.

The tea can be safely stored in the fridge for up to a week. The concentration can be adjusted to taste by using more or fewer galls.

Side Effects and Safety Concerns

When consumed in moderation, gallic water is generally considered safe, but there are some potential side effects and considerations:

  • The tannins may cause stomach upset, nausea, or constipation when consumed in excess. Start with small amounts.
  • The tea has an very astringent, bitter taste that some find unpleasant. Sweetener or lemon can be added to improve taste.
  • Gallic water may interact with certain medications including blood thinners and NSAIDs. Consult a doctor if taking prescription medications.
  • Too much gallic water could potentially cause iron deficiency since tannins can inhibit iron absorption.
  • Oak galls harvested from the ground have higher levels of fungi and should not be used. Use only fresh galls from trees.
  • Oak gall extract may be a safer option since the extract is purified and standardized.

Drinking boiled gallic water in moderation appears relatively safe, but consult a doctor before use if pregnant, breastfeeding, or giving to children. And as with any folk remedy, skepticism is warranted until larger clinical studies can be conducted.


The old folk remedy of gallic water, while unproven, shows potential as a therapeutic beverage. Its antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and astringent effects could have holistic healing benefits. But more research is needed on proper dosing, efficacy for specific conditions, and potential long-term side effects. In moderation, boiled gallic water may be a reasonably safe traditional drink to try, but caution is advised until we know more.


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